The Anonymous Widower

Boost for Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle Area As A Further £1.5m Invested By Combined Authority In New Railway Station Scheme

The title of this post, is the same as that of this story on the Liverpool City Region web site.

These three opening paragraphs give most of the details of the story.

Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle area has been given a big boost as plans to build a new station have moved to the next stage thanks to a £1.5m investment by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority

Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram has pledged to build a new station on the site of the former St James station, which closed in 1917, which would be located in one of the fastest growing areas of the city, near to the former Cains Brewery.

Those proposals for the station on the Merseyrail network are a step closer thanks to two new developments – an agreement with Network Rail, worth £1.2m, to start the next stage of the design process, and the purchase of a plot of land adjacent to the railway cutting off Stanhope Street for £300k, protecting a potential future site for the new station ticket office building.

As Liverpool St. James station, closed over a hundred years ago, this must be one of the longest times to reopen a station, anywhere in the world.

This Google Map shows the location of the proposed station.

Note.

  1. The deep dark cutting going under the major road junction, where Upper Parliament Street and the A571 cross.
  2. The square of roads formed mainly by Ashwell Street, with Stanhope Street in the South, above the cutting.
  3. Contained in the cutting is Merseyrail’s Northern Line on which the station will be built.
  4. I also suspect, that the triangular plot of land on the East side of the tracks, is the one mentioned in the extract. It could easily be the place for a ticket office with lifts to the platforms.

Only Liverpudlians would choose to build a station at the bottom of a deep hole.

But then they don’t think like others!

I have a few thoughts and questions.

Will It Be Dark On The Platforms?

This was one of my first thoughts, as there’s nothing worse than a dark station. I also wonder, if one of the reasons the station closed was lack of passengers caused by the darkness.

This picture taken from the story, shows the cutting from the bottom.

Note.

  • Aligning this picture with the map, Liverpool Central is behind us and Hunts Cross is through the tunnel.
  • Perhaps on a good day more light gets into the cutting.

I suspect that modern lighting on the platforms could solve the problem.

It appears that the station opened in 1874 and closed in 1917, but the lines through the station were not electrified until 1983.

So as the station must have been served by steam-hauled trains, during its brief opening at the turn of the Nineteenth Century, it must have had a terrible atmosphere on the platforms.

Hopefully, the only smell, that will emanate from the new Class 777 trains, will be one of newness.

What Is On The Triangular Plot?

This Google Map shows the triangular plot of land, that could be used for the ticket office.

Note.

  1. It looks very much to be a builder’s yard or a store for building materials, as I can definitely make out packs of bricks and bags of aggregate.
  2. As there appears to be a steel staircase down to the tracks at the top of the image, it might even be something to do with Network Rail.
  3. The steel staircase is visible in the picture of the tracks.
  4. The plot certainly doesn’t contain any buildings of architectural merit.
  5. I also can’t see a pond, which might contain newts or other protected wildlife.

It would appear to be an ideal site for a station building, with all the necessary facilities.

More Information And Pictures Of The Former Station

This page on the Disused Stations web site, gives extra information to Wikipedia about the station and has some interesting pictures.

How Will The Platforms Be Accessed?

It is a long way for steps, as especially as new stations are generally built step-free.

Merseyrail already have a pair of almost identical stations; Kirkdale and Wavertree Technology Park, which both opened in 2000.

These pictures show Kirkdale station.

I suspect, platform access at Liverpool St. James station of a similar design could be devised.

  • The simplest design would surely be to put a bridge across the tracks from the ticket office, which had a large lift on both sides of the tracks direct to the platforms.
  • Stairs from such a bridge could probably be added, but they would be long and complicated.
  • It might need a two-stage process with lifts taking passengers down to a bridge over the trains and then stairs and more lifts or ramps to the platforms.

At least, as the line is electrified for third-rail, I doubt clearance will be needed for overhead wires.

Could The Station Have An Island Platform?

One of the comments suggested this. In addition, one picture on the Disused Stations web site appears to show three tracks through the station site.

So this could be an interesting possibility.

Conclusion

I think that we might see a very innovative design here, given Merseyrail’s past record.

November 1, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 7 Comments

New MerseyRail ‘Connected’ Trains

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

It is an article that should be read, by anybody with an interest in either Merseyrail’s trains or modern urban rail networks in general. As Stadler, will be providing a fleet of trains for the Tyne and Wear Metro, I suspect a lot of the points made in the article can be expected to have parallels on that network as well.

What About The Signalling?

The article talks about the management of the signalling, but it says little about signalling in the future, although it does say that Merseyrail will be covered by a very high capacity digital network.

London’s Digital Signalling Revolution

In London, there are four tunnelled routes, that in a few years time will be running under full digital signalling.

  • Crossrail
  • East London Line
  • Northern and City Line
  • Thameslink

Note.

  1. Thameslink is already running upwards of twenty trains per hour (tph) using digital ERTMS signalling.
  2. Crossrail will be running 24 tph using digital ERTMS signalling.
  3. The East London Line currently handles 16 tph and will soon be handling 20 tph.
  4. The Northern and City Line will be going to digital ERTMS signalling, when it is applied to the Southern end of the East Coast Main Line.
  5. , In addition to the Circle, District, Jubilee, Metropolitan, Northern and Victoria Lines of the London Underground have digital signalling.
  6. Dear old Vicky is actually running 36 tph between two-platform stations at Brixton and Walthamstow Central.
  7. I wouldn’t bet against Vicky running the magic 40 tph, to become the most frequency line in the world.

All of these London systems, have one great advantage. In the tunnelled sections of the routes, there is generally only one class of fully digitally-equipped train, which must make system design and implementation easier.

Liverpool’s Digital Signalling Revolution

Consider.

  • As the article says, Merseyrail now has a world-class high-capacity digital network, that is accessible by all of its trains.
  • It has ordered 52 new Class 777 trains and has options for another sixty.
  • There are proposals to extend the Merseyrail network to Manchester, Preston, Skelmersdale, Warrington, Wigan and Wrexham.
  • The Northern Line runs at a frequency of 12 tph.
  • The Wirral Line runs at a frequency of 14 tph.
  • The loop Line has recently been relaid, so is probably high-quality track.

Compared to London’s tunnelled routes, the Northern and Wirral Lines are not handling a large number of trains.

But Liverpool now has a digital network to support the signalling and trains that could be upgraded to use it are arriving.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find that the maximum train frequency on Merseyrail is at least twenty tph or one train every three minutes.

What Would Twenty tph Do For The Wirral Line?

Currently, the following destinations are served by the Wirral Line and the services use the Loop under Liverpool City Centre.

Note.

  1. The current frequency around the Loop is 14 tph.
  2. Merseyrail is proposing to extend the Ellesmere Port service to Helsby, using battery-equipped Class 777 trains
  3. There is also an hourly service from Bidston to Wrexham Central in the Borderlands Line.
  4. I can see no technical reason why, the Bidston and Wrexham service could not be run using battery-equipped Class 777 trains and terminating in the Loop.

Surely, the ultimate twenty tph service on the Wirral Line would be as follows.

  • Chester – Four tph
  • Helsby via Ellesmere Port – Four tph
  • New Brighton – Four tph
  • West Kirby – Four tph
  • Wrexham Central – Four tph

All twenty tph would terminate in the Loop under Liverpool City Centre.

What Would Twenty tph Do For The Northern Line?

Currently, the following Northern destinations are served by the Northern Line.

And these Southern destinations are served.

Note.

  1. The current frequency, through the central section is 12 tph.
  2. There is a proposal, that I wrote about in Liverpool’s Forgotten Tunnel for the trains terminating at Liverpool Central station to use the Wapping Tunnel to connect to the City Line.
  3. There is a proposal to extend the Ormskirk service to Preston, using battery-equipped Class 777 trains.
  4. There is a proposal to extend the Kirkby service to Headbolt Lane and Skelmersdale, using battery-equipped Class 777 trains.
  5. There must also be a possibility of a service that extends the Kirkby service to Wigan Wallgate, using battery-equipped Class 777 trains.

The service des appear to be biased towards the Northern end, with more possibilities there for extra trains than in the South.

This is why the plan to expand to the East through the Wapping Tunnel has evolved, as it gives the following possible destinations.

  • Manchester Oxford Road
  • Warrington Bank Quay
  • Warrington Central
  • Wigan North Western

Note.

  1. All destinations are currently served from Liverpool Lime Street by Northern.
  2. There must also be the possibility of a direct service to Liverpool Airport.
  3. There must also be the possibility of a service on the Canada Dock Branch to Bootle.

I can envisage between 12 and 16 tph through the Wapping Tunnel, which with the four tph to Hunts Cross could mean 16 to 20 tph on the Northern Line.

Conclusion

It would appear that a very frequent system can be developed on Merseyside, if frequencies common in London can be achieved.

 

August 23, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Possibly One Of The Best Underground Railways In A Smaller City In The World!

I took these pictures, as I took the Wirral Line between James Street and Lime Street stations.

I do compare them with the dingy inside of Essex Road station, which was refurbished by British Rail about the same time.

Merseyrail’s stations and trains are generally immaculate and that can’t be said for the dirty and tired infrastructure on the Northern City Line. As I indicated in the title of this post, t is one of the best underground railways under the centre of a smaller city. Liverpool would probably be regarded as a second size of city as it lacks the several millions of London, Paris or Berlin.

The tunnels of Merseyrail’s Northern and Wirral Lines, would have been probably been used as a model for British Rail’s proposed Picc-Vic Tunnel, that sadly never got to be built!

Manchester would be very different today, if it had an underground railway across the City to the standard of that in Liverpool or Newcastle.

This map clipped from Wikipedia show the proposed route of the Picc-Vic Tunnel.

Some of the other proposals included.

  • The tunnel would be twin bores and jus under three miles long.
  • The tunnel would be electrified with 25 KVAC overhead wires.
  • The rolling stock would have been Class 316 trains, which would have been similar to those on Merseyrail.
  • Train frequency could have been forty trains per hour (tph)

In some ways the specification was more ambitious than Crossrail, which might be able to handle 30 tph, at some time in the future. But Dear Old Vicky, which was designed at the same time, is now handling forty tph.

Wikipedia says the following routes could have run through the tunnel.

Note.

  1. The Styal Line now provides the link to Manchester Airport.
  2. The route map on the Wikipedia entry, shows only Bury and Bolton as Northern destinations. But surely fanning out the trains could have run to Barrow-in-Furness, Blackburn, Blackpool, Burnley, Clitheroe, Colne, Hebden Bridge, Kirkby, Preston, Rawtenstall, Tochdale, Southport, Stalybridge, Todmorden, Wigan and Windermere

The only problem, I could see would be that there would need to be a lot of electrification North of Manchester, some of which has now been done.

There have also been developments in recent years that would fit nicely with a system of lines running through the Picc-Vic Tunnel.

More Services In Manchester Piccadilly And Manchester Victoria Stations

If you look at Liverpool Lime Street station after the remodelling of the last few years, the station is now ready for High Speed Two.

You could argue, that it would be more ready, if the Wapping Tunnel connected services to and from the East to the Northern Line, as I wrote about in Liverpool’s Forgotten Tunnel, as this would remove a lot of local trains from the station.

The Picc-Vic Tunnel would have done the same thing for Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Victoria stations and removed the local services.

This would have left more space for High Speed Two and other long distance services.

Northern Powerhouse Rail

The original plan also envisaged an East-West Tunnel at a later date. – Northern Powerhouse Rail?

But the creation of capacity by the diversion of local services from Manchester Victoria into the Picc-Vic Tunnel, would surely have enabled the station to be developed thirty years ago as a station on an improved TransPennine route.

Tram-Trains

The system would have accepted tram-trains, which hadn’t been invented in the 1970s.

Manchester Airport

Manchester Airport had only one runway in the 1970s and I think only a few would have believed, it would have expanded like it has.

The Picc-Vic Tunnel would create a superb service to the Airport, at a frequency upwards of six tph.

High Speed Two

The Picc-Vic Tunnel would have created the capacity in  for Manchester Piccadilly station and allowed High Speed Two services to use the station.

In The Rival Plans For Piccadilly Station, That Architects Say Will ‘Save Millions’, I talked about a radical plan for extending Manchester Piccadilly station for High Speed Two, that has been put forward by Weston Williamson; the architects.

This sort of scheme would also fit well with the Picc-Vic Tunnel.

Conclusion

Manchester was short-changed and not building the Picc-Vic Tunnel was a major mistake.

It would have created an underground railway in a similar mould to that of Liverpool’s, but it would probably have served a larger network.

They would probably be the best pair of underground railways for smaller cities in the world.

August 20, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Beeching Reversal – Reopen Midge Hall Station

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

Midge Hall station is a closed station on the Ormskirk Branch Line.

This Google Map shows what’s left of Midge Hall station.

Note.

  1. The single-track Ormskirk Branch Line running SW-NE across the map.
  2. Midge Hall Lane crossing it at right-angles in the South-West corner of the map, where a level crossing can be seen.
  3. The original station had two platforms, of which the remains can be seen.

There certainly seems plenty of space to rebuild the station.

The Ormskirk Branch Line

The Ormskirk Branch Line runs between Ormskirk and Preston stations.

  • It is single-track most of the way.
  • It is about 15.5 miles long.
  • The current trains take just over half-an-hour.
  • There are four intermediate stations.
  • Most services terminate in a bay platform at Preston station.
  • Ormskirk station is electrified with 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • Preston station is electrified with 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

The Future section in the Wikipedia entry says this.

There have been several proposals to extend the Merseyrail electric service to Preston using this line. This would restore the most direct Liverpool – Preston route. The reinstatement of the Burscough Curves has been proposed which would allow services to Southport from Preston and Liverpool via Ormskirk. This could be accompanied by the reopening of Midge Hall station.

The reports usually say, that this would be achieved by fitting batteries to the new Class 777 trains.

Battery Operation Of Merseyrail’s New Class 777 Trains

It would appear that on each round trip between Ormskirk and Preston, the trains will have to run thirty-one miles on batteries.

  • In Batteries On Class 777 Trains, I estimated that, the battery capacity of a Class 777 train was 300 kWh.
  • It also looks like Stadler have designed the Class 777 train, with battery-operation as an integral part of the design.

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 not very challenging.

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

I know both branches reasonably well and the Ormskirk Branch is probably the least challenging.

Consider.

  • The Class 777 train is probably equivalent in length to a three-car train, as the cars are short.
  • The Class 777 train appears to have a sophisticated traction system, that includes regenerative braking to the batteries.

If the Class 777 train can achieve 3 kWh per vehicle mile, it will have a range of 33.3 miles. Reduce it to 2 kWh per vehicle mile and the range would be 50 miles.

I am fairly certain, that Stadler have designed a train, that can achieve a round trip between Ormskirk and Preston, without needing a battery top-up at Preston.

I don’t think, that it will need to use overhead wires either.

So that will save on infrastructure costs!

Charging The Batteries

The batteries would be charged using the existing third-rail electrification between Ormskirk and Hunts Cross stations.

No new infrastructure would be needed.

Future Services Between Liverpool And Preston

Preston and Liverpool already a direct hourly electric service via Huyton, St. Helens and Wigan North Western and until proven otherwise a second hourly service via Ormskirk would probably be a more-than-adequate replacement for the current Ormskirk and Preston service.

This would probably be achieved by one if the four trains per hour (tph) continuing to Preston.

As the current trains take about thirty minutes to run between Ormskirk and Preston, I think this could help devising a passenger-friendly timetable.

Future Services Between Southport And Preston

There is currently no train service between Southport and Preston stations.

But there used to be tracks as this Google Map shows.

Two railway lines run across the map.

The two railway lines cross towards the North-East corner of the map.

Note the two green scars of the disused and overgrown Burscough Curves reaching East from Burscough Bridge station.

  • The Northern curve connects to the Ormskirk Branch Line and used to enable trains to go between Southport and Preston stations.
  • The Southern curve connects to the Ormskirk Branch Line and used to enable trains to go between Southport and Ormskirk stations.

Full or even partial restoration of these curves would improve connections to Southport and Preston.

Extend Some Liverpool and Southport Services To Preston

One possibility would be to extend perhaps one-in-four Liverpool and Southport services to Preston via the following route.

  • Reverse at Southport
  • Via Burscough Bridge station and using the Northern Burscough Curve.

Coupled with a one-in-four extension from Ormskirk station, this would provide the following.

  • A two tph service between Liverpool and Preston
  • A two tph service through Rufford, Croston and Midge Hall stations.

With precise and intelligent timetabling. I suspect that Rufford, Croston and Midge Hall stations could all be single-platform stations.

Extend Some Liverpool and Ormskirk Services To Preston Via Southport

Another possibility would be to extend perhaps one-in-four Liverpool and Ormskirk services to Preston via the following route.

  • Using the Southern Burscough Curve to Southport via Burscough Bridge station.
  • Reverse at Southport
  • Via Burscough Bridge station and using the Northern Burscough Curve.

If the route used the electrified Platform 3 at Southport to reverse, it could top-up the batteries.

The Future Midge Hall Station

The design of the station will depend on the train frequency through the station.

An Hourly Service

Midge Hall station would probably be a single-platform station.

  • There would only need to be a single-track railway, as now!
  • The signalling would be handled by one train working, where only one train at a time would be allowed on the single-track between Ormskirk and Preston stations.
  • Passengers needing to cross the line to get to the platform, would use the level crossing.
  • Trains would arrive at fixed times in each hour.

It would be a very basic, but practical station.

A Two tph Service

Midge Hall station could probably still be a single-platform station.

  • There would only need to be a single-track railway, as now!
  • For a two tph service the signalling would need to be more sophisticated.
  • Passengers needing to cross the line to get to the platform, would still use the level crossing.
  • Trains would arrive at fixed times in each hour.

It would be a basic, but practical station.

A More Frequent Service

Midge Hall station would need to be a two platform station, as the line would need to be double-track.

  • Comprehensive signalling would be needed.
  • There could need to be a footbridge, with full step-free access.

It would be more expensive option.

A Compromise

I suspect in the end, Midge Hall station will be designed as a simple single-platform station, that can be upgraded, as required.

Conclusion

The frequency of the service between Ormskirk and Preston has a big effect on the cost of the work to be done.

But I can certainly envisage a two tph service along this route, if the Burscough Curves are reinstated.

  • One tph via Ormskirk.
  • One tph via Southport.

There would be two tph, through the reinstated Midge Hall station.

 

 

August 7, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

Government Boost To Reopen Skelmersdale Rail Link To Manchester And Liverpool

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

These two paragraphs give the whole story.

Rosie Cooper says the government has given her new assurances that it is committed to creating a Skelmersdale rail link.

Transport minister Chris Heaton-Harris told the West Lancashire Labour MP that an initial £500m funding pot set aside for reopening lines closed under the Beeching Act could be used towards ongoing efforts for Skelmersdale.

To my mind, Skelmersdale illustrates the appalling planning of the 1960s.

These dates are from Wikipedia.

  • November 5th, 1956 – Skelmersdale station closed to passenger services.
  • January 10th, 1957 – Harold Macmillan becomes Prime Minister
  • 1961 – Skelmersdale was designated a new town.
  • March 27th, 1963 – Beeching Report
  • October 19th, 1963 – Sir Alec Douglas Hume becomes Prime Minister
  • November 4th, 1963 – Skelmersdale station closed to all services.
  • October 16th, 1964 – Harold Wilson becomes Prime Minister
  • 1968-1970 – The M58 opens to connect Skelmersdale to the M6 and the M57 at Switch Island.
  • June 19th, 1970 – Edward Heath becomes Prime Minister.

It looks like a rail connection to the new town was removed, but a comprehensive road network was built.

This policy seems to be very different to decisions taken at Billericay, Crawley, Harlow, Hemel Hempstead, Kirkby, Milton Keynes and Stevenage, where rail connections were at least maintained.

The Latest Plan For Skelmersdale Station

This is the latest plan for Skelmersdale station, according to the Wikipedia entry.

It has been proposed a new station at Skelmersdale would act as the terminus for Merseyrail’s Northern Line, with connections available to Wigan and Manchester. Initial estimates suggest that the scheme could cost around £300 million to develop. On page 36 of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, Long Term Rail Strategy document of October 2017, it states that Merseytravel is currently working with Lancashire County Council and Network Rail to develop a plan to extend the Merseyrail network from Kirkby through to Skelmersdale, with work completed in 2019. They are considering 3rd rail electrification and other alternatives with a new station at Headbolt Lane to serve the Northwood area of Kirkby. The document on page 37 states two trials of electric 3rd rail/battery trains will be undertaken in 2020, this is one of the “alternatives”

Lancashire County Council approved a plan in May 2019 to commission an outline business case into reopening the station which will be presented to the government.

Note.

  1. The possible site of Headbolt Lane station and the Concourse Shopping Centre in Skelmersdale are about 8 miles apart.
  2. Will the trains to Wigan and Manchester be direct or via a change at the new Headbolt Lane station?
  3. The reference to battery-electric trains, which would be able to handle the sixteen-mile round trip easily.

The site of the station will be at the former Glenburn Sports College, which is a couple of hundred metres to the East of the Concourse Shopping Centre.

This Google Map shows the location.

I would feel that this is very convenient.

  • The former Glenburn Sports college is marked by the red arrow.
  • The Concourse Shopping Centre is to the West of the station.
  • The station would be well-connected to the road network.
  • The approach track to the station could probably run by the side of Southway and cross it using a bridge or underpass.

This second Google Map shows the station in relation to the Kirkby Branch Line.

Note.

  1. The Glenburn Campus is indicated with the red marker at the top of the map.
  2. The M58 goes across the map.
  3. Rainford station is in the South-West corner of the map.
  4. Upholland station is on the Eastern edge of the map below the M58.

The Kirkby Branch Line links the two stations.

  • The Kirkby Branch Line continues to the West to the new Headbolt Lane station, Kirkby station and Liverpool city centre.
  • The Kirkby Branch Line continues to the East to Wigan Wallgate, Bolton and Manchester Victoria stations.
  • The Kirkby Branch Line is double-track to the East of Rainford and single-track to the West.

How will Skelmersdale station be connected to the Kirkby Branch Line?

If you look at the previous map, notice that a network of roads lead down from the Concourse Shopping Centre and then go under the M58. From the Google Map, it looks like the roads go under the M58 where there is a generous bridge.

This Google Map shows the section of the route on both sides of the M58.

It looks to me that a single-track railway could be run between the new Skelmersdale station and the Kirkby Branch Line.

  • Merseyrail’s new Class 777 trains are not large trains and I am certain a single track could be squeezed in alongside the roads.
  • The distance is about three miles and a train would take about six minutes or around about fifteen minutes for the round trip.
  • Four trains per hour (tph) would be possible, which is the same frequency as the current service between Kirkby station and Liverpool.

Putting this together, I think the following would be possible.

  • A single track line without electrification between the Kirkby Branch Line and the new Skelmersdale station to the East of the Concourse Shopping Centre on the Glenburn Sports Campus site.
  • Class 777 trains would use battery power to the East of Headbolt Lane station.
  • The trains would charge their batteries between Liverpool and Headbolt Lane station.
  • The branch would leave the Kirkby Branch Line to the East of Headbolt Lane station.
  • Up to four tph between Liverpool Central and Skelmersdale stations, calling at all stations.
  • Up to two tph between Headbolt Lane and Manchester Victoria stations via Wigan.
  • Passengers between Skelmersdale and Manchester would change at Headbolt Lane station.

Other schemes would be possible, but allowing a direct Manchester and Skelmersdale service might be complicated and add substantially to the cost.

 

 

 

 

April 12, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 13 Comments

Connecting The North West Of England’s Three Powerhouses

It could reasonably be argued that the three most important economic centres of the North West of England are.

  • The City of Liverpool and Merseyside
  • Manchester Airport
  • The City of Manchester and Greater Manchester

I’ll take a quick look at each, with particular reference to public transport links.

The City of Liverpool and Merseyside

Liverpool is introduced by this paragraph in Wikipedia.

Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough in Merseyside, England. As of 2018, the population is approximately 494,814. Liverpool is the ninth-largest English district by population, and the largest in Merseyside and the Liverpool City Region. It lies within the United Kingdom’s sixth-most populous urban area. Liverpool’s metropolitan area is the fifth-largest in the United Kingdom, with a population of 2.24 million.

Knowing Liverpool with affection as I do, I find the City difficult to describe in an unbiased manner, but in my experience few people go for a visit to Liverpool and don’t come back enchanted in some way. It is a many-faceted city!

One of Liverpool’s strengths is the local rail system; Merseyrail, which connects the suburbs to the centre, just like the Underground does in London. As with London, Merseyrail is backed up by a comprehensive bus network. And like London, Liverpool is introducing hydrogen-powered double-deck buses.

Merseyrail is also in a strong expansionist phase.

  • New trains are being delivered to replace some of the oldest trains on the national network in the UK.
  • New stations are being added to the core Merseyrail network.
  • Stations are being improved with refurbishment and step-free access.
  • Merseyrail have ambitions to expand their network to Liverpool Airport, Preston, Skelmersdale, Warrington and Wrexham.

The City of Liverpool and Merseyside in general are getting ready to expand their economy.

Manchester Airport

This Google Map shows Manchester Airport.

Note.

  1. The two runways.
  2. The railway station in the middle of the Airport.
  3. The M56 motorway passing across the North-West of the Airport.

Manchester Airport is the third-busiest airport in the UK in terms of passenger numbers.

  • It is a two-runway airport like Heathrow, which helps a lot in operational efficiency.
  • In 2018, it handled 61% of the number of passengers as Gatwick, but 71% of the aircraft movements.
  • The airport has three terminals.
  • The airport has rail connections to Crewe, Manchester, Northern England, the Central Belt of Scotland and Wales.
  • The airport is connected to the trams of the Manchester Metrolink.

I’ve never flown from the airport as a passenger, so I can’t comment.

Wikipedia has a section on the Future of Manchester Airport, which says.

  • Terminal 2 will be expanded with fifteen more covered stands,
  • The airport will expand to handle more freight.

Airport City Manchester is an £800million expansion to create an airport city on the lines of those at Barcelona and Frankfurt, alongside the airport.

Manchester Airport is certainly building for a future expansion.

Reading about rail links to the airport, you get the impression that some places like Bradford, Derby and Nottingham would like direct links to Manchester Airport.

The City of Manchester and Greater Manchester

Manchester is introduced like this in Wikipedia.

Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England, with a population of 547,627 as of 2018 (making it the fifth most populous English district). It lies within the United Kingdom’s second-most populous urban area, with a population of 2.5 million and second most populous metropolitan area, with a population of 3.3 million. It is fringed by the Cheshire Plain to the south, the Pennines to the north and east, and an arc of towns with which it forms a continuous conurbation.

I don’t know Manchester as well as I know Liverpool and most of my visits to the City are usually with limited objectives and a possible overnight stay.

Like Liverpool, Manchester has an extensive public transport network based on the trams of the Metrolink and some local railway lines, backed up by lots of buses.

Transport for Greater Manchester is developing the transport network, with a new Metrolink line to the Trafford Centre opening soon.

Note that if Manchester’s rail system has a problem, it is congestion in the Castlefield Corridor through Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Oxford Road and Deangate stations and on to Manchester Victoria and Salford Crescent stations. A permanent long-term solution is needed.

The City of Manchester and Greater Manchester are getting putting in the necessary transport links to expand their economy.

Connecting The Three Powerhouses

In Changes Signalled For HS2 Route In North, I wrote the following, which I am now repeating in an updated form.

This clip of a map from this Transport for the North report , which is entitled At A Glance – Northern Powerhouse Rail, shows a schematic of the current and possible rail links in the triangle between Crewe, Liverpool and Manchester.

High Speed Two, which is shown in dark green, would appear to come North and split into two routes.

  • One continues North to join the existing West Coast Main Line just South of Wigan.
  • Another goes through Crewe station.

North of Crewe, the two routes join and then split into three at the Junction labelled 6.

  • To Warrington and Liverpool
  • To Wigan, Preston and Scotland
  • To Manchester Airport and Manchester.

A second Junction labelled 5, allows Northern Powerhouse Rail trains to run Liverpool-Warrington-Manchester Airport-Manchester.

This is a new layout and has the following advantages.

  • I estimate that trains could save 7-8 minutes on services running between Crewe and Wigan because of the longer running at High Speed Two operating speeds at 225 mph.
  • ,If they don’t stop at Crewe and Runcorn, further minutes could be saved.
  • Trains between London and Preston and London and Glasgow could skip the stop at Warrington to save further minutes.
  • There could be an advantageous reorganisation of stopping patterns.
  • London and Liverpool services and Liverpool and Manchester services could stop at Warrington, which would give Warrington very good connections.
  • The Liverpool-Manchester and Liverpool-Crewe Lines could be built to High Speed Two standards, which could allow 225 mph running.

I also think the track layout can be run alongside or underneath the various motorways in the area for a lot of the route between Liverpool, Crewe, Warrington and Manchester Airport.

It would appear to be a very good solution to a complex problem and overall, I suspect it gives better connectivity, at a more affordable cost, whilst creating a railway that can be built with less disruption and will ultimately produce less noise.

The Transport for the North report, also says the following.

  • There could be a new Warrington South Parkway station.
  • Six tph between Liverpool and Manchester via Warrington are planned.
  • Journey times will be 26 minutes.

The Twenty-first Century will finally get a modern and fast Liverpool and Manchester Railway.

  • Trains would stop at Manchester Airport, a new Warrington South Parkway and possibly Liverpool South Parkway.
  • Trains would run every ten minutes.
  • Trains would take 26 minutes between Liverpool and Manchester.

These are a few other thoughts on the route.

The Liverpool Terminus

The Transport for the North report proposes a new High Speed station in Liverpool.

  • It would possibly be alongside Liverpool Lime Street station.
  • It would handle both High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail services.
  • The station would need at least four platforms.
  • The station could be connected to Liverpool Lime Street station’s Wirral Line platform.

I believe that a well-designed station could be squeezed in, on the edge of Liverpool City Centre.

Should Trains Stop At Liverpool South Parkway?

I think this could be important, especially, if the station gets a link to Liverpool Airport.

Between Manchester Airport And Manchester City Centre

Most current trains between Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport stations take between 15-18 minutes.

I don’t believe that these times are compatible with a 26 minute time between Liverpool and Manchester.

So I am fairly certain that to achieve the planned time in the Transport for the North report, that an almost direct tunnel between Manchester Airport and Manchester City Centre is necessary.

The Manchester City Centre Station

Could the tunnel pass through underground platforms at Manchester Piccadilly station, which run across the station and then surface to connect with the chosen route to Leeds?

In an earlier plan, referenced under Manchester City Centre (Phase 2b) in the  Wikipedia entry for High Speed Two,, this is said.

The route will continue from the airport into Manchester city centre via a 7.5-mile (12.1 km) twin bore branch tunnel under the dense urban districts of south Manchester before surfacing at Ardwick.

Under the earlier plan, trains would have gone into a rebuilt Manchester Piccadilly station.

I also wonder, if the solution would be to bore a tunnel under Manchester City Centre with stations under Manchester Piccadilly station, Piccadilly Gardens and Manchester Victoria.

  • It might be just one set of platforms with travellators, escalators and lifts all over Manchester City Centre.
  • It should be noted that two High Speed Two trains, running as a pair would be four hundred metres long.

One of the advantages of a train connection between Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Victoria station, would be that the Castlefield Corridor would be by-passed.

  • TransPennine Express services between Manchester Airport and the North-East would be replaced by Northern Powerhouse Rail services between Liverpool and the North-East via Manchester Airport.
  • The Castlefield Corridor would probably be reserved for local services.
  • Passengers needing Manchester Oxford Road or Deansgate stations would use the current Manchester Airport station.

There are probably other advantages.

Building The High Speed Liverpool And Manchester Line

I believe that this line can be built without too much disruption to existing services, because Crossrail’s construction didn’t disrupt London.

Conclusion

My overall conclusion is that it is feasible to build a Liverpool and Manchester High Speed Line, as an early part of Northern Powerhouse Rail, that will also be used by High Speed Two, when that is extended to Liverpool and Manchester.

 

 

 

March 21, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Batteries On Class 777 Trains

In this article on Railway Gazette, which is entitled Merseyrail Class 777 arrives in Liverpool, there is this sentence.

There is space under one vehicle to house a battery weighing up to 5 tonnes within the axleload limit.

This matter-of-fact sentence, draws me to the conclusion, that these trains have been designed from the start to allow future battery operation.

Batteries are not an add-on squeezed into a design with great difficulty.

Battery Capacity

Energy densities of 60 Wh/Kg or 135 Wh/litre are claimed by Swiss battery manufacturer; Leclanche.

This means that a five tonne battery would hold 300 kWh.

Note that Vivarail find space for 424 kWh in the two-car Class 230 train, I wrote about in Battery Class 230 Train Demonstration At Bo’ness And Kinneil Railway, so it would appear that Stadler aren’t being over ambitious.

Kinetic Energy Of A Full Class 777 Train

The weight of a full Class 777 train is calculated as follows.

  • Basic empty weight – 99 tonnes
  • Battery weight – 5 tonnes
  • 484 passengers at 80 Kg – 38.72 tonnes

Which gives a total weight of 143.72 tonnes.

Intriguingly, the weight of a current Class 507 train is 104.5 tonnes, which is 500 Kg more than an empty Class 777 train with a battery!

If these weights are correct, I suspect Stadler have used some very clever lightweight design techniques.

For various speeds, using Omni’s Kinetic Energy Calculator, this weight gives.

  • 30 mph – 3.6 kWh
  • 40 mph – 6.4 kWh
  • 50 mph – 10.0 kWh
  • 60 mph – 14.4 kWh
  • 70 mph – 19.5 kWh
  • 75 mph – 22.4 kWh

Note.

  1. The average speed between Bidston and Wrexham General stations on the Borderlands Line is under 30 mph
  2. The operating speed on the Wirral Line is 70 mph
  3. The operating speed on the Northern Line is 60 mph
  4. The maximum speed of the trains is 75 mph.

Every time I do these calculations, I’m surprised at how low the kinetic energy of a train seems to be.

How Small Is A Small Battery?

One battery doesn’t seem enough, for a train designed with all the ingenuity of a product with quality and precision, that is designed to out-perform all other trains.

This is another paragraph from the Railway Gazette article.

According to Merseytravel, ‘we want to be able to prove the concept that we could run beyond the third rail’. By storing recovered braking energy, the batteries would help to reduce power demand and the resulting greenhouse gas emissions. All of the Class 777s will be fitted with small batteries to allow independent movement around workshop and maintenance facilities.

I am not quite sure what this means.

It would seem strange to have two independent battery systems in one train.

I think it is more likely, that the smaller battery can be considered the primary battery of the train.

  • After all in the depot, it looks after the train’s power requirement.
  • Does it also handle all the regenerative braking energy?
  • Is it used as a secondary power supply, if say the power is low from the electrification?
  • Could it be used to move the train to the next station for passenger evacuation in the event of a power failure?

I wonder if the power system is a bit like the average battery-powered device like a lap-top computer, smart phone or hybrid car.

  • The electrification and the regenerative braking charges the battery.
  • The battery provides the traction and hotel power for the train.

When the five tonne battery is fitted, does the train’s control system move power between the two batteries to drive the train in the most efficient manner?

I’ll return to factors that define the size of the small battery.

The small battery must be big enough for these purposes.

  • Handling regenerative braking at the operating speed.
  • Recovering a full train to the next station.
  • Keeping a train’s systems running, during power supply problems.
  • Moving a train around a depot

As the lines leading to depots are electrified, the train can probably enter a depot with a battery fairly well-charged.

As the new Class 777 trains have a maximum operating speed of 75 mph, I would suspect that the small battery must be able to handle the regenerative braking from 75 mph, which my calculations show is 22.4 kWh with a full train. Let’s call it 30 kWh to have a reserve.

Using Leclanche’s figures, a 30 kWh battery would weigh 500 Kg and have a volume of just under a quarter of a cubic metre (0.222 cubic metre to be exact!)

I suspect the operation of the small battery through a station would be something like this.

  • As the train runs from the previous station, the power from the battery will be used by the train, to make sure that there is enough spare capacity in the battery to accommodate the predicted amount of energy generated by regenerative braking.
  • Under braking, the regenerative braking energy will be stored in the battery.
  • Not all of the kinetic energy of the train will be regenerated, as the process is typically around eighty percent efficient.
  • Whilst in the station, the train’s hotel services like air-conditioning, lights and doors, will be run by either the electrification if available or the battery.
  • When the train accelerates away, the train’s computer will use the optimal energy source.

The process will repeat, with the battery constantly being charged under braking and discharged under acceleration.

Lithium-ion batteries don’t like this cycling, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see dome other battery or even supercapacitors.

A Trip Between Liverpool and Wrexham Central in A Class 777 Train With A Battery

The train will arrive at Bidston station with 300 kWh in the battery, that has been charged on the loop line under the city.

I will assume that the train is cruising at 50 mph between the twelve stops along the twenty-seven and a half miles to Wrexham Central station.

At each of the twelve stops, the train will use regenerative braking, but it will lose perhaps twenty percent of the kinetic energy. This will be two kWh per stop or 24 kWh in total.

I usually assume that energy usage for hotel functions on the train are calculated using a figure of around three kWh per vehicle mile.

This gives an energy usage of 330 kWh.

But the Class 777 trains have been designed to be very electrically efficient and the train is equivalent in length to a three-car Class 507 train.

So perhaps a the calculation should assume three vehicles not four.

Various usage figures give.

  • 3 kWh per vehicle-mile – 247.5 kWh
  • 2.5 kWh per vehicle-mile – 206 kWh
  • 2 kWh per vehicle-mile – 165 kWh
  • 1.5 kWh per vehicle-mile – 123.8 kWh
  • 1 kWh per vehicle-mile – 82.5 kWh

Given that station losses between Bidston and Wrexham Central could be around 24 kWh, it looks like the following could be possible.

  1. With a consumption of 3 kWh per vehicle-mile, a Class 777 train could handle the route, but would need a charging station at Wrexham Central.
  2. If energy consumption on the train could be cut to 1.5 kWh per vehicle-mile, then a round trip would be possible.

It should also be noted that trains seem to do a very quick stop at Wrexham Central station of just a couple of minutes.

So if charging were to be introduced, there would need to be a longer stop of perhaps eight to ten minutes.

But the mathematics are telling me the following.

  • The Class 777 train has been designed to weigh the same empty as a current Class 507 train, despite carrying a five tonne battery.
  • If power consumption can be kept low, a Class 777 train with a battery can perform a round trip from Liverpool to Wrexham Central, without charging except on the electrified section of line between Liverpool and Bidston.
  • Extra stops would probably be possible, as each would consume about 2 kWh

I feel that these trains have been designed around Liverpool to Wrexham Central.

Conclusion

Wrexham Central here we come!

Other routes are possible.

  • Hunts Cross and Manchester Oxford Road – 27 miles
  • Ormskirk and Preston – 15 miles
  • Headbolt Lane and Skelmersdale – 6 miles
  • Ellesmere Port and Helsby – 5 miles
  • Kirkby and Wigan Wallgate – 12 miles

Chargers will not be needed at the far terminals.

February 4, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Tyne And Wear Metro: Swiss Firm Stadler To Build New Fleet

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Swiss firm Stadler has won a £362m contract to build a new fleet of trains for the Tyne and Wear Metro.

And this is one of Stadler’s visualisations of the trains for the Tyne and Wear Metro (T & W).

Compare this with a Stadler picture of a Class 777 train, that will soon be appearing on Merseyrail in Liverpool.

They would appear to be two very similar trains.

  • The same headlights and stylised M on the front.
  • One pair of double passenger doors in the first car.
  • Both new trains are articulated with four sections.
  • Train widths are Merseyrail Old – 2.82 metres, T & W Old – 2.65 metres and Merseyrail New – 2.82 metres.
  • The Merseyrail trains have a 75 mph operating speed and the T & W trains have one of only 50 mph.

The T & W trains have a pantograph and overhead electrification and the Merseyrail trains use third-rail electrification.

More Details On The Tyne And Wear Trains

This page on the NEXUS web site is entitled Nexus Unveils £362m New Tyne And Wear Metro Trains.

This is two paragraphs.

The new trains will cut Metro’s high voltage power consumption by 30% while providing 15 times better reliability than the current fleet. Metro’s 36 million passengers will benefit from modern features including wifi, charging points, air conditioning and a step-change in accessibility.

Among new features will be an automatic sliding step at every door of the new trains, making travel easier for Metro’s 50,000 wheelchair passengers as well as people with children’s buggies, luggage or bicycles.

The size of the energy saving, indicates that the trains will probably be using regenerative braking.

As it has been disclosed that the new Merseyrail trains will have a small battery for depot movements, will this also be used to handle the regenerative braking.

More details of the trains will be disclosed in the coming months.

Merseyrail And The Tyne And Wear Metro Are Similar

I have ridden Merseyrail many times and the Tyne and Wear Metro perhaps five times and it is surprising how similar the two systems are.

  • They are partly in tunnel.
  • There are a range of stations, including both ancient and modern, simple and complex.
  • Merseyrail is powered by 750 VDC third rail electrification and T & W by 1500 VDC overhead electrification. The power electronics on the two fleets, won’t be that different.
  • Both operators have ambitions to use 25 KVAC overhead electrification to extend services.
  • Both operators have ambitions to extend services on lines, that currently have no electrification. Merseyrail want to go to Preston, Skelmersdale, Warrington and Wrexham and T & W want to go to Blyth and Ashington.

It is no surprise to me, that Merseyrail and T & W have chosen to use two versions of the same Stadler train.

Expansion Of The Networks

Both networks are ambitious  and it appears to me, that they have ordered a train, that could be used to expand their networks.

Merseyrail

Merseyrail have proposed these expansions at various times.

  • Extension of the Northern Line from Ormskirk to Preston
  • Extension of the Northern Line from Hunts Cross to Warrington
  • Incorporation of the Borderlands Line from Bidston to Wrexham into the Wirral Line as a new branch.
  • A new branch of the Northern Line to Skelmersdale via the new station at Headbolt Lane.
  • Passenger services on the Canada Dock Branch.

Merseyrail now have the trains to handle this expansion.

  • They may need to purchase a few extra trains.
  • Some charging points or electrification may be needed.

Note that Bidston and Wrexham is less than thirty miles of unelectrified line, so I suspect that the new trains can handle this range.

Other places within a similar range include.

  • Preston from Ormskirk
  • Wigan Wallgate from Kirkby
  • Manchester Oxford Road from Hunts Cross, via Warrington Central.
  • Chester from Liverpool Lime Street via Runcorn, Frodsham and Helsby.

The four terminal stations all have existing bay platforms.

Tyne And Wear Metro

The Tyne And Wear Metro have proposed these expansions at various times.

  • Sunderland city centre to Doxford Park
  • South Shields to Sunderland
  • Washington, either via the disused Leamside line or a new route

But as the Government is funding a study into linking Blyth and Ashington to Newcastle, which I wrote about in £500m Fund To Restore Beeching Rail Cuts Goes Ahead Amid Criticism, I wouldn’t be surprised that this route is developed.

A lot of my comments about expanding the Merseyrail network, can be applied to the T & W.

  • They may need to purchase a few extra trains.
  • Some charging points or electrification may be needed.

None of the proposed extensions seem particularly long and places like Blyth, Ashington and Washington should be able to be reached on battery power.

Tram-Train Operation

The Wikipedia entry for Merseyrail has a section called tram-trains.

Two possible routes are indicated.

  • Liverpool Lime Street to John Lennon Airport, using street-running from Liverpool South Parkway.
  • Kings Dock to Edge Hill

I have heard others mentioned.

The Wikipedia entry for the Tyne and Wear Metro also mentions street-running.

Stadler have extensive experience of trams and tram-trains and built the Class 399 tram-trains for the Sheffield Supertram.

Stadler also provided the trains for the unique tram-train system in the German town of Zwickau, where diesel multiples units share the tram tracks to access the town centre.

The picture shows the train at its stop in the centre.

I’m sure Stadler know how to enable street-running with the UK’s smaller trains.

Stadler’s trains, trams and tram trains also seem to have a high degree of articulation and seem to be able to take tight corners with ease.

The picture was taken inside a Class 399 tram-train, as it traversed the tight curve under the M1 motorway, where the tram and the train sections of the route to Rotherham join.

Looking at the pictures of the Class 777 trains, I feel they could be able to take tighter curves than most trains.

The Dead Elephant In The Room

Several local services on Merseyside and in the North East are run by Northern, which is now being taken over the Government.

The Department for Transport, hasn’t disclosed any plans yet, but it is likely that some routes could be handed to Merseyrail and the T & W.

There is a loose precedent for this happening. In North-East London the poorly performing Lea Valley Lines from Liverpool Street to Chingford, Cheshunt and Enfield Town were moved from Greater Anglia to London Overground in 2015. No-one feels they should be returned and there are rumours that more services in the area will move to the London Overground.

So what services could be moved?

Merseyrail

These diesel services could surely be moved to Merseyrail.

  • Omrskirk and Preston – 16 miles
  • Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Oxford Road via Warrington Central – 27 miles

The distances are the length of track without electrification.

It could also be argued that Greater Manchester would get its share of the Northern routes, but I can envisage Class 777 trains or similar running the following routes.

  • Southport and Manchester Victoria – 27 miles
  • Kirkby and Manchester Victoria – 28 miles

As before, the distances are the length of track without electrification, but these could be reduced considerably with electrification from Salford Crescent to Wigan Wallgate.

It should be noted that Greater Manchester has ambitions to run tram-trains to Wigan Wallgate via various routes.

The demise of Northern probably allows these routes to be taken over by Greater Manchester.

  • Manchester Piccadilly and Buxton – 16 miles
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Hadfield/Glossop – Electrified
  • Manchester Victoria and Blackburn – 14 miles
  • Manchester Victoria and Clitheroe – 24 miles
  • Manchester Victoria and Rochdale – 11 miles
  • Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge – 8 miles
  • Manchester Victoria and Wigan Wallgate – 10 miles

Again, the distances are the length of track without electrification.

Buxton and Clitheroe could be difficult because of the gradients involved, but as in South Wales, bi-modes might be the solution if the routes were run back-to-back.

This simple analysis shows how Northern’s demise will ask questions all over the North.

Tyne And Wear Metro

These diesel services could surely be moved to the T & W.

  • Newcastle and Morpeth – Electrified
  • Newcastle and Chathill- Electrified

I also think, that these services could be restructured, if the Blyth and Ashington routes are developed for the T & W.

The trains could also reach to Hexham, which is just 22 miles from electrification.

Middlesbrough is probably too far, as the station is thirty five miles from the electrification at Sunderland.

But electrification of the Durham Coast Line would allow the T & W Metro to serve the new station at Howden and reach Middlesbrough and possibly Nunthorpe.

Conclusion

I can see both Merseyrail and the Tyne and Wear Metro significantly extending their networks in the next few years.

The new trains, with their batteries and dual-voltage capability are built for expansion.

Tram-train or street running will help.

Several important new areas are within battery range.

I can also see other cities using similar Stadler technology to create local Metros.

Manchester, Middlesbrough, Preston and Sheffield come to mind.

Using similar technology would surely allow joint services and sharing of knowledge and designs to enable cost savings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 31, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Could High Speed Two Trains Serve Chester?

This may seem a slightly outrageous proposal to run High Speed Two trains to Chester.

  • The city is a major tourist destination.
  • Despite its closeness to Crewe it is a major rail hub, with services across Wales to Cardiff, Holyhead and Llandudno and along the border between England and Wales to Shrewsbury and Newport.
  • Merseyrail serves the city and the station can be considered to be part of Liverpool’s extensive commuting area. This service is likely to be more reliable and faster with the delivery of new Class 777 trains.
  • For parts of Merseyside, travelling to London or Manchester Airport, is easier via Chester than Liverpool Lime Street or Liverpool South Parkway.

If the promoters of High Speed Two are serious about creating a railway for the whole country, then I feel that running trains direct to and from Chester could be very beneficial for the towns and cities, that can be served by the current network at Chester.

Current And Possible Timings

Currently, trains take two minutes over two hours between Euston and Chester.

When Avanti West Coast introduces the new Hitachi AT-300 trains on the route, the following times will be possible.

  • Euston to Crewe via West Coast Main Line – 90 minutes – Fastest Pendelino
  • Crewe and Chester – 24 minutes – Current timing

This would give a time of one hour and 54 minutes, which is a saving of 8 minutes. But a lot of carbon would not be emitted.

I estimate, that with High Speed Two Phase 2a completed, the following timings will be possible.

  • Euston to Crewe via HS2 – 55 minutes – HS2 website
  • Crewe and Chester – 24 minutes – Current timing

This would give a time of one hour and 19 minutes, which is a saving of 43 minutes.

Infrastructure Needed

There will need to be some infrastructure changes.

Platform Lengthening At Chester Station

The station would probably be served by two-hundred metre long classic-compatible, which might need some platform lengthening.

This Google Map shows the station.

It looks to me, that there is plenty of space.

Will Chester And Crewe Be Electrified?

We know little about the capabilities of the trains proposed by the various manufacturers.

But, I wouldn’t be surprised that one or more of the proposals use batteries for one of the following purposes.

  • Regenerate braking.
  • Emergency power.
  • Range extension for up to perhaps sixty miles.

As Chester and Crewe stations are only twenty-one miles apart with no intermediate stations, which will be run at an average speed of only 52 mph I don’t think it will be impossible to extend the service to Chester on battery power.

If electrification is required I wrote about it in Hitachi Trains For Avanti.

As it is only just over twenty miles, I don’t think it will be the most challenging of projects, although there does seem to be a lot of bridges.

Electrification would also allow Avanti West Coast’s Hitachi trains to run on electricity to Chester.

What About Holyhead?

Holyhead could become a more important destination in the next few years.

It is probably the best alternative to avoid flying and driving between Great Britain and the Island of Ireland.

And who can accurately predict, what effect Brexit and thinking about global warming will have?

I have a feeling that after electrification to Chester, using on-board energy storage could be used West of Chester.

It is very difficult to predict battery ranges in the future, but I can see a two hundred metre long classic-compatible train on High Speed Two being able to reach Holyhead on battery power, with or without some limited extra electrification.

I estimate that with some track improvements, that it will be possible to travel between Euston and Holyhead in around three hours.

Conclusion

It looks to me, that when High Speed Two, think about adding extra destinations, Chester could be on the list.

I also suspect that if it can be run without full electrification, Euston and Holyhead could be a valuable route for Avanti West Coast.

January 21, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Protests After Claim That Hitachi Has Lost T&W Contract

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

This is the introductory paragraphs.

There have been protests in north east England after a report claimed that Hitachi has been ruled out of the three-way contest to build a £500 million fleet for Tyne & Wear Metro.

The other contenders are CAF and Stadler, and the source of the claims says ‘insiders’ at Nexus have been told that Hitachi will be ‘overlooked’.

It should be noted that the two other bidders have orders for similar trains in the pipeline.

CAF

In TfL Awards Contract For New DLR Fleet To Replace 30-year-old Trains , I wrote about how CAF had been awarded the contract for new trains for the Docklands Light Railway.

I also said this about the possibility of CAF being awarded the contract for the new trains for the Tyne and Wear Metro.

In Bombardier Transportation Consortium Preferred Bidder In $4.5B Cairo Monorail, I indicated that as the trains on the Tyne and Wear Metro and the trains on the Docklands Light Railway, are of a similar height and width, it might be possible to use the same same car bodies on both trains.

So now that CAF have got the first order for the Docklands Light Railway, they must be in prime position to obtain the Tyne and Wear Metro order!

A second order would fit well with the first and could probably be built substantially in their South Wales factory.

Stadler

Stadler seem to be targeting the North, with new Class 777 trains for Merseyrail and Class 399 tram-trains for Sheffield and bids in for tram-trains and and new trains for the Tyne and Wear Metro.

Their trains are both quirky, accessible and quality and built to fit niche markets like a glove.

Only Stadler would produce a replacement for a diesel multiple unit fleet with a bi-mode Class 755 train, with the engine in the middle, that is rumoured to be capable of running at 125 mph.

Note the full step-free access between train and platform, which is also a feature of the Merseyrail trains.

Does the Tyre and Wear Metro want to have access like this? It’s already got it with the existing trains, as this picture at South Shields station shows.

Stadler’s engineering in this area, would fit their philosophy

I first thought that Stadler would propose a version of their Class 399 tram-trains. for the Tyne and Wear Metro and wrote Comparing Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles With Tyne And Wear Metro’s Class 994 Trains.

This was my conclusion.

I am led to the conclusion, that a version of the Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicle similar to those of the South Waes Metro, could be developed for the Tyne and Wear Metro.

My specification would include.

  • Length of two current Class 994 trains, which would be around 111 metres.
  • Walk through design with longitudinal seating.
  • Level access between platform and train at all stations.
  • A well-designed cab with large windows at each end.
  • Ability to use overhead electrification at any voltage between 750 and 1500 VDC.
  • Ability to use overhead electrification at 25 KVAC.
  • Pantographs would handle all voltages.
  • A second pantograph might be provided for reasons of reliable operation.
  • Ability to use onboard battery power.
  • Regenerative braking would use the batteries on the vehicle.

Note.

  1. Many of these features are already in service in Germany, Spain or Sheffield.
  2. The train would be designed, so that no unnecessary platform lengthening is required.
  3. As in Cardiff, the specification would allow street-running in the future.
  4. Could battery range be sufficient to allow new routes to be developed without electrification?

I also feel that the specification should allow the new trains to work on the current network, whilst the current trains are still running.

But since I wrote that comparison in June 2018, Merseyrail’s new trains have started to be delivered and Liverpudlians have started to do what they do best; imagine!

The Tyne and Wear Metro has similar ambitions to expand the network and would a version of the Class 777 train fit those ambitions better?

Conclusion

I wouldn’t be surprised if Hitachi misses out, as the experience of the Docklands Light Railway or Merseyrail fed into the expansion of the Tyne and Wear Metro could be the clincher of the deal.

They would also be the first UK customer for the Hitachi trains.

 

September 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments