The Anonymous Widower

Greater Anglia Amends Class 720 Order From Bombardier To Increase Flexibility

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Rail Advent.

Greater Anglia is changing its order for Class 720 trains from a mixed fleet of 22 x ten-car and 89 x five-car to one of 133 x five-car.

The order is still 665 carriages in total.

In Why Do Some Train Operators Still Buy Half-Trains?, I tried to answer the question in the title of the post.

There have also been articles in railway magazines, questioning the practice of buying short trains and doubling them up.

In the UK, the following companies are running new trains in pairs.

  • Great Western Railway – Class 800 and Class 802
  • LNER – Class 800
  • London Overground – Class 710

The only creditable explanation I have heard was from a driver, who said that if one train in a pair fails, you can still run a short train.

Abd now Greater Anglia say it’s for increased flexibility!

October 8, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A First Ride On A Class 710 Train Between Upminster And Romford

This morning I went to Upminster and took the Class 710 train to Romford and back.

All went well and what a difference from yesterday, which I wrote about in A Last Ride On A Class 315 Train Between Upminster And Romford?

These are my thoughts.

Capacity Improvement

These pictures show the interiors of the Class 710 train and the Class 315 train.

It looks like many more passengers can be squeezed into the Class 710 train, than the Class 315 train.

According to Wikipedia the Class 710 train can hold 189 seated and 489 standing passengers, whilst the Class 315 train has 318 seats.

Ride Improvement

I travelled along the route with a Transport for London engineer, who worked on the Crossrail trains.

We both felt the ride was a large improvement and we both felt that it Network Rail worked a bit of magic on the track, it would be a very good train service.

Could Four Trains Per Hour Be Possible?

My travelling companion had worked on the Docklands Light Railway, and we both felt that with a degree of automation, an increased frequency would be possible.

Consider.

  • There is only one train on the line at any one time.
  • No other trains use the line.
  • The route is under 3.5 miles long.
  • The acceleration and deceleration of the new trains is superior to those of the Class 315 trains.
  • Do the Class 710 trains employ regenerative braking to battery technology?
  • The current operating speed is just 30 mph.
  • I’m sure Network Rail could improve the operating speed.
  • My travelling companion told me, that Crossrail had successfully tested the automated auto-reverse feature on the Class 345 trains

All these points convince me, that, track improvements and simple automation, much less sophisticated, than that of the Victoria Line or the Docklands Light Railway, could run the service at a frequency of four trains per hour (tph).

There is one problem though.

This article on Time 107.5, is entitled New Train To Begin Running Between Romford And Upminster.

This is an extract.

From today, the new Overground train which has changes to certain features, will be implemented.

The key changes include a different colour at the front which has changed from yellow to orange.

Different LED lights have also been fitted to the train.

The new trains are also quieter so may sound different to the older trains.

As a result, Network Rail and Transport for London are reminding pedestrians using level crossings along the route to stay safe.

Network Rail and Transport for London seem to be worried about pedestrians on the level crossings.

I would think, it prudent, that before line speeds and the frequency of the service are increased, there should be a thorough period of testing to see how pedestrians cope with the new trains, at the level crossings.

What methods of automation could be used?

Borrow From Dear Old Vicky

The Victoria Line (aka Dear Old Vicky!) opened in 1968 and runs using a fully-automated system, at frequencies of up to 36 tph.

Under Service And Rolling Stock, in the Wikipedia entry for the Victoria Line, there is this description of the original automation system.

On opening, the line was equipped with a fixed-block Automatic Train Operation system (ATO). The train operator closed the train doors and pressed a pair of “start” buttons and, if the way ahead was clear, the ATO drives the train at a safe speed to the next station. At any point, the driver could switch to manual control if the ATO failed. The system, which operated until 2012, made the Victoria line the world’s first full-scale automatic railway.

The Victoria line runs faster trains than other Underground lines because it has fewer stops, ATO running and modern design. Train speeds can reach up to 50 miles per hour (80 km/h).

Note.

  1. The original ATO system worked for over forty years.
  2. The method of operation seemed to be very safe,
  3. But most remarkably, the electronics that controlled the trains, were 1960s technology and contained a lot of thermionic valves and relays

What would 50 mph running do for timings between Romford and Upminster?

By training I am a Control Engineer, and although, I’ve never worked on large-scale automation systems, I have worked with lots of people who have and firmly believe that a simple system based on Dear Old Vicky’s original design would work.

What sort of times could be achieved between Romford and Upminster?

  • The route can be considered to be two legs; Romford and Emerson Park and Emerson Park and Upminster, both of which are about 1.75 miles long.
  • The fastest way in a train between too stations, is to accelerate to cruising speed, cruise at that speed and then time the deceleration, so you stop neatly in the station.
  • The Class 710 trains probably accelerate and decelerate at around 1 m/sec/sec.
  • The acceleration and deceleration section of each leg will take 22.2 seconds and during that time the train will travel 0.15 miles.
  • So that means the train will cruise at 50 mph for 1.45 miles, which will take 104 seconds.
  • The two legs of the journey will take around 150 second or 2.5 minutes.

The time for a round trip from Romford to Upminster can now be calculated,

  • Four legs between station 4 x 2.5 = 10 mins
  • Two stops Emerson Park 2 x 1 mins = 2 mins
  • One stop at Romford 2 mins = 2 mins
  • One stop at Upminster 2 mins = 2 mins

Note.

  1. This is a total of 16 minutes
  2. The longer stops at Romford and Upminster are needed for the driver to change ends.
  3. I have repeated the calculations for a 60 mph cruise and it saves just 40 seconds.

But I do feel that improving the method of operation could allow four tph.

The Driver Could Control The Train From One End

Consider.

  • Each cab could have a video screen showing the view from the other cab.
  • There could also be video screens on the platforms giving detailed views of the train in a station, as there are on many platforms now!

Would these and perhaps extra automation allow the driver to control the train from one cab, as it shuttled back and forth?

I suspect it would be cab at the Upminster end, as the platform is longer at Romford.

I believe that it would be possible and should allow stops of a minute at the two termini, as the driver wouldn’t be changing ends.

One minute stops would reduce the round-trip time to fourteen minutes and allow four tph.

Full Automation With The Driver In Control

The Docklands Light Railway is fully automated, so why not use a similar system on the Romford and Upminster Line?

But instead of having the system controlled by an operator in a remote signalling centre, the driver on the single train on the route is in control of it all.

The automation would enable fast stops and the driver would not have to change ends.

This would mean that four tph would be able to run at all times.

The System Would Self-Regulate

With public transport, things do go wrong.

Supposing someone turned up in a wheel-chair and it took five minutes to load them onto the train, so it left late.

This would mean that the train would be running late for the rest of the day, unless it was decided to wait for a few minutes, so it had the time of the following service.

After the wait, all trains would be on time.

Put Two Drivers On The Train

This would also be possible.

The train would have a driver in each cab.

  • The driver in the cab at the Romford end of the train would drive the train to Romford.
  • The driver in the cab at the Upminster end of the train would drive the train to Upminster.
  • At each terminus, they would swap over control, just as the two pilots do in an airliner.

There would probably need to be a simple interlock, so that only one driver could drive the train at the same time.

This should give the required four tph, as fast stops could be performed at all stations.

Using two drivers could be the ideal way to test out four tph and see whether it attracted more passengers.

Conclusion

The Romford and Upminster route has been markedly improved with the new Class 710 train.

I believe, that it is now possible to run four tph on this route, with some moderate extra expenditure or using two drivers.

 

 

October 5, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Last Ride On A Class 315 Train Between Upminster And Romford?

This morning I went to Upminster and took the Class 315 train to Romford.

I added the question mark, as when I passed East Ham depot, there were two new Class 710 trains sitting there, covered in graffiti.

Could The Romford And Upminster Line Be Improved?

I see two possible simple improvements

Four Trains Per Hour

London Overground likes to run four trains per hour (tph).

Could this frequency be run on the Romford and Upminster Line?

Three years ago I wrote Could The Romford To Upminster Line Handle Four Trains Per Hour?, and came to this conclusion.

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

It would still be tight.

I also investigated an automated shuttle train on the route in An Automated Shuttle Train Between Romford And Upminster, which I felt would be possible, to run a four tph service.

Extension Of The Service

There are various reasons, why the service could be extended from Upminster station, in the Grays direction.

  • It would give travellers from South Essex much better access to Crossrail.
  • It could give a shuttle between Romford and Grays via the Lakeside Shopping Centre
  • Tilbury Riverside station could be a possibility.
  • It could open up possibilities for more housing in the area.
  • If the route were to be extended to a new station at London Gateway, it could make it easier for people to travel to work at the large port.

Obviously, it would have to be viable for the operator, but the big beasts of Crossrail, Lakeside Shopping Centre and London Gateway might make it possible.

Planning the route wouldn’t be that easy.

Consider.

  • The connections to Romford and Grays are on different sides of the District Line, so a flyover or dive-under might be needed.
  • Upminster and Grays is a single-track line with a passing loop at the two-platform Ockenden station.
  • Upminster and Grays used to be worked by a shuttle service.
  • The signalling appears to be able to handle four tph in both directions.
  • The current service between Grays and Upminster is two tph in both directions.
  • There is a bay platform 1A, at Upminster, which faces towards Grays.

It can certainly be said, that the extension of the service can’t be run at four tph.

I also think, that the current track layout at Upminster looks like one of British Rail efforts to stop any expansion of the railway.

This Google Map shows the layout of Upminster station.

Note.

  1. The  platforms are numbered 1 to 6 from South to North.
  2. Platform 1A is the Southernmost platform, which is slightly at an angle.
  3. The main station footbridge is at the Western ends of the platforms.
  4. The station isn’t fully step-free.

Is an alternative approach possible?

Suppose the following were to be arranged.

  • A four tph endless shuttle between Romford and Upminster stations.
  • Full step-free access at Romford station is currently being installed.
  • Full step-free access at Upminster station.
  • A two tph shuttle between Platform 1a and Grays, London Gateway or wherever most passengers want. This service would be arranged to give four tph between Upminster and Grays, when combined with the current services.
  • The two four tph services would be timed to give a convenient interchange at Upminster.

Could it be made to work?

It would only need improvements to Upminster station.

These pictures show Upminster station.

Note.

  1. Platform 1a is fully-electrified and long enough for a Class 710 train.
  2. The bridge at the Eastern end of the station is not step-free but could be updated.
  3. It might be possible to extend this bridge to Platform 6.

Platform 1a could certainly be used to operate a shuttle service to Grays to create a new service across South Essex.

 

 

October 4, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Greater Manchester Illegal Raves: Man Dies, Woman Raped And Three Stabbed

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

A 20-year-old man has died, a woman has been raped and three people have been stabbed during two illegal “quarantine raves” that attracted 6,000 people.

What the hell was going on?

There have been some exuberant parties in Hackney Marshes, but they didn’t appear to be the on the scale of the Mancunian troubles.

Last night on Stephen Nolan’s program, there was some very heated debate on what went on in Manchester. Some, who had been present, should have been arrested, if what they alleged they’d done was true.

If you look at total COVID-19 cases in London and the North West on June 15th, they are as follows.

  • London 27, 330 – 306.8
  • North-West 26,759 – 367

The second figure is a rate per 100,000 of the population. Although the Government data doesn’t give the legend on the chart! Poor presentation again from the Government statisticians!

I have been on public transport a lot in London and the behaviour of passengers seems to follow the rules. Especially, on the Overground, which seems to be busier than the buses and the Underground. Today on a trip out, everybody I saw on public transport was masked!

June 15, 2020 Posted by | Health, Transport, World | , , , , | Leave a comment

Plans For Second Entrance At Hackney Central Station Move Ahead

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the Hackney Citizen.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Plans to alleviate overcrowding at Hackney Central station are now moving ahead, with a decision by the Town Hall to provide a second entrance on council-owned land on Graham Road.

The article also makes the following points.

  • Things should be moving on the new entrance on the North side of the station.
  • Usage of the Overground went up 160 percent between 2007 and 2013,
  • Usage is expected to rise 40 % in the next ten years.
  • The original 1980s building was designed with a twenty year life.

Read the whole article, as it looks like the politics of the new entrance is all very complicated, but badly needed. Especially, by this traveller!

 

March 12, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , | 1 Comment

Woo! There Are Now Brand New Overground Trains Running From Liverpool Street

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

These are going to make a big difference and I”ll go and have a look for them later.

I got a glimpse of two two-car units working together at Hackney Downs station.

One guy told me that three trains were running.

March 4, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , | 6 Comments

‘Mammoth Task’ Completed As Overground Line Reopens

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

The article tells the story of one of the worst rail cock-ups of recent years.

A rogue wagon on a freight train ripped up four kilometres of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line on the night of the 23rd of January.

And it was only yesterday, that the line fully reopened.

This is the last sentence of the article.

The cost of the repairs and resulting disruption has not been revealed.

Effectively, four kilometres of new railway don’t come cheap!

February 20, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

London Overground Ticket Office Closures As 2% Of Tickets Are Bought Through Them

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article in Rail Advent magazine.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Transport for London has announced that the hours at some London Overground ticket offices will start to change over the next few weeks to match the times customers use them.

That sounds fine by me, as any company or organisation, should make best uses of resources.

It should be born in mind, that London Overground’s policy is to always have staff visible, when the trains are running.

 

January 9, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , | 2 Comments

More Trains Watford Junction To London Euston Route Thanks To Class 710s

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Rail Advent.

This paragraph sums up the new service.

From Sunday 17 November, Transport for London (TfL) will start to run four trains per hour (approximately every 15 minutes) throughout the day.

Currently, there are only three trains per hour (tph), which until a couple of months ago, were five car trains.

  • So it appears that the service will be increasing from three trains and fifteen cars per hour to four trains and sixteen cars per hour.
  • Checking the on-line timetable, it also appears that service might be a few minutes faster.
  • I can’t be sure of the latter as the on-line timetable or my internet connection seems to be playing up.
  • The Watford DC Line will now have the standard London Overground frequency of four tph.

The big improvement with both the the Watford DC Line and the Gospel Oak and Barking Line using identical trains could be in service recovery.

  • Eight trains are needed to run a full service on both lines.
  • Eighteen trains have been ordered.
  • This would mean one could be in maintenance and one can be kept as a hot spare.

It is not as tight as it looks, because I suspect a five-car Class 378 train can fill in on the Watford DC Line, if required.

 

 

 

November 6, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

The New Light Freight Terminal At Liverpool Street Station

These pictures show the old cab road at Liverpool Street station, where the proposed light freight terminal will be developed.

The spacious cab road shut a few years ago and was moved to its current position in front of the station. Nowadays it is used mainly for deliveries to the station and the retail units, by Network Rail maintenance vehicles and sometimes by Rail Replacement Buses.

This second set of pictures show the exit of the cab road in Primrose Street, behind the station.

Note  these points about the old cab road.

  1. There is some nice ironwork and a vaulted ceiling, but nothing that would be damaged if electric vans and cargo bikes used the cab road to serve freight shuttles.
  2. The road surface and the brickwork all appear to be in good condition.
  3. By removing the barrier between the cab road and platform 10, there would be no problem loading and unloading trains.
  4. There is also a good wide passage leading from the old cab road to the main concourse of the station.

I suspect that the only functional building in the area, which is the Left Luggage Office, will have to be moved. But it might be better placed on the main concourse.

Platform 10 Looks Very Convenient For The Freight Shuttle

The closeness of Platform 10 and the old cab road makes the platform look very convenient for the terminus of freight shuttles from London Gateway

How Will The Freight Shuttles Travel Between London Gateway And Liverpool Street Station?

The route from London Gateway to Liverpool Street station will be as follows.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the tracks, where the Gospel Oak to Barking Line crosses over the Great Eastern Main Line.

The train will join the Great Eastern Main Line here for a fast run into Liverpool Street station.

  • I suspect the train will switch to the fast lines using the crossovers shown in the map.
  • Note that the performance of a Class 769 train on electrified track, will be only slightly less than the expresses.

At Liverpool Street station, the train will run into Platform 10.

Will Liverpool Street Station Lose A Platform?

Currently, Platforms 9 and 10 are generally used for the London and Norwich services.

  • These trains run at a frequency of two trains per hour (tph).
  • They are formed of a rake of Mark 3 coaches topped sand tailed by a Class 90 locomotive and a driving van trailer.
  • They call at various stations en route including Chelmsford, Colchester and Ipswich and are very heavily used at peak times.
  • Entry to and exit from the trains is not of a modern standard and I suspect turnround times can sometimes must be very slow.

From next year, these trains will be replaced  by modern twelve-car Class 745 trains.

  • These trains have 757 seats, which I have read somewhere is more than the current trains.
  • The trains will have level access between train and platform at all stations.
  • I suspect turnround times will be shorter, due to the modern design.

Frequency between London and Norwich will also be increased yp three tph, by extending a service between London and Ipswich, which will be run by a Class 720 train.

Will it be possible to fit three tph into Platforms 9 and 10?

I suspect that it might be tight, as over the last few months, Norwich trains have sometimes  been using higher numbered platforms like 14.

So will the proposed three tph to Colchester, Ipswich and Norwich be moved to two higher numbered platforms.

This would enable platform 10 to be used by freight shuttle trains, but will the station be able to run all the services, with one platform less?

Current Services Into Liverpool Street Station

Current services from Liverpool Street station are as follows.

  • Six tph – GEML – TfL Rail – Shenfield
  • Three tph – GEML – Greater Anglia – Southend
  • Two tph – GEML – Greater Anglia – Norwich
  • One tph – GEML – Greater Anglia – Ipswich
  • One tph – GEML – Greater Anglia – Clacton
  • One tph – GEML – Greater Anglia – Colchester Town
  • One tph – GEML – Greater Anglia – Braintree
  • Four tph – WAML- London Overground – Chingford
  • Two tph – WAML- London Overground – Cheshunt
  • Two tph – WAML- London Overground – Enfield Town
  • Four tph – WAML- Greater Anglia – Stansted Airport
  • Two tph – WAML- Greater Anglia – Hertford East
  • Two tph – WAML- Greater Anglia -Cambridge

Totalling these up means the following.

  • 16 tph use the double-track West Anglia Main Line (WAML)
  • 15 tph use the four-track Great Eastern Main Line (GEML) as far as Shenfield.
  • 6 tph use the double-track GEML to the North of Shenfield.

It looks neatly balanced.

Would moving Norwich services to a pair of the higher-numbered platforms improve operation?

All WAML services would be in platforms 1 to 9, as against platforms 1 to 8 now!

All GEML services would be in platforms 10 to 18, as against platforms 9 to 18 now!

If platform 10 is used by the freight shuttles, this would make operational sense, as the shuttle will approach Liverpool Street along the GEML after joining at Manor Park station.

Future Services Into Liverpool Street Station

From 2021 or so, these could be the from Liverpool Street station.

  • Three tph – GEML – Greater Anglia – Southend
  • Three tph – GEML – Greater Anglia – Norwich
  • One tph – GEML – Greater Anglia – Clacton
  • One tph – GEML – Greater Anglia – Colchester Town
  • One tph – GEML – Greater Anglia – Braintree
  • Four tph – WAML- London Overground – Chingford
  • Two tph – WAML- London Overground – Cheshunt
  • Two tph – WAML- London Overground – Enfield Town
  • Four tph – WAML- Greater Anglia – Stansted Airport
  • Two tph – WAML- Greater Anglia – Hertford East
  • Two tph – WAML- Greater Anglia -Cambridge

Totalling these up means the following.

  • 16 tph use the double-track West Anglia Main Line (WAML)
  • 9 tph use the four-track Great Eastern Main Line (GEML) as far as Shenfield.
  • 12 tph from Crossrail will use the slow lines as far as Shenfield.
  • 3 tph use the double-track GEML to the North of Shenfield.

Crossrail has opened up capacity on the Great Eastern Main Line.

  • Currently, there are 15 tph on the GEML using platforms 9 to 15.
  • In 2021, there will be just 9 tph on the GEML using platforms 10 to 17.

There will be extra services to Lowestoft and Crossrail’s Peak Hour service to Gidea Park station.

But even so, I suspect there will be space for more services.

 

 

November 3, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 11 Comments