The Anonymous Widower

Could Merseyrail’s Class 777 Trains Run As Tram-Trains On The Manchester Metrolink?

Look at the main dimensions of the Stadler Class 777 train destined for Merseyrail  and the current M5000 tram of the Manchester Metrolink. I have also added the dimensions of the Stadler Class 399 tram-train, that is running on the Sheffield Supertram network.

Class 777 train

  • Width – 2.82 metres
  • Height – 3.82 metres
  • Floor Height – 0.96 metres
  • Overall Length – 64.98 metres
  • Capacity – 190 seats and 302 standing – 492 total
  • Operating Speed – 75 mph

M5000

  • Width – 2.65 metres
  • Height – 3.67 metres
  • Floor Height – 0.90 metres
  • Overall Length – 28.4 metres
  • Double Length – 56.8 ,metres
  • Capacity – 60 or 66 seats and 146 standing – 206 or 212 total
  • Operating Speed – 50 mph

Class 399 tram-train

  • Width – 2.65 metres
  • Height – 3.72 metres
  • Floor Height – 0.425 metres
  • Overall Length – 37.2 metres
  • Capacity – 96 seats and 140 standing – 236  total
  • Operating Speed – 62 mph

Note.

  1. Vehicle width and height could probably be incorporated on the same track
  2. The floor heights of the Class 777 train and the M5000 are surprisingly close,
  3. The floor height of the low-floor Class 399 tram-train is lower and wouldn’t allow step-free access from platform to tram on the Metrolink network.
  4. A double M5000 and a Class 777 train have similar lengths.
  5. A double M5000 has 86% of the capacity of a Class 777 train.

A Class 777 train looks to be able to go anywhere that a double M5000 tram can go and be able to give the same quality of passenger access.

Can double M5000 trams use the whole of the Metrolink network?

Power Supply

Around Manchester and Liverpool there are the following types of electrification.

  • 25 KVAC overhead – Connecting major cities and on the West Coast Main Line.
  • 750 VDC overhead – Manchester Metrolink
  • 750 VDC third-rail – Merseyrail

In the future it is intended that Class 777 trains will be able to handle.

  • 25 KVAC overhead
  • 750 VDC third-rail

It should also be noted that Class 399 tram-trains, which are also built by Stadler can handle.

  • 25 KVAC overhead
  • 750 VDC overhead

I wouldn’t be surprised to find, that Stadler can produce a Class 777 train, that could handle these voltages.

  • 25 KVAC overhead
  • 750 VDC overhead
  • 750 VDC third-rail

It’s all about the electrical systems on the train, but Stadler probably have the solutions in their boxes of tricks.

I very much feel it would possible for a version of a Class 777 train with an additional battery to do the following.

  • Run as a train on the Merseyrail network. using 750 VDC third-rail.
  • Run as a train between Otmskirk and Preston using a mixture of battery power and 25 KVAC overhead.
  • Run as a train between Kirkby and Wigan using the battery.
  • Run as a double tram on the Manchester Metrolink using 750 VDC overhead.
  • Run as a tram-train to extend the Manchester Metrolink using a mixture of battery power and 25 KVAC overhead.

Class 777 trains might even be able to run on the Sheffield Supertram network. But they might be too long and would not be able to provide step-free access from platform to tram, without modification of trains and/or platforms.

Poasible Routes

Just about anywhere a Manchester Metrolink M5000 tram or a four-car electric or diesel multiple unit can run.

Thjis article on Railway Gazette is entitled Battery Trial Planned For New EMU Fleet.

This is the first sentence.

The sixth of the 52 four-car 750 V DC third rail electric multiple-units which Stadler is to supply for Merseyrail services around Liverpool is to be fitted with a 5 tonne battery to test the business case for energy storage.

A five tonne battery will soon be able to have a capacity of 500 kWh, which should be able to give the train a range of fifty miles on battery power.

This would more than cover the thirty miles without electrification between Altrincham and Chester, where the battery could be recharged.

Conclusion

I am in no doubt that Merseyrail’s Class 777 trains, could run as tram-trains on the Manchester Metrolink.

But then, Stadler don’t do ordinary and obvious!.

Why should they?

There must also be an advantage to Manchester Metrolink and Merseyrail, if they were using the same or similar vehicles for their public transport networks.

 

 

September 18, 2019 Posted by | Transport, Uncategorized | , , , , , | 11 Comments

Metrolink Customers Complete 170k Trips Using Contactless System

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

The high number of journeys is no surprise to me and Manchester should have introduced this system several years ago!

This post from September 2015 is ntitled Transport for London Are Leading The Contactless Revolution.

I’ll repeat the short post here.

This article from Rail Magazine is entitled Contactless Ticketing Booms In London.

It states the following.

  • In the first year, 180 million journeys have been made using contactless cards.
  • This accounts for a fifth of all pay-as-you-go journeys.

But what isn’t said is the fact that despite the predictions of some left-wing and green politicians, there has been no hint of any problems. If there had been, the various tabloids would have had a field-day.

When are the rest of the large cities of the UK going to copy London, so I don’t need to use that nineteenth century technology of paper tickets?

Manchester’s figure of 170,000 in four weeks is a rate of around two million in the first year.

  • Greater Manchester is a lot smaller than Greater London.
  • London had been running Oyster successfully since 2003.
  • Oyster and contsctless ticketing could be used on the Underground, Overground, trams, trains and buses.

I will be very surprised if Manchester doesn’t expand their system.

This is said in the Wikipedia entry for Oyster card.

Since the launch of contactless payment in 2012, over 500 million journeys have been made, using over 12 million contactless bank cards.

Assuming the rate of use is level, which it isn’t as it’s increasing, this works out at 71.4 million journeys per year.

  • Greater London’s population is 8.8 million
  • Greater Manchester’s population is 2.8 million

Just doing a simple pro-rata means that Manchester should see 22 million journeys a year or 62,000 journeys a day.

According to Wikipedia, the Manchester Metrolink had 43.7 million riders in 2018/19.

Conclusion

Manchester must do the following as soon as possible.

  • Extend contactless ticketing to all buses and trains in the Greater Manchester area.
  • Make sure all taxis accept contactless cards.
  • Extend the Mabchester Metrolink.
  • Put in an order for some more trams, as soon as possible. They will be needed as traffic will grow exponentially.
  • Purchase some vandal-proof terminals.

They should also enter into discussions with Cheshire, Lancashire, Leeds, Liverpool, Sheffield and Yorkshire about creating a common and integrated contactless card system for the North!

Contactless ticketing would transform lhe North!

Will Contactless Ticketing Generate Funding For Extensions?

Some extensions to the Manchester Metrolink will be fairly easy and not very costly to build. In Tram-Trains To Hale Station, I talked about a simple extension to Hale station, that could go a lot further to perhaps Northwich, Sandbach and Crewe.

When Transport for Greater Manchester get a decent financial model and data from a year of contactless ticketing, some of the routes for tram-trains might be possible to fund from a large insurance or pension fund.

I have used this tram-train extension as an example, as there is no need to lay a lot of new track, so costs can be less.

London should have been able to fund improvements, but Sadiq Khan brought in a fare freeze and Crossrail turned out to be late.

A Lesson For Brexit

Boris Johnson was Mayor of London, when full contactless ticketing was implemented in London.

  • It was the first such system in the world.
  • The left and the green were against it and said it would all end in tears.
  • All Londoners and visitors have embraced the system and I’ve never found anybody who refuses to use it.
  • Attacks on staff have dropped to a very low level, as there’s no money about.
  • In my opinion it is one of the main reasons, that London has been so successful in recent years.

I voted Remain and still think, there are reasons we should stay in Europe.

  • But the referendum went the other way and everyone must abide by the result.
  • Boris probably had little to do with London’s contactless ticketing revolution, but if it had failed he would have got the blame.
  • All politicians in London now embrace the technology and would be voted out of office, if they decided contactless bank cards couldn’t be used.

Boris is now in charge of Brexit and just like those of the left and the green who opposed contactless ticketing, those that oppose Brexit will be Yesterday’s Men.

Like contactless ticketing, it has nothing to do with Boris, but all to do with the power of the man and woman on the bus or in the voting booth.

I think it is too late to stop a No-Deal Brexit.

 

August 19, 2019 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , , | Leave a comment

Tram-Trains To Hale Station

In Manchester Metrolink Extensions In A Sentence, I quoted this sentence from the Manchester Evening News.

It includes tram extensions to Port Salford, Middleton and Stalybridge, plus ‘tram trains’ to Hale, Warrington, Gorton and Glossop.

How would tram-trains from Hale join the current Metrolink network?

Hale Station

Hale station, is located in a busy and important village, in the middle of Cheshire’s footballer suburb, if you believe the tabloids.

The station has some problems.

  • The station needs a refurbishment.
  • The station needs step-free access.
  • The level crossing needs removing.

But the biggest problem is that there is only an hourly service serving the station, that runs between Manchester Piccadilly and Chester stations. To make matters worse the train is only two cars. My train was a Pacer, as the pictures show.

Onward To Knutsford, Northwich, Middlewich and Sandbach

In Business Case Requested For Middlewich Reopening, I looked at the opening of Middlewich station on the Northwich to Sandbach Line, which is just a dozen miles to the West of Hale station.

I’m certain in other parts of the UK, like East London, Nottingham and East Lancashire, that the provision of a train service between Middlewich and Manchester would be heavily patronised.

Or is it that the people in Cheshire too posh to use trains?

The Wikipedia entry for Middlewich station, says this about the initial service, when the station opened. in 1868.

The basic train service for passengers was from Crewe via Sandbach to Middlewich and Northwich. Some trains reversed at Northwich and then continued to Hartford and Greenbank and then along a short stretch of the West Coast Main Line (WCML) to Acton Bridge.

If the Northwich and Sandbach Line is ever reopened, surely one possibility for a train service is between Crewe and Manchester via Sandbach, Middlewich, Northwich, Hale and Altrincham.

  • Such a service would allow passengers between Althincham and Sandbach to have a handy connection to Crewe with its famed connectivity.
  • It would be a very useful commuter service to and from Manchester.
  • If it had a frequency of two trains per hour (tph) it would give a substantial increase to train services between Northwich and Altrincham.
  • It could possibly ease the overcrowding on the Styal Line.

By 2030, it would even provide a link to High Speed Two at Crewe, in addition to the connection in Manchester.

The Class 399 Train-Train

The Class 399 tram-train is a cross between a tram and a train.

  • They are members of the Stadler Citylink family of tram-trains.
  • In the UK, they are already running successfully between the centre of Sheffield and Rotherham Parkgate Shopping Centre.
  • In Sheffield, they work as trams and drivers have told me, they are powerful trams, that cope with Sheffield’s hills extremely well.
  • The tram-trains have step-free access between tram-train and platform.
  • On the National Rail lines to Rotherham, they cruise happily at 100 kph, which is almost as fast as a Class 156 train.
  • They can run on both 25 KVAC and 750 VDC overhead electrification.
  • Trains for Wales have ordered thirty six similar tram-trains, that can run on battery power, where electrification has not been erected.

This is one of Sheffield’s Class 399 tram-trains at Rotherham Parkgate.

Note the step-free access.

They are a very versatile tram or train, depending on where they are running.

I would suspect the following will happen in the next few years.

  • Sheffield are planning to replace their ageing tram fleet and they will look seriously at more Class 399 tram-trains, as they perform well as trams and the region needs more tram-trains.
  • Manchester have stated that they are looking seriously at tram-trains and Class 399 tram-trains will surely be considered.
  • Other tram networks are looking at tram-trains and they won’t ignore the Class 399 tram-train.

I feel we can expect to see more of these tram-trains in the UK.

Manchester Metrolink Needs More Trams

Manchester Metrolink will need more trams in the next few years and I wouldn’t be surprised that the new ones had a tram-train capability.

Possible Tram-Train Routes To Hale

These are possible routes.

A Metrolink Extension From Altrincham

This is the simplest option, where tram-trains would replace some or all of the service on the Atrincham and Bury and Altrincham and Piccadilly Metrolink services.

The tram-trains would probably need to have a battery capability and this would easily handle the less than a mile between Altrincham and Hale stations, without any electrification.

A Northward Extension From Manchester Victoria Station

In Could A Class 399 Tram-Train With Batteries Go Between Manchester Victoria And Rochdale/Bury Bolton Street/Rawtenstall Stations?, I looked at the possibilities of a Northward extension of the Metrolink,  using tram-trains, that had been suggested by an article in the February 2019 Edition of Modern Railways.

I have included it here, as it would be a good destination for a cross-city tram-train service, that started at Hale.

A Southward Extension From Altrincham To Middlewich

If the Sandbach and Northwich Line were to be reopened to traffic with a station at Middlewich, this would be a possible Southern terminus for the route.

The distance would probably be too far for battery operation, so there would be a need to electrify the extension using either 25 KVAC main line or 750 VDC tramway electrification.

As the route has been used by Virgin’s Euston and Chester services as a diversion route, and the Crewe and Chester Line has a high priority for electrification, there is a chance that lines in the area will be electrified.

This could mean the tram-trains could easily run from Altrincham as far as Crewe, as the route could be fully electrified.

Tram-Train Between Manchester Piccadilly and Hale Via Stockport

On the route between Manchester Piccadilly and Hale station via Stockport, there are only two stations between Stockport and Hale station; Navigation Road and Altrincham.

Would it be feasible or worthwhile to convert this route into tram-train operation by perhaps adding 750 VDC overhead electrification?

  • There is typically one or two freight trains and one Chester and Manchester Piccadilly service in each direction in every hour, so two tram-trains per hour in each direction should be possible.
  • Stops could be added at convenient places.
  • Between Stockport and Manchester Piccadilly stations, the existing 25 KVAC electrification would be used.

It would not be the largest project.

The Refurbishment Of Hale Station

Hale station needs a refurbishment and a step-free bridge.

In Winner Announced In The Network Rail Footbridge Design Ideas Competition, I wrote how the competition was won by this bridge.

So could a factory-built bridge like this be installed at Hale station?

This Google Map shows Hale station.

I think a new bridge could be installed at the Northern end of the station, if it were to be decided that the current one couldn’t be fitted with lifts.

The Electrification And Bi-Mode Alternative

As I said earlier the Crewe and Chester Line could be electrified, which would enable electric trains to run between London and Chester.

However, since the award of the West Coast Partnership to First Trenitalia, I now think it is unlikely the Crewe and Chester Line will be electrified in the near future, as new bi-mode trains will be ordered for North Wales services.

But I don’t reject the notion, that Northern will run bi-mode Class 769 trains between Manchester Piccadilly and Chester.

These trains could use the electrification between Stockport and Manchester Piccadilly stations.

Conclusion

Tram-trains and much improved services to Hale are a distinct possibility.

 

 

 

August 15, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 5 Comments

Could Platforms 1 And 2 At Manchester Piccadilly Station Become A Tram-Train Terminal?

Tram-trains often pass through a city in the following manner.

  • They arrive in the city as trains and take to the tram system.
  • They use the tram system to go through the city centre,
  • At the other side of the city, they take to the rail lines and go to the final destination.

I took this picture in the main square in Kassel in Germany.

A continuous stream of trams and tram-trains pass through going across the city.

Isn’t it just like Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester? except that at present, they’re all trams on the Manchester Metrolink!

In Manchester Metrolink Extensions In A Sentence, I gave this quote from the Manchester Evening News.

It includes tram extensions to Port Salford, Middleton and Stalybridge, plus ‘tram trains’ to Hale, Warrington, Gorton and Glossop.

Currently, services to Hale, Gorton, Glossop and other places like Guide Bridge, Marple and New Mills Central come into low-numbered platforms in Manchester Piccadilly station.

The original plans for High Speed Two were rather unimaginative and probably very expensive, envisaged four High Speed platforms on the Northern side of the station.

In Changes Signalled For HS2 Route In North, I analyse the latest thinking on High Speed Two and I believe there is a chance, that Manchester Piccadilly will have underground through platforms deep underneath the current station.

These pictures show platforms 1 and 2 at Piccadilly station.

Currently, several of the lines that terminate in these two platforms are run by life-expired Pacers and they will be replaced by Class 195 trains.

But, as the quoted sentence shows, some of the routes into these platforms could be turned over to tram-train operation.

In Manchester Metrolink To Gorton And Glossop, I showed how it might be possible to connect the tram stop under Piccadilly station to the Glossop Line.

On the other hand the tram-trains might be able to run into these two platforms.

Conclusion

If Manchester acquires a few tram-trains, their rail and tram networks would appear to have lots of opportunities to use them efficiently.

It does also look, that it would be very advantageous, if the High Speed platforms could be through platforms underneath the main station.

  • Two well-designed through platforms would be able to handle a lot of trains and passengers.
  • The station could be refurbished, rather than demolished and rebuilt.
  • Fewer new platforms would be needed.

But above all updating the station would have a lower cost and would cause less disruption to all users.

 

 

 

August 14, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Is Manchester Metrolink Expensive?

On my trip to Manchester earlier this week, I used contactless ticketing for two trips on the Manchester Metrolink.

  • Piccadilly to Velopark
  • VeloPark to New Islington

It cost me £7.40.

On the same day, I went, I took a trip to Glossop and the return cost me £4.30 with a Senior Railcard.

August 3, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , | 4 Comments

Manchester’s Contactless Ticketing

In Manchester yesterday, I used their new contactless ticketing.

The system appeared to be working well, but I do have reservations.

Use On The Trains

I went up to Glossop on the train. As both Glossop and Manchester Piccadilly stations have tiket barriers, why can’t I use contactless ticketing on that type of journey?

Consider.

All of the barriers I saw, were the same as London’s, so they can also read contactless bank cards.

Not all stations in London have ticket barriers. You’re just expected to touch in and touch out, as you do with Manchester’s system.

Surely, the software can and will be extended!

 

Damage To The Terminal

Two of the four terminals I looked at were damaged; possibly by a sledgehammer or a Size 10-boot.

Are they robust enough.

Instructions For Users

I didn’t see any posters, describing how to use the system in English.

Surely, as Manchester, is receiving a lot more visitors, comprehensive instructions in several languages.

Terminal Design

I came across a couple of first time users, who were both locals and they weren’t sure, where to put their card.

I’d be interested to know, why they didn’t use London’s design of terminal.

I’ve only ever seen a technician fixing one broken terminal in London.

No Staff

I didn’t see any staff! The stop under Piccadilly had no staff there to help visitors.

What About Those With Poor Vision?

I have a friend, who is registered blind and has a guide dog. But he can see a bit and has no trouble using contactless in London, especially as the dog leads him to wide gates.

Would my friend cope in Manchester?

Conclusion

It’s a good start, but some details haven’t been properly thought through!

At least, I won’t need to buy a ticket in Manchester again, unless I’m using a train.

 

July 30, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | 3 Comments

Manchester Metrolink To Gorton And Glossop

The Wikipedia entry for the Manchester Metrolink doesn’t say much about  Glossop, except that one of the original lines would have taken over the Glossop Line to Gorton, Glossop and Hadfield stations.

In Manchester Metrolink Extensions In A Sentence, I quoted this sentence from the Manchester Evening News.

It includes tram extensions to Port Salford, Middleton and Stalybridge, plus ‘tram trains’ to Hale, Warrington, Gorton and Glossop.

How would tram-trains from Gorton and Glossop join the current Metrolink network at Piccadilly station?

Consider.

  • Glossop Line trains use the low-numbered platforms on the Northern side of Manchester Piccadilly station.
  • Some plans have shown High Speed Two platforms on the save side of Piccadilly station.

Look at this Google Map of the Northern side of the station.

Note.

  1. Two trams crossing the green space to the North of the station.
  2. The area between the tram lines and the tracks going into Piccadilly station, appears to be mainly car parking and low-grade buildings.
  3. The tracks leading to Gorton and Glossop are on the Northern side of Piccadilly station.

These are a few pictures of the area.to the North of the station.

I feel it would be very feasible for tram-trains to connect the Glossop Line and the tram station underneath the main station.

In fact there would be no reason, why tram-trains shouldn’t continue to serve Manchester Piccadilly train station.

High Speed Two

High Speed Two’s terminals in Manchester is in a state of foux at the moment, so it might be preferable to just replace all Glossop Line services with tram-trains and use Manchester Piccadilly tram station.

Updating The Glossop Line

The Glossop Line is electrified with 25 KVAC overhead wires, which looks to be one of the systems in worst condition in the UK along with the Crouch Valley Line in Essex.

It would probably need replacing, as the rust weevils holding it up, must be getting very tired.

To say that some stations look like they’ve seen better times, is an understatement.

Class 399 Tram-Trains For Manchester

Transport for Greater Manchester are serious about tram-trains and I believe that their usefullness to the City could be explored by running the existing service between Manchester Piccadilly and Glossop using a small fleet.

Conclusion

Extending the Manchester Metrolink to Gorton and Glossop using tram-trains appears to be very feasible.

In my view, it would have made a good trial route to prove the concept of tram-trains in the UK.

 

July 29, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 11 Comments

Manchester Metrolink Extensions In A Sentence

This article on the Manchester Evening News, sums up the extensions to the Manchester Metrolink like this.

It includes tram extensions to Port Salford, Middleton and Stalybridge, plus ‘tram trains’ to Hale, Warrington, Gorton and Glossop.

We all need more pithy sentences like this. Me included!

July 29, 2019 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , , , | 5 Comments

Trafford Park Line – June 2nd 2019

In Walking From Pomona To MediaCityUK, I showed the progress of the Trafford Park Line in February 2019.

These pictures show the current progress.

They were taken from a tram arriving at Pomona.

June 3, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

The Most Annoying Thing They Do To Trams

When I first arrive in a city, I tend to take a ride on the local trams to get my bearings.

But it is difficult, to see where you are and what you are doing, if the tram is covered in advertising, like this one in Manchester.

It means that visitors can’t see the city properly. Hopefully, locals know their city!

I remember visiting one city, where every tram was wrapped in advertising.

The city wasn’t very interesting, so perhaps that was the reason.

June 3, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment