The Anonymous Widower

Irlam Station To Go Step-Free

This document on the Government web site is entitled Access for All: 73 Stations Set To Benefit From Additional Funding.

Irlam station is on the list.

These pictures show the station and the current subway.

The station was a total surprise, with a large pub-cafe and a lot of visitors and/or travellers sitting in the sun.

I had an excellent coffee and a very welcoming gluten-free blueberry muffin!

This Google Map shows the station.

It is one of those stations where commuters have to cross the railway either on the way to work or coming home.

So a step-free method of crossing the railway is absolutely necessary.

The Current And Future Rail Service

As the station lies conveniently between Liverpool and Warrington to the West and Manchester and Manchester Airport to the East, it must be a station with tremendous potential for increasing the number of passengers.

At the moment the service is two trains per hour (tph) between Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Oxford Road stations.

  • Oxford Road is probably not the best terminus, as it is not on the Metrolink network.
  • When I returned to Manchester, many passengers alighted at Deansgate for the Metrolink.
  • On the other hand, Liverpool Lime Street is a much better-connected station and it is backed up by Liverpool South Parkway station, which has a connection to Merseyrail’s Northern Line.
  • The current service doesn’t serve Manchester Piccadilly or Airport stations.

A guy in the cafe also told me that two tph are not enough and the trains are oqften too short.

Merseyrail work to the same principle as the London Overground and other cities of four tph at all times and the frequency certainly draws in passengers.

Whilst I was drinking my coffee, other trains past the station.

  • One tph – Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Airport
  • One tph – Liverpool Lime Street and Norwich

Modern trains like Northern’s new Class 195 trains, should be able to execute stops at stations faster than the elderly diesel trains currently working the route.

So perhaps, after Irlam station becomes step-free, the Manchester Airport service should call as well.

As Liverpool Lime Street station has been remodelled, I can see a time in the not too distant future, when that station can support four tph, that all stop at Irlam station.

The Manchester end of the route could be a problem, as services terminating at Oxford Road have to cross the busy lines of the Castlefield Corridor.

So perhaps all services through Irlam, should go through Deansgate, Manchester Oxford Road and Manchester Piccadilly stations to terminate either at the Airport or perhaps Stockport or Hazel Grove stations.

But would this overload the Castlefield Corridor?

Battery/Electric Trains

If you look at the route between Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Oxford Road stations, the following can be seen.

  • Only about thirty miles between Deansgate and Liverpool South Parkway stations is not electrified.
  • The section without electrification doesn’t appear to be particularly challenging, as it is along the River Mersey.

It is my view, that the route between Liverpool and Manchester via Irlam, would be an ideal route for a battery/electric train.

A train between Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Airport stations would do the following.

  • Run from Liverpool Lime Street station to Liverpool South Parkway station using the installed 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • Drop the pantograph during the stop at Liverpool South Parkway station.
  • Run from Liverpool South Parkway station to Deansgate station using battery power.
  • Raise the pantograph during the stop at Deansgate station.
  • Run from Deansgate station to Manchester Airport station, using the installed 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

The exact distance between Deansgate and Liverpool South Parkway stations is 28.2 miles or 45.3 kilometres.

In 2015, I was told by the engineer riding shotgun on the battery/electric Class 379 train, that that experimental train was capable of doing fifty kilometres on battery power.

There are at least four possible trains, that could handle this route efficiently.

  • Porterbrook’s proposed batteryFLEX train based on a Class 350 train.
  • A battery/electric train based on the seemingly unwanted Class 379 train.
  • A battery/electric version of Stadler’s Class 755 train.
  • I believe that Bombardier’s Aventra has been designed so that a battery/electric version can be created.

There are probably others and I haven’t talked about hydrogen-powered trains.

Battery power between Liverpool and Manchester via Irlam, appears to be very feasible.

Tram-Trains

As my train ran between Manchster and Irlam it ran alongside the Metrolink between Cornbrook and Pomona tram stops.

Manchester is very serious about tram-trains, which I wrote about in Could A Class 399 Tram-Train With Batteries Go Between Manchester Victoria And Rochdale/Bury Bolton Street/Rawtenstall Stations?.

Tram-trains are often best employed to go right across a city, so could the Bury tram-trains go to Irlam after joining the route in the Cornbrook area?

  • Only about thirty miles between Deansgate and Liverpool South Parkway stations is not electrified.
  • The route between Liverpool and Manchester via Irlam doesn’t look to be a very challenging line to electrify.
  • The total distance bettween Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Victoria station is only about forty miles, which is a short distance for a tram-train compared to some in Karlsruhe.
  • Merseyrail’s Northern Line terminates at Hunts Cross station, which is going to be made step-free.
  • There is an existing step-free interchange between the Liverpool and Manchester route via Irlam and Merseyrail’s Northern Line at Liverpool South Parkway station.
  • Class 399 tram-trains will have a battery capability in South Wales.
  • Class 399 tram-trains have an operating speed of 62 mph, which might be possible to increase.
  • Stadler make Class 399 tram-trains and are building the new Class 777 trains for Merseyrail.

I think that Stadler’s engineers will find a totally feasible and affordable way to link Manchester’s Metrolink with Liverpool Lime Street station and Merseyrail’s Northern and Wirral Lines.

I can envisage the following train service running between Liverpool and Manchester via Irlam.

  • An hourly service between Liverpool Lime Street and Nottingham, as has been proposed for the new East Midlands Franchise.
  • A four tph service between Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Airport via Manchester Piccadilly.
  • A tram-train every ten minutes, linking Liverpool Central and Manchester’s St Peter’s Square.
  • Tram-trains would extend to the North and East of Manchester as required.
  • All services would stop much more comprehensively, than the current services.
  • Several new stations would be built.
  • In the future, the tram-trains could have an interchange with High Speed Two at Warrington.

Obviously, this is just my speculation, based on what I’ve seen of tram-train networks in Germany.

The possibilities for the use of tram trains are wide-ranging.

Installing Step-Free Access At Irlam Station

There would appear to be two ways of installing step-free access at Irlam station.

  • Add lifts to the existing subway.
  • Add a separate bridge with lifts.

These are my thoughts on each method.

Adding Lifts To The Existing Subway

Consider.

  • The engineering would not be difficult.
  • Installaton would probably take a number of weeks.
  • There is good contractor access on both sides of the railway.

There are similar successful step-free installations around the UK

The problem is all about, how you deal with passengers, whilst the subway is closed for the installation of the lifts.

Adding A Separate Bridge With Lifts

Consider.

  • There is a lot of space at both the Eastern and Western ends of the platform to install a new bridge.
  • Adding a separate bridge has the big advantage, that during the installation of the bridge, passengers can use the existing subway.
  • Once the bridge is installed, the subway can be refurbished to an appropriate standard.

Passengers will probably prefer the construction of a new bridge.

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

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

There is certainly space at both ends of the platform to install such a bridge and the daily business of the station and its passengers would be able to continue unhindered, during the installation.

I’m also sure, that the cafe would be happy to provide the daily needs of the workforce.

Conclusion

From a station and project management point-of-view, adding a new factory-built bridge to Irlam station is the easiest and quickest way to make the station step-free.

It also appears, that Network Rail have made a wise choice in deciding to put Irlam station on their list of stations to be made step-free, as the station could be a major part in creating a new high-capacity route between Liverpool and Manchester.

This could also be one of the first stations to use an example of the new bridge.

  • Installation would be quick and easy.
  • There is no site access problems.
  • There station can remain fully open during the installation.
  • All stakeholders would probably be in favour.

But above all, it would be a superb demonstration site to bring those from stations, where Network Rail are proposing to erect similar bridges.

July 6, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hillside Station To Go Step-Free

This document on the Government web site is entitled Access for All: 73 Stations Set To Benefit From Additional Funding.

Hillside station in Liverpool, is on the list.

These pictures show the station and the current station building, which is on a bridge.

This 3D Google Map shows the station.

Note.

  1. The station appears to have a large forecourt.
  2. The stairs to the platforms have thirty-two steps.
  3. There could be enough space for lifts outside the platforms.

But will a simple solution, be able to cope with major events like the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale?

Perhaps something more radical, but very possible will be done.

One idea, could be to extend the station building at both ends.

  • A set of wide safe stairs and a lift could provide direct access from the street to the platform in the extensions.
  • Once installed, the original stairs could be removed.

There are certainly possibilities for an architect to develop a solution to cope with the biggest events.

June 2, 2019 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hunts Cross Station To Go Step-Free

This document on the Government web site is entitled Access for All: 73 Stations Set To Benefit From Additional Funding.

Hunts Cross station is on the list.

These pictures show the station and the current bridge.

Hunts Cross station, like St. Michaels station, has rather unusual long shallow angle ramps, with steps.

This 3D Google Map shows the station.

It may be unusual, but I suspect a conventional lift tower on each platform would make the station fully step-free.

Note.

  1. The station is Grade II Listed and is described as”A good example of the stations built for the Cheshire Lines Committee.”
  2. The ramps and bridge look to be in excellent condition and could be reasonably recent. Some repainting was actually in progress.
  3. For those that are in need of a drink, after climbing the ramps, there is a handy pub called the Waiting Room. It was busy, when I went to the station.
  4. As well as providing step-free entrance and exit to the station, the lifts would provide step-free interchange for passengers from Manchester needing to transfer to Merseyrail.
  5. Passengers arriving at the station, who need to go to Manchester, would do as they do now and walk across the platform.
  6. Do the last two pictures in the gallery show that the bridge was built or has been modified for lifts to be added? The bridge seems to have a lower wall, which could be removed.
  7. There may be some adjustments needed to the path that Links the station entrance to the bridge.

I’m also pretty certain, that the layout of the station, would allow works to be done, whilst the station is in full operation.

Preparation For Class 777 Trains

Unlike most other stations, that I saw on on the Merseyrail network, work appears to be outstanding to create level access between the new Class 777 trains and platform.

Future Electrification

The bridge would appear to be high enough to clear any future 25 KVAC electrification.

Conclusion

This shouldn’t be the most difficult of projects, unless the Heritage Lobby get upset.

The only problem, I can see would be, it might attract more passengers and create a need for a larger car park.

June 2, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Scrapyard Special Ready For The Blowtorch

I took these pictures of possibly the worst train, I’ve ridden in for some years.

I took this Class 313 train between Hertford North and Old |Street stations.

Not all trains of this age have to be so dirty and unkempt.

In Liverpool’s Underground Trains, I showed these pictures.

 

These Merseyrail Class 507/508 trains are only three years younger, than those in London.

Both fleets are being replaced before the end of 2020.

So it’s not that if trains are going to the scrapyard they have to be let go!

I do wonder whether that this illustrates the point, that if trains are run as a concession from the Local Authority, like those of Merseyrail and London Overground, there is much better control of service quality.

In Gibb Report – Moorgate Services Could Be Transferred To The London Overground, I laid out Chris Gibb’s view of what should happen.

This was my conclusion.

Chris Gibb has made an interesting proposal.

There are good reasons to transfer the Great Northern Metro to London Overground.

  • London Overground have the expertise to introduce the new trains.
  • Transport for London have the expertise to redevelop the stations on the route at the Southern end.
  • GTR will be able to concentrate on Thameslink
  • Moorgate, Old Street, Essex Road and Highbury and Islington stations become Transport for London-only stations.
  • London would gain a new Metro line between Moorgate and Alexandra Palace via Highbury and Islington and Finsbury Park, that extends into Hertfordshire and has a frequency of at least twelve tph.
  • Crossrail gets another North-South feeder line.
  • Highbury and Islington and Finsbury Park will become high quality interchanges.
  • The Hertford Loop Line can be developed independently of Thameslink and the East Coast Main Line to be a high-capacity North-South Metro from North London to Stevenage.
  • The Victoria Line gets a cross-platform connection to the Great Northern Metro for Crossrail at Highbury and Islington.
  • The only problem, is that it might remove some of the reasons for extending Crossrail 2 to New Southgate.

Overall it strikes me that GTR have been working totally without any vision or any idea about how their new trains will transform the Great Northern Metro.

I hope Sadiq Khan is watching what is happening from his bunker in South London.

 

April 29, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 3 Comments

Should Railways Have A Pop-Up Service Capability?

Most of us will be familiar with the concept of Pop-Up Retail.

This is the first paragraph of the Wikipedia entry.

Pop-up retail, also known as pop-up store (pop-up shop in the UK, Australia and Ireland) or flash retailing, is a trend of opening short-term sales spaces that started in Los Angeles and now pop up all over the United States, Canada, China,Japan, Mexico, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Australia. The pop-up industry is now estimated to be a $50 billion industry. Pop-up retail has been an increasing factor during the retail apocalypse of the 2010s, including seasonal Halloween retailer Spirit Halloween, who has operated stores in vacant spaces during the season.
Chris Stokes in his column in the December 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, gives a summary of and praises Adrian Shooter’s Vivarail project and its Class 230 train.
He then says.
Two of the units are scheduled for export to the United States, to demonstrate for the potential for ‘pop-up’ commuter services; the cost of a one-year period are said to be equivalent to the consultancy costs for opening a new route. Should such an approach be considered in this country too? The gestation period for new services on freight-only routes is probably the best part of 10 years, but it doesn’t have to be like that.
So is Chris’s concept a viable proposition?
Examples In The UK
Chris then goes on to give an example of a successful pop-up station.
When floods swept away the road bridge at Workington in 2009; Network Rail and Northern constructed a pop-up station and introduced additional trains in less than two weeks.
Recently, Liverpool Lime Street station was partly-closed for rebuilding, so Network Rail extended Platform 4 at Liverpool South Parkway station, so that it could be used as a terminus for trains from London and the South.
The picture shows a Virgin Pendelino in the temporary platform.
Passengers could then transfer to Merseyrail to complete their journey to Liverpool City Centre.
Incidentally, I’d like to know how many passengers to and from Liverpool, found it more convenient to catch their London train from Liverpool South Parkway station. Perhaps, after Merseyrail has its new trains, many passengers would like to use Liverpool South Parkway for longer journeys?
Does anybody know of any other instances of pop-up stations like these in the UK?
What Is Needed To Create These Pop-Up Stations?
Various elements must be brought together to build a pop-up station.
Types Of Stations

I can envisage three types of simple stations.

  1. A one-platform station on a single-track line.
  2. A two-platform station on a double-track line.
  3. A one-platform station on a double-track line.

Note

  1. Type One, would be the simplest and would be worked bidirectionally.
  2. Type Two, would probably require a bridge across the tracks.
  3. Type Three, would need crossovers at both ends of the station, to allow the single platform to be worked bidirectionally.

Obviously, Type 1 would be the most affordable and probably easiest to install.

The Platforms
This picture shows the temporary extended platform at Liverpool South Parkway station.
Only, if you look to the left, do you realise, it is not a permanent structure.
The only problem was that at 150 metres in length, it was a long walk. But most pop-up stations would not be for eleven-coach Class 390 trains.
Scaffolding and prefabricated platforms, should be able to cope with most situations.
Station Buildings
The platform extension at Liverpool South Parkway station didn’t need any buildings, as it was added to an existing station.
But surely, Portakabin and their ilk can come up with something that would work for a couple of years, with perhaps a waiting room or shelter, a ticket machine and even toilets.
A Station Bridge
A proportion of two-platform stations will need a bridge, so that passengers can get from one platform to the other.
At the present time, where a temporary bridge is needed, Network Rail generally put up vast scaffolding structures, like this one at Forest Gate station, used during station reconstruction for Crossrail.
Passenger-friendly it is not!
What is needed is a well-designed temporary footbridge system, that can be lifted in place in sections from a train.
Some footbridge versions might even have lifts and could be installed as pop-up bridges at stations, which urgently need step-free access.
Perhaps, pop-up stations could use a version of Heatherwick Studio’s rolling bridge.
I shall add some pictures of the open bridge, when they fix it.
  • It would certainly bridge the gap between two platforms with a double-track railway in between.
  • In a rail application, the bridge would be interlocked with the signalling and controlled by the signaller.
  • Signals and lights could be added to the bridge  to ensure complete safety.
  • Wikipedia says the original at the Paddington Basin cost £500,000, which could probably be reduced if more were built.
  • This page on the Merchant Square web site, shows the bridge in action.
  • I suspect this bridge would work on single- or double-track lines, without electrification, or with third-rail or with overhead electrification.
  • At many stations it could just be dropped in place from a rail-mounted crane, after preparing the existing platforms.
  • I suspect though, that there would be a limit to the number of trains per hour it could handle.
One of Heatherwick’s bridges, would certainly help in telling the locals, that they have a new station or step-free bridge across the railway.
I wonder if Heatherwick Studio has been talking to Network Rail.
Signalling
The signalling might have to be modified to ensure safety.
When all trains were fitted with in-cab digital signalling, as is planned, then this would surely make pop-up stations and services easier to install.
Tracks
The installation would surely be designed to minimise work on the tracks.
Only the Type Three station would require more than minimal work to the tracks, but the station would only have one platform, which would not require a bridge.
Modern Trains And The Pop-Up Station
Chris Stokes talks about running new pop-up services on freight-only lines, but I believe that there will be calls to use pop-up stations to provide extra stops on existing services.
As an example, suppose that Greater Anglia wanted to assess the demand for a new Soham station. In a year or two, the company will be operating at least an hourly service along the line with their new Class 755 trains.
These trains are part of the new breed of modern trains, which will have the following.
  • The ability to execute a fast stop at a station.
  • Level access will be possible between train and platform.
  • On-board CCTV systems to ensure safe loading and unloading of passengers.
  • Modern in-cab digital signalling.

This will enable the trains to make a station stop without causing problems to the existing timetable.

So if Network Rail, had the ability to quickly install a pop-up station, modern trains would allow a service to be tested at a reasonable cost.

The Practicalities Of Installing A Pop-Up Station

Suppose a station were to be installed at Soham or any other suitable place.

I would expect Network Rail to produce standard designs for the foundations of their pop-up stations.

Network Rail periodically close a line to replace track or do various other work. When a line is closed for this work and a pop-up station might be needed on the route, the standard foundations would be installed.

Then, when the budget for the station had been obtained, the station would be installed and commissioned in a suitable possession.

Conclusion

I believe a pop-up station is a feasible proposition.

If a pop-up station is a feasible proposition, then it follows that to install perhaps five stations on a freight-only line to create a totally new passenger service is also a feasible proposition.

 

December 5, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Merseyrail’s Battery Intentions

In New Merseyrail Fleet A Platform For Future Innovations, I quoted from  this article on the Rail Technology Magazine web site.

The article mainly is an interview with David Powell, who is programme director of rolling stock at Merseytravel.

This is a direct quote from the article.

We will be exploring, with Stadler, what the options are for having the trains becoming self-powered. This isn’t the bi-modes that lots of other people are talking about in the industry; this is on-board electrical storage.

The Wikipedia entry for Merseyrail links to this document, which puts a lot more flesh on Merseyrail’s intentions for battery trains.

It outlines strategies for the following routes.

Ellesmere Port And Helsby

The document says this.

There is a reasonable business case for extending the Merseyrail service through to Helsby.
However this is likely to be best served by the use of Merseyrail battery powered enabled
services. This will be tested on the new units in 2020.

According to Wikipedia, the sixth Class 777 train to be delivered will be fitted with batteries.

Currently, the service between Liverpool Central and Ellesmere Port stations is as follows.

  • A train every thirty minutes.
  • Trains take eighty-five minutes to do the round trip from Ellesmere Port round the Wirral Loop under Liverpool and back to Ellesmere Port.
  • There are thirty-one stops on the route.
  • There is a five minute turnround at Ellesmere Port station.

Two trains are needed to run the service.

The Current Class 507/508 trains and the future Class 777 trains both have the same operating speed, but there are performance differences.

  • The British Rail trains have 656 kW of power per train, whereas every new Stadler train will have 2,100 kW. The speed may be the same, but the acceleration will be much greater if needed and and the regenerative braking should be powerful and smoothly controlled.
  • Loading and unloading of passengers with their increasing levels of extras will be much faster due to the hollistic design of the trains and the platforms.

It would not be unrealistic to see around a minute saved at every stop.

The extended service between Ellesmere Port and Helsby stations is not much extra distance and time.

  • Just over five miles each way.
  • About thirteen minutes each way , based on existing services on the route.

So if the terminus were to be moved to Helsby, when the new trains are in service, the time savings between Ellesmere Port and Liverpool should cover the extra distance.

It should also be noted about Helsby station.

  • It has four platforms and could probably handle four trains per hour (tph).
  • A platform with a charging station could be created.
  • It has a wide selection of services including Chester, Llandudno, Manchester and Warrington.

To my mind, Liverpool to Helsby would be an ideal route for a battery electric train.

Ormskirk-Preston Enhancements

The document says this.

This incorporates both electrification from Ormskirk through to Preston and the potential
reintroduction one or both of the Burscough Curves. In view of the deferral of electrification
proposals, and the relative low ranking of the electrification proposal in the Northern Sparks
report, it is unlikely that the electrification proposal is expected to be taken forward in the
near future. In addition to this, the business case for extending electrification to Burscough,
and the introduction of the southern Burscough Curve, is poor. The potential use of battery
powered Merseyrail units may improve the business case for both proposals. This will be
reviewed after the Merseyrail units have been tested for battery operation in 2020.

Currently, the service between Ormskirk and Preston stations is as follows.

  • A train every hour.
  • Trains take around thirty minutes to go between the two terminal stations.
  • The route is fifteen and a half miles long.
  • There are three stops on the route.
  • There is a long turnround in a bay platform at Preston station.

At the present time, the service seems rather erratic, with some services replaced by buses and long connection times at Ormskirk.

The service between Liverpool Central and Ormskirk stations takes thirty-five minutes with eleven stops and is generally every fifteen minutes, with a half-hourly service in the evening and at weekends.

If a Class 777 train could use battery power, I estimate it could run between Liverpool Central and Preston stations within an hour.

This would surely open up the possibility of a new service between Liverpool and Preston.

  • It would take only a few minutes longer than the fifty-one minutes of a direct train between Liverpool Lime Street and Preston stations.
  • It would connect a lot of stations to West Coast Main Line at Preston.
  • It would link the major sporting venues of Aintree, Anfield and Goodison or Everton’s new ground to the North.
  • At the Southern end, it could connect to Liverpool Airport.

The Class 777 trains would need to be able to do about thirty miles on battery power and if required, the technology exists to either top up the batteries at Preston or use a pantograph to access the overhead wires of the West Coast Main Line.

At the present time, the Ormskirk Branch Line between Ormskirk and Preston stations is only single track and probably needs resignalling, but I suspect that a four tph service could be run between Liverpool and Ormskirk, with two tph extended to Preston.

Extra track work, North of Ormskirk and the reinstatement of the Burscough curves would allow.

  • Four tph between Liverpool and Preston via Ormskirk.
  • A service between Liverpool and Southport via Ormskirk.
  • A service between Preston and Southport.

There is even the possibility of extending Liverpool and Preston services to Blackpool South station, if they used the overhead electrification through Preston to charge the batteries.

Borderlands Development

The document says this.

While the aspiration is to fully electrify the line, and incorporate it into the Merseyrail
network, this is very much a long term aspiration. In the interim period the aim is to develop
the line through the introduction of an improved diesel service. Merseytravel will work
closely with relevant cross-border organisations such as Growth Track 360 to bring this
about. There are a number of new station proposals for the line, the principal being a new
station close to the Deeside Industrial Park, which would improve the ability of the
workforce to access the site via public transport.

The Borderlands Line provides a service between Liverpool and Wrexham Central station with a change at Bidston station.

  • The twenty-seven miles between Wrexham Central and Bidston are not electrified.
  • The line is double-track throughout.
  • There are twelve stations on the line.
  • The service is hourly, but probably needs to be at least half-hourly.
  • The service takes about an hour between Wrexham and Bidston stations.

Using Class 777 trains on the route, using battery power between Bidston and Wrexham Central stations would enable.

  • A direct service, that terminated in the Wirral Loop under Liverpool.
  • An increased capacity at Bidston station.
  • A faster service.

I estimate that a time of perhaps seventy to eighty minutes between Liverpool Central and Wrexham Central stations will be possible.

There would be very little infrastructure work, except for new stations and the possible ability to top up batteries at Wrexham Central.

I suspect that political problems, rather than any railway ones will be larger.

Bootle Branch Electrification

The document says this.

A long term proposal which will need to be considered alongside the developing freight
strategy for the region and the expansion of the Port of Liverpool. The proposal envisages
the introduction of passenger services which will operate from the Bootle Branch into Lime
Street. An initial study is required to understand fully the freight requirements for the line
and what the realistic potential for operating passenger services over the line is.

The Bootle Branch is known as the Canada Dock Branch in Wikipedia.

Class 777 trains with a battery capability and the ability to use the overhead electrification into Liverpool Lime Street would be able to serve this route, without the need for electrification.

Obviously, if for freight efficiency, the route was electrified, the trains could use it as needed.

North Mersey Branch

The document says this.

A long term proposal; this envisages a new service operating from Ormskirk via Bootle into
Liverpool. It was reviewed as part of the Merseyrail Route Utilisation Strategy in 2009 which
identified a poor business case.

I can’t identify the actual route, but there are various rail alignments into and through the Docks.

Skelmersdale

The document says this.

Merseytravel is currently working with Lancashire County Council and Network Rail to
develop the Merseyrail network from Kirkby through to Skelmersdale. This work is expected
to be completed in 2019. Further development work will be required before this project is
implemented. While 3rd rail electrification is being considered currently, alternatives will be
considered later in the development process. A new station at Headbolt Lane to serve the
Northwood area of Kirkby is an integral part of this proposal. The potential to extend the
network further through to Wigan will need to be developed separately.

I wrote about this plan in Merseyrail To Skelmersdale – How To Plan A New Rail-Link.

Conclusion

It is a comprehensive expansion strategy, where much of the work to create the various extensions is performed by adding equipment to the trains in factories or depots, rather than by the disruptive installation of electrification.

It looks very much like a case of Have Swiss Train Will Travel.

But then, I think the London Overground is using a similar strategy to expand in partnership with Bombardier.

Other networks like the Tyne & Wear Metro and those in cities like Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow and Leeds will be using similar philosophies.

Cardiff has already decided and Stadler are building the trains for the South Wales Metro.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 21, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Merseyrail Reveals Latest Station Closures For Upgrade Work Ahead Of New Trains

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Liverpool Business News.

This is the first paragraph.

Merseyrail has announced details of the next phases of station closures as it upgrades is platforms to make them ready its new £460m fleet of trains due to come into service in 2021.

In total, there are eleven phases of work to give all platforms level access to the new trains.

I am fairly sure that no other local rail network in the UK, will have this quality of level access.

Some stations on the London Overground have similar access, but not that many. When you consider, that many station platforms have been rebuilt and they are only used by Class 378 trains, I believe an opportunity was missed.

The article says this about Merseyrail‘s new Class 777 trains.

Swiss manufacturer Stadler has started the manufacturing process at its Szolnok plant in Hungary on the new fleet of 52 trains. There, the car-body production is under way with the units being machined, welded, sandblasted and coated in special protection and premium quality paint to combat corrosion, caused by the contact with sea-water.

Most of the current Class 507/508 trains are forty years old, but they appear to me to be one of the most bottom-friendly suburban trains in the UK, with desirable 2+2 seating. I regularly travel on Class 313 trains, which are similar trains of the same vintage, into and out of Moorgate, and these are scrapyard specials compared to Merseyrail’s spotless, spacious and comfortable trains.

These pictures from March 2017, show the current trains.

They certainly look to be in good enough condition to see all the new trains into service and through their inevitable teething troubles in the next couple of years.

Conclusion

,The care being taken by Merseyrail and Stadler in the preparation for and design of their new trains, seems to indicate that they are intending to get forty years out of the new fleet.

 

November 20, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Maghull North Station – 29th June 2018

I went to the new Maghull North station today.

There are still a few things to do, like add the grass and complete the lifts, but the station is now operational.

Other issues include.

Car Parking

I have a feeling that this could be a station, where the car parks could be a victim of the station’s success. There weren’t many spaces today.

Car parking does appear to be free and a p[passenger who lives nearby, said that you can never park at Maghull station, which is the next station towards Liverpool.

Kiosk

There didn’t appear to be a kiosk of any sort.

Ticketing

I didn’t see a ticket machine and the ticket office was closed!

Conclusion

It looked to be a well-built and functional step-free station.

June 29, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , | 1 Comment

A Reason Why The UK Is Fertile Territory For Tram Trains

The UK has several modern tram systems. If you look at the cross section of trams you get the following figures.

I wonder why Nottingham is twenty-five centimetres narrower!

If you look at the Class 399 tram-train, it has a width of 2.65 metres and a height of 3.67 metres.

So no wonder, there has been no problems with Class 399 tram-trains running on the Sheffield Supertram as trams!

Various trains that run local rail networks include.

  • Class 142 – Width 2..8 metres – Height 3.86 metres
  • Class 150 – Width 2.8 metres – Height 3.8 metres
  • Class 222 – Width 2.73 metres
  • Class 319 – Width 2.82 metres – Height – 3.58 metres
  • Class 345 – Width 2.78 metres – Height N/A
  • Class 378 – Width 2.80 metres – Height 3.78 metres
  • Class 700 – Width 2.80 metres – Height N/A
  • Class 769 – Width 2.82 metres – Height 3.58 metres
  • Mark 4 Coach – Width 2.73 metres – Height 2.79 metres

These are some figures from German trains.

  • DBAG 641 – Width 2.90 metres – Height 3.7 metres
  • BD Class 420 – With 3.08 metres
  • ICE 3 – Width 2.95 metres – Height 3.89 metres

I’ll look at various issues.

Tram And Train Height

I think this is not a big issue.

If a tram or electric train can run on a particular track, then there should be no height problems running a tram-train over the route, providing overhead wires can be erected.

UK Tram And Train Width

It would appear that the maximum width of UK trains is 2.82 metres. In some stations, where there is only one class of train, level access is possible.

The picture shows a Class 378 train on the London Overground.

This is not one of the best I’ve seen, but there is no reason, why someone in a wheelchair shouldn’t be able to wheel themselves into every train at every station.

This is in the train operating company’s interest, as one of the things that delays trains, is getting someone in a wheelchair on and off the train with a portable ramp.

If we take the UK train width of 2.82 metres and compare that to the width of a Class 399 tram-train, which is 2.65 metres, that means that there is seventeen  centimetres difference or eight and a half centimetres on each side of the train.

If the platform can be arranged to be level, that is not a large gap. It’s probably about the same size as this gap in this picture.

Shown is a Class 399 tram-train at a tram stop on the Sheffield Supertram.

Continental Tram And Train Width

But on the Continent, where the trains are wider and the loading gauge is bigger, the gap will be larger.

Trains on the Continent also often have a significant step up as this picture shows.

Shown is an Italian High Speed train.

If the EU wanted to improve train travel for the disabled, those in wheelchairs, those with buggies and the elderly, they should make it compulsory for all trains to have level access from the platform.

It’s very rare to find level access on the Continent and not that easy in parts of the UK.

Gap Fillers

But things are getting better, as this picture shows.

Shown is a Stadler Flirt with a rather nifty automatic gap filler.

Merseyrail’s New Class 777 Trains

Gap fillers will be fitted to Merseyrail‘s new Class 777 trains, which are being built by Stadler.

The Class 777 trains and the current Class 507 trains have the same width of 2.82 metres, but the new Stadler trains have an eighteen centimetre lower floor.

The picture shows a Class 507 train at one of Liverpool’s underground stations.

Eighteen centimetres wouldn’t be far away from the height of the step in the picture.

The design must also allow both classes of trains to be in service at the same time, to ease introduction of the new Class 777 trains.

Talk about Swiss precision!

South Wales Metro

This document on the KeolisAmey web site details their plans for the new Wales and Borders Franchise.

For services around Cardiff and on the Cardiff Valley Lines, KeolisAmey Wales intend to acquire the following fleet.

  • 11 – four-car Stadler Flirt DEMU
  • 7 – three-car Stadler Flirt Tri-mode MU
  • 17 – four-car Stadler Flirt Tri-mode MU
  • 36 – three-car Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles

Note.

  1. The Stadler Flirts look very similar to Greater Anglia‘s Class 755 trains, that by the time of delivery of these trains for Wales, will have proven themselves on the mountains of East Anglia.
  2. The tri-mode multiple units will be able to run on electric, diesel or battery power.
  3. The Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles look very similar to Sheffield Supertram‘s Class 399 tram-trains, that are providing a tram service in Sheffield and will soon be running on the rail network to Rotherham.
  4. It is an all-Stadler fleet.

This is a clip from the KeolisAmey document.

This looks like a visualisation of one of the Flirts, as the Citylink tram-trains have flat sides.

I will be very surprised if Stadler don’t provide the Cardiff area, with one of the best step-free networks in the world.

Conclusion

The UK’s standard tram width of 2.65 metres and our small loading gauge must make it easier to design tram-train systems for the UK.

 

 

 

 

.

June 6, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Northern’s Plans For Between Preston And Ormskirk

The service on the Ormskirk Branch Line between Preston and Ormskirk stations is an infuriating one.

  • The Class 153 trains that run the service seem to be unreliable when I use it.
  • The frequency is roughly hourly and not clockface by any means.
  • Sometimes the trains are very full.
  • The signalling appears to be old-fashioned.

But it seems that from May 21st, things will be getting better.

The timetable shows the following.

  • Trains leave Ormskirk hourly from 07:01 until 23:11 and take 31 minutes to get to Preston.
  • Trains leave Preston hourly from 06:26 until 21:26 and take 30 minutes to get to Ormskirk.

Journey times are actually similar to now, so I would assume they are for a Class 153 train.

What a pity, that the round trip will take over an hour.

Northern will need two trains to run this service, but if they could do a round trip in an hour, only one train would be needed.

Consider.

The Class 153 train is only a 75 mph train.

Part of the journey is along the electrified West Coast Main Line.

Northern have or soon will have faster trains in their fleet

I suspect that any one of these trains could achieve the hourly round trip.

All would offer increased capacity and better quality interiors.

The Class 769 train would handle the route with ease.

  • The train could use the electrification on the West Coast Main Line.
  • The train is faster.
  • It is a four-car train.

I doubt it will happen, but the trains could continue on the Merseyrail network, if their third-rail electrification shoes, were to be refitted.

But who knows what will happen if Merseyrail and Northern decide to bring the railways between Blackpool, Kirkby, Ormskirk, Preston, Southport and Wigan into the twenty-first century?

There’s certainly a lot happening in the area at the timetable change on May 20th.

  • Blackpool to Liverpool gets an electric hourly service.
  • Blackpool to Manchester Airport gets an hourly service, which will go electric in time.
  • Ormskirk to Preston gets a proper hourly service.
  • Wigan North Western to Alderley Edge gets a new service using Class 769 trains.
  • Wigan North Western to Stalybridge gets a revamped service using Class 769 trains.

Porterbrook’s affordable bi-mode Class 769 train seems to be fully involved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 15, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment