The Anonymous Widower

Switching From Lorries To Freight Trains Could Cut Air Pollution By 10%

The title of this post is the same as this article on Rail Technology Magazine. This is the first paragraph.

Making the switch from HGVs to trains for freight travel could lead to 10% less air pollution from NOx across the country, says new research from the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT).

The major problem will be to get freight operators to switch from road to rail.

However, I do feel that this may be hastened by external factors and innovative methods and technology.

Shortages Of Train And Truck Drivers

There are regular news items about shortages of train and truck drivers.

I would think, that both careers will attract the same type of person.

Both careers will have their good and bad points.

But after a search of the Internet, it does appear that the train driver will earn more than the truck driver.

So will a shortage of truck drivers, nudge more freight operators to use rail?

Track Improvements For Rail Freight

Over the last decade or so, there have been several improvements in track layouts, that have been driven by the need to increase the amount of freigt carried by rail.

  • The development of the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Line through Lincolnshire as a freight by-pass for the East Coast Main Line.
  • The building of the Bacon Factory Chord to increase capacity to and from the Port of Felixstowe.
  • Electrification of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line will create a second electrified freight route across London.
  • Several passing loops have been lengthened to allow longer freight trains.
  • The Ordsall Chord will help freight through Manchester.

Obviously any general improvements will help freight trains as well as passenger trains.

Air-Pollution Activitists And Politicians

Most long-distance rail-freight is diesel-hauled and increasingly it goes through areas of large cities, where there is electrification. These electrified lines all see diesel-hauled freight trains.

  • The North London Line
  • The West London Line
  • The Gospel Oak to Barking Line
  • The Ordsall Chord
  • The Great Eastern Main Line
  • The West Coast Main Line
  • The East Coast Main Line
  • The Great Western Main Line

It will not be long before air-quality activists set their sites on removing diesel haulage from lines like these.

Will a local politician in North London say, be more likely to get elected, if they say, they will push for a ban on noisy and polluting diesel-powered locomotives running through their constituency.

The Replacement Of Diesel Locomotives With Electro-Diesel Locomotives

If you take a freight route like say Felixstowe to Trafford Park in Manchester via the Great Eastern Main Line, the North London Line and the West Coast Main Line, all of the route except for the two ends is electrified.

Normally, freight on this route would be hauled by a Class 66 diesel-locomotive, which would probably score 2/10 as a friend of the environment.

A modern electro-diesel locomotive, like a Class 88 locomotive  may be able to this and similar routes using electricity in the middle and its onboard diesel engine at both ends of the route.

The various locomotives, used on UK freight trains compare as follows.

  • Class 66 – 65/75 mph – 2.4 MW on diesel
  • Class 68 – Modern diesel to Stage II A emission standards – 100 mph – 2.8 MW on diesel
  • Class 70 – 75 mph – 2.7 MW on diesel
  • Class 86 – 75 mph – 0.7 MW on electricity
  • Class 88 – 100 mph – 4 MW on electricity – 0.7 MW on diesel
  • Class 90 – Electric locomotive – 100 mph – 0.9 MW on electricity
  • Class 92 – Electric locomotive – 87 mph – 5 MW on electricity

As the table shows the  Class 66 locomotives  are slow and less powerful than both the more modern Class 68 or Class 88 locomotives.

Cynically, I would say that the only reason that Class 66 and Class 70 locomotives are still in service is that they are good for the bottom line.

Despite this, I feel we’ll see an increasing number of electro-diesel locomotives like the Class 88 arriving in the UK.

New Electric Locomotives

Judging by some of the strange combinations, I’ve seen on some freight trains, we are short of electric locomotives.

This double-headed train has a Class 90 electric locomotive and a Class 66 diesel locomotive at the front of a long freight train.

Even electric locomotives from the 1960s are being called up for service.

These two Class 86 locomotives were hauling a freight train through Hackney Wick station.

I think we’ll see small numbers of new electric locomotives arriving in the UK.

I suspect too, that freight operators are preparing their bids for the fifteen Class 90 locomotives, that will be released in the next few years by Greater Anglia.

More Electrification

In a couple of years, there will be full electrification from London to Bristol and Cardiff.

Although the Government has put a hold on a lot of electrification,  current schemes like electrification of the Great Western Main Line will increase the use of electric or electro-diesel haulage.

Other smaller schemes might be added to increase the use of electric haulage for freight.

As an example, the lines into the important freight ports of London Gateway and Liverpool Two are not electrified. Electrifying both would probably increase the proportion of electrically-hauled freight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 2, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts On The Design Of A High Speed Freight Shuttle

I am enthusiastic about the concept proposed by Rail Operations Group, that will see Class 769 trains running freight shuttles between London Gateway and Liverpool Street station, which I wrote about in A Freight Shuttle For Liverpool Street Station Planned.

But if you were starting from scratch, how would you design the ultimate freight shuttle train?

Consider these objectives.

The Amazon Objective

Amazon and their suppliers would like next day delivery for all of their customers.

Probably within a country the size of the UK, next day delivery can be achieved.

But I suspect that Amazon and their competitors would like anybody in the world to get as near as next day delivery as possible from anywhere in the world.

Giving worldwide next day delivery is obviously impossible, but giving it to as much of the world as is currently practical is clearly an Amazon objective.

We live in a I-Want-It-Now world!

Destinations To Be Served

I feel that places to be served by high speed light freight shuttles fall into various groups.

Major Cities

The proposed shuttle into Liverpool Street station will be the first of many.

Liverpool Street station is also an easy station at which to run such a service.

  • There is level access from the street for vehicles like electric vans and cargo bikes at Platform 10, using the old taxi cab road.
  • The station and the approaches are fully electrified.
  • Crossrail will release platform space at the station.

Three trains per day can probably be accommodated in the Off Peak hours, with more services during the night.

It would not be possible to fit a light freight facility into all city-centre stations, as easily as it appears to be at Liverpool Street.

But I do think light freight facilities of this type at the following stations could be possible..

  • Brighton
  • Bristol Temple Meads
  • Glasgow Central
  • Liverpool Lime Street
  • London Euston
  • London Paddington
  • Manchester Piccadilly
  • Nottingham

Some recently rebuilt stations like Birmingham New Street, would be very difficult, so I would recommend that all station developments, should take possible light freight facilities into account.

Logistics Parks, Ports And Airports

London Gateway is a large port and logistics facility, to the East of London.

This Google Map shows London Gateway.

The logistics park is still being developed to the North of the port, with the rail lines in between the two.

  • I have searched the rail lines and I can’t see anything like a loading bay for a freight shuttle, which surely will be something like a platform for passengers.
  • It is early days yet and this map could be a couple of years old.
  • There would also be space to the North of the rail lines for someone like Hermes, UPS or Yodel to build a large secure shed with a siding alongside, served by a platform, so that goods could be rolled into the trains.
  • It should be possible to electrify the siding, in a similar way to Platform 10 at Liverpool Street station.

It’ll all come clear, when the service starts.

Other ports like Felixstowe, Immingham, Liverpool and Southampton might also want to develop high speed light freight services as will the various logistics parks and freight terminals dotted around the country.

Most are served by rail connections, although in many cases like Felixstowe, London Gateway, Liverpool and Southampton, the last few miles need to use some form of independent power.

Could these light freight services connect to airports like Heathrow, Manchester and Stansted?

Retail Parks And Out-Of-Town Shopping Centres

Large retail groups, like Marks and Spencer, Sainsburys and Tesco have set up large distribution centres often in the centre of England, some of which have rail access.

Could major retail centres like Lakeside in Essex, Sheffield Meadowhill, Gateshead Metro Centre and others receive goods by rail.

Specialist Terminals

If you go to Montrose station, you can see the remains of sidings, where Scottish fish was loaded to be taken by rail to ports for export to places like New York.

But it is likely that specialist terminals will be setup to handle goods, such as seafood, flowers and Scotch whisky.

Some seasonal products like Cornish flowers would only need a part-time facility, but these would only be rudimentary.

Long Rural Routes

I can see the requirement for light freight deliveries increasing in all parts of the UK.

Some destinations are probably expensive for delivery companies.

But could an integrated delivery system be setup using the long rural rail routes.

  • Inverness and Wick
  • Inverness and Aberdeen
  • Glasow and Oban
  • Chester and Holyhead
  • Settle and Carlisle

Services might automatically roll pallets off and on at stations, which would then be handled locally by a purpose-built van or light truck.

  • Some services would start in London and the South-East, but others could start in the East Midlands or the Scotland’s Central Belt
  • Some services would connect with ferries to serve islands, like the Hebrides and the Orkneys.
  • A daily service might do wonders for business in rural areas.

London and Wick takes thirteen hours by passenger train. This would enable, somebody in Wick wanting an urgent part for a machine that has broken, to order it from London and certainly receive it within forty-eight hours.

Great Britain And Ireland Services

Services between Great Britain and Ireland will be a problem, as trains will have to unload on one side of the Irish sea onto trucks for delivery after the sea crossing.

Unless politicians do what I suggest in A Solution To The Northern Irish Problem!, which is to build a high speed rail system connecting Scotland and Northern Ireland.

  • The main crossing would be a bridge or a tunnel, where my preference would be for a bridge.
  • The main route would be Glasgow and Dublin via Stranraer and Belfast.
  • There would be a 125 mph connection between Carlisle and Stranraer
  • The Irish section of the route would be an electrified standard-gauge railway capable of running trains at 125 mph.
  • The route would handle passengers and freight.
  • There could a branch to Shannon, where some proposals have been made to create a deep water port.

I estimated that London and Belfast would take four hours, with an hour longer for Dublin.

But as this fixed link would probably not be built this century, as Ulster always says no, unloading on to trucks would probably be necessary for a long time.

Continental Services

Why not? Unlike Ireland, there’s a rail connection and it’s standard gauge!

Eurostar has shown that the same trains can run successfully on British, French, Belgian and Dutch railways and trains can now be fitted with systems to access the various electrification voltages.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Europe-wide high-speed light freight service for appropriate cargoes.

Summing Up Destinations

I can sum up the destinations as follows.

  • They will not be large grand affairs, in many cases.
  • There must be easy access for local transport, which will include a proportion of electric vehicles.
  • Destinations are generally within a few miles of an electrified main line.
  • Some services like Cornish flowers or Scottish seafood will need an independently-powered train, with a moderate range.

You can see why Rail Operations Group have chosen to use bi-mode Class 769 trains, as they will be ideal to connect to places perhaps a hundred miles from electrification.

New Or Refurbished Trains?

The proposed service is to be run with a Class 769 train, which is a bi-mode rebuild of a 1980s Class 319 train.

But would it be better to use a brand new train, rather than an old conversion?

In the future, if the experiment is a success, a new train will probably be designed, that will be based on the experience of the trials.

But at the moment modifying an old train, is probably a more affordable approach and one that carries less risk.

Operating Speed

The Class 769 train can operate at 100 mph on electrified lines and at around 90 mph, when relying on the diesel generators.

In High Speed Urban Freight Logistics By Rail, I talked about Rail Operations Group’s plans for running high speed freight services between Thames Gateway and the Central Belt in Scotland.

Surely, a faster train would be desirable for services along high speed lines.

Train Capacity And Interior

This will depend on the application and I suspect Rail Operation Group’s trial will show the optimum design.

But I wouldn’t be surprised to see trains based on British Rail’s standard length of eighty metres, as this would mean, they will easily fit so many existing stations without expensive modification.

If longer trains are needed for busy routes, then the trains could work in twos or threes, as many British Rail electric multiple units have done for decades.

Are Freight Shuttles Ideal Trains For Battery Power?

The train will not need the full air-conditioning and toilet services of a passenger train, which could mean.

  • Electrical power needed for services other than traction would be lower.
  • Underneath the train could be relatively free of equipment.

In addition, it should be noted.

  • Most routes will be run for the major part on electrified lines.
  • Charging technology for batteries at remote destinations could be easily provided.
  • Battery-electric trains have operational, environmental and marketing advantages over trains with diesel engines.

So why not efficiently fill space under the train with batteries?

For their initial service between London Gateway and Liverpool Street station, Rail Operations Group would probably only need to use diesel for less than a dozen miles.

Could Modified InterCity 125 Trains Be Used?

The fact that they are diesel is a major drawback, but there are other problems too!

  • Major structural work would be needed to create cargo doors.
  • I suspect that they may be too long.
  • They may not be very operator friendly.

Other companies have proposed them for high speed freight, but nothing has materialised so far.

Conclusion

Rail Operation Group’s thinking is spot on!

 

 

November 4, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

High Speed Urban Freight Logistics By Rail

The title of this article is the same as that of this article  on World Cargo News.

It describes from a freight operator’s point-of-view,  Rail Operation’s Group‘s plans to run freight services between London Gateway and Liverpool Street station, which I wrote about in  A Freight Shuttle For Liverpool Street Station Planned.

Points include.

  • Current operators are struggling to lower their carbon footprint.
  • Congestion is affecting delivery times.
  • Charges to use London’s ULEZ could add two hundred pounds per round trip to costs.
  • To enter London, trucks will need high visibility cabs in a couple of years time.
  • Last mile delivery would be by e-vans and cargo bikes.
  • This initial service is about proving the concept and identifying the best techniques.

The article also discloses that Rail Operations Group are planning to run a high-speed overnight freight service between London Gateway and the Central Belt in Scotland, using their modified Class 769 trains.

  • Journey time will be reduced from eleven-twelve hours by truck to five-and-a-half by rail.
  • The deadline for guaranteed overnight delivery will go from 20:00 to 23:00.
  • Trains will be running at 100 mph on electricity all the way.
  • If it works going North, surely it will work going South.

I can see Rail Operations Group needing a lot more trains, than the two they have ordered.

 

 

November 3, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 3 Comments

A Freight Shuttle For Liverpool Street Station Planned

Edition 889 of Rail Magazine has an article which is entitled London Gateway-Liverpool Street Freight Trial Planned.

Rail Operations Group are planning to run a freight shuttle between London Gateway and Liverpool Street station.

Trains will be Class 769 bi-mode trains.

  • The trains will be fitted with roller doors, roller cages and strengthened floors.
  • Three aervices will leave Thames Gateway at 0029, 1208 and 1856.
  • They will return from Liverpool Street at 0242, 1421 and 2100.
  • Services will use Platforms 9 and 10 in Liverpool Street station.

It seems a very detailed plan.

A few of my thoughts.

Journey Time

I would estimate that a time of about 45 minutes to an hour would be possible.

Use Of Platforms 9 and 10

These two platforms are generally used for the London and Norwich expresses via Colchester and Ipswich, but it appears that only one service is timed to arrive in times when the station is really busy.

Platform 10 is near to the old Cab Road and so there is good vehicle access from the back of the station.

Final Delivery

The article says that trucks would be used for the final deliveries, with battery vehicles planned for the future.

Would There Be Sufficient Capacity For Trucks In The Cab Road?

A Class 769 train has four twenty metre long cars, so capacity will be equivalent of four small-to-medium supermarket delivery articulated trucks.

You wouldn’t get artics into the Cab Road, but would you get enough small trucks in to pick up a complete train-load?

  • At night or in the evening, this would surely be possible!
  • However, in the afternoon, it would surely be too busy, for more than a couple of delivery vans.

I’m sure Karl Watts has a well-laid plan.

What Is The Role Of UPS In This Freight Service?

In the Wikipedia entry for London Gateway, this is said.

Development of the Logistics Park has followed the initial stages of development of the port. UPS is developing a 32,000 square metre package sorting facility on the site – one of the American firm’s largest ever infrastructure investments outside of the USA. Since March 2017,

UPS wouldn’t build a facility the size of thirty two football pitches and then send out a series of trucks to their biggest market in the City of London , only for the packets to get stuck in the  traffic.

I suspect that packets will be sorted into small easily-managed loads for delivery by electric vans, cargo bicycles or Shank’s Pony, from Liverpool Street station.

And Could Lidl Be In On The Act?

The Wikipedia entry for London Gateway also says this.

German grocery retailer Lidl has been operating out of the DP World London Gateway Logistics Centre, the first warehouse to be developed on the site.

This article in the Guardian is entitled Lidl In The Middle: Chain To Open First Store In Central London. This is said.

Lidl is to launch its first store in central London as it opens 40 new shops across the capital in the next five years.

Could Lidl be thinking of using such the proposed service to supply Central London stores?

  • Last mile delivery could be by electric vehicles.
  • Catching the 0029 train from London Gateway could be ideal.
  • Goods could be on the shelves by early in the morning.

I think that this could offer interesting possibilities.

Supermarket deliveries were also one of the cargoes proposed in the LaMiLo project that I talked about in The LaMiLo Project.

Why Use Bi-Mode Trains?

Consider.

  • Virtually all of the route is electrified, except for the last mile or so into the London Gateway.
  • It would be possible to electrify those last few miles and use electric trains.
  • Electric trains like unmodified Class 319 trains could be used for the service.

But cranes, containers and 25 KVAC overhead wires are a possible disaster waiting to happen, as a crane driver once told me!

When Will The Service Start?

The article says that the service could start in April or May.

Could There Be Other Services?

This is the last paragraph of the article.

Watts mentioned that other routes were a possibility for the business, suggesting that routes from the West Midlands to the Scottish Central Belt and the West Midlands to the West Country have been investigated. No dates have yet been given for any such trials.

I would also think, that there could be opportunities for moving high-value or perishable cargoes into major city centre stations in the middle of the night.

Suitable stations could be.

  • Birmingham New Street
  • Bristol
  • Edinburgh
  • Glasgow
  • Leeds
  • Liverpool Lime Street
  • Manchester Piccadilly

I am not being anti-Geordie, but Newcsastle might be a difficult station to unload cargoes from trains onto trucks!

Conclusion

If seems to me that Rail Operations Group are being innovative with trains.

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 7, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Charting An Electric Freight Future

The title of this post, is the same as the title of an informative article in the April 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, which was written by Julian Worth, who has many years experience of the rail freight industry.

This is a very comprehensive article looking at the future of motive power for freight trains.

These are points from the article, with some added comments of my own.

2040 And A Diesel-Free Rail System

Government ministers have said that by 2040, the UK will have a diesel-free railway, which will reduce emissions and especially particulates.

This page on the Government web site is entitled Let’s Raise Our Ambitions For A Cleaner, Greener Railway, which gives the text of a speech by the Rail Minister; Jo Johnson.

This is part of what he said.

And that’s why I am today announcing a new ambition.

I would like to see us take all diesel-only trains off the track by 2040.

If that seems like an ambitious goal – it should be and I make no apology for that.

After all, we’re committed to ending sales of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.

If we can achieve that, then why can’t the railway aspire to a similar objective?

Rail may be less carbon intensive than road transport.

That’s why modal shift’s so important.

As an engineer. I feel it is a challenge that is acceptable.

The Diesel Locomotives Are Getting Old!

The ubiquitous Class 66 locomotives, don’t meet the latest emission standards, but in addition, by the late 2020s, they will be getting to thirty years old.

Other locomotives like Class 59 locomotives will be even older.

Replacement locomotives will be needed, as maintenance costs will be getting too high.

The Last-Mile Electric Locomotive

Electric locomotives with a last-mile capability away from electrification like the Class 88 locomotive could be favoured.

  • They could be used for terminal work and short-distance movements.
  • They would have a 25 KVAC capability.
  • They could possibly have a 750 VDC capability, to work on the third-rail network.
  • They would meet all the emission standards, when running on diesel.

Julian Worth suggests that the last-mile capability could be provided by a battery.

Although, this would be environmentally-friendly and better in urban areas, I think that any onboard power, should be able to take a train into and out of the Port of Felixstowe, London Gateway and the other major ports.

I met a manager of the Port of Felixstowe a few years ago and they don’t like 25 KVAC wires in a dock, as containers do occasionally get dropped.

Most lines into ports and inland terminals, don’t appear to be too challenging and I’m sure that an uprated Class 88 locomotive could be built, that would handle entry and exit to all the ports and terminals in the UK.

Do We Need A Freight Electrification Strategy?

Julian Worth suggests we need one for the next couple of decades.

He makes some good points.

  • Electric traction current is cheaper than diesel fuel.
  • Availability of modern electric locomotives should be better than a diesel.
  • Diesels may be restricted in urban areas. It could be a vote winner in Mayoral elections in the large Metropolitan areas.

He finishes this with this statement.

Crucially, switching to electric locos from around 2030 would not entail premature replacement of the current fleet and would represent necessary asset renewal in modern equivalent form.

Just imagine the outcry from the Green Movement, if these ageing diesels were to be replaced with modern diesel locomotives..

Undoubtedly, we need a well-thought out freight strategy.

GB Railfreight

This article in Rail Magazine is entitled GB Railfreight In ‘Locomotive Acquisition’ Talks.

So at least one freight company is looking for new motive power. GB Railfreight has a fleet of seventy-eight Class 66 locomotives with other locomotives in the ageing category. Some of their work like hauling the Caledonian Sleeper needs well-presented reliable locomotives, so perhaps they need to update their image.

It will be interesting to see what type and class of locomotive they buy.

Rail Freight Has Changed

Coal to power stations used to be the dominant freight on UK railways.

But n0t any more! Thank goodness!

The major freight on UK railways is intermodal or trains of containers from port to inland terminal and vice versa.

There is also a large growth in construction materials, miuch of it going from quarries in the West Country and the Peak District to the South East of England. To send this any other way than by train, would surely be madness.

There also seems to be an increasing number of trains carrying new vehicles to and from the Continent. More will surely start to use the Channel Tunnel.

Julian Worth says this, after summarising the freight flows.

This suggests modest extensions of electrification might permit much of the construction and intermodal businesses, together with most automotive traffic, to be electrically hauled throughout.

He then goes on to say that the big gap is Felixstowe to Peterborough, Nuneaton and Birmingham.

The Port of Felixstowe

I partly grew up in the town and never thought the port would grow to the size, it is today.

I also remember in the 1980s, when only the odd intermodal train was to be seen on the Felixstowe Branch Line.

  • Now, a dozen trains in each direction on every day take the route between Felixstowe and the Midlands.
  • The Felixstowe Branch Line is being upgraded to raise the number of trains from the port from 33 to 48.
  • The Great Eastern Main Line and the routes through North London are close to capacity.
  • The direct route via Peterborough is a lot shorter than the London route.

Julian Worth states, that the number of trains between Felixstowe and the Midlands could rise to as high as fifty every day.

Routes That Should Be Electrified For Freight

Julian Worth suggests that the following routes should be electrified.

Route 1 – London Gateway to Thames Haven Junction

If you electrify Felixstowe to the Midlands, this will remove some diesel freight trains from London.

It would be stupid to replace them with diesel freight trains from London Gateway. So it would be fairly logical to electrify the connecting route to London Gateway.

This Google Map shows London Gateway and the rail connection to the electrified London, Tilbury and Southend Railway.

Note.

  1. The electrified London, Tilbury and Southend Railway, runs North-South at the extreme left of the map.
  2. The connecting spur curves East on what appears to be a new chord before accessing sidings on the North side of London Gateway.
  3. There would appear to be a lot of space to expand the port.
  4. The rail spur to the port is double track.
  5. It looks like their are sat least five sidings for handling freight trains.
  6. The sidings are double-ended, so last-mile capable electric locomotives could run round trains, without the need for electrification.

It would have appeared to have been designed for electrification.

Full details on London Gateway’s plans for rail access are given here in the Wikipedia entry for London Gateway, under Rail Terminal.

This is a quick summary.

In other places Wikipedia says the port is highly-automated.

I am led to the conclusion, that the Gospel Oak to Barking Line will see a high number of electric freight trains in the future.

I’m not surprised that Julian Worth says the spur currently handles sixteen trains per day and is set to grow significantly.

I certainly wouldn’t buy a house on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

Route 2 – Nuneaton To Birmingham Lawley Street

If Felixstowe to Nuneaton is electrified, then this extends the electrification to the massive Lawley Street Freightliner Terminal, which is in central Birmingham.

This diagram from Wikipedia shows the route.

Note.

  1. Lawley Street Freightliner Terminal, is on the short spur at the top of the diagram.
  2. iThis electrification would also complete a fully-electrified route between Birmingham New Street station and Sansted Airport, so CrossCountry could use electric trains on that route, instead of the current Class 170 train, which is often overcrowded.
  3. Would the electrification open up opportunities for more electrified local services in Birmingham?

Julian Worth says that this twenty miles carries thirty-two trains per day.

Would electrifying this route also have environmental benefits in terms of pollution?

Route 3 – Basingstoke To Southcote Junction and Oxford to Denbigh Hall Junction

This route, which connects the Port of Southampton with the West Coast Main Line, would require forty-two miles of electrification.

Consider.

  • It would create a fully-electrified route from Southampton to the West Coast Main Line.
  • Julian Worth says it carries forty-eight trains per day.
  • I also think, he is assuming that the Great Western Electrification extends to Oxford, which surely it will do in the next few years.
  • Dual voltage locomotives would be needed.
  • It would require electrification of part of the East West Railway.

The East West Railway is to be built as a privatised railway and I’m sure if the sums were right, they would electrify the route from Oxford to Denbigh Hall Junction.

If the Western end of the East West Railway were to be electrified, this must increase the options and operating speed for passenger trains on the route.

Route 4 – Merehead/Whatley to Newbury

Consider.

  • Merehead and Whatley are both Quarries of the Mendip Hills.
  • The line is double-track and seventy-two miles long.
  • Julian Worth says that this route carries twenty-eight stone trains per day.
  • Many trains are double-size.
  • In a four hour period, using Real Time Trains I found,three stone trains that weighed 4,800 tonnes and had a maximum speed of 45 mph and four stone trains that weighed 2,000 tonnes and had a maximum speed of 60 mph, using the route from the Mendips to London.

With all that heavy traffic, it strikes me that their are only two ways to power these trains on the route.

  • Very powerful diesel locomotives, possibly working in pairs.
  • Very powerful 25 KVAC electric locomotives, which would need electrification, able to supply lots of amps.

Mendip Rail currently run these services using Class 59 locomotives, which have the following characteristics.

  • Built in North America between 1985 and 1995.
  • They were the first privately-owned locomotives on the UK main line.
  • They have the ability to creep to shift heavy loads on gradients.
  • They have a maximim speed of 60-75 mph.
  • They are towered by a 2.5 MW diesel engine.

This extract from Wikipedia illustrates their power.

On 26 May 1991 Kenneth J Painter (59005) (with assistance from Yeoman Endeavour) set the European haulage record, with a stone train weighing 11,982 tonnes and 5,415 feet (1,650 m) long. However the so-called ‘mega train’ experiment was not very successful, as a coupling in the centre of the train broke.

It would appear, there was nothing wrong with the locomotives.

By the late 2020s, these locomotives will be over forty years old and although they could probably soldier on for another ten or even twenty years, the cost of maintenance will increase and reliability could decrease. You don’t want a 4,800 tonne stone train blocking the Reading to Taumton Line.

I suspect too, that it is unlikely that this important stone traffic will decrease. This is said in the Wikipedia entry for Mendip Rail.

Mendip Rail’s class 59s work services between various destinations which have changed over time according to demand and specific contracts. They have worked regularly over southern railway tracks, for example to the former Foster Yeoman terminals at Eastleigh and Botley, as well as delivery aggregates for construction work on the Thames Barrier, Second Severn Crossing, Channel Tunnel and most recently Heathrow Terminal 5, which required 3 million tonnes of stone.

Mendip Rail hauls about 4.5 million tonnes of stone from Torr Works each year, and about 2.5 million tonnes from Whatley Quarry.

I suspect that these stone flows will continue and there will come a time in the not-to-distant future, where new locomotives will be required.

  • The Class 59 locomotives were built for these stone trains and have a maximum tractive effort of 507 kN at just 7 mph.
  • A large electric Class 92 locomotive has a maximum tractive effort of only 400 kN.

But I suspect that engineers can design an electric locomotive, that can handle these trains either by themselves or working in a pair.

So there will be a choice between a very powerful diesel locomotive or a very powerful electric one.

  • Will those that live by the railway and environmentalists accept new diesel locomotives?
  • Electric locomotives would require the line to be electrified.
  • Electrification would allow Great Western Railway to run their Class 800 trains more efficiently using the wires.
  • Would those who live by the railway, accept the electrification of the line?

It’s a difficult choice.

Route 5 – Felixstowe to Ipswich. Haughley Junction to Peterborough and Helpston to Nuneaton

Consider

  • This would be a big project, as it would require 146 miles of new electrification.
  • But the return could be worthwhile, as currently the route handles twenty trains per day and once the Felixstowe Branch Line has more double track, this figure could rise to fifty-six trains per day.
  • At Ipswich, Peterborough and Nuneaton, the route connects to fully-electrified lines.

My project management knowledge tends to electrifying this line from East to West as almost three separate projects.

  1. Felixstowe to Ipswich
  2. Haughley Junction to Peterborough
  3. Helpston to Nuneaton

It could even be five, if Helpston to Nuneaton was split into two at either Leicester or the Midland Main Line.

I have three general questions.

  • When the gauge clearance was undertaken a few years ago, were bridges raised to accommodate wires as well?
  • Will the natives object to fifty trains per day?
  • Will the line be  resignalled to handle the greater number of trains?

Once the full route is electrified, the number of trains to and from Felixstowe , that used the Great Eastern Main Line and the routes through London would drop. Obviously, some trains like those between Felixstowe and Wales and the West Country would still need to use the London routes.

But overall, this would allow a mixture of the following.

  • Higher passenger train frequencies on the North London Line
  • Higher passenger train frequencies on the Gospel Oak To Barking Line
  • More freight trains to and from London Gateway could use the cross-London routes.

The last point would mean, that electric locomotives would need to have access to London Gateway.

I will detail my thoughts on Felixstowe to the Midlands electrification in the next three sub-sections.

Route 5A – Felixstowe to Ipswich

Electrifying between Felixstowe and Ipswich shouldn’t be the most challenging of projects.

  • The route is fairly flat.
  • The route is double track, except for part of the Felixstowe Branch Line.
  • The line was cleared for the largest containers a few years ago.
  • Doubling of the Felixstowe Branch Line around Trimley and the removal of some level crossings should start this year.
  • There should be an adequate 25 KVAC power supply at Ipswich.

I have two extra questions.

  • Will the partial doubling of the Felixstowe Branch, prepare the line for electrification?
  • Has a scheme been designed to take electrification to the port?

But there will be benefits.

  • Some freight trains that use the Great Eastern Main Line and the electrified routes through London, could be hauled all the way. by electric locomotives.
  • If Felixstowe station was to be electrified, Greater Anglia could run five-car Class 720 electric trains instead of Class 755 bi-mode trains on the branch, if required.
  • Class 755 bi-mode trains on the Ipswich to Lowestoft service, would be able to use the electrification between Westerfield and Ipswich stations.
  • Noise and vibration could be reduced.

It is just over a dozen miles of elwctrification, so isn’t the largest of projects.

Route 5B – Haughley Junction to Peterborough

Like the first section between Felixstowe and Ipswich, this section is also not very challenging.

  • The route is fairly flat.
  • The route is double track.
  • The line was cleared for the largest containers a few years ago.
  • Ely is being remodelled to remove a bottleneck.
  • Ely to Soham improvements seem to have been dropped, but will surely happen.
  • Haughley Junction needs to be remodelled.
  • Network Rail are already removing level crossings.
  • There should be an adequate 25 KVAC power supply at Haughley and Peterborough.

I have an extra question.

  • Will the route between Cambridge and Chippenham Junction be electrified?

But there will be benefits.

  • Electric freight between Felixstowe And The East Coast Main Line as far as Scotland.
  • Greater Anglia could run their service between Colchester and Peterborough with a Class 720 electric train.
  • Greater Anglia’s service between Ipswich and Cambridge would do more running under wires.

The electrification might even enable some useful electrified diversion routes.

Route 5C -Helpston to Nuneaton

I don’t know this section of the route, as well as I know the two other sections.

  • The route is double track.
  • There is a busy level crossing in the middle of Oakham.
  • There should be an adequate 25 KVAC power supply at both ends of the route.

It would appear that the route goes through Leicester station on the Midland Main Line.

As the electrification of the Midland Main Line has been postponed, how will this section of the route be handled?

But there will be benefits.

  • Electric freight between Felixstowe And The Midlands
  • Fewer freight trains would need to go via London
  • Some passenger services, like Birmingham-Stansted Airport, could be run using electric trains.

Completing all three sections will open up new possibilities for both freight and passenger services.

Route 6 – Hare Park Junction to Leeds Stourton

This is a freight route , which can be followed this way.

Electrification of this eighteen mile route, would allow freight trains with electric traction to reach the Stourton terminal.

The electrification could also be extended to Leeds station, so that passenger services on the Hallam Line, run by bi-mode trains would have an electrified route into Leeds.

Route 7 – Mountsorrel to Syston Junction and Manton Junction to Corby

Mountsorrel Quarry is one of the biggest granite quarries in Europe. It is not on the railway anymore, but is connected to the Midland Main Line at

Barton upon Soar, by a mineral conveyor.

These two short lengths of electrification connect Mountsorrel to the electrified portion of the Midland Main Line to London and by using the Felixstowe to Nuneaton route, there is access to the East and West Coast Main Lines.

Julian Worth says that thirty trains per day use the route.

Looking on Real Time Trains, they are not the mega-trains of the Mendips, but they seem to go all over England.

Route 8 – Whitacre Junction to Birch Coppice

Birch Coppice is a freight terminal and it is connected to the Birmingham Lawley Street to Nuneaton Line at Whitacre Junction, by a six mile rail link.

As in Julian Worth’s plan, the Birmingham Lawley Street to Nuneaton Line will have been electrified, it will be an logical section of wires to install.

Summarising The Routes

Summarising the routes, you get the following, once all the proposals are added to the UK’s electrified network.

  • There is a major East-West route from Felixstowe to Birmingham, that connects to the two major North-South routes; East and West Coast Main Lines and East Anglia’s Great Eastern Main Line.
  • The Reading to Taunton Line now provides an  route to the South-West for electric trains.
  • The massive quarries in the Mendips and at Mountsorrel are connected to the main electrified network.
  • The ports of Felixstowe, London Gateway and Southampton are connected to the main electrified network.
  • The inland depots of Birch Coppice, Birmingham Lawley Street and Leeds Stourton  are connected to the main electrified network.

Others may well be added.

For instance, an electrified connection to Liverpool2  along the Canada Dock Branch, which runs in places through densely-packing housing and has been looked at for a passenger service by Merseyrail.

Installing The Electrification

Traditionally, electrification schemes have been done using money directly from the Treasury.

To say, performance in recent years has been mixed would be an understatement!

With my experience of project management, I have my theories about the poor performance, but as I have no serious data to back them up, I will not put most of them in this post.

I will say however, that my observations of the electrification of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line have led me to the conclusion, that there are not enough competent engineers, surveyors and technicians to install the current low-level of new electrification.

However, recent statements and documents from Chris Grayling about how the Southern rail access to Heathrow is to be financed, might suggest a model for electrification.

This Press Release on the Department of Transport web site, starts with these two paragraphs.

Private companies have been asked to come forward with ideas to deliver a new southern rail link to Heathrow Airport.

The link will be one of the first projects under government plans to invite third parties – such as local authorities and private sector companies – to invest in the rail network, over and above the £47 billion the government is already planning for the next 5 years.

The idea is that a private consortium would do the following.

  • Design, build and finance a new line, station or other piece of railway infrastructure.
  • Maintain it for a number of years.
  • Charge train operators a charge for using the infrastructure, in much the same way as Network Rail charge every train for track access.

If the sums add up, I suspect it is model that will work for electrification.

I will take the Felixstowe Branch Line, that I know well as an example.

The benefits of electrification on this line could be as follows.

  • Freight trains from the Port of Felixstowe using electrified lines from Ipswich, could be able to use electric haulage, which might be more affordable.
  • Greater Anglia could run Ipswich to Felixstowe services using trains running solely on electricity.
  • There would be less pollution and possibly less noise and vibration.
  • Electrification might allow faster operating speeds on the branch, which in turn would allow more freight and passenger trains.
  • The hourly passenger service between Ipswich and Felixstowe might be able to be doubled in frequency.

Currently, after the dualling at Trimley has been finished, the branch is planned to handle an hourly passenger train and around fifty freight trains per day.

It strikes me that if the contracts and charges have the right balance, that a deal could be struck with a competent consortium.

It would have the following parts.

  • The consortium would design, finance and install the electrification.
  • Installing the electrification would be done, without disturbing the passenger and freight traffic.
  • The consortium would maintain the electrification for an agreed number of years.
  • Electrification access charges would be modelled on track access charges and agreed with a regulator, such as the Office of Road and Rail.
  • Failure to provide a working electrified railway, would incur penalty charges to operators.

I feel the model could work.

  • The consortium would use best practice from around the world.
  • The consortium might encourage innovative design and working.
  • The  consortium would make sure it had the best engineers, technicians and equipment to keep the electrification in tip-top condition, as that is the best way to maximise return on capital, against a fixed income.
  • The Office of Road and Rail would ensure safety, quality and reliability.

I also feel, that one of the ways to get the electrification installed in a professional manner and then operational at an agreed date, is to get the project management right.

Too much of what I’ve seen on electrification in the UK, reminds me of the phrase – It’ll be alright on the night!

A consortium, which has to raise and justify the money it needs, can’t rely on this mantra and must be sure that if a scheme is going to cost £100 million, then.

  • The initial budget must be correct.
  • The electrification can be installed for that sum.
  • Sufficient contingency is included.

Get the first project, seriously wrong and they won’t get another of the many electrification projects in the pipeline.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 25, 2018 Posted by | Finance, Transport | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Could The Romford To Upminster Line Handle Four Trains Per Hour?

If you look at the current version of this page on Transport for London’s web site, which is entitled Track Closures Six Month Ahead, you will notice that there are the following closures on the Romford to Upminster Line.

  • Sunday May 28th to Monday May 29th 2017.
  • Sunday Aug 27th to Monday August 28th 2017.
  • Saturday Oct 21st to Sunday October 22nd 2017.

It could be a periodic closure for track or station maintenance as the three closures are three months apart, but I’ve noticed closures on this line before.

I’ve also searched the Internet and can find no references to any ongoing work or improvements on the line or the intermediate station at Emerson Park..

But the entries got me thinking about whether services could be improved on this line.

Various factors will come into play.

The Crossrail Affect

From May 22nd 2017, the new Class 345 trains will start running through Romford station on Crossrail‘s initial service between Liverpool Street and Shenfield stations.

How will Crossrail affect usage of the Romford to Upminster Line?

A lot of journeys from c2c territory in South East Essex will be quicker or easier using Crossrail and the Romford to Upminster Line.

I’ll give Southend to Heathrow as an example.

c2c’s Ambitions

It should also be pointed out that c2c are an ambitious company with new Italian owners and I think they will add new destinations and routes to their network.

I can see a lot of commercial and residential property being built along the North Bank of the Thames at Tilbury and London Gateway.

But if c2c have a problem, it is that it has good connections to the City of London at Fenchurch Street station, but getting to some parts of London like Euston, Kings Cross, the West End and Heathrow Airport is not easy.

There are good onward connections across the City at Barking, Limehouse and West Ham stations, which will be improved with the electrification of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

c2c To Liverpool Street

c2c use Liverpool Street station at occasions on Saturdays and Sundays and I have read that they would like to open a second London terminal at Liverpool Street, as this would also allow services to serve Stratford station with the Eastfield Shopping Centre and the Olympic Park.

But I can’t see Greater Anglia and London Overground allowing another operator into the crowded Liverpool Street station.

Could c2c Have Direct Access To Romford?

In an ideal world, where the Romford to Upminster Line would be double-tracked feeding into adequate bay platform or platforms at Romford station, c2c would be able to run a direct service between Romford and Grays stations via UpminsterOckendon and Chafford Hundred Lakeside, if they felt the service would be worthwhile.

It is one thing to run a four-car shuttle between Romford and Upminster, but look at this Google Map of Upminster station.

Note.

  • The c2c lines are South of the District Lines.
  • The Romford to Upminster Line goes off to the North-West.

A c2c train going between Romford and Grays would have to cross the busy District Lines, that terminate at Upminster station.

It would probably be possible, but only with the great expense of a massive fly-over or dive-under.

c2c’s Best Access To Crossrail

I would think that c2c’s best access to Crossrail would lie in a frequent service along the Romford to Upminster Line. The current two trains per hour is not enough, so could the branch handle three or even four trains per hour?

The Current Service On the Romford To Upminster Line

The single Class 315 train, that I saw today trundles along at 60 kph and takes a total of nine minutes to go between Romford and Upminster. Turnroumnd at Romford and Upminster take eight and four minutes respectively.

The single train does a round trip in thirty minutes, so it easily does two round trips in an hour.

Emerson Park Station

I went to Emerson Park station this afternoon to see if there was any evidence of improvements.

I found the following.

  • The catenary appears to have been given a good refurbishment.
  • The station has been tidied up.
  • The station is now staffed.
  • CCTV is being installed.
  • An office is being built.
  • New hand-rails are being fitted.
  • The station couldn’t accept a train longer than four-cars.

I got the overall impression that London Overground are expecting a lot more passengers to be using Emerson Park station. Wikipedia says this about passenger usage at the station.

It has relatively low but fast-growing patronage for a suburban railway station, with 260,000 passenger entries/exits in 2015/16, compared to 82,000 five years prior and just 32,000 ten years prior.

Given the platform length restriction and the convenience of passengers, I am led to the conclusion that a higher frequency of trains would be beneficial to passengers and operator alike.

How Fast Could An Aventra Travel Between Romford And Upminster?

If you look at a typical three station run on the Overground, such as Dalston Junction-Haggerston-Hoxton, it can tqke between three and five minutes in a Class 378 train, which is probably marginally slower than the new Aventra.

But that is only part of the time, as the driver of the train has to change ends between trips. I walked the length of a Class 378 train today and it took me a minute, so with a well-designed cab and some degree of automation, I suspect that a driver could safely change ends in under two minutes.

As the Aventra will be optimised for fast trips like these, I can see no reason, why a train can’t travel between Romford and Upminster in seven minutes.

Conclusion

A seven minute trip would mean the train could perform the required four trips per hour.

One major problem would be if say there was an incident on the train, like a passenger becoming seriously unwell. The driver would call the emergency services and proceed to the next station. After dealing with the emergency and perhaps seeing the passenger safely in the care of paramedics, the driver would resume the timetable. As there is only one train on the line at all times, service recovery is just a matter of restarting.

 

 

May 10, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 3 Comments

An Excursion To Shoeburyness

After I saw the Class 387/3 trains for c2c at Crewe, I thought that if the weather was nice, I’d take a trip to Shoeburyness. So as the weather was good on Sunday, I bought an extension ticket for under a tenner and went.

It is very much a trip into deepest Essex.

A few points.

  • As I changed trains at Whitechapel station, it looked like they’re starting to fit out the passageways.
  • I was surprised to see lots of disused space on the District Line platforms between Barking and Upminster. I guess that was so they could run long trains all the way to Shoeburyness.
  • There are quite a few level crossings on the line.
  • The Shoeburyness Depot isn’t small.
  • The track to Tilbury Riverside station is still visible.
  • There appears to be electrification gantries on the single-track leading to Platform 1 at Barking station, which Gospel Oak to Barking trains have used as a terminus for years.
  • I came back via Stratford to do some shopping at Eastfield.

Unlike many other rail companies and possibly because they are a smaller franchise, c2c doesn’t seem to have too many published plans and ambitions, other than to keep satisfying their customers.

But then there is very little of an expansionist nature that they could do!

  • In future years, there may be a need for a station at London Gateway.
  • Would housing and leisure developments around Tilbury Riverside, make it worthwhile reopening the station.
  • Much of the infrastructure work will be minor improvements for safety or to gain a few seconds here and there.
  • There could be a program of level crossing removal.
  • A new station will probably be built at Beam Park, to support housing development.

But there is no major project, like some proposed by companies like Chiltern Railways.

October 17, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 1 Comment

An Historical Side-Effect Of The London Gateway

This story from the Southend Echo, tells about the excavation of HMS London. They say this.

A PHOTOGRAPHIC exhibition detailing the excavation of a shipwreck off Southend pier has opened to the public.

HMS London was first rediscovered in 2005 during works to build the London Gateway superport.

Mary Rose it is not, but HMS London would appear that it is starting to give up its secrets.

I shall certainly go to the exhibition of photos at the Beecroft Gallery in the town.

April 9, 2015 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Will We Get Less Diesel Locomotives On The Overground?

I have been reading Network Rail’s Anglia Route Study.

One thing they say will be done is this.

Electrification of the Gospel Oak to Barking  Line and the Thameshaven freight branch.

So if they electrify toThameshaven or London Gateway, as its owners call it, will they also electrify from the Great Eastern Main Line to Felixstowe?

But whatever happens an electrified GOBlin and the ability to take electric locomotives into London Gateway, will surely cut the number of smelly and smoky diesel locomotives passing through the residential areas of North London.

Electrification of the Felixstowe branch would get rid of a few more.

The question has to be asked if we have enough electric freight locomotives.

December 3, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

The Rail Line Into London Gateway

I took this picture as my train to Stanford-le-hope passed the rail line into London Gateway.

The Rail Line Into London Gateway

The Rail Line Into London Gateway

It shows the double-tracked rail line into the port.

I would assume it will be electrified, when the main routes through London, like the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, are also fitted with overhead wires, so that freight trains can use efficient electric haulage.

October 27, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment