The Anonymous Widower

Vivarail Units Take Over Marston Vale Services

The title of this post is the same asw this article on Railway Gazette.

The article contains an informative video of Adrian Shorter talking about the Class 230 train.

Much of the article and the video is information that has already been well reported.

Adrian Shooter does mention that the diesel-electric-battery versions of the Class 230 train for Transport for Wales will incorporate geo-fencing.

This would mean that in sensitive areas, the diesel engines would be cut out and only  battery power would be used.

The process would be controlled automatically using the train’s position from GPS.

This technique has been used on hybrid buses to lower emissions and noise levels in sensitive areas.

 

May 30, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

A First Ride In A Revenue-Earning Class 230 Train

When I heard that London North Western Railway were running a new Class 230 train between Bedford and Bletchley, I just had to go.

These are my thoughts.

Comparison With D78 Stock

I regularly used the D78 Stock from their introduction in 1980 until their retirement in 2017. In Raw Material For A New Train, I showed a few pictures of one of the last D78 Stock trains to be in service.

The picture with the orange doors shows a Class 378 train, at the same platform as the D78 train for comparison.

The trains have certainly undergone changes with new wndows and a new interior, but some components like the  longitudinal seats, appear to have just been refurbished.

But the Class 230 train has retained the well-lit feel of the D78 Stock.

An Interior For All Passengers

Passengers come in many different types and the interior has been well-designed to cope all types of passengers who might use the train.

As it also takes clues from other trains, that work on high-capacity routes, I feel it would cope well if on perhaps a weekend, there was some form of event or festival.

Longitudinal Seating

Vivarail have retained some of the old London Underground longitudinal seating, which must be unique in the UK outside the London Underground/Overground and the Glasgow Subway.

But it does seem to fit in more seats.

Seat Comfort

To me, seat comfort is all important, as I have a posterior that objects to certain seats, like those on Thameslink’s Class 700 trains.

But these seats were fine, despite the fact they looked like the dreaded Thameslink seats. But then perhaps the padding is different!

Tables

LNWR have chosen to fit several tables in these trains, which were big enough to lay out a tabloid-sized newspaper.

Wi-Fi, Power And USB Points

Wi-fi is fitted to this train and there were numerous power and USB points. The latter were in the armrests of the longitudinal seats, which in my view, is the obvious, if not essential place. Other train manufacturers please note!

An Unfussy, Surprisingly Quiet And Workmanlike Ride

Passengers don’t generally rave about the quality of the ride in Underground trains and I would generally describe the ride of the average Underground train as workmanlike.

But then I’ve been riding Underground trains for at least sixty-five years and a modern S7 Stock train, is so much better than the 1938 Stock trains I can remember.

The ride of the Class 230 train is unfussy, surprisingly quiet and it still has that workmanlike quality of forty-year-old Underground trains.

Without doubt though, the ride and especially the noise is much better than the Alstom Coradia iLint, that I wrote about in My First Ride In An Alstom Coradia iLint.

Engine Noise

The two diesel engines beneath our feet, were not any more noticeable, than the engine on one of London’s Routemaster buses.

I would expect that High quality noise suppression techniques have been used.

An Air Of Quality

The finish of the train appeared to have a good quality

Operating Speed

Using the |SpeedView app on my phone, the train seemed to trundle on happily at around 45-50 mph.

Passenger Reaction

The passengers seemed to be fairly pleased with their new train, and several said it was better than the single car Class 153 train.

A Senior Manager from LNWR, also seemed pleased with his new train.

Conclusion

It is a well-designed train, that impressed me.

It should find a niche in the train market.

The fact that the train is in service, will in itself provoke interest from train operating companies and Councils and other groups promoting new or reopened train services.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see more orders this year.

April 23, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | 4 Comments

Did Adrian Shooter Let The Cat Out Of The Bag?

This article with a video in the Scotsman is entitled Video: Battery Trains On Track To Cut Emissions and gives a lot of information about the Class 230 train. This is a paragraph.

The train is restricted to a 25mph speed on this week’s test trips, but Vivarail Chief Executive Adrian Shooter says it can sustain speeds of “60 mph for 40 miles” when new batteries become available next year.

Moreover, the batteries need just four minutes to recharge.

So what does this mean for the various routes?

Borderlands Line

Transport for Wales have ordered Class 230 trains for the Borderlands Line.

The line runs between Bidston and Wrexham Central stations is around twenty-seven miles and takes an hour. There is a generous turnround time at both ends in the current schedule.

This Google Map shows the layout of the two-platform station at Bidston.

This picture shows the red-roofed shed in the middle of the island platform, with the tracks on either side.

Would it be sensible to add a dedicated bay platform at Bidston for charging the battery trains?

The train will certainly be able to start with a full battery after a long charge at Wrexham Central and then do the following.

  • Run to Bidston on battery power.
  • Turnround at Bidston, where four minutes could be used to charge the batteries.
  • Run back to Wrexham Central on battery power.
  • Regenerative braking would be used at the thirteen intermediate stations.

If necessary during the long runs the diesel engines could be used to provide more power or top up the batteries.

Chester To Crewe Line

Transport for Wales have ordered Class 230 trains for the Chester to Crewe Line.

It runs between Chester and Crewe stations, is around twenty miles long and services take about twenty minutes.

As there are no stations between Chester and Crewe and the maximum speed of the Class 230 train is sixty mph, it looks like the train will be almost at maximum speed  along this route.

So will the four diesel engines be working hard?

When these trains were built in the 1980s, I doubt that anybody thought they’d be running services on a section of the North Wales Coast Line.

Conwy Valley Line

Transport for Wales have ordered Class 230 trains for the Conwy Valley Line.

It runs between Llandudno and Blaenau Ffestiniog stations, is around thirty miles long and services take eighty minutes to ascend and seventy to come down.

The train will certainly be able to start with a full battery after a long charge at Llandudno and then do the following.

  • Ascend to Blaenau Ffestiniog on battery power, with help from the diesel engines.
  • Turnround at Blaenau Ffestiniog, where four minutes could be used to charge the batteries.
  • Descend to Llandudno on battery power, with help from gravity.
  • The descent would be controlled by regenerative braking.
  • Regenerative braking would be used at the eleven intermediate stations.

If necessary during the long ascent the diesel engines could be used to provide more power or top up the batteries.

Greenford Branch

What do you do with a problem like the Greenford Branch?

In Could Class 165 HyDrive Trains Be The Solution To The Greenford Branch?, I looked at the possibility of using the proposed Class 165 Hydrive trains to provide a four trains per hour (tph) service on the Greenford Branch.

This was my conclusion.

Four tph is possible on the Greenford Branch, but it will need an extra crossover just outside West Ealing station.

Class 165 HyDrive trains with their extra performance would make the four tph timetable more reliable.

The lower noise and emissions of the trains would also please the local residents.

I also feel that a well-designed battery-powered two-car train, with perhaps a charging station at either end could also provide the improved service.

That well-designed battery-train has arrived in the shape of the Class 230 train.

Island Line

It appears likely, that Class 230 trains will be ordered for the Island Line.

It runs between Ryde Pier Head and Shanklin stations, is under nine miles long and a typical round trip is as follows.

  • Shanklin to Ryde Pier Head – 24 minutes
  • Turnround at Ryde Pier Head – 20 minutes
  • Ryde Pier Head to Shanklin – 24 minutes
  • Turnround at Shanklin – 5 minutes

The Island Line has an operating speed of just 45 mph.

Adding all that up, I would estimate that a train doing a round trip would do under twenty miles at a maximum speed of 45 mph.

Adrian Shooter said that the trains will be able to store 2,400 miles² /hour, whereas the Island Line would use only 900 miles² /hour in a round trip. They may be weird units, you won’t find in any text book, but I want to prove if something is possible or not.

It looks like it most definitely is possible for a battery-powered Class 230 train to perform a round trip on one charge of of the batteries.

Suppose though, the line was reinstated to Ventnor station, as a  line without electrification. A quick estimate gives the round-trip as thirty miles, which would need  1350 miles² /hour.

There could even be a second charging station at Ventnor.

Could we see a future Island Line like this?

  • No electrification.
  • Extension to a new Ventnor station.
  • A passing loop at Brading station.
  • Battery trains.
  • Relaid track for very gentle curves and high efficiency.
  • Charging stations at Ryde Pier Head and Ventnor stations.

I suspect with some faster running, where it is possible and perhaps one diesel power pack per train, three-car Class 230 trains could run a two tph service.

This type of service would not be unique for long, as other places would quickly copy.

Marston Vale Line

West Midlands Trains have ordered Class 230 trains for the Marston Vale Line.

It runs between Bedford and Bletchley stations, is around twenty-four miles long and services appear to take about forty-five minutes, with a turn-round time of well over four minutes.

So it would seem that each leg of a return journey would be less than forty miles and there would be sufficient time for a full four-minute charge at either end.

The regenerative braking would be useful in handling the eleven stops.

Conclusion

It isn’t one cat!

It’s a whole destruction, glorying or nuisance of felines!

 

 

 

October 16, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Brand New Vivarail Train Arrives At Bletchley

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

The first Class 230 train has now been delivered to its new home at Bletchley depot for service on the Marston Vale Line.

This unlikely project finally seems to be closing in on a successful conclusion.

But then never underestimate the power of engineering!

September 21, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , | 12 Comments

MK-Bedford New Line Mooted

The title of this post, is the same as the title of an article in the April 2018 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is the first paragraph.

A new railway between Milton Keynes and Bedford for the East West Rail project has been suggested as a way of avoiding problems with the Marston Vale Line, where the hourly stopping service and numerous level crossings limit capacity for through regional trains.

Another aim is that the next phase of the project should be completed by the end 2022, which is between a one and two years earlier than the existing target.The Chairman of the East West Rail Company, then said he’d like the the railway to open in 2027.

The article says a new route will be expensive, but innovative ways of doing things could help.

Consider these points about the Marston Vale Line

  • The stations need development.
  • There are at least thirteen level crossings.
  • New houses are being built near some stations.
  • The operating speed  is just 50 mph.
  • Finding a new route at Fenny Stratford, Woburn Sands, Aspley Guise, Ridgmont and Lidlington could be difficult.
  • The railway passes under the M1 and the A421, so moving these crossing points could be difficult.

It’s all a complicated design problem.

East West Rail could borrow a trick from the Heathrow Southern Railway, which is planned to run alongside the M25 to get to Heathrow. The new railway could be routed alongside the A421 in the Bedford area.

This Google Map shows the A421 to the South of Bedford.

Note.

  • The Marston Vale Line goes across the North West corner of the map.
  • The Midland Main Line goes across the map in a North-South direction.
  • The roundabout at the North East connects the A421 to the A6.
  • The building by the roundabout is a hotel.

If the East West Rail Link was routed alongside the by-pass a station could be built where the two lines cross.

  • The Midland Main Line and Thameslink would be linked to the East West Rail Link.
  • Passengers for Bedford would be able to use the frequent Thameslink service to get to the town.
  • A big Park-and-Ride could be built.
  • Marston Vale Line services would take the same route as they do now, via Bedford St. Johns station.

If it was desired, chords could be built to enable services on the East West Rail Link to serve Bedford with a reverse in Bedford station.

Oxford has a Parkway station, Milton Keynes has a Milton Keynes South station at Bletchley, Cambridge will probably have a Cambridge South station, so why shouldn’t Bedford have a Bedford South station?

March 22, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

D-Train Order For Marston Vale Confirmed

The title of this post, is the same as the title of an article in the April 2018 Edition of Modern Railways.

It gives a few more details on the order from West Midlands Trains for three Class 230 trains to provide the service on the Marston Vale Line.

  • The trains will be in operation in December 2018
  • Two trains will operate the daily service.
  • The trains will be diesel-powered.

When the trains come into operation, extra early morning and late-night services will be added from Monday to Saturday.

Battery Prototype

The article also gives more details of the battery prototype.

  • The train has four battery rafts, each with a capacity of 106 kWh
  • Range is up to fifty miles with a ten minute charge at each end of the journey.
  • Range will increase as battery technology improves.
  • The train is charged using a patented automatic charging point.
  • The batteries will have a seven-year lifespan, backed by a full warranty.
  • Battery rafts would appear to be interchangeable with the diesel generators.
  • Hydrogen power will be used within the next few years.

The specification seems comprehensive and it would appear there is a high degree of innovative automation and well-thought-out electrical engineering.

Train Energy Consumption

The train has the following characteristics.

  • Two cars
  • 424 kWh of battery capacity.
  • 50 mile range

This gives a consumption 4.24 kWh/per car/per mile.

In an article in the October 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled Celling England By The Pound, Ian Walmsley says this in relation to trains running on the Uckfield Branch, which is probably not much more taxing than the Marston Vale Line.

A modern EMU needs between 3 and 5 kWh per vehicle mile for this sort of service.

I am surprised that the Class 230 train lies in the 3-5 kWh range, but then I’m not sure of the weights of the two trains.

I estimate two-car units to weigh as follows.

  • Class 230 train plus batteries – Around 50 tonnes.
  • Electrostar – Around 90 tonnes
  • Aventra – Around 80 tonnes

I shall get some better figures, when I actually see the trains, as the weight is on the side.

The Pop-Up Train

The article talks of the concept of a low-cost pop-up train as a solution for a regional or commuter train.

Export To America?

This pop-up train could be designed to be used to demonstrate rail services in America.

Henry Posner, who is promoting the train in America is quoted as saying cities could use the train to test possible services with passengers on board ‘for less than the cost of a consultant’s study into a possible service’.

These demonstrations will be on freight lines, where for reasons of safety, the passengers trains would run during the day and freight trains at night.

Is America ready for an invasion of remanufactured forty-year-old London Underground D78 Stock trains?

 

 

March 22, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vivarail To Supply Three D-Trains To West Midlands Trains

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

This order has been a long time coming and the three Class 230 trains will be used by West Midlands Trains on the Marston Vale Line, from December 2018.

Whether they will be diesel or battery versions of the Class 230 trains is not stated.

March 1, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Enlightening Facts On Battery Trains

This article In Rail Magazine is entitled Vivarail Targets Summer Running For New Battery Unit.

The article says some enlightening things about the battery version of the Class 230 train.

  • Four batteries are provided on the two-car train.
  • The total battery capacity is 106 kWh. (Note: It has since been disclosed that the total battery capacity is 424 kWh!)
  • An eight minute recharge is needed at the end of each run.
  • A ten minute recharge gives a range of fifty miles.

Nothing is said of the speed and acceleration of the train on battery power.

How would these figures fit Vivarail’s order for three trains from West Midlands Trains to serve the Marston Vale Line?

  • The route is approximately twenty-five miles long.
  • Trains currently take forty-three minutes with ten stops.
  • Overhead electrification could be available at both ends of the line, as both Bedford and Bletchley station are on 25 KVAC  main lines.

Do the sums!

February 22, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment