The Anonymous Widower

What Will Happen To The Class 379 Trains?

Greater Anglia’s fleet of thirty Class 379 trains are being replaced by by a brand new fleet of Class 745 Stadler FLIRT EMUs which will be fixed 12-car trains on Stansted Express services and Class 720 Bombardier Aventra EMUs on Cambridge services.

These trains have a high specification.

  • Four-car trainsets.
  • Ability to work as four, eight and twelve-car trains.
  • 2+2 seating in Standard Class.
  • 2+1 seating in First Class.
  • Plenty of luggage space.
  • Wi-fi and power sockets.
  • Full compliance with all Persons of Reduced Mobility rules.
  • 100 mph capability.
  • Regenerative braking.

I also suspect the following is true about the trains.

  • The ability to run on 750 VDC third rail electrification could be added reasonably easily.
  • Lithium-ion batteries to give a limited range, can be fitted.
  • The top speed could be upgraded to the 110 mph of the closely-related Class 387 trains.
  • The trains have end gangways and could be certified to run through the core route of Thameslink, like the Class 387 trains.

So they would appear to be a very useful train.

So what will happen to the trains?

This is my speculative list of possible uses.

Continued Use By Greater Anglia

In some ways it’s strange that these reasonable new trains are being replaced on Stansted and Cambridge services.

They are being replaced by Stadler Class 745 trains, which like the Class 379 trains are 100 mph trains.

In the next decade or so, the West Anglia Main Line is to be upgraded with extra tracks and services will be faster.

So are performance upgrades available for the Class 745 trains, which will deliver these improved services?

If Stadler are late with their delivery of the Class 745 trains, the  Class 379 trains will continue to be used on Stansted and Cambridge services.

This is discussed in this article in Rail Magazine, which is entitled Contingency Plans In Place For Greater Anglia’s Main Line Fleet.

But surely, this would only delay their cascade to other operators.

According to Wikipedia, all of the replacement Class 745 trains, are scheduled to enter service in 2019, which should mean that the Class 379 trains should be available for cascade to other operators, sometime in 2020.

St. Pancras to Corby

Under Future in the Wikipedia entry for Corby station, this is said.

It is planned that a half-hourly London St Pancras to Corby service will operate from December 2019 using new Class 387 trains, once the Midland Main Line has been electrified beyond Bedford as part of the Electric Spine project. Network Rail has also announced that it plans to re-double the currently singled Glendon Junction to Corby section as part of this scheme.

In the December 2017 Edition of Modern Railways there is an article, which is entitled Wires To Corby Now in 2020.

This is the first paragraph.

Carillion is to deliver electrification of the Midland Main Line to Corby, but electric services will not start until December 2020, a year later than previously envisaged.

The article also states the following.

  • A fourth track is to be installed between Bedford and Kettering.
  • Track and wires are to be updated so that new 125 mph bi-mode trains can run between St. Pancras and Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield.
  • Improvements to the current electrification South of Bedford.

Everything should be completed, so that the new bi-mode trains could enter service from 2022.

It should be noted that Wikipedia says this about the Future of the East Midlands Trains franchise.

The franchise is due to end in August 2019. The Invitation to Tender is due to be issued in April 2018, which will detail what improvements bidders for the franchise must make. The contract will then be awarded in April 2019.

This could give the following project schedule on the Midland Main Line.

  • April 2019 – Award of new East Midlands franchise.
  • August 2019 – New East Midlands franchise starts.
  • December 2020 – Electric services to Corby start.
  • December 2022 – Bi-mode services to Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield start.

These dates would fit well with the retirement of the Class 379 trains by Greater Anglia in 2020.

Current timings between Corby and London are 71 minutes with four stops. I don’t think it would be unreasonable to assume that the improved track and new trains would be designed so that the timings between Corby and London would be reduced to under an hour, with a round trip of two hours.

If this can be achieved, then just four trains of an appropriate length will be needed to meet the required two tph timetable.

  • Four-car services would need four trains.
  • Eight-car services would need eight trains.
  • Twelve-car services would need twelve trains.

It might not be possible to run eight and twelve car services due to platform length restrictions.

If the two hour round trip could be achieved by an existing Class 387 or an uprated Class 379 trains, then either of these trains would be a shoe-in for the route.

Otherwise we’ll be seeing something faster like a Class 801 train.

But if services are to start in 2020, there would be a problem to manufacture the trains in the available time, as the contract will only have been awarded in April 2019.

I think that St. Pancras to Corby is a possibility for Class 379 trains, which may need to be uprated to 110 mph. On the other hand, Class 387 trains wouldn’t need to be uprated.

West Midlands Trains, who have a similar need, have ordered 110 mph Aventras.

  • So perhaps the new East Midlands franchise will do the same.
  • This would be more likely, if Bombardier come up with the rumoured 125 mph bi-mode Aventra.
  • Or they could buy a mixture of Class 800 and 801 trains.

I don’t think the Class 379 trains will work St. Pancras to Corby.

Battery Services

A Class 379 train was used for the BEMU trial, where a battery was fitted to the train and it ran for a couple of months between Manningtree and Harwich, using overhead power one way and battery power to return.

Was this class of train chosen, as it was one of the easiest to fit with a battery? After all it was one of the later Electrostars.

This article on the Railway Gazette from July 2007 is entitled Hybrid Technology Enters The Real World. It describes the experimental conversion of a Class 43 power-car from a High Speed Train into a battery-assisted diesel-electric power-car.

A second article in the Railway Gazette from October 2010 is entitled First New Stansted Express Train Rolls Out. It describes the Class 379 train in detail. This is an extract.

Although part of the Electrostar family, the Class 379 incorporates a number of technical changes from the original design developed in the late 1990s, making use of technologies which would be used on the Aventra next-generation Electrostar which Bombardier is proposing for the major Thameslink fleet renewal contract.

The body structure has been revised to meet European crashworthiness requirements. The window spacing has changed, with the glass bolted rather than glued in place to enable faster repairs. The couplers are from Dellner, and the gangways from Hübner. Top speed is 160 km/h, and the 25 kV 50 Hz trains will use regenerative braking at all times.

The last statement about regenerative braking is the most interesting.

To my knowledge electric trains that use regenerative braking had never run on the West Anglia Main Line before and that to handle the return currents with 25 KVAC needs special and more expensive transformers. The obvious way to handle regenerative braking at all times without using the electrification is to put an appropriately sized battery on the train.

If Bombardier have done this on the Class 379 train, then it might be a lot easier to fit a large battery to power the train. This would explain why the trains were chosen for the trial rather than a train from a more numerous variant.

The result was a trial of  which few, if any,negative reports can be found.

The result was a trial of  which few, if any,negative reports can be found.

Class 379 Train Performance On Batteries

Little has been said about the performance of the train.

However, in this document on the Network Rail web site, which is entitled Kent Area Route Study, this is said.

In 2015, industry partners worked together to investigate
battery-electric traction and this culminated with a
practical demonstration of the Independently Powered
Electric Multiple Unit IPEMU concept on the Harwich
Branch line in Anglia Route. At the industry launch event,
the train manufacturers explained that battery
technology is being developed to enable trains to run
further, at line speeds, on battery power, indeed, some
tram lines use this technology in the city centres and many
London buses are completely electric powered.

The IPEMU project looked at the feasibility of battery power
on the Marshlink service and found that battery was
sufficient for the train to run from Brighton to Ashford
International and back but there was insufficient charge to
return to Ashford International on a second round trip. A
solution to this could be that the unit arrives from Ashford
International at Brighton and forms a service to Seaford and
back before returning to Ashford International with a
charged battery.

The IPEMU demonstration train was a Class 379, a similar
type to the Class 377 units currently operated by Southern, it
was found that the best use of the battery power was to
restrict the acceleration rate to that of a modern diesel
multiple unit, such as a Class 171 (the current unit type
operating the line) when in battery mode and normal
acceleration on electrified lines.

|Ashford to Brighton is 62 miles, so a round trip would be 124 miles.

The document doesn’t say anything about how many stops were made in the tests, but I’m sure that Bombardier, Greater Anglia and Network Rail have all the data to convert a Class 379 into a viable IPEMU or Independently Powered Electric Multiple Unit.

As to how long it takes to charge the battery, there is an interesting insight in this article from Rail Magazine, which is entitled Battery-Powered Electrostar Enters Traffic. This is said.

It is fitted with six battery rafts, and uses Lithium Ion Magnesium Phosphate battery technology. The IPEMU can hold a charge for 60 miles and requires two hours of charging for every hour running. The batteries charge from the overhead wires when the pantograph is raised, and from regenerative braking.

The two-one ratio between charging and running could be an interesting factor in choice of routes.

What About The Aventra?

I quoted from this article in the Railway Gazette from October 2010 earlier.  This is said.

Although part of the Electrostar family, the Class 379 incorporates a number of technical changes from the original design developed in the late 1990s, making use of technologies which would be used on the Aventra next-generation Electrostar.

So would it be a reasonable assumption to assume, that if batteries can be fitted to a Class 379 train, then they could also be fitted to an Aventra?

This article in Global Rail News from 2011, which is entitled Bombardier’s AVENTRA – A new era in train performance, gives some details of the Aventra’s electrical systems. This is said.

AVENTRA can run on both 25kV AC and 750V DC power – the high-efficiency transformers being another area where a heavier component was chosen because, in the long term, it’s cheaper to run. Pairs of cars will run off a common power bus with a converter on one car powering both. The other car can be fitted with power storage devices such as super-capacitors or Lithium-ion batteries if required.

This was published six years ago, so I suspect Bombardier have refined the concept.

But it does look that both battery variants of both Class 379 trains and Aventras are possible.

Routes For Battery Trains

What important lines could be run by either a Class 379 train or an Aventra with an appropriate battery capability?

I will refer to these trains as IPEMUs in the remainder of this post.

I feel that one condition should apply to all routes run by IPEMUs.

The 2:1 charging time to running time on battery ratio must be satisfied.

East Coastway And Marshlink Lines

As Network Rail are prepared to write the three paragraphs in the Kent Area Route Study, that I quoted earlier, then the East Coastway and Marshlink Lines, which connect Brighton and Ashford International stations, must be high on the list to be run by IPEMUs.

Consider.

  • All the route, except for about twenty-four miles of the Marshlink Line is electrified.
  • Brighton and Ashford International stations are electrified.
  • Some sections have an operating speed of up to 90 mph.
  • Brighton to Hastings takes 66 minutes
  • Ashford International to Hastings takes 40 minutes
  • There is a roughly fifteen minute turnround at the two end stations.

The last three points, when added together, show that in each round trip, the train has access to third-rail power for 162 minutes and runs on batteries for 80 minutes.

Does that mean the 2:1 charging to running ratio is satisfied?

I would also feel that if third-rail were to be installed at Rye station, then in perhaps a two minute stop, some extra charge could be taken on board. The third-rail would only need to be switched on, when a train was connected.

It looks to me, that even the 2015 test train could have run this route, with just shoe gear to use the third-rail electrification. Perhaps it did do a few test runs! Or at least simulated ones!

After all, with a pantograph ready to be raised to rescue a train with a flat battery, they could have run it up and down the test route of the Mayflower Line  at a quiet time and see how far the train went with a full battery!

Currently, many of the train services along the South Coast are run by a fleet of Class 313 trains, with the following characteristics.

  • There are a total of nineteen trains.
  • They were built in the late 1970s.
  • They are only three cars, which is inadequate at times.
  • They are 75 mph trains.
  • They don’t have toilets.
  • The trains are used on both the East Coastway and West Coastway Lines.

Replacing the trains with an appropriate number of Class 379 trains or Aventras would most certainly be welcomed by passengers, staff and the train companies.

  • Diesel passenger trains could be removed from the route.
  • There could be direct services between Ashford International and Southampton via Brighton.
  • One type of train would be providing most services along the South Coast.
  • There would be a 33% increase in train capacity.
  • Services would be a few minutes quicker.
  • For Brighton’s home matches, it might be possible to provide eight-car trains.
  • The forty-year-old Class 313 trains would be scrapped.

The service could even be extended on the fully-electrified line to Bournemouth to create a South Coast Seaside Special.

London Bridge To Uckfield

I looked at Chris Gibb’s recommendation for this line in Will Innovative Electrification Be Used On The Uckfield Line?

These actions were recommended.

  • Electrification of the branch using 25 KVAC overhead.
  • Electrification of tunnels with overhead conductor rail.
  • Dual-voltage trains.
  • Stabling sidings at Crowborough.

How would this be affected if IPEMUs were to be used?

The simplest way to run IPEMUs would be to install third-rail at Uckfield to charge the train.

Current timings on the route are as follows.

  • London Bridge to Hurst Green – electrified – 32 minutes
  • Hurst Green to Uckfield – non-electrified – 41 minutes
  • Turnaround at London Bridge – 16 minutes
  • Turnaround at Uckfield – 11 minutes

Hurst Green station is the limit of the current electrification.

Adding these times together, show that in each round trip, the train has access to third-rail power for 91 minutes and needs to on batteries for 82 minutes.

It looks like the 2:1 charging to running ratio is not met.

To meet that, as the round trip is three hours, that means that there probably needs to be two hours on electrification and an hour on batteries.

So this means that at least eleven minutes of the journey between Hurst Green and Uckfield station needs to be electrified, to obtain the 2:1 ratio.

It takes about this time to go between Crowborough and Uckfield stations.

  • Crowborough will have the new sidings, which will have to be electrified.
  • The spare land for the sidings would appear to be to the South of Crowborough station in an area of builders yards and industrial premises.
  • Crowborough Tunnel is on the route and is nearly a kilometre long.
  • The route is double-track from Crowborough station through Crowborough Tunnel and perhaps for another kilometre to a viaduct over a valley.
  • The viaduct and the remainder of the line to Uckfield is single track.
  • The single track section appears to have space to put the gantries for overhead electrification on the bed of the original second track.

If you apply Chris Gibb’s original recommendation of 25 KVAC, then electrification between Crowborough and Uckfield station, might just be enough to allow IPEMUs to work the line.

  • The sidings at Crowborough would be electrified.
  • About half of the electrification will be single-track.
  • Crowborough Tunnel would use overhead rails.
  • Power could probably be fed from Crowborough.
  • The regenerative braking would be handled by the batteries on the trains.
  • Changeover between overhead power and batteries would be in Crowborough station.
  • Buxted and Uckfield stations wouldn’t be complicated to electrify, as they are single-platform stations.

I very much feel that running IPEMUs between London Bridge and Uckfield is possible.

Preston to Windermere

The Windermere Branch Line is not electrified and Northern are proposing to use Class 769 bi-mode trains on services to Windermere station.

Current timings on the line are as follows.

  • Windermere to Oxenholme Lake District – non-electrified – 20 minutes
  • Oxenholme Lake District to Preston – electrified – 40 minutes

If you add in perhaps ten minutes charging during a turnaround at Preston, the timings are just within the 2:1 charging ratio.

So services from Windermere to at least Preston would appear to be possible using an IPEMU.

These trains might be ideal for the Windermere to Manchester Airport service. However, the Class 379 trains are only 100 mph units, which might be too slow for the West Coast Main Line.

The IPEMU’s green credentials would be welcome in the Lakes!

The Harrogate Line

This is said under Services in the Wikipedia entry for Harrogate station, which is served by the Harrogate Line from Leeds.

The Monday to Saturday daytime service is generally a half-hourly to Leeds (southbound) calling at all stations and to Knaresborough (eastbound) on the Harrogate Line with an hourly service onwards to York also calling at all stations en route.

Services double in frequency at peak time to Leeds, resulting in 4 trains per hour (tph) with 1tph running fast to Horsforth. There are 4 tph in the opposite direction between 16:29 and 18:00 from Leeds with one running fast from Horsforth to Harrogate.

Evenings and Sundays an hourly service operates from Leeds through Harrogate towards Knaresborough and York (some early morning trains to Leeds start from here and terminate here from Leeds in the late evening).

Proposals have been made to create a station between Harrogate and Starbeck at Bilton, whilst the new Northern franchise operator Arriva Rail North plans to improve service frequencies towards Leeds to 4 tph from 7am to 7pm once the new franchise agreement starts in April 2016.

I believe that the easiest way to achieve this level of service would be to electrify between Leeds and Harrogate.

  • IPEMUs might be able to go between Harrogate and York on battery power.
  • Leeds and York are both fully electrified stations.
  • If a link was built to Leeds-Bradford Airport, it could be worked on battery power and the link could be built without electrification.
  • The electrification could be fed with power from Leeds.
  • There is also the two-mile long Bramhope Tunnel.

Full electrification between Leeds and Harrogate would allow Virgin’s Class 801 trains to reach Harrogate.

I’m fairly certain that there’s a scheme in there that with minimal electrification would enable IPEMUsy to reach both a new station at Leeds-Bradford Airport and York.

Conclusion

These routes show that it is possible to use IPEMUs to run services on partially-electrified routes.

As I said earlier, the 2:1 ratio of charging to running time could be important.

Airport Services

Class 379 trains were built to provide fast, comfortable and suitable services between London Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport.

Because of this, the Class 379 trains have a First Class section and lots of space for large bags.

Surely, these trains could be found a use to provide high-class services to an Airport or a station on a high-speed International line.

But there are only a limited number of UK airports served by an electrified railway.

Most of these airports already have well-developed networks of airport services, but Class 379 trains could provide an upgrade in standard.

In addition, the following airports, may be served by an electrified heavy rail railway.

All except Doncaster Sheffield would need new electrification. For that airport, a proposal to divert the East Coast Main Line exists.

Possibilities for airport services using IPEMUs, based on Class 379 trains with a battery capability would include.

Ashford International

The completion of the Ashford Spurs project at Ashford International station will surely create more travellers between Southampton, Portsmouth and Brighton to Ashford, as not every Continental traveller will prefer to go via London.

Class 379 IPEMUs,with a battery capability to handle the Marshlink Line would be ideal for a service along the South Coast, possibly going as far West as Bournemouth.

Birmingham

Birmingham Airport is well connected by rail.

I think that as train companies serving the Airport, have new trains on order, I doubt we’ll see many Class 379 trains serving the Airport.

Bristol

Various routes have been proposed for the Bristol Airport Rail Link.

In my view, the routes, which are short could be served by light rail, tram-train or heavy rail.

As the proposed city terminus at Bristol Temple Meads station would be electrified and the route is not a long one, I’m pretty sure that a Class 379 IPEMU could work the route.

But light rail or tram-train may be a better option.

Gatwick

Gatwick Airport station is well served by trains on the Brighton Main Line, running to and from Brighton, Clapham Junction, East Croydon, London Bridge, St. Pancras and Victoria, to name just a few.

Gatwick also has an hourly service to Reading via the North Downs Line, which is only partly electrified.

In my view, the North Downs route would be a classic one for running using Class 379 IPEMUs.

  • The Class 379 trains were built for an Airport service.
  • Four cars would be an adequate capacity.
  • No infrastructure work would be needed. But operating speed increases would probably be welcomed.
  • Third-rail shoes could be easily added.
  • Several sections of the route are electrified.
  • Gatwick Airport and Reading stations are electrified.

Currently, trains take just over an hour between Reading and Gatwick Airport.

Would the faster Class 379 IPEMUs bring the round trip comfortably under two hours?

If this were possible, it would mean two trains would be needed for the hourly service and four trains for a half-hourly service.

There may be other possibilities for the use of Class 379 trains to and from Gatwick Airport.

  • Luton Airport keep agitating for a better service. So would a direct link to Gatwick using Class 379 trains be worthwhile?
  • Class 379 IPEMUs  could provide a Gatwick to Heathrow service using Thameslink and the Dudding Hill Line.
  • Class 379 IPEMUs could provide a Gatwick to Ashford International service for connection to Eurostar.

I also feel that, as the trains are closely-related to the Class 387/2 trains used on Gatwick Express, using the Class 379 trains on Gatwick services would be a good operational move.

Also, if Class 379 IPEMUs were to be used to create a South Coast Express, as I indicated earlier, two sub-fleets would be close together.

Leeds-Bradford

Earlier I said that the Harrogate Line could be a route for IPEMUs, where services could run to York, if the Leeds to Harrogate section was electrified.

A spur without electrification could be built to Leeds-Bradford Airport.

Based on current timings, I estimate that a Bradford Interchange to Leeds-Bradford Airport service via Leeds station would enable a two-hour round trip.

An hourly service would need two trains, with a half-hourly service needing four trains.

Manchester

Manchester Airport is well connected by rail and although the Class 379 trains would be a quality upgrade on the current trains, I think that as Northern and TransPennine have new trains on order, I doubt we’ll see many Class 379 trains serving the Airport.

Conclusion

Looking at these notes, it seems to me that the trains will find a use.

Some things stand out.

  • As the trains are only capable of 100 mph, they may not be suitable for doing longer distances on electrified main lines, unless they are uprated to the 110 mph operating speed of the Class 387 trains.
  • The main line where they would be most useful would probably be the East and West Coastway Lines along the South Coast.
  • Converting some into IPEMUs would probably be useful along the Marshlink and Uckfield Lines, in providing services to Gatwick and in a few other places.

I also feel, that Aventras and other trains could probably be designed specifically for a lot of the routes, where Class 379 trains, with or without batteries, could be used.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 6, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hybrid Trains Proposed To Ease HS1 Capacity Issues

The title of this post is the same as an article in Issue 840 of Rail Magazine.

This is the first paragraph.

Battery-powered hybrid trains could be running on High Speed 1, offering a solution to capacity problems and giving the Marshlink route a direct connection to London.

Hitachi Rail Europe CEO Jack Commandeur is quoted as saying.

We see benefit for a battery hybrid train, that is being developed in Japan, so that is an option for the electrification problem.

I found this article on the Hitachi web site, which is entitled Energy-Saving Hybrid Propulsion System Using Storage–Battery Technology.

It is certainly an article worth reading.

This is an extract.

Hitachi has developed this hybrid propulsion system jointly with East Japan Railway Company (JR-East) for the application to next-generation diesel cars. Hitachi and JR-East have carried out the performance trials of the experimental vehicles with this hybrid propulsion system, which is known as NE@train.
Based on the successful results of this performance trial, Ki-Ha E200 type vehicle entered into the world’s first commercial operation of a train installed with the hybrid propulsion system in July 2007.

The trains are running on the Koumi Line in Japan. This is Wikipedia’s description of the line.

Some of the stations along the Koumi Line are among the highest in Japan, with Nobeyama Station reaching 1,345 meters above sea level. Because of the frequent stops and winding route the full 78.9 kilometre journey often takes as long as two and a half hours to traverse, however the journey is well known for its beautiful scenery.

The engineers, who chose this line for a trial of battery trains had obviously heard Barnes Wallis‘s quote.

There is no greater thrill in life than proving something is impossible and then showing how it can be done.

But then all good engineers love a challenge.

In some ways the attitude of the Japanese engineers is mirrored by those at Porterbrook and Northern, who decided that the Class 769 train, should be able to handle Northern’s stiffest line, which is the Buxton Line. But Buxton is nowhere near 1,345 metres above sea level.

The KiHa E200 train used on the Koumi Line are described like this in Wikipedia.

The KiHa E200 is a single-car hybrid diesel multiple unit (DMU) train type operated by East Japan Railway Company (JR East) on the Koumi Line in Japan. Three cars were delivered in April 2007, entering revenue service from 31 July 2007.

Note that the railway company involved is JR East, who have recently been involved in bidding for rail franchises in the UK and are often paired with Abellio.

The Wikipedia entry for the train has a section called Hybrid Operation Cycle. This is said.

On starting from standstill, energy stored in lithium-ion batteries is used to drive the motors, with the engine cut out. The engine then cuts in for further acceleration and running on gradients. When running down gradients, the motor acts as a generator, recharging the batteries. The engine is also used for braking.

I think that Hitachi can probably feel confident that they can build a train, that can handle the following.

  • High Speed One on 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • Ore to Hastings on 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • The Marshlink Line on stored energy in lithium-ion batteries.

The Marshlink Line has a big advantage as a trial line for battery trains.

Most proposals say that services will call at Rye, which is conveniently around halfway along the part of the route without electrification.

I believe that it would be possible to put third-rail electrification in Rye station, that could be used to charge the batteries, when the train is in the station.

The power would only be switched on, when a train is stopped in the station, which should deal with any third-rail safety problems.

Effectively, the battery-powered leg would be split into two shorter ones.

 

November 23, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

First Steps To Faster Trains Is Delivered

This is the title of an article in the Hastings and St. Leonards Observer, that has been signed by Amber Rudd.

About Amber Rudd

Amber Rudd is the Home Secretary and in this year’s General Election, she retained the Hastings and Rye constituency with a majority of just 346 votes.

As I doubt she wants to commit political suicide, I therefor consider that what is said in the article is very close to what is intended to happen about the delivery of faster trains between London and Hastings.

London To Hastings In 66 Minutes

This is the first two paragraphs of her article.

Last week I invited Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to visit Ashford International to hear an update on my campaign to secure a high speed rail link between our communities and London St Pancras.

Specifically, I want to see journey times, which are currently around 100 minutes between Hastings and London, reduced to 66 minutes.

The sixty-six minutes is mentioned again later in the article.

Would a politician be so definite about her aims, unless she knew that it was deliverable?

Or is it lucky to say sixty-six in Hastings?

So how feasible is London to Hastings in 66 minutes?

Consider.

  • Southeastern’s Highspeed services between St. Pancras and Ashford, generally take between 37-38 minutes for the journey, with some trains a few minutes faster.
  • The Marshlink Line between Ashford and Hastings is about 26¼ miles in length
  • The operating speed is quoted in Wikipedia as 60 mph.
  • There are some serious level crossings.

So could a train go from Ashford to Hastings in twenty-eight minutes to meet Amber Rudd’s quoted target of 66 minutes?

26¼ miles in 28 minutes works out a an average speed of 56.25 mph.

I would give that time a 9/10 for feasibility.

The problem would be the level crossings on the line, so if Network Rail were to remove these and improve the track a bit, I feel that this could even score highly for reliability.

Currently, there doesn’t appear to be many trains passing through and even if the service was doubled to two trains per hour in both directions, I don’t think they would trouble the timetable compiler.

Track Changes At Ashford

Amber Rudd’s article then says this about track changes at Ashford.

This was a very encouraging meeting. I am pleased to announce that the commitment has been made to supporting the development of a proposed track layout at Ashford International which would allow trains from Hastings, Rye, Bexhill and Eastbourne to travel direct to London St Pancras

Work will now begin towards the necessary track connections to join-up the Marshlink and the High Speed 1 line to London.

This change would help make possible the direct service to St Pancras with a journey time of 81 minutes from Hastings.

That seems to be a plan. But where does the 81 minutes come from?

The current Class 171 trains take around 42 minutes between Hastings and Ashford, so 38+42 would say that 81 minutes is a reasonable claim.

This document on the Network Rail web site, is the Technical Appendix of the South East Route: Kent Area Route Study.

This map was extracted from the document.

This shows the changes needed to connect HS1 to the Marshlink Line.

Diesel-Electric Or Battery-Electric Trains?

Amber Rudd’s article says this about the trains.

Accompanying the track changes at Ashford, hybrid rolling stock – trains running on diesel-electric or battery-electric power – would make these quick journey times a reality.

This fits in with what is said in the Technical Appendix to the  Kent Area Route Study.

The diesel electric train mentioned in the Technical Appendix is a Class 802 train. Production and delivery of these is underway for Great Western Railway, so we’re not talking about an untried class of train.

But there may be problems running trains carrying diesel fuel in the HS1 tunnels.

The battery-electric train mentioned in the Technical Appendix is the IPEMU based on a Class 379 train.

This train is not in production yet and the picture shows the test train, that ran in Essex nearly two years ago.

The Technical Appendix says this about the IPEMU.

In 2015, industry partners worked together to investigate
battery-electric traction and this culminated with a
practical demonstration of the Independently Powered
Electric Multiple Unit IPEMU concept on the Harwich
Branch line in Anglia Route. At the industry launch event,
the train manufacturers explained that battery
technology is being developed to enable trains to run
further, at line speeds, on battery power, indeed, some
tram lines use this technology in the city centres and many
London buses are completely electric powered.

The IPEMU project looked at the feasibility of battery power
on the Marshlink service and found that battery was
sufficient for the train to run from Brighton to Ashford
International and back but there was insufficient charge to
return to Ashford International on a second round trip. A
solution to this could be that the unit arrives from Ashford
International at Brighton and forms a service to Seaford and
back before returning to Ashford International with a
charged battery.

The IPEMU demonstration train was a Class 379, a similar
type to the Class 377 units currently operated by Southern, it
was found that the best use of the battery power was to
restrict the acceleration rate to that of a modern diesel
multiple unit, such as a Class 171 (the current unit type
operating the line) when in battery mode and normal
acceleration on electrified lines.

Note the following from Network Rail’s text.

  • Brighton to Ashford is about 60-70 miles.
  • Acceleration should be limited.
  • The Class 377 train would not be suitable for HS1, as it is only a 100 mph train.

It is my opinion, that a battery-electric train with the following characteristics could be designed.

  • Five to eight cars.
  • 140 mph on HS1 using 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • 100 mph on the East Coastway Line between Brighton and Hastings using 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • Class 171 train performance using batteries on the Marshlink Line.
  • A battery range of sixty miles to allow a fully charged train to go from Ashford to Hastings and back.

Effectively, it’s a dual-voltage high speed train, that can also run on battery power.

How Would A Battery Train Operate?

A train working from St. Pancras to Hastings would go through the following operations.

  • Run from St. Pancras to Ashford along HS1, as the current Class 395 trains do using the 25KVAC overhead power.
  • Stop in Platform 2 at Ashford station and switch to battery power.
  • Run to Hastings on battery power.
  • Run to Aahford on battery power.
  • Stop in Platform 2 at Ashford station and switch to 25 KVAC overhead power.
  • Run from Ashford to St. Pancras along HS1 using the 25 KVAC overhead power

The battery would be charged on HS1 and using the third-rail electrification at Hastings.

How Big Would The Battery Need To Be?

The test IPEMU had a battery capacity of 500 kWh and based on what is said in the Technical Appendix was capable of perhaps 150 miles on battery power.

This works out as a consumption of under one kWh per car per mile.

So a six-car train would need perhaps 200 kWh to do a single trip on the 26¼ mile Marshlink Line. Providing of course it was fully charged before starting the journey.

Could Hitachi Modify a Class 395 Train To Have A Battery Option?

Hitachi have been developing battery trains for several years.

I believe that if Bombardier can create and test a battery-electric version of a Class 379 train, in under a year, then Hitachi could do the same with any of their A train family, which includes Class 800/801/802/395 trains.

This page on the Hitachi web site is entitled AT300 – INTERCITY HIGH SPEED.

The page has a picture of a Class 395 train and it has this caption.

The Class 395 is the first High Speed commuter train in the UK and part of Hitachi’s family of AT300 units. Its introduction to HS1 in 2009 continues to be a success story and it has set new standards for performance in High Speed trains in the UK.

Underneath the picture, it gives a Technical Outline for the trains, where this is said.

Power Supply: (25kVAC / 750 Vdc / Battery)

This may only be for train hotel power, but certainly the trains can use batteries.

Conclusion On The Type Of Train

I have no reason to believe that St. Pancras to Hastings copuldn’t be run by either type of train.

Although there is the problem of whether trains carrying diesel can go throyugh the HS1 tunnels.

The new operator for the Southeastern Franchise will chose the deal they liked.

Destination Stations

The Technical Appendix to the Kent Area Route Study proposes three possible destination stations.

Hastings

Hastings station has some advantages.

  • It may be easier for operational reasons.
  • Using Platform 1 would allow cross-platform interchange with trains going West.
  • Only minimal signalling and track changes are needed.
  • A 25-30 minute dwell time at the station is good for recovery after a late arrival.

The big disadvantage is that Bexhill will not be served.

Bexhill

Stakeholders would like the service to go to Bexhill station.

Train operation doesn’t appear to be as simple as at Hastings.

Eastbourne

Eastbourne station also offers advantages.

  • There could be a 20-25 minute dwell time at Eastbourne, which would help in service recovery.
  • Sic-car trains would offer signification extra capacity between Hastings and Eastbourne, where it is needed.
  • The line between Bexhill and Eastbourne was resignalled in 2015.
  • Eastbourne to St. Pancras would be a good alternative route in times of perturbation.
  • With extra work at Hampden Park station, it could provide a faster route to Brighton and Gatwick Airport.

The only disadvantage is that an extra train would be needed to run the service.

Conclusion On The Destination

All three stations could be a suitable destination.

I feel that if the choice of trains favours battery-electric, that Eastbourne might have a useful advantage in recharging the batteries.

Track Improvements

The Technical Appendix to the Kent Area Route Study proposes various track improvements in various places from Ashford to Brighton.

It looks like Network Rail are preparing the infrastructure for faster services all along the South Coast.

Conclusion

Amber Rudd has put her name to a well-worked article.

 

 

 

 

 

November 10, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts On Highspeed to Hastings

Since I wrote Kent On The Cusp Of Change – Highspeed To Hastings, a couple of months ago, several things have happened.

And Now There Are Three!

Trenitalia has pulled out of bidding for the new Southeastern franchise as reported in this article in the International Rail Journal.

This leaves just three bidders.

  • A joint venture of Abellio, East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui
  • Govia
  • Stagecoach

The same joint venture were recently awarded the West Midlands franchise.

The new franchise will be awarded in August 2018, with services starting in December 2018.

Electrification Has Been Abandoned

Major electrification schemes have been abandoned, so I suspect it will be even more unlikely that Ashford to Hastings will be electrified.

The Aventras Are Coming

Class 345 trains have started to appear on Crossrail and it is my opinion that they are a fine train.

In An Exciting New Aventra, I laid out the philosophy of the new trains and in How Long Will It Take Bombardier To Fulfil Their Aventra Orders?, I discussed how Bombardier will build the trains, at a rate of twenty-five carriages a month.

The rate comes from this article in The Guardian, which is entitled Full speed ahead for train builders as minister pulls plug on electrification, where I found this useful nugget of information, from the General Manager of Bombardier’s Derby plant.

Building trains in an “ergonomically correct” fashion, he says, means completing and testing the carriage’s constituent parts, then assembling them, rather than wiring them up afterwards – and also takes the risk away from a production line which boasts a rate of 25 carriages per week.

It sounds like Bombardier’s engineers have been drinking and swapping ideas, with Toyota’s production engineers a few miles down the road at Burnaston.

The New South Eastern Franchise

So do we have any clues as to what the new South Eastern franchise will be doing?

South Western Railway

South Western Railway‘s routes have a similar pattern to those of the South Eastern franchise, with an intense suburban network and longer distance services.

You could also argue that Greater Anglia isn’t much different.

Both these other franchises have are replacing their suburban trains with new 100 mph trains with all the trimming like wi-fi and toilets.

Both have chosen a mix of five and ten-car Aventras.

This would appear to give the following advantages.

  • The 100 mph trains with excellent acceleration and smooth regenerative braking help to make services faster and more frequent.
  • A near identical fleet will help maintenance and crew training.
  • It is easier to get the train-platform interface better, if only one class of train calls at a station.
  • Platform compatibility with Crossrail and Crossrail 2.

I suspect that the new South Eastern franchise will think on similar lines.

The Networkers Must Be Going

Southeastern currently has a total of 674 Networker carriages, most of which will surely be moved on by the new franchise holder.

I believe that these trains with their 75 mph speed and average performance, is not high enough for efficient timetabling of services and that consequently the new franchise holder will probably replace these trains with 100 mph units.

One choice would be to use a mix of new five and ten-car Aventras as chosen by Greater Anglia and South Western Railway. Replacing Networker carriages with the same number of Aventra carriages would take around six months of production at Bombardier.

The Aventras must be high on the list of new trains, as some of the new trains, may have to use the same platforms as Crossrail, if the line is extended from Abbey Wood station.

The Extra High Speed Trains

To serve Hastings and increase the number of Highspeed services, the new franchise holder, will have to obtain some more trains that can use High Speed 1.

Some of these trains will need the ability to travel on the Marshlink Line between Ashford and Hastings.

Consider.

  • It probably wouldn’t be a good idea to have two different types of trains working to Ashford on High Speed 1.
  • Class 800 trains, which are closely related to the Class 395 trains have onboard diesel power and might have energy storage to handle regenerative braking.
  • Class 395 trains are getting towards ten years old and are approaching the need for a refresh.
  • Hitachi have built trains with onboard energy storage in Japan.
  • Diesel fuel might not be allowed in the tunnels of High Speed 1.
  • Hitachi would probably be very disappointed to not get this order.

More Class 395 trains fitted with either onboard energy storage must be the favourite.

Conclusion

Kent will get Aventras to improve suburban services and more Class 395 trains with batteries for Highspeed services.

 

September 7, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Trains Along The South Coast

I had lunch today with an old friend who lives near Bosham station in West Sussex.

They indicated that the train service along the South Coast to Brighton wasn’t the best.

So I thought, I’d have a bit of an explore on Wikipedia.

The route between Ashford International and Weymouth stations can be divided into four sections.

Weymouth To Southampton – The South Western Main Line

The South Western Main Line runs between Weymouth and Southampton Central stations.

  • There are twenty stations.
  • The operating speed is 100 mph.
  • The line is fully electrified.
  • The line is double-track, except for between Dorchester South and Moreton stations.
  • There would only appear to be one level crossing at Brockenhurst station.

it is a high quality electrified line, where a well-driven train can keep up a good time.

The fastest trains take an hour and twenty minutes between Weymouth and Southampton with nine stops.

Southampton To Brighton – The West Coastway Line

The West Coastway Line runs between Southampton Central and Brighton stations.

Following the line on Google Maps, the line could probably have an increased speed limit, but the problem is obvious in the number of level crossings.

Timings on the line are as follows.

  • Southampton Central to Brighton takes one hour forty-five minutes.
  • Portsmouth to Brighton takes one hour twenty minutes.
  • Portsmouth to Southampton takes forty minutes.

These times are for faster journeys without changes.

Brighton To Hastings – The East Coastway Line

The East Coastway Line runs between Brighton and Hastings stations

Fastest journeys between Brighton and Hastings take an hour.

Hastings To Ashford International – The Marshlink Line

The Marshlink Line runs between Hastings and Ashford International stations.

  • There are nine stations.
  • The operating speed is 60 mph.
  • The line is double-track with sections of single-track.
  • The line is not electrified.
  • There are several level crossings.

Fastest journeys between Ashford Internsational and Hastings take forty minutes.

The May 2017 Edition of Modern Railways has an article entitled Kent Capacity Constraints Highlighted.

One sub-section is entitled High Speed To Hastings and it lists options as to how high-speed services could be run to Hastings via Ashford International station and the Marshlink Line.

  1. Electrify Ashford To Hastings At 25 KVAC
  2. Electrify Ashford To Hastings At 750 VDC
  3. Use Class 802 Electro-Diesel Trains
  4. Use Class 395 Or Class 801 Trains With Batteries

I examined the options in full detail in Options For High Speed To Hastings.

Class 313 Trains

When I travel to the area I inevitably find that I’m travelling in a Class 313 train.

  • The trains entered service in 1976.
  • The trains are the oldest electric multiple units in service on the British mainland.
  • The trains are only three cars.
  • The trains have no toilets.
  • The trains have a maximum speed of 75 mph.

Their biggest problem, is that because the trains have such a poor performance, all routes on which they are likely to run have to be geared to a train running at 75 mph, that is not the quickest at executing a stop at a station.

It should be remembered that the time a train takes to stop at a station, unload and load passengers and then restart and accelerate to linespeed, is a major factor in determining the schedule on a route with a lot of stations.

Train manufacturers and operators have been doing a lot of work to reduce this time and a modern train could be almost a minute or even more quicker than a Class 313 train, at each stop.

Wikipedia says this about the introduction of the Class 313 trains, which replaced more modern and faster Class 377 trains.

The 313s commenced operations with Southern on 23 May 2010, providing a two-trains-per-hour service between Brighton and Seaford, and some trains between Brighton and Lewes, Hove, West Worthing and Littlehampton.[12] From 13 December 2010, their operation expanded to stopping services from Brighton to Portsmouth Harbour and the Littlehampton to Bognor Regis shuttle.

The decision to use 313s on the Coastway lines has been controversial, as they are much older than the 377s and have fewer on-board passenger facilities.

The rail union RMT criticised the move and many publications including the BBC have questioned the introduction of 35-year-old trains with no lavatories in place of much newer units. These trains are deployed on services that operate predominantly over short distances, such as Brighton to Hove and Brighton to Seaford, and some longer (but stopping) services that provide predominantly local links that run alongside 377s on faster services.

The introduction of 313s on the Coastway routes facilitated the delivery of additional capacity on high-demand suburban routes in South London, where 10-car trains services are to be introduced combined with platform lengthening.

This report on the BBC gives more details.

The Major Problems Along The South Coast

Summarising the previous sections, the major problems on the route can be summarised.

  • The Class 313 trains with their poor performance are not fit for purpose.
  • The numerous level crossings significantly reduce the operating speed of the route.
  • The lack of electrification on the Marshlink Line is a serious obstacle to better London-Hsstings services via HS1.

I would also question, if there is sufficient capacity along the line, especially as there are now three Premier League clubs along its route.

In the following section, I shall detail what is proposed and a few extra actions, that I feel should be taken.

Improve The Marshlink Line

The May 2017 Edition of Modern Railways has an article entitled Kent Capacity Constraints Highlighted.

One sub-section is entitled High Speed To Hastings and it lists options as to how Southeastern  High-Speed services could be run to Hastings via Ashford International station and the Marshlink Line.

  1. Electrify Ashford To Hastings At 25 KVAC
  2. Electrify Ashford To Hastings At 750 VDC
  3. Use Class 802 electro-diesel trains
  4. Use Class 395 Or Class 801 trains With Batteries.

As to which option is chosen, Modern Railways says this.

The option to use a ‘hybrid’ electric/self-powered (diesel or battery) train is suggested as being a ‘more cost-effective way forward’, with linespeed improvements then delivered in an incremental way.

I examined the options in full detail in Options For High Speed To Hastings.

If the improvement was comprehensive, it would give the following advantages.

  • High-Speed services from St. Pancras to Hastings.
  • Journeys from Ashford International to Portsmouth, Southampton, Bournemouth and Weymouth would be all electric and if desired could be without a change of train.
  • Better connectivity along the South Coast to Continental services at Ashford International station.
  • A secondary route from London to Brighton in case of closure of the Brighton Main Line.

If an off-the-shelf solution like Class 802 trains were to be used, the improvements could be delivered in a timely manner.

Remove As Many Level Crossings As Possible

Removal of level crossings is a sensitive issue, but from Southampton to Ashford International, they are a serious limit on the operating speed of the trains.

But it is not just the trains that suffer, but road traffic as well.

Consider Hampden Park station, where Wikipedia says this about the level crossing.

The level crossing at Hampden Park is thought to be one of the busiest in the country, with an average fourteen train movements an hour off-peak, and this can lead to significant traffic congestion on adjacent roads.

As some services actually cross it twice to call at Eastbourne station, this level crossing certainly needs to be eliminated.

Improved Stations

Several of the stations have been upgraded, but I believe that step-free access and longer platforms are needed at quite a few stations.

Brighton and Hove Albion are now one of three Premier League football teams along the South Coast and Falmer station needs to be improved, so that higher-capacity trains can serve the ground on match days.

The Plans Of South Western Railway

The May 2017 Edition of Modern Railways also gives details of the plans of the new South Western Railway franchise from December 2018.

This is said.

A direct service will link Portsmouth, Southampton and Weymouth, while there will be a second hourly semi-fast service between Portsmouth and Southampton offering a total of 29 additional services between the cities on Mondays to Saturdays.

Wikipedia also says that there will be another thirty five Monday to Saturday services between London and Portsmouth, with more on Sundays.

Services Between London And Portsmouth

Currently, on a typical day there are sixty-nine down services and seventy-one up services. So as thirty-five extra services are going to be provided, then that means there will be a twenty-five percent increase in services between London and Portsmouth.

So would this mean that London to Portsmouth has a frequency of five trains per hour (tph), as against three tph for Southampton?

As South Western Railway will be introducing additional Portsmouth to Weymouth services, will this mean that there will be two fast routes to London from Weymouth?

  • A direct train.
  • One with a change at Havant on to Portsmouth Direct Line services.

South Western Railway have certainly thought long and hard.

The Class 313 Trains Will Go To The Scrapyard

With all the fast 100 mph trains rushing between Ashford International and Brighton and Portsmouth and Weymouth, the Class 313 trains will be worse than inadequate and the best place for them will be the scrapyard.

I just wonder though if South Western Railway’s unwanted but new Class 707 trains could replace the Class 313 trains along parts of the South Coast.

  • They are 100 mph trains, probably with a good stopping performance, which could save a minute at every stop.
  • They are five-car units.
  • They have toilets.

As an illustration of the difference the new trains could make, the current Portsmouth to Brighton service takes around one hour twenty minutes with twenty stops.

A rough estimate indicates that Portsmouth to Brighton could be under an hour with new 100 mph trains.

The only problems would be that they couldn’t work a Marshlink Line without electrification and services along the South Coast are provided by three different companies.

Conclusion

A lot of improvement is possible in services along the South Coast.

Adjusting current timings for new trains with a better stopping performance could give the following sectional timings.

  • Ashford International to Hastings – 35 minutes
  • Hastings to Brighton – 60 minutes
  • Brighton to Portsmouth – 60 minutes
  • Portsmouth to Southampton – 35 minutes

I believe that an Ashford International to Southampton time of three hours is possible.

This is a similar time as going via London and using HS1.

 

May 23, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Options For High Speed To Hastings

The May 2017 Edition of Modern Railways has an article entitled Kent Capacity Constraints Highlighted.

One sub-section is entitled High Speed To Hastings and it lists options as to how high-speed services could be run to Hastings via Ashford International station and the Marshlink Line.

Before I list the options, I’ll list a few facts and questions about the current service to Hastings, the various lines and stations.

Ashford International Station

This Google Map shows Ashford International station.

Note the Marshlink Line goes off the map to the East of the two small roundabouts at the bottom.

The biggest factor that needs to be considered is that some form flyover or dive-under may be needed so that trains can run between the Marshlink Line and the two platforms on the North side of the station, where Highspeed services to and from St. Pancras International call.

Will All Highspeed Services Using The Marshlink Line Stop At Ashford International Station?

Consider the following.

  • Passengers might like to go between places on the South Coast, like Hastings and Brighton, and Europe, by changing at Ashford International station
  • If a voltage change were needed, Ashford International station is already used for this purpose.

I would think it unlikely that services would not stop at Ashford International station.

Class 395 and Class 80x Trains

The Class 395 trains and the various forms of Class 800 trains are all members of Hitachi’s A-Train family.

The Class 395 trains have the following features.

  • Dual voltage
  • 6-car sets.
  • 140 mph on HS1
  • 100 mph on DC Lines
  • Automatic coupling and uncoupling.

The Class 800 and Class 802 trains have the following features.

  • Electro-diesel
  • 25 KVAC only.
  • 5- and 9-car sets.
  • 140 mph on HS1 (Stated in Modern Railways)
  • 100 mph on diesel power only.
  • Automatic coupling and uncoupling (assumed)

The only difference between Class 800 and Class 802 appears to be the size of the full tanks and manufacturing site.

I would think it unlikely, that Hitachi could not produce a Class 80x train with the following features.

  • Electro-diesel
  • Dual voltage
  • 6-car sets
  • 140 mph on HS1
  • 100 mph on diesel power only.
  • 100 mph on DC Lines

The trains could even have a Class 395 style interior.

Looking at the Class 395 and Class 80x trains, I suspect that these trains could be built, so that they could automatically couple and uncouple with each other.

This coupling ability would be important.

  • Hastings and Thanet services could couple and uncouple at Ashford International.
  • Class 80x trains could be used instead of Class 395 trains for operational reasons.
  • It would make it easier to rescue a stalled train.

There is also this document on the IEP Trains web site, which is entitled Technical & Build Specifications Of The IEP Trains, contains a lot of useful information.

  • Five-car electro-diesel trains have three power units.
  • Nine-car electro-diesel trains have five power units.
  • Electric trains have a small generator that can be used to slowly move a train stranded by overhead power failure to a safe place for passengers to disembark.

Nothing is said about batteries, but Hitachi have run battery trains in Japan.

I would be very surprised, if the A-train family was not designed, so that it could incorporate batteries, when the technology has been sufficiently developed

The Current London  To Hastings Timings

Fastest timings I can find are as follows.

  • London Cannon Street to Hastings – 1 hour 48 minutes
  • London Charing Cross to Hastings – 1 hour 51 minutes
  • London St. Pancras to Hastings – 1 hour 36 minutes, which a change at Ashford International
  • London Victoria – 2 hours 1 minute.

I think the surprising time is the one with a change at Ashford International.

It takes 37 minutes between St. Pancras and Ashford International and 40 minutes from Ashford International to Hastings, but passengers are allowed nineteen minutes to change trains.

Could Timings On The Marshlink Line Be Improved?

The Marshlink Line has a maximum operating speed of just 60 mph, whereas the East Coastway Line between Hastings and Brighton has an oiperating speed of 90 mph.

Other improvements are needed to improve the timings and oiperation of the line.

  • Removal of a couple of level crossings.
  • Provision of a passing loop at Rye.
  • Some platform lengthening to handle the longest trains that would use the line.

It doesn’t appear impossible to reduce St. Pancras to Hasting timings by several minutes.

Are More Class 395 Trains Needed For Other Routes?

I ask this question, as if they are, then surely a combined order for new trains  would be better value.

The Various Options

I shall now look at the various options mentioned in the article in turn.

Option 1 – Electrify Ashford To Hastings At 25 KVAC

This would cost between £250million and £500million.

It would allow the current Class 395 trains to work through to Hastings and as far as Brighton or even Southampton if required.

Voltage changeover would take place at a convenient station, such as Ore.

But how would various groups react to 25 KVAC catenary being strung up all over Romney Marsh?

Option 2 – Electrify Ashford To Hastings At 750 VDC

This would cost between £100million and £250million.

As with Option 1, it could use the current Class 395 trains.

Option 3 – Use Class 802 Electro-Diesel Trains

Class 802 trains could be an interesting option.

Consider.

  • According to the Modern Railways article, Class 802 trains would have the same 140 mph performance, as the Class 395 trains on HS1.
  • Both trains are Hitachi A trains.
  • Class 802 trains would run on diesel between Ashford International and Hastings.
  • Class 802 trains would probably be fitted with third-rail equipment to work onward from Hastings.
  • No electrification of the Marshlink Line would be required.
  • St. Pancras to Hastings could be under seventy minutes.
  • Three trains would be needed to provide an hourly service to Hastings.
  • A crude estimate gives that one six-car Class 802 train would cost around £12.5million.

I think this option has a big advantage in that if it were possible to run twelve-car trains from St. Pancras to Brighton via Eastbourne, Hastings, Ebbsfleet International and Stratford International stations, the route might offer valuable alternative routes.

Option 4 – Use Class 395 Or Class 801 Trains With Batteries

Either of Class 395 or Class 801 trains could probably be fitted with batteries with sufficient range to take the train between Ashford and Hastings.

Consider.

  • Both trains would have 140 mph performance on HS1.
  • Trains would run on batteries between Ashford International and Ore.
  • The Marshlink Line is not the most taxing of railways, with only six stops.
  • Trains would probably be fitted with third-rail equipment to work onward from Hastings.
  • No electrification of the Marshlink Line would be required.
  • St. Pancras to Hastings could be under seventy minutes.
  • To ensure sufficient battery power to bridge Hastings to Ashford, trains could if necessary reverse at Seaford or Brighton.

As with Option 3, it has the advantage of providing an alternative London to Brighton service.

Conclusions

All options require the following to be done.

  • Create an efficient connection between HS1 and the Marshlink Line.
  • Improve the operating speed on the Marshlink Line.
  • Remove a couple of level crossings on the Marshlink Line.
  • Create a passing loop at Rye.
  • Perform some platform lengthening.

As Options 1 and 2 require electrification and cost more, I would feel they are unlikely to proceed.

The choice between Options 3 and 4 would depend on what Hitachi offer and what the required number of trains cost.

Option 3 based on a Class 802 train would definitely work and could probably be proven with a test run of one of the GWR or VTEC Class 800 prototypes.

But these Class 800/801/802 trains are designed so that the diesel engines can be removed, when they are no longer needed. So could Hitachi replace the diesel engine with a battery pack charged at either end of the route on the 25 KVAC of HS1 or the 750 VDC of the East Coastway Line between Hastings and Brighton.

It’s all about selling trains and a company that had a 140 mph or 225 kph high-speed electric train, that could do perhaps 25 miles or 40 kilometres on batteries, would have a valuable addition to their product range.

 

 

May 8, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Will Southern Fit On-board Energy Storage To Class 377 Trains?

When I wrote Will London Overground Fit On-board Energy Storage To Class 378 Trains? in March, I didn’t look very hard at Southern’s collection of over two hundred Class 377 trains, of which forty-six are dual-voltage units.

I then read this article on the Railway Technical web site, which is entitled Southern’s 377/6 takes shape in Litchurch Lane. This is said in the article.

Regenerative braking capability was provided on the trains from the beginning but it was not used.

Things have improved in the last few years and some parts of the network can accept returned power, but the article adds this caveat.

If the train detects that the line is unable to take the extra voltage, the regenerated power is dumped into an on-board resistor grid.

So it would appear that the Class 377 trains could benefit from the addition of on-board energy storage.

How much of the electricity bill it would save, is I suspect known to the accountants and it should be a fairly simple analysis to see if on-board energy storage were to be fitted all or some of Class 377 trains.

But converting a small number of trains, would give Southern a train capable of replacing the Class 171 trains on London Bridge to Uckfield and the Marshlink Line.

Class 377 trains with an IPEMU capability on these routes might give operational benefits.

  • London to East Grinstead is already run by Class 377 trains. So the same trains could be used on both branches, which must be a benefit for the operator, in terms of driver and staff training.
  • Class 377 trains already run to the end of the electrification at Ore from Brighton, Eastbourne and Cannon Street, so it might be advantageous for both operator and passengers to continue some or all of these services to Ashford.
  • Rye and the other stations on the Marshlink Line would get a direct electric service to London.

The only problem is that Hastings wouldn’t get a high-speed service to St. Pancras.

April 3, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , | 1 Comment

How Long Would An IPEMU Take From St. Leonard’s To St. Pancras International?

If an IPEMU is going to be used between St. Leonard’s and St. Pancras International station, there are two possibilities.

  • A 110 mph IPEMU based on existing Class 387 trains.
  • A 125 mph IPEMU based on a purpose-built Aventra. Ian Walmsley stated in the April 2016 Edition of Modern Railways that a 125 mph Aventra is possible.

This compares with the 143 mph and 100 mph speeds of a Class 395 train on high speed and classic lines respectively.

For this estimate, I will make the following assumptions.

  • St. Leonards takes four minutes longer than Hastings.
  • The baseline time from St. Pancras to Ashford is 38 minutes in a Class 395 train.
  • Times on the high speed section are in proportion to the train speed.
  • The baseline time from St. Leonard’s to Ashford is 46 minutes in a Class 171 train.
  • All trains on the unelectrified section are limited to 100 mph.

Times From St.Leonards to Ashford

The Class 171 train takes 46 minutes, but it is only a benchmark, as few would go to Ashford and then get on a Class 395 train on High Speed 1.

The Class 395 train and the IPEMUs would be quicker as they would save a couple of minutes at each of the typical five stops, because of their faster acceleration.

Two minutes a stop would save ten minutes.

Times From Ashford to St. Pancras

Doing a simple calculation based on train speed gives the following times.

  • Class 395 train – 38 minutes
  • Class 387 IPEMU – 48 minutes
  • Aventra IPEMU – 43 minutes.

Times from St. Leonards to St. Pancras

Adding the two times together gives.

  • Class 395 train – 74 minutes
  • Class 387 IPEMU – 84 minutes
  • Aventra IPEMU – 79 minutes.

With Hastings it will be four minutes less.

In Wikipedia, there is a section called Future for the entry for the Marshlink Line. This is said.

The line is strategically important, as electrification and junction improvements would mean that High Speed 1 trains could travel directly from St Pancras International to Hastings. Amber Rudd, Member of Parliament for Hastings, has campaigned for electrification works to start by 2017. The aim is to reduce times to London from Hastings to 68 minutes, and from Rye to under an hour. This would require remodelling Ashford International station so the existing Marshlink line could connect to HS1, installing power systems, and adding a passing loop at Rye, all in addition to requiring new trains.

I think that the aim of 68 minutes from London to Hastings is a modest one, but as my crude estimate was only six minutes longer, I think the 68 minutes is totally attainable, especially as my times from St. Leonards to Ashford are just based on current timings and taking off a couple of minutes for each stop.

But if the Marshlink Line could be significantly improved, then time reductions of several minutes could well be achieved.

March 29, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Along The Marshlink Line

After writing Will We See IPEMUS in Hastings?, I thought it would be a good idea to see, if there were any other reasons, why running longer IPEMUs on the Marshlink Line would be a good idea.

So I took a Class 395 train from St. Pancras International station to Ashford International station along High Speed One.

From Ashford International, I took the Marshlink Link to Hastings station, in one of the services run by Southern using Class 171 trains.

These are my observations from the trip.

Class 171 Trains

These are two-car modern diesel multiple units with a top speed of 160 kph and they can be coupled together to make longer trains.

They are totally adequate for the current service between Ashford International and Brighton via Hastings, Bexhill, Eastbourne and Lewes.

Class 387 Trains With An IPEMU Capability

I believe that if battery trains or IPEMUs are used to provide an electric service on the Marshlink Line, that only Class 387 trains can be delivered in a reasonable timescale.

  • The Class 387 train is a cousin of the Class 379 train, which was used to create the demonstrator.
  • The Class 387 train is a four-car 175 kph train, that can be run in 4, 8 or 12 car formations.
  • The capability of the train on battery power, would be more than adequate to go between Ashford International and Hastings.
  • There are over twenty Class 387 trains in service, that will start to be replaced this year with new Class 700 trains.
  • Another twenty trains are on order for Porterbrook.
  • Because of the late delivery of the Great Western electrification, quite a few trains have no home to go to.
  • Southern are very familiar with Class 387 trains.

The main thing that would need to be done, would be to add an appropriate battery pack to the number of trains needed for a Brighton to Ashford or St. Pancras service.

As a battery pack was designed over a year ago, I’m sure Bombardier have this under control.

This article in Rail Technology Magazine, talks about how Bombardier are doing extensive tests on battery systems in Mannheim.

Ashford International Station

This Google Map shows the various lines through Ashford International station.

Lines Around Ashford International Station

Lines Around Ashford International Station

Note.

  • High Speed One goes through the station calling at the long island platforms 3 and 4, or on the flyover, as appropriate.
  • The Ashford to Ramsgate Line goes off to the North East.
  • The Marshlink Line goes south alongside the white teardrop, which is the Ashford Designer Outlet.

There are three alternatives for Marshlink Line trains.

  • Currently, trains from the Marshlink Line terminate in Platform 1. This could continue.
  • Trains could go to and from London on High Speed 1
  • Trains could go to and from London on classic lines.

I suppose there could be a mixture of all three.

I don’t know if it is possible to run trains between High Speed One and the Marshlink Line, but I can’t believe that it would be impossible to arrange, as Network Rail have mentioned Hastings to St. Pancras services via High Speed One in some of their reports.

Ham Street Station

Ham Street station is a simple affair on a double-track section, with two staggered platforms.

I took these pictures of the station.

This is a Google Map of the station.

Ham Street Station

Ham Street Station

it would appear that quite a few houses have been built recently.

The station doesn’t appear to be of the same quality as the houses.

Appledore Station

This Google Map shows the Appledore station.

Appledore Station

Appledore Station

It is simple affair, with very few houses locally.

  • Appledore itself is two miles away.
  • It has two staggered platforms.
  • There is a level crossing.
  • There is no footbridge.

South of the station the line becomes single-track and the Dungeness Branch goes off to Dungeness and Lydd.

Dungeness

A proportion of the freight traffic on the Marshlink Line serves the Dungeness Nuclear Power Station using the Dungeness Branch.

The Google Map shows the area of Dungeness.

Dungeness

Dungeness

At one time, the line had several stations including one at Dungeness.

Other than the power station, there is just a few houses, Lydd Airport, a nature reserve and a few tourist attractions like the iconic Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway.

The only other things that could effect the area, is a possible building of Dungeness C Nuclear Power Station and other energy related developments, like a cross-Channel energy link or support for wind turbines.

So to say that the Dungeness Branch will never be developed with a passenger train service, is a bit like saying human beings will never set foot on Mars.

I’ve never been down to Dungeness, although C flew to Beauvais near Paris in the 1960s from the Airport using an airline called Skyways (?).

Rye Station

Rye station is the only substantial station on the unelectrified part of the Marshlink Line.

This Google Map shows the station.

RyeStation

I visited Rye in 2015 and wrote Lunch At Rye, where I found it a charming little town, lacking in information.

The station has a passing loop, a footbridge and a booking office, and it probably would need little work for longer trains.

However, there was evidence of general tidying up and the relaying of track.

Evidence Of Work At Rye

Evidence Of Work At Rye

In fact, this was virtually the only work, that I saw anywhere on the Marshlink Line.

Winchelsea, Doleham And Three Oaks Stations.

Of these three stations, we only stopped at Winchelsea station.

Except for well-maintained single platform, there is not much there.

Doleham and Three Oaks stations are also fairly basic, with Three Oaks only able to handle a single carriage.

From Ore To Hastings

Ore station is the next station after Three Oaks and it is fully electrified from the station all the way to Eastbourne and Brighton.

An Article In Rye News

This article in Rye News is entitled More give than take on Marshlink, was written by Stuart Harland who is chairman of the Marsh Link Action Group.

It gives a summary of the work needed to allow Class 395 trains to Bexhill.

As we know from the Network Rail presentation to MLAG last year, the physical issues to be resolved are:

  • electrification of the Marshlink line
  • signalling at Bexhill;
  • remodelling of the track layout at Ashford;
  • the dualling/ passing loop at Rye
  • the two level crossings at East Guldeford where input is awaited from the Highways Agency to remove the need for two level crossings on the A259

All of this needs funding, as do the additional Javelin units built by Hitachi.

 

So how does using Class 387 trains with an IPEMU capability affect this list.

  • Electrification of the Marshlink Line would not be needed.
  • The signalling at Bexhill, can already handle eight-car Electrostars, like the Class 387 train, so I would assume modifications would be simpler, if at all.
  • The remodelling of the track layout at Ashford would only need to connect Platforms 1 and 2 to High Speed One.
  • The passing loop at Rye seems capable of accepting two four-car Class 171 Turbostar trains, which are closely related to Class 387 Electrostar trains.
  • The level crossing problems would remain, but the speeds could be kept to those used now.
  • New trains would not need to be purchased from Hitachi.

In addition, there would need to be work done to make sure that all stations and signalling on the Marshlink Line could accept the length of train, that Southern want to run between |St. Pancras and Hastings.

Conclusion

Class 387 IPEMUs could easily provide service on the Marshlink Line and  the cost of the work would be very much reduced compared to using Class 395 Javelin trains, with the biggest expense probably being adding the battery packs to the Class 387 trains.

 

 

 

 

March 22, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Will We See IPEMUs In Hastings?

I have just been pointed to this article in the Hastings Observer, which is entitled Hybrid trains alternative to electrifying 1066 country railway. This is said.

Battery-powered high-speed trains were proclaimed as the way to decrease rail journey times in 1066 country at a transport summit today (Friday, March 18).

Hybrid Javelin trains would eliminate the need to electrify the Marshlink but still reduce the time it takes to get to London, according to transport representatives at Sussex Coast College.

Network Rail’s senior strategic planner in the south east Paul Best explained how they are proposing an ‘incremental approach’ to electrifying the railway between Ashford and Bexhill.

He said they can increase speed limits in certain places but also look into using hybrid trains with a battery so they can be used on the normal track and electric line from St Pancras to Ashford, which would reduce journey times

So let’s look at this statement in detail. Note that I use Independently-Powered Electric Multiple Unit or IPEMU instead of battery trains.

I think it will be unlikely, that if this comes to pass, that the trains will be Class 395 trains, colloquially known as Javelins.

  • I don’t think Hitachi could deliver their made-in-Japan product for some time due to busy production schedules.
  • Hitachi have not disclosed any plans for a battery variant of a Class 395 train.
  • Paul Best of Network Rail isn’t reported as mentioning Javelins.

Hitachi may be able to deliver such a train in the future and I may be wrong about their capabilities.

I think if we see Paul Best’s hybrid trains working between St. Pancras and 1066 country, then there is only one proven train; an IPEMU or battery-powered version of the Class 387 train.

  • Soon, there could be several of the trains sitting in sidings or being built at Bombardier’s factory in Derby.
  • All or most of the Class 387 trains are owned by Porterbrook. Leasing companies are not charities and like their assets to sweat.
  • Bombardier and Network Rail demonstrated the IPEMU technology in public service over twelve months ago.
  • Class 387/2 trains destined for Gatwick Express have been extensively tested on the West Coast Main Line. Has their 200 kph capability been explored?
  • Southern, who have lots of experience of running Class 387 trains, are responsible for the services between Hastings and Ashford International.
  • Adding the required signalling and certifying the Class 387 trains for HS1, shouldn’t be a difficult problem.
  • Jumping the electrification gap of the Marshlink Line, is well within the capability of a Class 387 train with an IPEMU capability.

The only problem I can see, is that they are only a 110 mph train as opposed to the 140 mph of the Class 395 train, when that train runs on HS1. So would this cause route planning problems? But then the line can accommodate slower freight trains.

But I did say the following in Will Southern Create A South Coast Express Using IPEMUs?, about an electrified service on the Marshlink Line.

Using IPEMU trains would simplify the job and mean no electrification would be needed.

It would appear that Network Rail are thinking along similar lines.

The High Speed Battery Train

Are Bombardier creating a genuine high speed train with a 200 kph capability and the ability to run for at least fifty miles on battery power.

  • Bombardier certainly have the experience to build a 200 kph train for the UK, in that both Class 221 trains and Class 222 trains were built by Bombardier.
  • If they had to settle for the 175 kph of the current Class 387 train, that wouldn’t be too serious a problem. Especially, if they could squeeze the extra 25 kph in a few years, with an upgrade.
  • Class 387 trains have been running on Thameslink since December 2014.
  • A lot of technology like LED lights, regenerative braking, efficient air-conditioning and automatic train control systems are available to make trains use less electricity.
  • The battery technology has been reported as going through extensive testing in Mannheim.

Without doubt Bombardier can produce a 175 kph (110 mph) train based on the Class 387 train and they could be able to stretch that to a 200 kph (125 mph) one!

That would be some train!

The IPEMU Market

If they can produce a high speed train with an onboard energy storage, it is not a speculative product without a market.

In addition to the Marshlink Line, all of these lines have a proportion of running at around 160 kph or over and then an extension, that is not electrified.

  • Liverpool Street to Lowestoft – This route is in the new Greater Anglia franchise.
  • Liverpool Street to Yarmouth via Cambridge, Ely and Norwich.
  • Liverpool Street to Peterborough via Cambridge.
  • Ipswich to Cambridge, Ely and Peterborough.
  • Kings Cross to Grimsby, Hull and Lincoln.
  • Kings Cross to Hartlepool, Middlesbrough and Sunderland.
  • Liverpool to Newcastle and Edinburgh via Manchester, Huddersfield and Leeds.
  • Liverpool to Hull via Warrington, Manchester, Sheffield and Doncaster.
  • Blackpool to Leeds via Preston and the Calder Valley Line.
  • St. Pancras to Corby and Leicester
  • Euston to Barrow, Blackpool, Chester, Huddersfield and Shrewsbury
  • Paddington to Bedwyn, Henley, Marlowe, Newbury, Oxford and Windsor

In addition, there are some routes , which could be served, with some short stretches of electrification or a means of charging the train at the terminus.

  • Waterloo to Exeter via Salisbury.
  • York to Scarborough
  • Edinburgh to Tweedbank
  • Settle to Carlisle
  • Carlisle to Newcastle.

And then there’s all the branch lines!

Conclusion

Could we be witnessing a rail revolution powered by batteries?

I certainly think we are and have thought so for some time.

Who’ve have thought that Network Rail would spill the beans in Hastings about a rather charming line across the Romney Marsh?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 19, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | 3 Comments