The Anonymous Widower

Northern Powerhouse Rail – Connecting Sheffield To HS2 And On To Leeds

In this article on Transport for the North, which is entitled Northern Powerhouse Rail Progress As Recommendations Made To Government, one of the recommendations proposed for Northern Powerhouse Rail is connecting Sheffield to High Speed Two and on to Leeds.

Northern Powerhouse Rail’s Objective For The Sheffield and Leeds Route

Wikipedia, other sources and my calculations say this about the trains between Leeds and Sheffield.

  • The distance between the two stations is 39 miles
  • The current service takes around 40 minutes and has a frequency of one train per hour (tph)
  • This gives an average speed of 58.5 mph for the fastest journey.
  • The proposed service with Northern Powerhouse Rail will take 28 minutes and have a frequency of four tph.
  • This gives an average speed of 84 mph for the journey.

This last figure of 84 mph, indicates to me that a fast route will be needed.

But given experience of 100 mph lines in other parts of the UK, 100 mph trains and infrastructure could make this demanding objective of twenty-eight minutes between Sheffield and Leeds a reality

Connecting Sheffield To High Speed Two

Sheffield is to be accessed from a branch off the Main High Speed Two route to Leeds.

This map clipped from High Speed Two’s interactive map, shows the route of the Sheffield Branch, from where it branches North West from the main Eastern Leg of High Speed Two.

Note.

  1. Orange indicates new High Speed Two track.
  2. Blue indicates track that High Speed Two will share with other services.
  3. The orange route goes North to Leeds, along the M1
  4. The blue route goes North to Chesterfield and Sheffield, after skirting to the East of Clay Cross.
  5. The orange route goes South to East Midlands Hub station.

This second map, shows where the Erewash Valley Line joins the Sheffield Branch near the village of Stonebroom.

Note.

  1. Red is an embankment.
  2. Yellow is a cutting.
  3. The Sheffield Branch goes North-West to Clay Cross, Chesterfield and Sheffield
  4. The Sheffield Branch goes South-East to East Midlands Hub station.
  5. The Sheffield Branch goes through Doe Hill Country Park.
  6. The Sheffield Branch runs alongside the existing Erewash Valley Line, which goes South to Langley Mill, Ilkeston and the Derby-Nottingham area.

The Sheffield Branch and the Erewash Valley Line appear to share a route, which continues round Clay Cross and is shown in this third map.

Note

  1. Doe Hill Country Park is in the South-East corner of the map.
  2. The dark line running North-South is the A61.
  3. Running to the West of the A61 is the Midland Main Line, which currently joins the Erewash Valley Line at Clay Cross North junction.

High Speed Two and the Midland Main Line will share a route and/or tracks from Clay Cross North junction to Sheffield.

This fourth map, shows where the combined route joins the Hope Valley Line to Manchester to the South West of Sheffield.

Note.

  1. Sheffield is to the North East.
  2. Chesterfield is to the South East,
  3. Totley junction is a large triangular junction, that connects to the Hope Valley Line.

These are some timings for various sections of the route.

  • Clay Cross North Junction and Chesterfield (current) – 4 minutes
  • Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield (current) – 17 minutes
  • Chesterfield and Sheffield (current) – 13 minutes
  • Chesterfield and Sheffield (High Speed Two) – 13 minutes
  • East Midlands Hub and Chesterfield (High Speed Two) – 16 minutes
  • East Midlands Hub and Sheffield (High Speed Two) – 27 minutes

As Class Cross North Junction and Sheffield are 15.5 miles, this means the section is run at an average speed of 53 mph.

Can I draw any conclusions from the maps and timings?

  • There would appear to be similar current and High Speed Two timings between Chesterfield and Sheffield.
  • The various junctions appear to be built for speed.

The Midland Main Line will be electrified from Clay Cross North Junction to Sheffield, so that High Speed Two trains can use the route.

What will be the characteristics of the tracks between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield?

  • Will it be just two tracks as it mainly is now or will it be a multi-track railway to separate the freight trains from the high speed trains?
  • Will it have a high enough maximum speed, so that East Midland Railway’s new Class 810 trains can go at their maximum speed of 140 mph?
  • Will it be capable of handling a frequency of 18 tph, which is the maximum frequency of High Speed Two?

Surely, it will be built to a full High Speed Two standard to future-proof the line.

Before finishing this section, I will answer a few questions.

Would It Be Possible For Class 810 Trains Fitted With Batteries To Run Between London St. Pancras And Sheffield?

East Midlands Railway’s new Class 810 trains could be fitted with batteries to become Regional Battery Trains with the specification, given in this Hitachi infographic.

Note.

  1. This would give the trains a range of 90 kilometres or 56 miles on batteries, if a number of diesel engines were exchanged for batteries.
  2. The trains would only be a few mph slower on batteries, than the current Hitachi trains on diesel.
  3. The Class 810 trains have four diesel engines. Is this to enable 125 mph running on diesel?

By perhaps replacing two diesel engines with batteries and using the remaining two diesel engines as range extenders or some other combination, I feel that Hitachi might be able to obtain a longer self-powered range for the train.

Consider.

  • Between Sheffield and Clay Cross North Junction will be fully-electrified and at 15.5 miles, it will be long enough to fully-charge the batteries on the train.
  • Between London St. Pancras and Market Harborough will be fully-electrified and at 83 miles, it will be long enough to fully-charge the batteries on the train.
  • The section between Market Harborough and Clay Cross North Junction is not electrified and is 66 miles.

I feel that Hitachi and their partner; Hyperdrive Innovation can design a battery electric Class 810 train, that can travel between London St. Pancras and Sheffield, without using a drop of diesel.

A great advantage of this approach, is that, as more electrification is added to the Midland Main Line, as it surely will be, the trains will be able to use the wires to reduce journey times.

I believe there are two sections on the Midland Main Line. where traditional electrification is less likely.

  • The bridge at the Southern end of Leicester station is low and would need to be rebuilt causing immense disruption to both road and rail in the city.
  • Between Derby and Alfreton is the World Heritage Site of the Derwent Valley Mills. Will electrification be fought by the heritage lobby?

Both sections may eventually be electrified at some far off date in the future.

Why Is There A Spur Of Electrification At Totley Junction?

This map clipped from High Speed Two’s interactive map, shows the Southern Leg of Totley Junction, where the Hope Valley Line joins the Midland Main Line.

Note that a short length of electrification is shown, between the Midland Main Line and a tunnel on the Southern leg.

This Google Map shows the same area.

Note, that the line disappears into a tunnel.

  1. In Northern Powerhouse Rail -Significant Upgrades And Journey Time Improvements To The Hope Valley Route Between Manchester And Sheffield, I indicated, that running battery electric trains between Manchester and Sheffield would be a possibility and could be a way of meeting Northern Powerhouse Rail’s objectives for the route.
  2. A short length of electrification might help battery electric trains turn out to go South.
  3. I don’t think any passenger trains ever go that way now, but I have seen articles and heard complaints from passengers, that want a better service between Derby and/or Nottingham and Manchester.
  4. It might also help with the decarbonisation of freight trains to and from the quarries.

I also suspect, that if building High Speed Two in Manchester temporarily reduced the capacity of Manchester Piccadilly station, trains could use the Hope Valley Line to get to the city, as they have done previously, with Project Rio.

Accessing The Infrastructure Depot At Staveley

This map clipped from High Speed Two’s interactive map, shows the location of the infrastructure depot at Staveley.

Note.

  1. Chesterfield is shown by the large blue dot.
  2. High Speed Two’s Sheffield Branch runs North from Chesterfield station.
  3. High Speed Two’s Eastern Leg runs down the Eastern side of the map.
  4. Two spurs from East and West go towards each other and would meet to the North of the town of Staveley.

The infrastructure depot will be located where they meet.

The route from the Sheffield Branch uses the Barrow Hill Line, which might be reopened as another passenger route between Chesterfield and Sheffield.

I wrote about this idea in Reinstatement Of The Barrow Hill Line Between Sheffield And Chesterfield.

If the line is being upgraded and electrified as far as Barrow Hill for the Infrastructure Depot, would it be worthwhile to create a new electrified route into Sheffield?

I also wrote in Could East Midlands Railway’s Liverpool And Norwich Service Avoid A Reverse At Sheffield By Using the Barrow Hill Line?, that the Barrow Hill Line might be an alternative route for the Liverpool and Norwich service.

When the railway routes in the area of the Infrastructure Depot are developed, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some routes changed.

Between Sheffield And Meadowhall Stations

One of the original designs for High Speed Two had it calling at Meadowhall station.

This map clipped from High Speed Two’s interactive map, clearly shows High Speed Two running across Sheffield.

Note.

  1. Sheffield station is the big Blue dot in the South-West corner of the map.
  2. The M1 runs across the North-East corner of the map.
  3. The railway between Sheffield and Meadowhall stations already exists.
  4. Sheffield and Meadowhall stations are 3.5 miles apart and trains take seven minutes.

Is there any reason, why High Speed Two trains shouldn’t serve both Sheffield and Meadowhall stations, by just taking the existing line across the city?

Taking The Wakefield Line Towards Leeds

In extending to Meadowhall, High Speed Two’s route seems to be taking the current Wakefield Line.

This map clipped from High Speed Two’s interactive map, clearly shows High Speed Two passing through Sheffield and Rotherham and then going towards Leeds.

Note.

  1. Orange indicates new High Speed Two track.
  2. Blue indicates track that High Speed Two shares with other lines.
  3. The Wakefield Line is shown in blue and has stations at Meadowhall, Swinton, Bolton-upon-Dearne, Goldthorpe and Thurscoe.
  4. The main High Speed Two leg to Leeds is shown in orange.

It looks to me, that High Speed Two are aiming to provide a route, so that trains going to Sheffield can extend the journey to Leeds.

As Leeds will have three tph to and from London, why is this service being extended to Leeds?

I will explore a few reasons why in the next few sub-sections.

It’s Convenient For Running Trains

Consider.

  • High Speed Two are saying London and Sheffield will be one hour and twenty-seven minutes.
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail have an objective of Leeds and Sheffield in twenty-eight minutes.
  • One hour and fifty-five minutes could be a convenient time for a London and Leeds service, as it could be a four hour round trip.

But High Speed Two are saying London and Leeds will be one hour and twenty-one minutes.

It looks to me, that it is a convenient way to serve Meadowhall, Rotherham, Bolton-upon-Dearne, Goldthorpe and Thurscoe stations

High Speed Two Through Rotherham

This map clipped from High Speed Two’s interactive map, clearly shows High Speed Two passing through Rotherham to the North of the Parkgate Shopping Park.

Note.

  1. High Speed Two is the bright blue line running North-East from the Western edge of the map.
  2. The grey blocks are the stores in the Shopping Park.
  3. The Rotherham Parkgate tram-train stop is marked.

This Google Map shows a similar area.

To the East of the Parkgate Shopping Park, is a large brownfield site, as this Google Map shows.

Could Rotherham have a station on the line North of this site?

  • The rail line running SW-NE across this map is drawn in blue on High Speed Two’s interactive map.
  • Rotherham Masborough station used to be in this area.

If High Speed Two is supposed to be a railway for all the people, or at least as many as possible, surely there should be a station in the town.

High Speed Two Through Bolton-upon-Dearne

In July 2019, I wrote a post called Sheffield Region Transport Plan 2019 – A New Station At Barnsley Dearne Valley.

So have High Speed Two taken on this feature of the Sheffield Region Transport Plan 2019, to add another station to their list of destinations?

Approach To Leeds

This map clipped from High Speed Two’s interactive map, clearly shows route High Speed Two will take to approach Leeds from the South East.

Note.

  1. Leeds station is the blue dot in the North West corner of the map.
  2. High Speed Two is shown in orange and continues North to York, where it joins the East Coast Main Line.
  3. Wakefield is in the middle at the bottom of the map and is on the Wakefield Line and the current route for LNER’s expresses from London.

It looks to me, that Leeds and Sheffield will eventually end up with two faster routes between the two cities.

  • An upgraded Wakefield Line
  • A route based on the Southern section of the Wakefield Line and the Eastern leg of High Speed Two route to Leeds.

If High Speed Two’s trains are to be able to get across Sheffield and call at Sheffield, Meadowhall, Rotherham and Barnsley Dearne Valley stations, then these conditions must be met.

  • The trains must be High Speed Two’s Classic-Compatible trains or a train to a similar specification.
  • Some platform lengthening might be needed to allow the two hundred metre long trains to call.
  • The Wakefield Line must be electrified between Sheffield and just North of Goldthorpe station, where it will be able to join the link to the Eastern leg of High Speed Two.

It would probably be sensible to electrify the Wakefield Line all the way to Fitzwilliam station, from where the line is electrified all the way to Leeds.

This would enable the following.

  • Electric trains to run between Sheffield and Leeds via Wakefield Westgate station.
  • Would Northern Powerhouse Rail’s objective of a twenty-eight minute journey be achieved?
  • East Midlands Railway could run their Class 810 trains between London St. Pancras and Leeds under electric power.
  • High Speed Two could serve Leeds before the Northern infrastructure of the Eastern leg of High Speed Two is complete.
  • High Speed Two could offer services to Wakefield, Barnsley and Rotherham via Sheffield.

I can see reasons for early upgrading of the Wakefield Line.

Conclusion

It appears that High Speed Two are planning an electrified route through Sheffield between Clay Cross North Junction on the Midland Main Line and Goldthorpe station on the Wakefield Line.

Once complete it would enable the following.

  • Rotherham and Barnsley to have direct electric services to and from the capital.
  • When East Midlands Railway introduce their new Class 810 trains, the electrification North of Clay Cross North Junction would mean faster services and less running on diesel power.
  • I believe these Class 810 trains could run between London and Sheffield, if their four diesel engines are replaced with batteries, which would power the trains between Clay Cross North Junction and Market Harborough.
  • The electrification at Sheffield would allow battery electric trains to work between Manchester and Sheffield as I outlined in Northern Powerhouse Rail -Significant Upgrades And Journey Time Improvements To The Hope Valley Route Between Manchester And Sheffield.

I think it is a good plan.

Project Management Recommendations

It is my view that the following projects should be started as soon as possible.

  • Electrification between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield station.
  • Electrification of the Wakefield Line between Sheffield and Fitzwilliam stations.
  • Provision of new stations at Rotherham and Barnsley Dearne Valley on the Wakefield Line.

These projects could deliver worthwhile improvements in services in a couple of years, rather than the tens of years for High Speed Two.

 

 

 

 

November 24, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Northern Powerhouse Rail – Significant Upgrades And Journey Time Improvements To The Hope Valley Route Between Manchester And Sheffield

In this article on Transport for the North, which is entitled Northern Powerhouse Rail Progress As Recommendations Made To Government, one of the recommendations proposed for Northern Powerhouse Rail is significant upgrades and journey time improvements to the Hope Valley Line between Manchester and Sheffield.

I shall look at a few of the possibilities for the route.

Northern Powerhouse Rail’s Objective For The Route

Wikipedia, other sources and my calculations say this about the trains between Manchester and Sheffield.

  • The distance between the two stations is 42.6 miles
  • The current service takes 49 to 57 minutes and has a frequency of two trains per hour (tph)
  • This gives an average speed of 52.2 mph for the fastest journey.
  • The proposed service with Northern Powerhouse Rail will take 40 minutes and have a frequency of four tph.
  • This gives an average speed of 63.9 mph for the journey.

This last figure of 63.9 mph, indicates to me that a 100 mph train will be able to meet Northern Powerhouse Rail’s objective.

Current Trains On The Hope Valley Line

In July this year, I went along the Hope Valley Line between Manchester Piccadilly and Dore and Totley stations, which I wrote about in Along The Hope Valley Line – 13th July 2020.

My train was a pair of refurbished Class 150 trains.

These trains can handled the current timetable but they have an operating speed of only 75 mph.

Looking at Real Time Trains for last week, it now appears that Northern are using new three-car Class 195 trains.

These are much better.

  • They are 100 mph trains with much better acceleration.
  • The train was still running the timetable for the slower trains.

With thirteen stops, I suspect that these new trains could be under fifty minutes between Manchester and Sheffield.

Will The Hope Valley Line Be Electrified?

Consider.

  • Currently, the Hope Valley Line is electrified between Manchester Piccadilly and Hazel Grove stations.
  • In the future, the line is likely to be electrified between Sheffield and Dore & Totley stations, in conjunction with rebuilding the Midland Main Line, to the North of Clay Cross North junction for High Speed Two.
  • After the electrification at the Eastern end, just over thirty miles will be without electrification.
  • The Hope Valley Line has an operating speed of 90 mph.

This Hitachi infographic shows the specification of the Hitachi Regional Battery train.

As these are a 100 mph train with a range of 90 km or 56 miles on battery power, these trains could work Manchester and Sheffield in the required time of forty minutes. provided they could be charged at the Sheffield end of the route.

TransPennine’s Class 802 trains can be fitted with batteries to become Regional Battery Trains, so it would appear that TransPennine’s services on this route could go zero-carbon.

In addition Northern, who are the other passenger operator on the route are working with CAF on battery electric trains, as I wrote about in Northern’s Battery Plans,

I don’t believe there are pressing reasons to electrify the Hope Valley Line to allow passenger trains to meet Northern Powerhouse Rail’s objective.

Will Operating Speed On The Hope Valley Line Be Increased?

Under Plans in the Wikipedia entry for the Hope Valley Line, this is said.

Network Rail, in partnership with South Yorkshire ITA, will redouble the track between Dore Station Junction and Dore West Junction, at an estimated cost of £15 million. This costing is based on four additional vehicles in traffic to deliver the option, however, this will depend on vehicle allocation through the DfT rolling stock plan. This work will be programmed, subject to funding, in conjunction with signalling renewals in the Dore/Totley Tunnel area.

Other proposals include a 3,600 feet (1,100 m) loop in the Bamford area, in order to fit in an all-day (07:00–19:00) hourly Manchester–Sheffield via New Mills Central stopping service, by extending an existing Manchester–New Mills Central service. Planning permission for this was granted in February 2018, but delays mean that this will now not be completed until 2023.

These changes to allow three fast trains, a stopping train and freight trains each hour were also supported in a Transport for the North investment report in 2019, together with “further interventions” for the Northern Powerhouse Rail programme.

It would also probably be a good idea, to increase the operating speed of the line to 100 mph where possible.

Effect On Passenger Services

100 mph trains on a track with an operating speed of 100 mph, could show some impressive timings.

On the Great Eastern Main Line, which is a very busy 100 mph double-track railway, 100 mph trains, achieve a 77 mph average for 90 minutes over the 115 miles, between London Liverpool Street and Norwich with a single stop.

A one-stop Manchester and Sheffield service at this speed would take just 33.2 minutes.

The stopping trains would be more of a challenge to get under forty minutes, but at least if they were battery electric trains, they’d have the better acceleration and deceleration of the electric trains.

  • Fifty minutes would be a realistic time.
  • Ten minutes turnround time at each end, would be ideal for charging the batteries and give an efficient two hour round trip.

Efficient timetabling could create a very comprehensive service for the Hope Valley Line.

Freight Trains On The Hope Valley Line

Under Freight in the Wikipedia entry for the Hope Valley Line, this is said.

Over a million tons of cement a year is taken away by rail from Earle’s Sidings at Hope.

That is a very large number of freight trains, all of which are currently hauled by diesel locomotives.

  • Looking at Real Time Trains, there are nearly always two freight trains in every hour of the day.
  • If you look at the routes, they go to a myriad number of destinations.
  • Following the routes between Dore Junction and the quarries to the South of the Hope Valley Line, there are several tunnels.
  • There are numerous quarries in a cluster, all served by their own rail lines.

Electrifying the delivery of the cement and limestone from the quarries would be a large and very expensive operation.

This Google Map shows Earle’s Sidings at Hope.

Perhaps a half-way house solution would be to use diesel to haul trains between the quarries and Earle’s sidings, where the locomotive is changed for an electric one?

  • But that would then mean that all routes from between the Peak District quarries and their destinations would need to be fully-electrified.
  • It should be noted that that the problem of zero-carbon trains, also exists at port and rail freight interchanges, where safe operation with 25 KVAC overhead wires everywhere can be a nightmare.
  • Rail freight companies are unlikely to change their old diesel locomotives for new expensive electric locomotives, until all possible routes are fully electrified.
  • It is also a big problem, all over the world.

Perhaps, what is needed is a self-powered zero-carbon locomotive with sufficient power to haul the heaviest trains?

I believe such a locomotive is possible and in The Mathematics Of A Hydrogen-Powered Freight Locomotive, I explored the feasibility of such a locomotive, which was based on a Stadler Class 68 locomotive.

The zero-carbon locomotive, that is eventually developed, may be very different to my proposal, but the commercial opportunities for such a locomotive are so large, that I’m sure the world’s best locomotive designers are working on developing powerful locomotives for all applications.

Conclusion

Northern Powerhouse Rail’s ambition for Manchester and Sheffield via the Hope Valley Line is simply stated as four tph in forty minutes. But this may be something like.

  • Three fast tph in forty minutes.
  • One stopping tph in perhaps fifty minutes.
  • One freight tph in each direction to and from the quarries that lie to the South of the line.

I didn’t realise how close that the line is to that objective, once the following is done.

  • Introduce 100 mph passenger trains on the route.
  • Improve the track as has been planned for some years.

Note that all the passenger trains, that now run the route; Class 185, 195 and 802 trains, are all 100 mph trains, although they are diesel-powered.

With a length of just under 43 miles, the route is also ideal for battery electric trains to work the passenger services, be the trains be from Hitachi, CAF or another manufacturer, after High Speed Two electrifies the Midland Main Line to the North of Clay Cross North Junction, in preparation for high speed services between London and Sheffield.

I would recommend, that one of High Speed Two’s first Northern projects, should be to upgrade the Midland Main Line between Clay Cross North junction and Sheffield station to the standard that will be required for High Speed Two.

I would also recommend, that the Government sponsor the development of a hydrogen electric locomotive with this specification.

  • Ability to use 25 KVAC overhead or 750 VDC electrification
  • 110 mph operating speed on electrification.
  • Ability to use hydrogen.
  • 100 mph operating speed on hydrogen.
  • 200 mile range on hydrogen.

A locomotive with this specification would go a long way to decarbonise rail freight in the UK and would have a big worldwide market.

Project Management Recommendations

This project divides neatly into three.

  • Perform the upgrades at Dore Junction and add the loop in the Bamford area, as detailed in Wikipedia, which will increase the capacity of the Hope Valley Line.
  • Electrify the Midland Main Line between Clay Cross North junction and Sheffield, as will be needed for High Speed Two. This electrification will allow battery electric trains to run between Manchester and Sheffield and between Sheffield and London.
  • Procurement of the trains. CAF and Hitachi are currently finalising suitable designs for this type of operation.

It would also be helpful, if the freight trains could be hauled by zero-carbon hydrogen electric locomotives, to create a much-improved zero-carbon route between Manchester and Sheffield.

 

 

 

 

 

November 23, 2020 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Testing Begins On Midland Main Line Electrification

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

  • From the article, it looks like the first part of mechanical testing has been completed as planned and unpowered pantograph runs have been performed at up to 110 mph.
  • It does seem to me, that this thirty  miles of electrification has avoided the troubles that have plagued similar projects in recent years.

Perhaps the good progress on this electrification, is making the government think again about early electrification of all of the  Midland Main Line

In Hopes Rekindled Of Full Midland Main Line Electrification. I showed how battery electric Class 810 trains would be able to work the route.

This was my conclusion of that earlier post.

It appears that both the Nottingham and Sheffield services can be run using battery electric Class 810 trains.

  • All four diesel engines in the Class 810 trains would need to be replaced with batteries.
  • The route between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield station, which will be shared with High Speed Two, will need to be electrified.
  • Charging facilities for the battery electric trains will need to be provided at Nottingham.

On the other hand using battery electric trains mean the two tricky sections of the Derwent Valley Mills and Leicester station and possibly others, won’t need to be electrified to enable electric trains to run on the East Midlands Railway network.

Will it be the first main line service in the world, run by battery electric trains?

There was one thing, that wasn’t available, a month ago, when I wrote that post – A charging system for battery electric trains, that could be installed at Nottingham.

In Vivarail’s Plans For Zero-Emission Trains, I report on Adrian Shooter’s plans for Vivarail, which are outlined in a video by Modern Railways.

Ar one point he says this   see about Vivarail’s Fast Charge system.

The system has now been given preliminary approval to be installed as the UK’s standard charging system for any make of train.

I may have got the word’s slightly wrong, but I believe the overall message is correct.

So could we see a Hitachi Class 810 train using Vivarail’s patented Fast Charge system at Nottingham?

In Interview: Hitachi’s Nick Hughes On Driving Innovation In Rail Propulsion, Nick Hughes of Hitachi is quoted as saying.

Rail is going to become increasingly digitised and integrated into other sectors involved in smart cities, mobility-as-a-service and flexible green grid. Therefore, Hitachi Rail won’t be able to stay at the forefront of innovation by its self. This is why we are focused on building partnerships with other like-minded, innovative, clean tech companies like Hyperdrive Innovation, Perpetuum and Hitachi group companies such as Hitachi ABB.

Does Vivarail fit that philosophy? In my view, it does!

This Hitachi infographic gives the specification of their Regional Battery Train.

Note.

  1. The range on battery power is 90 km or 56 miles at up to 100 mph.
  2. Class 810 trains could be converted to battery electric trains by replacing the diesel engines with batteries.
  3. As the electrification has reached Kettering. there is only 55 miles between London St Pancras and Nottingham without electrification.

I could see Class 810 trains running between St. Pancras and Nottingham on delivery, provided the following projects have been completed.

  • Hitachi have been able to give the Class 810 trains a range of say 60 miles on batteries.
  • Hitachi have modified their trains, so they can be recharged by a Vivarail Fast Charge system in fifteen minutes.
  • Vivarail have installed a Fast Charge facility at Nottingham station.

Network Rail are planning to extend the electrification from Kettering to Market Harborough, which would reduce the distance without electrification to under 50 miles. This would make running battery electric trains between London St. Pancras and Nottingham even easier.

Expanding The Network

If I am putting two and two together correctly and Hitachi have turned to Vivarail to provide a charging system or a licence for the use of the technology, I am sure, it would be possible to create a comprehensive network of battery electric trains.

Consider.

  • Hitachi should be able to squeeze a sixty mile range at 90-100 mph from a battery-equipped Class 810 trains.
  • Market Harborough and Derby are about 47 miles apart.
  • Derby and Sheffield are about 36 miles apart
  • Sheffield and Leeds are about 48 miles apart
  • Corby and Leicester are about 41 miles apart.

Vivarail Fast Charge systems at Derby, Leicester and Sheffield would enable the following routes to be run using battery electric trains.

  • London St. Pancras and Sheffield via Derby – Fast Charging at Derby and Sheffield
  • London St. Pancras and Leeds via Derby and Sheffield – Fast Charging at Derby and Sheffield
  • London St. Pancras and Sheffield via the Erewash Valley Line – Fast Charging at Ilkeston (?) and Sheffield
  • London St. Pancras and Leicester via Corby – Fast Charging at Leicester

Note.

  1. The only extra electrification needed for the initial network would be between Kettering and Market Harborough.
  2. The Class 810 trains would all be identical.
  3. The Class 810 trains might even be built and delivered as battery electric trains
  4. Trains would also charge the batteries between London St. Pancras and Market Harborough, between London St. Pancras and Corby. and between Leeds and Wakefield Westgate.

The network can be extended by adding more electrification and Fast Charge systems.

Conclusion

The technologies of Hitachi and Vivarail seem complimentary and could result in a fully electric main line train network for East Midlands Railway.

 

 

October 19, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hopes Rekindled Of Full Midland Main Line Electrification

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

This is the key section of the article.

During a House of Commons debate on transport on September 17, HS2 Minister Andrew Stephenson said in response to a question from Alex Norris (Labour/Co-op, Nottingham North): “We are currently delivering the Midland Main Line upgrade, which includes electrification from London to Kettering, with additional electrification to Market Harborough being developed.

“Further electrification of the MML is currently at an early stage, but it is being examined by Network Rail.”

Stephenson said the DfT will continue to work closely with NR on the development of a proposal that would include approaches to advancing the delivery of electrification across the route.

The title of the article, probably sums it up well.

Electrification Of The Midland Main Line

Having read lots of stories about electrification of Midland Main Line, I think the following must be born in mind.

  • Electrification on the line will reach as far North as Market Harborough station.
  • The route between Sheffield station and Clay Cross North Junction will be shared with High Speed Two. It will obviously need to be electrified for High Speed Two.
  • The section of the Midland Main Line between Derby and Clay Cross North Junction, runs through the World Heritage Site of the Derwent Valley Mills. The Heritage Taliban will love the electrification, with a vengeance.
  • Electrification through Leicester station could be tricky, as the station building and the A6 road are over the tracks and there is limited clearance. Electrification could involve major disruption to the trains for some time.

These are some of the distances involved of sections of the route that are not electrified.

  • Market Harborough and Derby are 54 miles apart.
  • Market Harborough and Clay Cross North Junction are 67 miles apart.
  • Market Harborough and Chesterfield are 70 miles apart.
  • Market Harborough and Nottingham are 44 miles apart
  • Market Harborough and Leicester are 16 miles apart.
  • Derby and Clay Cross North Junction are 21 miles apart.

Since 2017, when electrification for the full route was originally abandoned, there have been big changes in rolling stock technology.

The biggest change has been the development of battery trains.

Hitachi’s Regional Battery Trains

This infographic from Hitachi gives the specification for their Regional Battery Train.

Note.

  1. The trains have a range of 56 miles on battery power.
  2. The trains can cruise at 100 mph on battery power.
  3. Hitachi have said that all of their AT-300 trains can be converted into Regional Battery Trains.
  4. Trains are converted by removing the diesel engines and replacing them with battery packs.
  5. I suspect these battery packs look like a diesel engine in terms of control inputs and performance to the driver and the train’s computer.

It is extremely likely, that the bi-mode Class 810 trains, which are a version of the AT-300 train, that have been ordered for the Midland Main Line can be converted into Regional Battery Trains.

These trains have four diesel engines, as opposed to the Class 800 and Class 802 trains, which only have three.

These are reasons, why the trains could need four engines.

  • The trains need more power to work the Midland Main Line. I think this is unlikely.
  • Four engine positions gives ,more flexibility when converting to Regional Battery Trains.
  • Four battery packs could give a longer range of up to 120 kilometres or 75 miles.

It could just be, that Hitachi are just being conservative, as engines can easily be removed or replaced. The fifth-car might even be fitted with all the wiring and other gubbins, so that a fifth-engine or battery pack can be added.

I suspect the train’s computer works on a Plug-And-Play principle, so when the train is started, it looks round each car to see how many diesel engines and battery packs are available and it then controls the train according to what power is available.

London St. Pancras And Sheffield By Battery Electric Train

Any battery electric train going between London St. Pancras and Sheffield will need to be charged, at both ends of the route.

  • At the London end, it will use the electrification currently being erected as far as Market Harborough station.
  • At the Sheffield end, the easiest way to charge the trains, would be to bring forward the electrification and updating between Sheffield station and Clay Cross North Junction, that is needed for High Speed Two.

This will leave a 67 mile gap in the electrification between Market Harborough station and Clay Cross North junction.

It looks to me, the Class 810 trains should be able to run between London St. Pancras and Sheffield, after the following projects are undertaken.

  • Class 810 trains are given four battery packs and a battery range of 75 miles.
  • Electrification is installed between Sheffield station and Clay Cross North Junction.

Trains would need to leave Market Harborough station going North and Clay Cross Junction going South with full batteries.

Note.

  1. Trains currently take over an hour to go between Chesterfield to Sheffield and then back to Chesterfield, which would be more than enough to fully charge the batteries.
  2. Trains currently take around an hour to go between London St. Pancras and Market Harborough, which would be more than enough to fully charge the batteries.
  3. Chesterfield station is only three miles further, so if power changeover, needed to be in a station, it could be performed there.
  4. Leeds and Sheffield are under fifty miles apart and as both stations would be electrified, London St. Pancras and Sheffield services could be extended to start and finish at Leeds.

London St. Pancras and Sheffield can be run by battery electric trains.

London St. Pancras And Nottingham By Battery Electric Train

Could a battery electric train go from Market Harborough to Nottingham and back, after being fully-charged on the hour-long trip from London?

  • The trip is 44 miles each way or 88 miles for a round trip.
  • Services have either three or eight stops, of which two or three respectively are at stations without electrification.
  • Trains seem to take over thirty minutes to turnback at Nottingham station.

Extra power North of Market Harborough will also be needed.

  • To provide hotel power for the train, during turnback at Nottingham station.
  • To compensate for power losses at station stops.

If 75 miles is the maximum battery range, I doubt that a round trip is possible.

I also believe, that Hitachi must be developing a practical solution to charging a train during turnback, at a station like Nottingham, where trains take nearly thirty minutes to turnback.

If the Class 810 trains have a battery range of 75 miles, they would be able to handle the London St. Pancras and Nottingham service, with charging at Nottingham.

Conclusion

It appears that both the Nottingham and Sheffield services can be run using battery electric Class 810 trains.

  • All four diesel engines in the Class 810 trains would need to be replaced with batteries.
  • The route between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield station, which will be shared with High Speed Two, will need to be electrified.
  • Charging facilities for the battery electric trains will need to be provided at Nottingham.

On the other hand using battery electric trains mean the two tricky sections of the Derwent Valley Mills and Leicester station and possibly others, won’t need to be electrified to enable electric trains to run on the East Midlands Railway network.

Will it be the first main line service in the world, run by battery electric trains?

 

September 28, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Beeching Reversal – Increased Services To Nottingham And Leicester, via Syston And Loughborough From Melton Mowbray

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

It is one of a pair of submissions from the local MP; Alicia Kearns. The other is More Stopping Services At Radcliffe-on-Trent And Bottesford Stations On The Poacher Line Between Grantham And Nottingham.

When I heard of the MP’s submissions, I wrote MP Campaigns To Extend Train Services For Melton Borough and the following uses that post as a starting point.

Wikipedia says this about services at Melton Mowbray station.

  • There is an hourly off-peak service in both directions between Stansted Airport and Birmingham, that calls at Cambridge, Peterborough, Oakham and Leicester.
  • East Midlands Railway and their predescessor have added services to London via Corby and to Derby and East Midlands Parkway.

When you consider, that both Bottesford and Melton Mowbray are the same Council and Parliamentary constituency, it does seem that a more direct train service is needed between Bottesford and Melton Mowbray stations.

It does seem to me that some innovative thinking is needed.

If the current plans to fulfil British Rail’s ambition of an Ivanhoe Line running from Lincoln to Burton-on-Trent via Nottingham, East Midlands Parkway, Loughborough and Leicester, are carried out, that will give important towns to the West of Leicester much better rail connections.

Given that High Speed Two is coming to East Midlands Hub station at Toton and there will be a Bedford and Leeds service run by Midlands Connect using High Speed Two classic-compatible trains, that I wrote about in Classic-Compatible High Speed Two Trains At East Midlands Hub Station, I wonder if in the interim, there should be more trains between Derby and Melton.

  • Intermediate stations would be Syston, Sileby, Barrow-upon-Soar, Loughborough, East Midlands Parkway Long Eaton and Spondon.
  • An hourly frequency would double the service frequency at smaller stations like Sileby and Barrow-upon-Soar.
  • The Southern terminal could be Melton station, but I feel Corby or Peterborough stations would be better, as this would improve services at Oakham station. We should not forget Rutland!
  • As Corby will be an electrified two-platform station with a two trains per hour (tph) service to London, this could work quite well as a Southern terminus.
  • Peterborough would have advantages and give a good connection to Cambridge, London and Scotland, but improvements to the current Birmingham and Stansted Airport service would have similar effects.

This route would be just as valuable after High Speed Two opens through the East Midlands Hub station, as it will give fast ongoing connections to Birmingham, Leeds, Newcastle and York.

Electrification Of The Midland Main Line

I feel strongly, that full electrification of the Midland Main Line could be a step to far.

  • Electrification, through Leicester station will mean a complete closure of the station for a couple of years.
  • Electrification of the route North of Derby, through the Derwent Valley Mills, which is a World Heritage Site, will be opposed by the Heritage Taliban with all their might.

But.

  • Electrification of the route between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield via Chesterfield will take place in conjunction with High Speed Two
  • Electrification to Market Harborough, which is sixteen miles South of Leicester will happen.
  • East Midlands Railway’s new Class 810 trains could be fitted with a battery option giving a range of between 55 and 65 miles.
  • Pantographs on these trains can go up and down with all the alacrity of a whore’s drawers.

If the easier section of electrification between Leicester and Derby stations, were to be installed, this would enable the following routes to be run using battery-equipped Class 810 trains.

  • London and Derby, where battery power would be used through Leicester.
  • London and Nottingham, where battery power would be used through Leicester and between East Midlands Parkway and Nottingham.
  • London and Sheffield, where battery power would be used through Leicester and between Derby and Clay Cross Junction.
  • Lincoln and Burton-on-Trent, where battery power would be used South of Leicester and North of East Midlands Parkway.
  • Derby and Corby, where battery power would be used between Syston and Corby.

There would also be the service between Derby and Norwich, which might be able to be run by a similar train.

Conclusion

I think the ideal way to achieve the MP’s objective would be to extend a proportion of London St. Pancras and Corby services to  the Midland Main Line.

But the problem with this, is that the Corby trains will be Class 360 trains, which are electric, so the thirty-six mile route between Corby and the Midland Main Line would need to be electrified.

On the other hand, a shuttle train could be used between Corby and Leicester.

They would call at Oakham, Melton Mowbray and Syston stations.

If the Midland Main Line to the North of Leicester were to be electrified, Battery electric trains could be used on the route, with charging at Leicester and Corby.

August 22, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Dore And Totley Station – 13th July 2020

These pictures show Dore and Totley station.

These are my thoughts on the station and the tracks through it.

The Midland Main Line And High Speed Two

The two tracks, that are furthest away from the station platform are the Midland Main Line between Sheffield and Chesterfield, Derby and the South.

  • These tracks will be taken over by High Speed Two.
  • They will be electrified with 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • The trains on the Midland Main Line will continue to use the electrified tracks.
  • East Midlands Railway have ordered bi-mode Class 810 trains, which will each be 120 metres long or 240 metres long, when running as a pair.
  • CrossCountry’s Class 220 trains are 187 metres long running as a pair.
  • I estimate that the faster trains were doing around 100 mph, as they passed Dore and Totley station. I shall measure it properly next time, I go to Sheffield on a train.

Note.

  1. High Speed Two’s trains will probably be going through at the same speed as East Midlands Railway’s Class 810 trains.
  2. High Speed Two will be running their 200 metre long classic-compatible trains to and from Sheffield, so except that there will be two more trains in every hour, there will be little difference.
  3. Both the High Speed Two and the East Midlands Railway trains will be running on electric power between Sheffield and Chesterfield stations.
  4. It is likely that other services will use electric power on the Midland Main Line.
  5. There will be no platforms on the High Speed tracks at Dore and Totley station.

I would suspect that there will be little disruption to train services through the area, whilst the electrification is installed, judging by the disruption caused during electrification between Bedford and Corby.

Dore Junction

Dore Junction is a triangular junction, that connects the Hope Valley Line and the Midland Main Line to the South of Dore and Totley station.

This Google Map shows Dore Junction.

Note.

  1. Dore and Junction station is at the North of the Map.
  2. Dore West Junction is in the South West corner of the map and leads to the Hope Valley Line.
  3. Dore South Junction is in the South East corner of the map and leads to Chesterfield on the Midland Main Line.

This second Google Map shows Dore South Junction.

Could this junction be improved to increase capacity and efficiency?

  • The Southern track of the triangular junction is only single track.
  • It is a major route for stone trains between Derbyshire and London and the South.

If Network Rail have any ideas for Dore Junction, then surely, when the works in the area are being carried out, is the time for them to be performed.

Platform Length At Dore And Totley Station

I took these two pictures when I arrived at Dore and Totley station.

As the train was formed of two two-car Class 150 trains and the train fits the platform, it would appear that the platform is about eighty metres long.

An Extra Platform At Dore And Totley Station

There may be no plans to put platforms on the Midland Main Line, but plans exist for an extra track through the station, that will connect to the Hope Valley Line.

This Google Map shows Dore and Totley station and the Midland Main Line.

 

The second platform wouldn’t be the widest platform,. but I’m sure a second track and a safe platform could be squeezed in.

I wonder if more space is needed, the Midland Main Line could be realigned to give more space and better performance.

A Turnback At Dore And Totley Station

In Beeching Reversal – Sheaf Valley Stations, I said this about a possible turnback at Dore and Totley station.

This Google Map shows Dore & Totley station and the area to the South.

Note.

    1. There would appear to be a lot of space between the Midland Main Line and the single track, that leads between Dore & Totley station and the Hope Valley Line.
      Flying my helicopter, as low as I dare, it looks like the area is either a rubbish dump or very low grade businesses.
      Crossrail has designed turnbacks at Abbey Wood and Paddington stations, that will handle twelve tph.
      I believe that it would be possible to design a turnback at Dore & Totley station, that would handle eight trains per hour, if not twelve tph.

It might even be possible to squeeze in some overnight stabling.

Whilst I was at Dore and Totley station, I met a couple, who were perhaps a few years older than me, who had grown up in the area.

He could remember local steam services between Sheffield and Dore and Totley stations, where there had been a turntable to the South of the station to reverse the locomotive.

Conclusion

After what I saw on my visit to Dore and Totley station, I would suspect that the station can be updated to the standard required to allow four tph between Manchester Piccadilly and Sheffield stations.

It could also be a station that will attract passengers.

 

July 14, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Beeching Reversal – Sheaf Valley Stations

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

Stations To Be Rebuilt

As you approach Sheffield station, you pass four station sites, three of which are demolished and the fourth is just a shadow of its former self.

Dore & Totley

Dean & Totley station used to have four platforms and this Google Map, shows what is left after British Rail’s vandalism in the mid-1980s.

Note.

  1. The station has only one platform.
  2. The single track in the platform handles all trains to and from the Hope Valley Line.
  3. At present it appears to be two trains per hour (tph) in both directions.
  4. The two tracks at the right are the Midland Main Line.

Transport for the North wants to run four tph between Manchester Piccadilly and Sheffield through here, that will take forty minutes between the two cities.

Updates planned for the station include.

  • A second platform for Manchester-bound trains.
  • A new bridge with lifts.
  • Platforms long enough to take a pair of Class 185 trains or a five-car Class 802 train.
  • A full hourly service.

There certainly seems to be enough space for another platform and track through the middle of the station.

At some point in the near future, the two Midland Main Line tracks will be electrified, as part of the upgrade for High Speed Two.

Between Dore & Totley And Beauchief

This Google Map shows a typical section of the line between Dore & Totley and Beauchief stations.

Note the two Midland Main Line tracks on the right and single-track to the Hope Valley Line on the left.

It would appear that the fourth track can be squeezed in between the single track and the Midland Main Line.

Beauchief

Beauchief station used to have four platforms before it was demolished.

This Google Map shows the station’s former location.

Note.

  1. The building with the red dot is the former Beauchief Hotel. which was by the station.
  2. On a larger screen you can see three tracks going into Sheffield.

I’m fairly certain that four tracks and two platforms for a station can be fitted into this narrow trackbed.

Millhouses & Eccleshall

Millhouses and Eccleshall station used to have four platforms before it was demolished.

This Google Map shows the station’s former location.

Note.

  1. Wikipedia says the station was accessed from the Archer Road bridge, which is in the South East corner of the map.
  2. It looks like there are three tracks with space for four.
  3. The road to the North-West of the railway is called Old Station Road.

As at Beauchief, it will be tight.

Heeley

Heeley station used to have four platforms before it was demolished.

This Google Map shows the station’s former location.

Note.

  1. The red arrow indicates Heeley Bridge, which Wikipedia says is near the station site.
  2. There appears to be only two tracks through here.

It is easy to follow the tracks from here to Sheffield station.

Could A Four Track Railway Be Rebuilt Between Dore & Totley And Sheffield Stations?

I’ve not seen anything that says that building a four-track railway through here is not possible.

In a few years, there could be the following tracks and platforms, on this section.

  • Two fast tracks for High Speed Two, Midland Main Line and CrossCountry trains, that will be electrified with 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • The High Speed Two trains will be classic-compatible and up to 200 metres long.
  • The two fast tracks will not have any platforms.
  • Two slow tracks for local services, that will be appropriately electrified.
  • The slow tracks will have step-free platforms, that will be long enough to take a five-car Class 802 train or a pair of Class 185 trains.

I can’t for the life of me understand, why this stretch of four-track main line between Dore & Totley and Sheffield stations was ever simplified, as at other places on the UK network, extra tracks were being added to the main lines, at the same time.

Future Services On The Fast Lines

Currently, the following services take the fast lines between Sheffield and Chesterfield stations via Dore & Totley station.

  • East Midlands Railway – Sheffield and London St. Pancras – 2 tph
  • East Midlands Railway – Sheffield and Norwich via Nottingham – 1 tph
  • CrossCountry – Edinburgh/Newcastle and Derby/Birmingham and the South – 2 tph
  • Northern – Sheffield and Nottingham – 1 tph

That is a very modest six tph.

High Speed Two are currently planning to run two tph between Sheffield and London Euston.

There may or may not be other changes.

  • As Birmingham Curzon Street and Sheffield will be just forty-seven minutes by High Speed Two all the way, will these destinations have a direct high speed classic-compatible service? There’s plenty of space capacity on High Speed Two.
  • I don’t think the Sheffield and St. Pancras services will be dropped, but they might be.
  • CrossCountry will probably be running intelligent multi-mode trains capable of 125 mph running and up to 140 mph in places.
  • Northern’s service between Sheffield and Nottingham might go via a reopened Barrow Hill Line.

But the biggest change will be that these two fast lines will be to High Speed Two standards.

  • Sheffield and Chesterfield will be electrified.
  • There will in-cab digital signalling, which theoretically could probably allow eighteen tph on the route.
  • High Speed Two Trains between Sheffield and Chesterfield will take twelve minutes.
  • Sheffield station will have been modified as required, to be able to handle all trains very efficiently.

But it would still be carrying a modest eight tph.

If required Sheffield would have the capacity to accept more trains from the South.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see, the following trains added.

  • An extra tph to and from London Euston via High Speed Two.
  • Two tph to and from Birmingham Curzon Street via High Speed Two.

I also wouldn’t be surprised to see CrossCountry using classic-compatible High Speed Two trains and switching to High Speed Two between Birmingham New Street and Sheffield. But these trains would still use the same tracks to access Sheffield station.

But I am led to the conclusion, that Sheffield will have more than enough capacity linking the City to Chesterfield and the South.

Future Services On The Slow Lines

Or should I use lines connecting to the Hope Valley Line rather than slow lines?

Currently, the following services take the slow lines between Sheffield and  Dore & Totley stations.

  • East Midlands Railway – Liverpool Lime Street and Sheffield – via Manchester Piccadilly – 1 tph
  • TransPennine Express – Manchester Airport and Cleethorpes via Manchester Piccadilly – 1 tph
  • Northern – Sheffield and Manchester Piccadilly – 1 tph

 

Transport for the North aims to run a four tph service with a forty minute journey time between Manchester Piccadilly and Sheffield.

Consider.

  • 100 mph TransPennine Express trains take fifty-three minutes between Sheffield and Manchester Piccadilly without a stop.
  • Classic-compatible trains with a battery capability could easily handle the route.
  • Northern’s services on the Hope Valley Line are timed for 75 mph trains.
  • Dore & Totley and Hazel Grove stations are twenty-nine miles apart.

If between Dore & Totley and Sheffield stations were to be electrified and track improvements like passing loops were to be made to the Hope Valley Line, I believe that to achieve a forty minute all-stops timing between Sheffield and Manchester Piccadilly, would need a train with the following specification.

  • Electric train with batteries.
  • Four cars
  • 100 mph or faster operating speed.
  • Step-free access between platform and train.
  • Sparkling acceleration and deceleration.
  • Ability to run under in-cab digital signalling to keep out of the way of freight services.

Looking at Crossrail between London Paddington and Maidenhead stations, the London route is probably as difficult as the Hope Valley Line and it has been designed as a forty minute service with ten stops, using a modern electric train.

If TransPennine fitted batteries to their Class 802 trains, these trains would fit the Northern Powerhouse Rail requirements.

East Midlands Railway and Northern would find that the following trains could be used.

  • Bombardier – Aventra with batteries
  • Bombardier – Class 377 train with batteries
  • Bombardier – Class 379 train with batteries
  • CAF – Class 331 train with batteries
  • Hitachi – Class 385 train with batteries
  • Porterbrook – Battery/FLEX train based on Class 350 train
  • Stadler – Flirt with batteries

All would need that between Dore & Totley and Sheffield stations be electrified.

After the upgrades and the new or refurbished trains are running, this would mean that between Dean & Totley and Sheffield would be handling four tph, which would be semi-fast trains between Sheffield and Manchester Piccadilly. Although to current passengers on the line, they would seem to be fast services of a much higher standard.

It would not be very different to how the slow lines into Paddington also handle about four tph of other services, including GWR services and freight.

I believe that to provide an adequate service to the reopened and rebuilt stations of Dore & Totley, Beauchief, Millhouses & Eccleshall and Heeley, that a Turn-Up-And-Go service of at least four tph should be run between Dore & Totley and Sheffield stations.

A Turnback At Dore & Totley

This Google Map shows Dore & Totley station and the area to the South.

Note.

  1. There would appear to be a lot of space between the Midland Main Line and the single track, that leads between Dore & Totley station and the Hope Valley Line.
  2. Flying my helicopter, as low as I dare, it looks like the area is either a rubbish dump or very low grade businesses.
  3. Crossrail has designed turnbacks at Abbey Wood and Paddington stations, that will handle twelve tph.

I believe that it would be possible to design a turnback at Dore & Totley station, that would handle eight trains per hour, if not twelve tph.

It might even be possible to squeeze in some overnight stabling.

Trains Or Tram-Trains Between Dore & Totley And Sheffield Stations

In my view, it doesn’t matter.

Crossrail’s 12 tph turnbacks can handle a 205 metre long Class 345 train, so I’m sure a well-designed turnback at Dore & Totley could handle a mixture of any trams or tram-trains below a defined maximum length of say 140 metres, which would be defined by a pair of Class 185 trains, which might have to be turned back during service disruption.

Where Would The Services Terminate in The East?

It is my view that cross-city services like Birmingham’s Cross-City Line, Liverpool’s Northern Line, London’s Crossrail and Thameslink, Newcastle’s Metro and Paris’s RER are efficient for both passengers and train operators.

So Dore & Totley station could be one end of a Sheffield cross-city line, with a frequency of at least eight tph through Beauchief, Millhouses & Eccleshall, Heeley and Sheffield stations.

So where would services go on the other side of Sheffield? Wikipedia gives these as services to the East of Sheffield.

  • Leeds via Barnsley and Wakefield (fast) – 2 tph
  • Leeds via Meadowhall, Barnsley, Wakefield and Castleford (stopping). – 1 tph
  • Leeds via Meadowhall, Moorthorpe and Wakefield. – 1 tph
  • Scarborough via Meadowhall, Doncaster, Hull and Bridlington. – 1 tph
  • Lincoln Central via Worksop and Retford – 1 tph
  • Gainsborough Central via Worksop, three trains per week continue to Cleethorpes via Brigg. – 1 tph
  • Huddersfield via Meadowhall, Barnsley and Penistone – 1 tph
  • Doncaster via Meadowhall and Rotherham, with one train per hour continuing to Adwick – 2 tph
  • York via Moorthorpe and Sherburn-in-Elmet. – 3 trains per day (tpd)

For much of the day, that is a frequency of 10 tph, with 5 tph calling at Meadowhall, 2 tph calling at Worksop and two fast tph passing Meadowhall without stopping.

But there are other rail projects under development.

I can see classic-compatible High Speed Two trains serving the following places to the East of Sheffield.

  • Leeds
  • Hull via Doncaster
  • Scarborough via York
  • Cleethorpes via Doncaster, Scunthorpe and Grimsby.

A train like a five-car Class 802 train would probably be enough for most routes except Leeds.

I can see the following terminals for tram-trains to the East of Sheffield.

  • Doncaster and Doncaster-Sheffield Airport
  • Waverley station, which could be on a loop from the Sheffield and Lincoln Line.
  • Barnsley Dearne Valley

There may well be others.

If Sheffield were Karlsruhe in Germany, the tram-trains would probably serve the following routes.

  • Huddersfield via Penistone.
  • Lincoln via Worksop and Gainsborough.
  • Manchester via the Hope Valley Line.

But the Germans have a much larger electrified core, than Sheffield will have, even if High Speed Two electrifies between Dore & Totley and Thurnscoe stations via Sheffield.

I can make a table of destinations and distances and how they could be served.

  • Barnsley – 16 miles – Possible return trip from Sheffield for a battery electric train.
  • Barnsley Dearne Valley – 8 miles from Rotherham Parkgate – Possible return trip from Sheffield via Rotherham Parkgate for a battery electric tram-train.
  • Doncaster – 11 miles from Rotherham Parkgate – Possible return trip from Sheffield via Rotherham Parkgate for a battery electric tram-train.
  • Chesterfield via Barrow Hill – 17 miles – Possible return trip from Sheffield for a battery electric tram-train.
  • Doncaster Sheffield Airport – 10 miles from Doncaster – Possible return trip from Sheffield via Rotherham Parkgate and Doncaster for a battery electric tram-train.
  • Gainsborough Lea Road. – 32 miles – See Lincoln Central.
  • Huddersfield – 36 miles – Possible battery electric train with charging at Huddersfield.
  • Hull – 59 miles – Possible battery electric train with charging at Doncaster and Hull.
  • Lincoln Central – 48 miles – Possible battery electric train with charging at Lincoln and/or Gainsborough Lea Road. Otherwise diesel.
  • Penistone – 23 miles – Possible return trip from Sheffield for a battery electric train, using Newton’s friend on the way back.
  • Retford – 23 miles – Possible return trip from Sheffield for a battery electric train.
  • Waverley – About 6 miles – Possible return trip from Sheffield for a battery electric tram-train.
  • Worksop – 16 miles – Possible return trip from Sheffield for a battery electric train.

It looks to me like a mix of battery electric trains and tram-trains could run most of the services from Sheffield, if services that used new High Speed Two infrastructure used classic-compatible trains or trains like the existing Class 802 trains, that have been converted to battery electric operation.

Note.

  1. I am assuming, that a battery electric train has  a range of 56 miles on a single charge.
  2. Rotherham Parkgate station is changed to a through station.
  3. Tram-trains passing through Doncaster can recharge on the station’s 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  4. Charging can be provided as required at other stations.

There are lots of possibilities.

Consider, this for tram-train extensions to Barnsley Dearne Valley, Doncaster and Doncaster Sheffield Airport.

  • Extend the tram-train service at Rotherham Parkgate to either Doncaster and Doncaster Airport or Barnsley Dearne Valley stations.
  • Run tram-trains between Dore & Totley and Rotherham Parkgate via Sheffield, Meadowhall and Rotherham Central.

This would give a double-ended route across Sheffield and Rotherham between Dore & Totley and the existing Supertram network in the West and Barnsley Dearne Valley, Doncaster and Doncaster Sheffield Airport in the East.

Consider how to connect the branch to Waverley station to the Supertram network.

  • Waverley station will be either on or on a loop from the Sheffield and Lincoln Line.
  • The Sheffield and Lincoln Line has no obvious connection with the Supertram network.
  • The Sheffield and Lincoln Line goes straight in to Sheffield station.
  • Trains to Lincoln always appear to use Platform 4 in Sheffield station.
  • Sheffield station has four through platforms.

This Google Map shows where the Sheffield and Lincoln Line passes behind the Supertram Depot at Nunnery.

Note.

  1. The Nunnery Square Park and Ride is in the South West corner of the map.
  2. The Supertram depot is to the East of the Park-and-Ride, with the Nunnery Square tram stop to the South.
  3. The Woodbourn Road tram stop is in the North East corner of the map.

This second Google Map shows the lines around the Park-and-Ride.

I suspect that a connection between the Supertram system and the Sheffield and Lincoln Line, could be built to the North of the Nunnery Depot.

But would it be easier to continue to Sheffield station or pass through the station and terminate at Dore & Totley station?

I can’t be sure looking at the maps, but it could be logical that trains to and from Lincoln use the Southern pair of tracks past the Nunnery Depot, as they would be on the right side of the tracks for Lincoln.

This would make it easier to do the following.

  • Create a connection between the Nunnery Depot and the Sheffield and Lincoln Line, which would surely be needed for efficient maintenance and operation of tram-trains running to and from Waverley.
  • Allow tram-trains used to serve the proposed Waverley station to return to the Depot every night.
  • Allow tram-trains working between Sheffield and Meadowhall to use the Lincoln and Sheffield Line to enter the Nunnery Depot.
  • Build a tram stop/station by the Park-and-Ride.

There would also be less need to build another depot.

Looking at the maps, could there be space to extend the Nunnery Depot?

Conclusion

This could be a very good project.

  • It fits in well with the plans and needs of High Speed Two.
  • It connects the new Waverley station to Sheffield station.
  • It fits well with the Sheffield Region Transport Plan 2019.
  • It connects Sheffield, Rotherham and Doncaster to Doncaster Sheffield Airport.
  • It opens up the Hope Valley Line to improve services between Manchester and Sheffield.

I also don’t think, there’s any great risk!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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July 12, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Hyperdrive Innovation And Hitachi Rail To Develop Battery Tech For Trains

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

This is the introductory sub-title.

Hyperdrive Innovation and Hitachi Rail are to develop battery packs to power trains and create a battery hub in the North East of England.

The article gives this information.

  • Trains can have a range of ninety kilometres, which fits well with Hitachi’s quoted battery range of 55-65 miles.
  • Hitachi has identified its fleets of 275 trains as potential early recipients.

Hitachi have also provided an  informative video.

At one point, the video shows a visualisation of swapping a diesel-engine for a battery pack.

As a world-class computer programmer in a previous life, I believe that it is possible to create a battery pack, that to the train’s extremely comprehensive computer, looks like a diesel-engine.

So by modifying the train’s software accordingly, the various power sources of electrification, diesel power-packs and battery packs can be used in an optimum manner.

This would enable one of East Midlands Railway’s Class 810 trains, to be fitted with a mix of diesel and battery packs in their four positions under the train.

Imagine going between London and Sheffield, after the High Speed Two electrification between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield has been erected.

  • Between St. Pancras and Market Harborough power would come from the electrification.
  • The train would leave the electrified section with full batteries
  • At all stations on the route, hotel power would come from the batteries.
  • Diesel power and some battery power would be used between stations. Using them together may give better performance.
  • At Clay Cross North Junction, the electrification would be used to Sheffield.

For efficient operation, there would need to be electrification or some form of charging at the Sheffield end of the route. This is why, I am keen that when High Speed Two is built in the North, that the shsared section with the Midland Main Line between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield station, should be built early.

Hitachi have said that these trains will have four diesel engines. I think it will more likely be two diesel engines and two batteries.

The World’s First Battery-Electric Main Line

I suspect with electrification between Sheffield and Clay Cross North Junction, that a train fitted with four batteries, might even be able to run on electric power only on the whole route.

In addition, if electrification were to be erected between Leicester and East Midlands Parkway stations, all three Northern destinations would become electric power only.

The Midland Main Line would be the first battery electric high speed line in the world!

Hitachi On Hydrogen Trains

The press release about the partnership between Hitachi and Hyperdrive Innovation is on this page on the Hitachi web site.

This is a paragraph.

Regional battery trains produce zero tailpipe emission and compatible with existing rail infrastructure so they can complement future electrification. At the moment, battery trains have approximately 50% lower lifecycle costs than hydrogen trains, making battery the cheapest and cleanest alternative zero-emission traction solution for trains.

I have ridden in two battery-electric trains and one hydrogen-powered train.

I would rate them out of ten as follows.

It’s not that the iLint is a bad train, as the power system seems to work well, but the passenger experience is nowhere near the quality of the two battery trains.

In my view, battery vehicles are exceedingly quiet, so is this the reason?

On the other hand, it could just be poor engineering on the iLint.

Conclusion

This is as very big day in the development of zero- and low-carbon trains in the UK.

July 6, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

Discontinuous Electrification Through Leicester Station

Leicester station is an important station on the Midland Main Line

  • Leicester is an urban area of half a million people.
  • All of East Midlands Railway Intercity services call as they pass through the station.
  • Leicester station is only sixteen miles North of the end of the Southern electrification at Market Harborough station.
  • Birmingham New Street is 40 miles away.
  • Clay Cross North Junction is 50 miles away.
  • Derby is 29 miles away.
  • East Midlands Parkway is 19 miles away.
  • Long Eaton is 21 miles away.
  • Nottingham is 27 miles away.
  • Peterborough is 52 miles away.
  • Sheffield is 66 miles away.

A sensible decision would probably be to extend the electrification from Market Harborough to a few miles North of Leicester, so that battery-electric trains could reach all the places in the above list.

Unfortunately, the following about the bridge at the Southern end of Leicester station, must be noted.

  • The bridge doesn’t have sufficient clearance for electrification and would need to be rebuilt.
  • It carries the main A6 road to London over the railway.
  • The station building also spans the railway lines.
  • To complicate matters, there is an important sewer either in or under the bridge.

This Google Map shows the bridge and the Southern end of the station.

It looks to me, that Leicester station and the road, would have to be closed to traffic for some time, if the bridge were to be rebuilt, to allow the erection of electrification through the area.

A solution could be discontinuous electrification.

  • The electrification from the South, would finish on the South side of bridge.
  • The electrification from the North, would finish in Leicester station.
  • Electric trains would cover the gap of a few hundred metres on battery power.

Pantographs could be raised and lowered, where the wires exist.

  • On the North side of the bridge, this could be in Leicester station, whilst passengers are getting off and on the train.
  • On the South side of the bridge, this could be as far South as Market Harborough, which is sixteen miles away.

The other big problem area of electrification on the Midland Main Line is North of Derby, where the railway runs through the World Heritage Site of the Derwent Valley Mills. There might be serious opbjections to electrification in this area.

  • But if electrification were to be installed between Leicester and Derby stations, the following would be possible.
  • The Midland Main Line would be electrified at East Midlands Hub station.
  • Power could be taken from High Speed Two’s supply at East Midland Hub station.
  • Battery-electric trains could do a return trip to Nottingham from an electrified East Midlands Parkway, as it’s only sixteen miles in total.
  • Battery-electric trains could reach the High Speed Two spur into Sheffield at Clay Cross from Derby, as it’s only twenty-one miles.

I am assuming, that Hitachi’s Class 810 trains will have range of over fifty miles on battery power, which fits with Hitachi’s statements.

Conclusion

Discontinuous electrification and batteries on trains can solve the problem of electrification through Leicester station.

Also. electric trains could run between London and Sheffield, if the following were done.

  • The Class 810 trains were to be given a range of twenty-five miles
  • Electrification were to be erected between Leicester and Derby stations.
  • Electrification were to be erected between Sheffield and Clay Cross Junction, as required by High Speed Two.

The electrification could be brought forward, to bring Sheffield early benefits of High Speed Two.

June 25, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

MP Campaigns To Extend Train Services For Melton Borough

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the Melton Times.

This is the introductory sub-title.

A campaign has been launched by the Melton’s MP to improve services passing and operating from the town station and the one at Bottesford.

Alicia Kearns has submitted two bids to the Restoring Your Railway Fund.

I’ll now look at the two proposals in more detail.

More Regular Services To Bottesford

Wikipedia says this about services at Bottesford station.

  • The service is generally every two hours to Nottingham in the West and Skegness in the East.
  • Some trains call at Grantham and give connection to the East Coast Main Line.
  • LNER services at Grantham connect to Doncaster, King’s Cross, Leeds, Lincoln, Peterborough, Stevenage, Wakefield and York.
  • Bottesford is in the Borough of Melton and their is no direct rail service between Bottesford and Melton. A typical journey takes over two-and-a-half hours with two changes, that can include a wait of an hour at Leicester station.
  • Bottesford is in the County of Leicester. There is no direct rail service between Bottesford and Leicester.

I think the MP has a point and an improved and more frequent service at Bottesford could be very beneficial.

  • Many routes like this in the UK have an hourly service and I suspect many communities along the Poacher Line would benefit from this frequency.
  • All services calling at Grantham for East Coast Main Line services would be useful.
  • Do services have a good interchange at Nottingham for Midland Main Line services?

It looks like improvements at Bottesford wouldn’t require any new expensive infrastructure, but they would need more trains.

More Services Through Melton

Wikipedia says this about services at Melton station.

  • There is an hourly off-peak service in both directions between Stansted Airport and Birmingham, that calls at Cambridge, Peterborough, Oakham and Leicester.
  • East Midlands Railway and their predescessor have added services to London via Corby and to Derby and East Midlands Parkway.

When you consider, that both Bottesford and Melton Mowbray are the same Council and Parliamentary constituency, it does seem that a more direct train service is needed between Bottesford and Melton stations.

It does seem to me that some innovative thinking is needed.

If the current plans to fulfil British Rail’s ambition of an Ivanhoe Line running from Lincoln to Burton-on-Trent via Nottingham, East Midlands Parkway, Loughborough and Leicester, are carried out, that will give important towns to the West of Leicester much better rail connections.

Given that High Speed Two is coming to East Midlands Hub station at Toton and there will be a Bedford and Leeds service run by Midlands Connect using High Speed Two classic-compatible trains, that I wrote about in Classic-Compatible High Speed Two Trains At East Midlands Hub Station, I wonder if in the interim, there should be more trains between Derby and Melton.

  • Intermediate stations would be Syston, Sileby, Barrow-upon-Soar, Loughborough, East Midlands Parkway Long Eaton and Spondon.
  • An hourly frequency would double the service frquency at smaller stations like Sileby and Barrow-upon-Soar.
  • The Southern terminal could be Melton station, but I feel Corby or Peterborough stations would be better, as this would improve services at Oakham station. We should not forget Rutland.
  • As Corby will be an electrified two-platform station with a two trains per hour (tph) service to London, this could work quite well as a Southern terminus.
  • Peterborough would have advantages and give a good connection to Cambridge, London and Scotland, but improvements to the current Birmingham and Stansted Airport service would have similar effects.

This route would be just as valuable after High Speed Two opens through the East Midlands Hub station, as it will give fast ongoing connections to Birmingham, Leeds, Newcastle and York.

Electrification Of The Midland Main Line

I feel strongly, that full electrification of the Midland Main Line could be a step to far.

  • Electrification, through Leicester station will mean a complete closure of the station for a couple of years.
  • Electrification of the route North of Derby, through the Derwent Valley Mills, which is a World Heritage Site, will be opposed by the Heritage Taliban with all their might.

But.

  • Electrification of the route between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield via Chesterfield will take place in conjunction with High Speed Two
  • Electrification to Market Harborough, which is sixteen miles South of Leicester will happen.
  • East Midlands Railway’s new Class 810 trains could be fitted with a battery option giving a range of between 55 and 65 miles.
  • Pantographs on this trains can go up and down with all the alacrity of a whore’s drawers.

If the easier section of electrification between Leicester and Derby stations, were to be erected, this would enable the following routes to be run using battery=equipped Class 810 trains.

  • London and Derby, where battery power would be used through Leicester.
  • London and Nottingham, where battery power would be used through Leicester and between East Midlands Parkway and Nottingham.
  • London and Sheffield, where battery power would be used through Leicester and between Derby and Clay Cross North Junction.
  • Lincoln and Burton-on-Trent, where battery power would be used South of Leicester and North of East Midlands Parkway.
  • Derby and Corby, where battery power would be used between Syston and Corby.

There would also be the service between Derby and Norwich, which might be able to be run by a similar train.

Conclusion

The MP’s plan is worth pursuing.

June 24, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments