The Anonymous Widower

Shapps Supports Beeching Axe Reversals

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps says he supports the reopening of routes closed in the Beeching cuts of the 1960s.

In the article, which describes proceedings in the House of Commons, Grant Shapps, says he was very supportive of opening the Market Harborough Line.

Digging around the Internet, I found this article on the Harborough Mail, which is entitled Harborough Rail Group Says Plan To Reopen Historic Line Is A ‘Excellent Idea’.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Moves to reopen the historic Market Harborough-Northampton railway line are being backed by a local rail passengers’ chief.

The Market Harborough-Northampton Line was only finally closed in 1981.

  • It used to connect the two stations with a double-track railway.
  • It is about fourteen miles long.
  • It is now partly a heritage railway and a walking and cycling route called the Brampton Valley Way.

I have flown my virtual helicopter along the route and can make these observations.

  • There is space for a bay platform at Market Harborough station.
  • Once clear of Market Hrborough, the route appears to be across open countryside.
  • The connection to the Northampton Loop Line wouldn’t be too difficult.

The only problem, I can see is that the route into Market Harborough station could be tricky.

These are a few of my thoughts.

What Passenger Service Would Be Provided?

Consider.

  • The route could certainly handle an hourly shuttle, as does the nearby Marston Vale Line.
  • Northampton station currently has three trains per hour (tph) to and from London.
  • Timings between Northampton and Market Harborough stations would probably be around twenty minutes.
  • Fast services between Northampton and Euston take about an hour.
  • Four tph between Northampton and London would probably be desirable.

So could a fourth service to and from London, be extended to Market Harborough station? Or perhaps even Leicester, which already has a platform, where the trains could be turned back?

  • I estimate that with a ten minute turnround at Market Harborough, a three hour round trip would be possible and very convenient.
  • A single track between Northampton and Market Harborough station would be enough.
  • The fourteen miles between the two stations could be handled by a battery-electric train, as there will be electrification at both ends of the route.
  • Porterbrook are developing a battery-electric Class 350 train.

It looks to be a very sensible proposition.

This map clipped from Wikipedia, shows the rail line between Milton Keynes Central and Northampton stations.

It is planned to introduce, a service between Marylebone and Milton Keynes Central using the tracks of the East West Rail Link.

  • It could be run by East West Rail or Chiltern.
  • It might be an easier service to operate as trains wouldn’t need to be turned back at Milton Keynes Central station.
  • It might be a better financial option, if services were to be extended to Northampton and Market Harborough.

As the East West Rail Link is being built by a private company, do they have plans to create services between say Leicester and Oxford?

Could Freight Trains Use The  Northampton And Market Harborough Line?

Consider.

  • A large rail freight interchange is being developed close to East Midlands Airport.
  • The East West Rail Link will be a better route between Southampton Docks and the West Coast Main Line, than the current roundabout routes.
  • Multimodal trains need to travel between the East Midlands and Sheffield and Southampton Docks.
  • Stone trains need to travel between the North Midlands and West London.

If the  Northampton and Market Harborough Line were to be reopened, it would provide a convenient freight route between the Midland Main Line and the Great Western Main Line.

Would the The Northampton And Market Harborough Line Be Electrified?

Consider.

  • It joins the electrified Midland Main Line at Market Harborough station.
  • It joins the electrified Northampton Loop Line at Northampton station.
  • It is only fourteen miles long.
  • Most trains should be able to bridge use the line on battery power.
  • It will be a new well-surveyed railway, which is easier to electrify.

I suspect, whether the line is electrified will be more down to planning issues.

Would the The Northampton And Market Harborough Line Be Double Track?

The line was double-track when it closed and I think that only planning issues will stop it being reopened as a double track.

Is the Opening Of The Northampton And Market Harborough Line Being Driven By The East West Rail Link?

This is a paragraph from the Rail Magazine article.

Asked by Andrew Lewer (Con) at Transport Questions on October 24 whether he would elaborate on plans to open the proposed Market Harborough line as part of the Oxford to Cambridge expressway he said: “I understand that the reopening is at a formative stage, but I am very supportive of it. Indeed, I support the reopening of many of the smaller lines that were closed as a result of the Beeching cuts under a Labour Government, and I should like to see as many reopened as possible.”

Does that mean that The East West Rail Link is driving this project?

Conclusion

Reopening of the Northampton and Market Harborough Line  could be a nice little earner for the East West Rail Link.

  • Freight trains between Southampton Docks and the Midlands and Yorkshire.
  • Stone trains between the North Midlands and London.
  • Passenger trains between Marylebone and Market Harborough and/or Leicester.
  • Passenger trains between Oxford and/or Reading and Market Harborough and/or Leicester.

These sections could be electrified.

  • Basingstoke and Reading
  • Didcot Packway and Oxford
  • Oxford and Milton Keynes
  • Northampton and Market Harborough

Much of the abandoned Electric Spine would have been created.

 

 

October 29, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Rumours Grow Over Future Of HS2

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

This is the first paragraph.

The future of HS2 appears to be increasingly in doubt, as reports suggest that the forthcoming Oakervee Review will axe Phase 2b between the West Midlands and Yorkshire and possibly cancel the project entirely.

The article also says this about the first phase of the project.

Another possibility is that Phase 1 between London and Birmingham could be built more cheaply by lowering the maximum speed from the presently-planned 250km/h. Such a reduction would reduce the new line’s capacity and lengthen journey times but still ease the pressure on the West Coast Main Line, where paths are in short supply.

There are three suggestions in these two paragraphs and before I discuss them, I’ll detail the various phases of the project as they are current proposed.

The Phases Of High Speed Two

High Speed Two will be two phases with the second phase split into two.

  • Phase 1 – London and the West Midlands
  • Phase 2a – West Midlands and Crewe
  • Phase 2b – Crewe and Manchester and West Midlands and Leeds

The plan improves links between London and several major cities in the Midlands and North.

Northern Powerhouse Rail

I am a great believer in holistic design and in the economies of doing several similar projects together or in a well-defined sequence, that delivers benefits in a stream.

For that reason, I believe that the equally-important Northern Powerhouse Rail should be designed in conjunction with High Speed Two, to achieve the following objectives.

  • A better railway, that connects more towns and cities.
  • A phased delivery of benefits.
  • Possible cost savings.

This report on the Transport for the North web site which is entitled At A Glance – Northern Powerhouse Rail, advocates a much better approach.

  • High Speed Two would go from Crewe to Hull via Warrington, Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly, Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds.
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail would go from Liverpool to Hull via Warrington, Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly, Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds.
  • There would be a double junction at High Legh between Liverpool and Manchester, that connects the two routes.
  • London and Liverpool services would use the Western end of Northern Powerhouse Rail from High Legh.
  • There would be improvements East of Leeds to connect to Sheffield and the East Coast Main Line.

This map shows the high speed railways between Crewe, Liverpool, Manchester and Warrington.

I discussed, what has been proposed by Transport of the North in Changes Signalled For HS2 Route In North.

Cutting High Speed Two To An Affordable Budget

I’ll take the three suggestions in the Rail News article.

Suggestion One – Cancel The Project

This is actually the second suggestion, but I think the article kills it in the second paragraph, that I quoted, when it says that High Speed Two is needed to ease pressure on the West Coast Main Line.

Cancellation would probably be a vote loser and a big stick with which to beat Boris, if he brought forward any environmental proposals.

I doubt cancellation will happen, unless we get someone like Nigel Farage as Prime Minister.

Suggestion Two – Cancel Phase 2b Between The West Midlands And Yorkshire

This clip of a map from the Transport for the North report shows a schematic of the rail links to the East of Manchester.

Northern Powerhouse Rail would offer a lot of improvements, which are shown in purple.

There are also these projects that will improve trains to and from Yorkshire.

  • Northern Powerhouse Rail between Liverpool and Hull via Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly, Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds.
  • A possible connection between Northern Powerhouse Rail and High Speed Two at High Legh.
  • Midland Main Line upgrade with 125 mph bi-mode trains between London and Sheffield.
  • 140 mph running on the East Coast Main Line between London and Doncaster and onward to Bradford, Hull, Leeds and York.

I’ll add a few more flesh to the points.

High Speed Two To Hull

If High Speed Two connects to Northern Powerhouse Rail at High Legh it will join everything together.

  • High Speed Two trains would run between London and Hull via Birmingham, Crewe, Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly, Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds.
  • Very expensive infrastructure would be shared between High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail.
  • Leeds and Manchester would be just twenty minutes apart, with trains from both lines on the same tracks.
  • Hull station has the space to handle the trains.

Combining the two routes should save billions.

Midland Main Line To Sheffield, Rotherham, Barnsley, Wakefield And Leeds

This is already ptoposed for the Midland Main Line.

  • New stations will be built at Rotherham and Barnsley.
  • Four fast trains per hour between Sheffield and Leeds can be delivered.
  • 125 mph bi-mode trains to Yorkshire via the East Midlands.

But what about the following?

  • Could the Erewash Valley Line be used instead of a new High Speed Two line between the East Midlands and Sheffield?
  • Could the Midland Main Line be electrified and upgraded to 140 mph running like the East Coast Main Line?

Similar connectivity to that of High Speed Two can be created at a lower cost.

Cancellation of the Eastern Leg of Phase 2b would mean there would be no improved link between the West and East Midlands.

Perhaps, the Eastern leg of High Speed Two, would run only to the proposed East Midlands Hub station at Toton.

Increasing Capacity On The East Coast Main Line

In Thoughts On A 140 mph East Coast Main Line Between London And Doncaster, I did a crude calculation to see how many extra trains could be run between London and Doncaster on a digitally signalled 140 mph East Coast Main Line.

This was my conclusion.

If something similar to what I have proposed is possible, it looks like as many as an extra seven tph can be accommodated between Kings Cross and the North.

That is certainly worth having.

Extra trains could be run between Kings Cross and Bradford, Hull, Leeds, Nottingham and Sheffield.

Estimated timings would be eighty minutes to Doncaster and under two hours to Leeds.

Suggestion Three – Reduce Speed In Phase 1

There is always a tendency for project promoters to make sure their project is the biggest and the best.

There will be an optimum speed for a London and Birmingham high speed line, which balances benefits, costs, noise and disturbance. One politician’s optimum will also be very different to another’s.

Such parameters like operating speed and capacity must be chosen with care.

Conclusion

I believe, that we need the capacity of both High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail  to move passengers and freight.

So we should design them together and with other improvements like the Midland Main Line and the East Coast Main Line.

 

 

October 13, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 1 Comment

HS2 Railway To Be Delayed By Up To Five Years

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

These first few paragraphs indicate the current situation.

The first phase of the HS2 high-speed railway between London and Birmingham will be delayed by up to five years, Transport Minister Grant Shapps says.

That section of the line was due to open at the end of 2026, but it could now be between 2028 and 2031 before the first trains run on the route.

HS2’s total cost has also risen from £62bn to between £81bn and £88bn, but Mr Shapps said he was keeping an “open mind” about the project’s future.

The second phase has also been delayed.

What are the short term consequences of this delay in the building of High Speed Two?

  • No Capacity Increase Between London And Birmingham., until three or five years later.
  • Capacity increases to Glasgow, Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham and Preston will probably be five years or more later.

Are there any other things we can do to in the meantime to make the shortfall less damaging to the economy?

East Coast Main Line

Much of the East Coast Main Line (ECML) has been designed for 140 mph running. Wikipedia puts it like this..

Most of the length of the ECML is capable of 140 mph subject to certain infrastructure upgrades.

Wikipedia also says that Greengauge 21 believe that Newcastle and London timings using the shorter route could be comparable to those using HS2.

Track And Signalling Improvements

There are a number of improvements that can be applied to the ECML, with those at the Southern end summed up by this paragraph from Wikipedia.

Increasing maximum speeds on the fast lines between Woolmer Green and Dalton-on-Tees up to 140 mph (225 km/h) in conjunction with the introduction of the Intercity Express Programme, level crossing closures, ETRMS fitments, OLE rewiring and the OLE PSU – est. to cost £1.3 billion (2014). This project is referred to as “L2E4” or London to Edinburgh (in) 4 Hours. L2E4 examined the operation of the IEP at 140 mph on the ECML and the sections of track which can be upgraded to permit this, together with the engineering and operational costs.

Currently, services between London and Edinburgh take between twenty and forty minutes over four hours.

Who would complain if some or even all services took four hours?

To help the four hour target to be achieved Network Rail are also doing the following.

  • Building the Werrington Dive-under.
  • Remodelling the station throat at Kings Cross.
  • Adding extra tracks between Huntingdon and Woodwalton.
  • Devising a solution for the flat junction at Newark.

Every little helps and all these improvements will allow faster and extra services along the ECML.

Obviously, running between London and Edinburgh in four hours has implications for other services.

In Changes Signalled For HS2 Route In North, I said this.

Currently, the fastest non-stop trains between London and Doncaster take a few minutes over ninety minutes. With 140 mph trains, I think the following times are easily possible.

  • London and Doncaster – 80 minutes
  • London and Hull  – A few minutes over two hours, running via Selby.
  • London and Leeds – A few minutes less than two hours, running on the Classic route.

For comparison High Speed Two is quoting 81 minutes for London Euston and Leeds, via Birmingham and East Midlands Hub.

I suspect that North of Doncaster, improving timings will be more difficult, due to the slower nature of the route, but as services will go between Edinburgh and London in four hours, there must be some improvements to be made.

  • Newcastle – Current time is 170 minutes, with High Speed Two predicting 137 minutes. My best estimate shows that on an improved ECML, times of under 150 minutes should be possible.
  • York – Current time is 111 minutes, with High Speed Two predicting 84 minutes. Based on the Newcastle time, something around 100 minutes should be possible.

In Wikipedia,  Greengauge 21 are quoted as saying.

Upgrading the East Coast Main Line to 140 mph operation as a high priority alongside HS2 and to be delivered without delay. Newcastle London timings across a shorter route could closely match those achievable by HS2.

My estimate shows a gap of thirteen minutes, but they have better data than I can find on the Internet.

Filling Electrification Gaps East Of Leeds And Between Doncaster And Sheffield

In Changes Signalled For HS2 Route In North, I said this.

These are the lines East of Leeds.

  • A connection to the East Coast Main Line for York, Newcastle and Edinburgh.
  • An extension Eastwards to Hull.

These would not be the most expensive sub-project, but they would give the following benefits, when they are upgraded.

  • Electric trains between Hull and Leeds.
  • Electric trains between Hull and London.
  • Electric access to Neville Hill Depot from York and the North.
  • An electric diversion route for the East Coast Main Line between York and Doncaster.
  • The ability to run electric trains between London and Newcastle/Edinburgh via Leeds.

Hull and Humberside will be big beneficiaries.

In addition, the direct route between Doncaster and Sheffield should be electrified.

This would allow the following.

  • LNER expresses to run on electricity between London and Sheffield, if they were allowed to run the route.
  • Sheffield’s tram-trains could reach Doncaster and Doncaster Sheffield Airport.

A collateral benefit would be that it would bring 25 KVAC power to Sheffield station.

Better Use Of Trains

LNER are working the trains harder and will be splitting and joining trains, so that only full length trains run into Kings Cross, which will improve capacity..

Capacity might also be increased, if Cambridge, Kings Lynn and Peterborough services were run with 125 mph or even 140 mph trains. GWR is already doing this, to improve efficiency between Paddington and Reading.

Faster Freight Trains

Rail Operations Group has ordered Class 93 locomotives, which are hybrid and capable of hauling some freight trains at 110 mph.

Used creatively, these might create more capacity on the ECML.

Could the East Coast Main Line be the line that keeps on giving?

Especially in the area of providing faster services to Lincoln, Hull, Leeds, Huddersfield,Bradford Newcastle and Edinburgh.

Conclusion On East Coast Main Line

There is a lot of scope to create a high capacity, 140 mph line between London and Edinburgh.

An Upgraded Midland Main Line

Plans already exist to run 125 mph bi-mode Hitachi trains on the Midland Main Line between London and Leicester, Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield.

But could more be done in the short term on this line.

Electrification Between Clay Cross North Junction And Sheffield

This 15.5 mile section of the Midland Main Line will be shared with High Speed Two.

It should be upgraded to High Speed Two standard as soon as possible.

This would surely save a few minutes between London and Sheffield.

140 mph Running

The Hitachi bi-modes are capable of 140 mph,  if the signalling is digital and in-cab.

Digital signalling is used by the Class 700 trains running on Thameslink, so would there be time savings to be made by installing digital signalling on the Midland Main Line, especially as it would allow 140 mph running, if the track was fast enough.

Extension From Sheffield To Leeds Via New Stations At Rotherham And Barnsley

Sheffield and Transport for the North are both keen on this project and it would have the following benefits.

  • Rotherham and Barnsley get direct trains to and from London.
  • A fast service with a frequency of four trains per hour (tph) could run between Leeds and Sheffield in a time of twenty-eight minutes.

This extension will probably go ahead in all circumstances.

Use Of The Erewash Valley Line

The Erewash Valley Line is a route, that connects the Midland Main Line to Chesterfield and Sheffield, by bypassing Derby.

It has recently been upgraded and from my helicopter, it looks that it could be faster than the normal route through Derby and the World Heritage Site of the Derwent Valley Mills.

The World Heritage Site would probably make electrification of the Derby route difficult, but could some Sheffield services use the relatively straight Erewash Valley Line to save time?

Faster Services Between London And Sheffield

When East Midlands Railway receive their new Hitachi bi-mode trains, will the company do what their sister company; Greater Anglia is doing on the London and Norwich route and increase the number of hourly services from two to three?

If that is done, would the third service be a faster one going at speed, along the Erewash Valley Line?

I suspect that it could have a timing of several minutes under two hours.

Conclusion On An Upgraded Midland Main Line

There are various improvements and strategies, that can be employed to turn the Midland Main Line into a High Speed Line serving Leicester, Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield.

West Coast Main Line

The West Coast Main Line is not such a fruitful line for improvement, as is the East Coast Main Line.

Digital signalling, 140 mph running and faster freight trains, may allow a few more trains to be squeezed into the busy main line.

Increasing Capacity Between London and Birmingham New Street

I’ve seen increased capacity between London and Birmingham quoted as one of the reasons for the building of High Speed Two.

Currently, both Virgin Trains and West Midlands Trains, have three tph between London and Birmingham New Street.

  • This is probably not enough capacity.
  • The line between Birmingham New Street and Coventry stations is probably at capacity.

These points probably mean more paths between London and Birmingham are needed.

High Speed Two is planned to provide the following services between London and Birmingham after Phase 2 opens.

  • Three tph – London and Birmingham Curzon Street stations via Old Oak Common and Birmingham Interchange (2 tph)
  • Fourteen tph – London and Birmingham Interchange via Old Oak Common.

That is a massive amount of extra capacity between London and Birmingham.

  • It might be possible to squeeze another train into each hour.
  • Trains could be lengthened.
  • Does Birmingham New Street station have the capacity?

But it doesn’t look like the West Coast Main Line can provide much extra capacity between London and Birmingham.

Increasing Capacity Between London and Liverpool Lime Street

Over the last couple of years, Liverpool Lime Street station has been remodelled and the station will now be able to handle two tph from London, when the timetable is updated in a year or so.

Digital signalling of the West Coast Main Line would help.

Increasing Capacity Between London and Manchester Piccadilly

Manchester Piccadilly station uses two platforms for three Virgin Trains services per hour to and from London.

These platforms could both handle two tph, so the station itself is no barrier to four tph between London and Manchester.

Paths South to London could be a problem, but installing digital signalling on the West Coast Main Line would help.

Conclusion On The West Coast Main Line

Other improvements may be needed, but the major update of the West Coast Main Line, that would help, would be to use digital signalling to squeeze more capacity out of the route.

The Chiltern Main Line

Could the Chiltern Main Line be used to increase capacity between London and Birmingham?

Currently, there are hourly trains between Birmingham Moor Street and Snow Hill stations and London.

As each train has about 420 seats, compared to the proposed 1,100 of the High Speed Two trains, the capacity is fairly small.

Increasing capacity on the route is probably fairly difficult.

Digital Signalling

This could be used to create more paths and allow more trains to run between London and Bitmingham.

Electrification

The route is not electrified, but electrifying the 112 mile route would cause massive disruption.

Capacity At Marylebone Station

Marylebone station probably doesn’t have the capacity for more rains.

Conclusion On The Chiltern Main Line

I don’t think that there is much extra capacity available on the Chiltern Main Line between London and Birmingham.

Conclusion

I have looked at the four main routes that could help make up the shortfall caused by the delay to High Speed Two.

  • Planned improvements to the East Coast Main Line could provide valuable extra capacity to Leeds and East Yorkshire.
  • The Midland Main Line will increase capacity to the East Midlands and South Yorkshire, when it gets new trains in a couple of years.
  • Planned improvements to the West Coast Main Line could provide valuable extra capacity to North West England.
  • The Chiltern Main Line probably has little place to play.

As Birmingham has been planning for High Speed Two to open in 2026, some drastic rethinking must be done to ensure that London and Birmingham have enough rail capacity from that date.

 

 

 

September 4, 2019 Posted by | Transport, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are Class 360 Trains Suitable For St. Pancras And Corby?

It appears that East Midlands Railway will be using Class 360 trains on the route between St. Pancras and Corby stations running them under the branch name of EMR Electrics.

The London And St. Pancras Route

The route has the following characteristics.

  • It is just short of 80 miles long.
  • The current Class 222 trains take one hour and fifteen minutes for the journey.
  • This means these trains have a start to stop average at 64 mph.
  • Much of the route is cleared for 125 mph running.
  • The route is being made a complete double track.
  • The whole route is being electrified with 25 KVAC overhead wires.

In December 2020, the route will host a new electric service.

East Midlands Railway’s Train Specification For The Route

This page on the Department for Transport web site is an interactive map of the Abellio’s promises for East Midlands Railway.

These features are mentioned for Midland Main Line services to Corby.

  • Increased capacity
  • Twelve-car trains in the Peak.
  • More reliable service
  • Improved comfort
  • Passenger information system
  • Free on-board Wi-Fi
  • At-seat power sockets
  • USB points
  • Air conditioning
  • Tables at all seats
  • Increased luggage space
  • On-board cycle storage

What more could passengers want?

How Well Do Class 360 Trains Fit The Specification?

These are a few pictures of a Class 360 train, which I took today.

Some problems and strengths are immediately obvious.

  • There are no tables.
  • Will two+three seating e acceptable, considering that the current trains on the route have two+two seating.
  • There is no space for bicycles.
  • There are no luggage racks, which will be needed as the Corby service will also double as a service to Luton Airport.
  • The trains are in reasonably good condition.
  • There ia a fully-accessible toilet.

A lot of work will need to be done to update the interior of the trains to a standard, that fits East Midland Railway’s specification and their customers expectations.

But there is a full twelve months before the trains will be needed to run on the newly electrified route between St. Pancras and Corby stations.

This may seem enough time, but many current train refurbishment projects are running late.

Is The Performance Of Class 360 Trains Good Enough?

The current Class 222 trains have the following performance.

  • 125 mph maximum speed.
  • An acceleration rate of 0.80 m/sec/sec

By comparison the Class 360 trains have the following performance.

  • 100 mph maximum speed.
  • An acceleration rate of 0.98 m/sec/sec.

Given that much of the route between St. Pancras and Corby stastions will be constructed for 125 mph running, will the top speed of the Class 360 trains be high enough?

Will The Class 360 Trains And The Hitachi AT-300 Bi-Modes Be Compatible?

East Midlands Railway has ordered thirty-three AT-300 bi-modes, which will be able to run at 125 mph on the fully-electrified Midland Main Line to the South of Market Hsrborough station.

As thetwo trains will share the fast lines, with the Class 360 trains, will there be conflicts, as the Class 360 trains are only capable of 100 mph?

Ideally, the Class 360 trains should be upgraded to their highest speed possible.

Some of similar Class 350 trains are capable of 110 mph.

This could be enough, but surely for ease of operation, all of East Midlands Railway’s services into St. Pancras should be run by trains capable of running at 125 mph.

Will The Class 360 Trains Need Digital Signalling?

The Hitachi AT-300 trains will probably be able to run using digital signalling, which could be a valuable way of creating more paths on the Midland Main Line.

So will the Class 3560 trains be fitted with digital signalling?

Conclusion

In my view there is a lot of upgrade work to be done to the Class 360 trains to make them suitable for working on the services between St. Pancras and Corby.

  • They need a new upgraded interior.
  • The trains need upgrading to at least 110 mph.
  • A possible upgrading with digital signalling.

I can’t help feeling that the Class 360 trains would make a good stop-gap, but in the long-term it might be better to have a small fleet of electric trains.

Electric AT-300 trains must be one of the favourites, although Class 745 trains, similar to those that Abellio will run between Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport, would do nicely.

 

August 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Bombardier Doesn’t Seem Too Disappointed On Missing Out On The Abellio East Midlands Railway Order

This article on the Derby Telegraph is entitled Derby’s Bombardier Misses Out On Big Contract To Supply Trains For The East Midlands.

This is two paragraphs from the article.

In a statement, Bombardier said: “Bombardier is clearly disappointed that we have not been selected to supply bi-mode trains for the East Midlands franchise.

“We believe we submitted a competitive bid – on technology, strength of product, deliverability and cost, and will seek formal feedback from Abellio.”

There certainly hasn’t been any published threat of legal action.

The Abellio East Midlands Railway Order From Hitachi.

The order placed was as follows.

Thirty-three five-car AT-300 trains.

  • 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • Four cars have underfloor diesel-engines.
  • 125 mph running.
  • 24 metre cars.
  • Ability to work in pairs.
  • Evolution of a Class 802 train.
  • A new nose.

It is a £400 million order.

No Trains For Corby

In How Will Abellio East Midlands Railway Maximise Capacity On The Midland Main Line?, I calculated that the current timetable to Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield would need thirty-two trains.

So thirty-three trains would only be enough trains for the bi-mode services to the three Northern termini.

So it looks like Hitachi are not providing any trains for the Corby services! Surely, to have a compatible fleet from one manufacturer would be of an advantage to Abellio East Midlands Railway.

An Ideal Fleet For Corby

Trains between London and Corby take around 70-75 minutes, with a round trip taking three hours.

This means that to run a one train per hour (tph) service to Corby needs three trains and a two tph service will need six trains.

As trains go wrong and also need servicing, I would add at least one spare train, but two is probably preferable.

It would have the following characteristics.

  • All electric.
  • 125 mph running, as they will need to keep out of the way of the Hitachi bi-modes.
  • 240 metres long.
  • A passenger-friendly interior, with loys of tables.
  • Energy efficient

If the last point s to be met, I and many other engineers believe that to save energy, trains must have regenerative braking to batteries on the train.

In Kinetic Energy Of A Five-Car Class 801 Train, I calculated that the kinetic energy of a Class 801 train, with every seat taken was 104.2 kWh

This calculation was performed for a half-length train, so a full electric train for London and Corby would have a kinetic energy of 208.4 kWh, if it was similar to one of Hitachi’s Class 801 train.

The reason the kinetic energy of a train is important, is teat if a train brakes from full speed and has batteries to handle the energy generated by regenerative braking, the batteries must be big enough to handle all the energy.

So a ten-car train similar in capacity and weight to a Class 801 train would need batteries capable of handling 208.4 kWh.

I’ll give a simple example.

A train similar to a Class 801, is full and running using electrification at 125 mph. It is approaching a station, where it will stop.

  • The train’s computer knows the mass and velocity of the train at all times and hence the kinetic energy can be calculated.
  • The train’s computer will constantly manage the train’s electricity supply, so that the batteries always have sufficient capacity to store any energy generated by braking.
  • As the train brakes, the energy generated will be stored in the batteries.
  • As the train moves away from the station, the train’s computer will use energy from the overhead electrification or batteries to accelerate the train.

Energy will constantly be recycled between the traction motors and the batteries.

I don’t know what battery capacity would be needed, but in my experience, perhaps between 300-400 kWh would be enough.

Any better figures, gratefully accepted.

When you consider that the battery in a Tesla car is around 60-70 kWh, I don’t think, there’ll be too much trouble putting enough battery power underneath a ten-car train.

Onward To Melton Mowbray

This page on the Department for Transport web site is an interactive map of the Abellio’s promises for East Midlands Railway.

These are mentioned for services to Oakham and Melton Mowbray.

  • After electrification of the Corby route there will continue to be direct service each way between London and Oakham and Melton Mowbray once each weekday, via Corby.
  • This will be operated with brand new 125mph trains when these are introduced from April 2022.

This seems to be a very acceptable minimum position.

Surely, in a real world driven by marketing and finance and more and more passengers wanting to travel regularly by train to places like London, Luton Airport and Leicester, there will come a time, when an hourly service on this route is needed.

Could a Corby service be extended to Melton Mowbray using battery power, at perhaps a slower speed of 90 mph?

Accelerating away from Corby, the train would need 108 kWh of energy to get to 90 mph with a full train.

  • There would be a continuation of the electrification for perhaps a couple of hundred metres after Corby station.
  • The train would probably leave Corby with a full battery, which would have been charged on the journey from London.

Once at cruising speed, the train would need energy to maintain line speed and provide hotel power.

In How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 mph?, I calculated the figure for some high-speed trains.

This was my conclusion.

In future for the energy use of a train running at 125 mph, I shall use a figure of three kWh per vehicle mile.

So I will use that figure, although I suspect the real figure could be lower.

I will also assume.

  • Corby to Melton Mowbray is 26.8 miles.
  • It’s a ten-car train.
  • Regenerative braking is seventy percent efficient.
  • The train is running at 90 mph, between Cotby and Melton Mowbray, with an energy of 108 kWh

Energy use on a round trip between Corby and Melton Mowbray, would be as follows.

  • Accelerating at Corby – 108 kWh – Electrification
  • Stop at Oakham – 32.4 kWh – Battery
  • Corby to Melton Mowbray – 804 kWh – Battery
  • Stop at Melton Mowbray – 32.4 kWh – Battery
  • Stop at Oakham – 32.4 kWh – Battery
  • Melton Mowbray to Corby – 804 kWh – Battery

This gives a total of 1705.2 kWh

The battery energy need gets a lot more relaxed, if there is a charging station at Melton Mowbray, as the train will start the return journey with a full battery.

Energy use from Corby to Melton Mowbray would be as follows.

  • Accelerating at Corby – 108 kWh – Electrification
  • Stop at Oakham – 32.4 kWh – Battery
  • Corby to Melton Mowbray – 804 kWh – Battery

This gives a total of 836.4 kWh.

Energy use from Melton Mowbray to Corby would be as follows.

  • Accelerating at Melton Mowbray- 108 kWh – Battery
  • Stop at Oakham – 32.4 kWh – Battery
  • Melton Mowbray to Corby – 804 kWh – Battery

This gives a total of 944.4 kWh.

The intriguing fact, is that if you needed a train to go out and back from Corby to Melton Mowbray, it needs a battery twice the size of one needed, if you can charge the train at Melton Mowbray., during the stop of several minutes.

Charging The Train

This page on the Furrer and Frey web site, shows a charging station..

It might also be possible to erect a short length of 25 KVAC overhead electrification. This would also help in accelerating the train to line speed.

This Google Map shows Melton Mowbray station.

It looks to be a station on a large site with more than adequate car parking and I suspect building a bay platform with charging facilities would not be the most difficult of projects.

More Efficient Trains

I also think that with good design electricity use can be reduced from my figure of 3 kWh per vehicle mile and the regenerative braking efficiency can be increased.

Obviously, the more efficient the train, the greater the range for a given size of battery.

Onward To Leicester

If the train service can be extended  by the 26.8 miles between Corby and Melton Mowbray, I wonder if the electric service can be extended to Leicester.

Under current plans the Northern end of the electrification will be Market Harborough.

In Market Harborough Station – 11th July 2019, I wrote about the station after a visit. In my visit, I notices there were a lot of croaaovers to the North of the station.

As it was a new track alignment, I suspect that they were new.

So is it the interntion to turnback services at Market Harborough or are the crossovers preparation for links to stabling sidings?

It got me asking if battery-electric trains could reach Leicester.

  • Leicester and Market Harborough are only fourteen miles apart.
  • There are no stops in between.
  • Using my three kwH per vehicle mile, this would mean that a ten car train would use 420 kWh between the two stations at 125 mph.

I certainly believe that a Northbound train passing Market Harborough with fully-charged batteries could reach Leicester, if it had an adequate battery of perhaps 700 kWh.

As at Melton Mowbray, there would probably need to be a charging station at Leicester.

The picture shows the station from the Northern bridge.

The platforms shown are the two main lines used by most trains. On the outside are two further lines and one or both could be fitted with a charging station, if that were necessary.

An Example Electric Service Between London And Leicester

If they so wanted, Abellio East Midlands Railway could run 125 mph battery-electric services between London and Leicester.

The Current Timings

The fastest rains go North in around 66-67 minutes and come South in seventy.

So a round trip would take around two and a half hours.

Five trains would be needed for a half-hourly service.

I feel it would be very feasible, if Abellio East Midlands Railway wanted to increase services between London and Leicester, then this could be done with a fleet of zero-carbon battery-electric trains, using battery power between Leicester and Market Harborough.

A Non-Stop London And Leicester Service

I wonder what would be the possible time for an electric express running non-stop between London and Leicester.

  • Currently, some diesel Class 222 trains are timetabled to achieve sixty-two minutes.
  • Linespeed would be 125 mph for much of the route.
  • There is no reason, why the fourteen mile section without electrification North of Market Harborough couldn’t be run at 1235 mph on battery-power, once the track is upgraded to that speed.
  • iIn the future, modern digital signalling, as used by Thameslink, could be applied to the whole route and higher speeds of up to 140 mph may be possible.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a battery-electric train travelling between London and Leicester in fifty minutes before 2030.

A fifty-minute service would result in a two-hour round trip and need just two trains for a frequency of two tph.

It would surely be a marketing man’s dream.

It should be noted that Abellio has form in this area and have introduced Norwich-in-Ninrty services on the slower London and Norwich route.

London And Leicester Via Corby, Oakham And Melton Mowbray

I have been very conservative in my calculations of battery size.

With real data on the terrain, the track profile, the train energy consumption, regenerative braking performance and the passengers, I do wonder, if it would be possible to run on battery power between Corby and Leicester via Oakham and Melton Mowbray.

  • The distance would be 62 miles on battery power.
  • Trains could serve Syston station.
  • Using times of current services London and Leicester would take two hours fifteen minutes.

I suspect it would be possible, but it would be a slow service.

Would These Services Be An Application For Bombardier’s 125 mph Bi-Mode Aventra With Batteries?

Could Bombardier’s relaxed reaction to not getting the main order, be because they are going to be building some of their proposed 125 mph bi-mode trains with batteries, that will be able to work the following routes?

  • London and Melton Mowbray via Corby and Oakham.
  • London and Leicester via Market Harborough.

But I think that the main emphasis could be on a non-stop high-speed service between London and Leicester.

I have been suspicious that there is more to Bombardier’s proposed train than they have disclosed and wrote Is Bombardier’s 125 mph Bi-Mode Aventra With Batteries, A 125 mph Battery-Electric Aventra With Added Diesel Power To Extend The Range?

Since I wrote that article, my view that Bombardier’s train is a battery-electric one, with diesel power to extend the range, has hardened.

These Midland Main Line trains will run in two separate modes.

  • On the Southern electrified sections, the trains will be 125 mph electric trains using batteries for regenerative braking, energy efficiency and emergency power in the case of overhead line failure..
  • On the Northern sections without electrification,the trains will be battery-electric trains running at the maximum line-speed possible, which will be 125 mph on Leicester services.

There will be an optimum battery size, which will give the train the required performance.

Is there any need for any diesel engines?

Quite frankly! No! As why would you lug something around that you only need for charging the batteries and perhaps overhead supply failure?

  • Batteries would only need to be charged at the Northern end of the routes. So use a chasrging station, if one is needed!
  • Batteries can handle overhead supply failure, automatically.

Who needs bi-modes?

How Big Would The Batteries Need To Be?

A full train would have a kinetic energy of around 200 kWh and I said this about battery capacity for handling the energy from regenerastive braking.

I don’t know what battery capacity would be needed, but in my experience, perhaps between 300-400 kWh would be enough.

Any better figures, gratefully accepted.

To handle Corby to Melton Mowbray and back, I estimated that 1,800 kWh would be needed, but if the train had a top-up at Melton Mowbray a capacity of 1,000 kWh would be sufficient.

Pushed, I would say, that a battery capacity of 2,000 kWh would be sufficient to run both routes without a charging station, at the Northern end.

I also believe the following will happen.

  • Trains will get more efficient and leighter in weight.
  • Batteries will increase their energy density.
  • Charging stations will charge trains faster.
  • Battery costs will fall.

This would mean that larger battery capacities can be achieved without the current weight and cost penalty and the achievable range after the end of the wires will increase.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see ranges of over fifty miles in a few years, which with a charging station at the destination, means battery-electric trains could venture fifty miles from an electrified line.

A few other suggested routes.

  • Ashford and Southampton
  • Birmingham and Stansted Airport
  • Carliswle and Newcastle
  • Doncaster and Peterborough via Lincoln (CS)
  • Edinburgh and Tweedbank (CS)
  • London Euston and Chester
  • London St. Pancras and Hastings
  • London Waterloo and Salisbury (CS)
  • Manchester and Sheffield (CS)
  • Norwich and Nottingham (CS)
  • York and Hull via Scarborough (CS)

Note.

  1. Stations marked (CS) would need a charging station.
  2. Some routes would only need 100 mph trains.

I think that a 125 mph battery train will have a big future.

Conclusion

I have a feeling that Bombardier are right to be not too disappointed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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August 1, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

How Will Abellio East Midlands Railway Maximise Capacity On The Midland Main Line?

In this post, I will try and get a feel to how Abellio East Midlands Railway, will maximise capacity on the Midland Main Line.

The Current Service

There are currently two trains per hour (tph) to both Nottingham and Sheffield and one tph to Corby from London.

Ignoring the Corby service, which will be using electric trains, intermediate calls have these frequencies, from South to North.

  • Bedford – One tph
  • Wellingborough – One tph
  • Kettering – One tph
  • Market Harborough – Two tph
  • Leicester – Four tph
  • Loughborough – Two tph
  • East Midlands Parkway – Two tph
  • Long Eaton – One tph
  • Beeston – One tph
  • Derby – Two tph
  • Chesterfield – Two tph

As the new bi-mode trains will be more modern, with probably shorter dwell times at each station, I suspect that when Abellio East Midlands Railway implement their ultimate timetable, there will be more stops, without degrading journey times.

These are fastest times.

  • London and Nottingham is one hour forty minutes
  • London and Sheffield is two hours

I feel that round trips to both destinations will be four hours with some speed increases and shorter station dwell times.

  • The current two tph to Nottingham and Sheffield needs eight trains to each destination.
  • This is a total of sixteen trains.

As each train could be two five-car trains working as a ten-car train, train numbers for the current service could be as high as thirty-two trains.

A first look seems to indicate that there .will be no overall increase in train frequency, although, as I said earlier, the performance of the new trains should allow extra station stops.

It also indicates to me, that any increases in frequency between London and Nottingham/Sheffield will need extra trains.

The Electrified High Speed Line South Of Kettering

Midland Main Line services South of Kettering are as follows.

  • Two tph to London and Nottingham
  • Two tph between London and Sheffield
  • One tph between London and Corby.

From December 2021, there will be two tph between London and Corby.

The maximum number of services between London and Kettering on the electrified section currently envisaged is only six tph or one train every ten minutes.

As the Class 700 trains on Thameslink are capable of using digital signalling and all the new trains will also be similarly equipped, I wouldn’t be surprised that the theoretical capacity of the electrified fast lines could be higher than the proposed six tph. |Especially, when digital signalling is installed.

The number of trains in the fleet, is much more of a limit on services, than the capacity of the Midland Main Line.

If all trains were ten cars, the following numbers of trains would be needed.

  • Current two tph – 32 trains
  • Increase to three tph – 48 trains
  • Increase to three tph – 64 trains

Are there enough passengers to fill all these trains?

Does St. Pancras Have Enough Capacity?

St. Pancras station has four platforms for Midland Main Line services.

  • The platforms are long enough to take two five-car Class 222 trains,.
  • They would surely accommodate a ten-car formation of the new Hitachi trains.
  • Each platform can probably handle three or four tph, giving a total capacity of 12-16 tph.

As four tph to Nottingham and Sheffield and two tph to Corby is only a total of ten tph, there is enough platform capacity for several years to come.

If there is a problem, it is that the large numbers of passengers would overwhelm the stairs and escalators between the ground level of the station and the platforms.

I am certain, that just like the Eurostar platforms at St. Pancras, the Midland Main Line platforms will need better passenger access and facilities.

Will it even be enough, when up to six tph, all of which could be 240 metres long, start to arrive in December 2021?

What could be done to help solve the capacity problem at St. Pancras station in the future?

Better Access To The Midland Main Line Platforms

Consider.

  • Space is limited to add extra escalators, lifts and places to wait
  • St. Pancras is a Grade I Listed Building.
  • As I don’t travel through the station in the Peak, the escalators seem to always be going the wrong way.

Improving the current access will be very difficult.

This Google Map shows the Northern End of the station.

Note.

  1. The Midland Main Line platforms are the two island platforms on the left.
  2. The Southeastern HighSpeed platforms are the two island platforms on the right.
  3. The Eurostar platforms are the three island platforms in the middle.

Could a second entrance to some of the platforms be built here?

It would be very difficult, unless the extension was future-proofed when it was built.

Underground Improvements

Getting between the Midland Main Line platforms and the Underground is an obstable course.

As a Londoner, who’s had the operation to have the Underground Map implanted in my brain, I generally go to the Midland Main Line platforms at St. Pancras by taking one of the following.

A bus from close to my house to outside the station.

  • A Metropolitan Line train from Moorgate
  • A Northern Line train from Angel.
  • A Piccadilly Line train from Manor House
  • A Victoria Line train from Highbury & Islington

The last four need a bus to get to the Underground.

I usually come back home, by spending just over a tenner on a black cab!

Crossrail 2

Crossrail 2 should improve matters, but will it ever be built?

Will The New Brent Cross Thameslink Station Allow Cross Platform Interchange Between Midland Main Line and Thameslink Services?

Consider.

  • The proposed Brent Cross Thameslink will be just North of Cricklewood station.
  • Midland Main Line services through the station would be six tph.
  • Thameslink services through the station would be fourteen tph
  • The West London Orbital Railway could be built to connect the station to High Speed Two and Heathrow

Would it take the pressure off St. Pancras?

It might do, if a cross-platform interchange could be arranged.

Could Some Midland Main Line Services Use Thameslink?

Consider.

  • The obvious service to go through Thameslink would be the two tph service between Corby and St. Pancras.
  • Thameslink is currently setup to handle 24 tph, but it has been designed for 30 tph.
  • The Corby service will stop at Kettering, Luton and Luton Airport Parkway, to the North of London.
  • It could perhaps terminate at the soon-to-be-rebuilt Gatwick Airport station in the South.

It might work!

Especially, if Kettering station were to be rebuilt to have cross-platform interchange between Corby sewrvices and the bi-mode ones going further North.

Splitting And Joining Trains

In Rock Rail Wins Again!, I gave this simple example of how the splitting and joining capability of Hitachi AT-300 trains can be used.

A ten-car train might leave St. Pancras as two five-car units running as a pair. It could split at East Midlands Parkway station and one train could go to Nottingham and the other to Derby. Coming South the two trains would join at East Midlands Parkway.

I feel that Derby, East Midlands Parkway and Leicester are ideal stations on the Midland Main Line, where services could be split and joined.

  • They have at least four platforms.
  • The platforms are long and straight.

The two terminals at Nottingham and Sheffield could also probably be used to enable services to serve more destinations.

Shorter trains must have advantages on some routes.

  • Capacity is better matched to demand.
  • Platforms may not need to be extended.
  • Services can be run by a driver and a conductor.

Will Abellio East Midlands Railway use splitting and joining to increase the coverage of their services?

Great Western Railway’s Class 800, 801 and 802 trains have the capability to split and join and the operator doesn’t seem to use it. Although, they do split and join Class 387 trains.

Extended Services To And From The North And East

The ability to split and join, that could be used to extend services to the North And East.

Serving Barnsley, South Yorkshire And Leeds

Consider.

I wonder if there are paths and need for a London and Sheffield service to split at Sheffield with, the two five-car trains going to different destinations.

  • Leeds via Rotherham, Barnsley Dearne Valley and Wakefield Westgate, is one possibility.
  • Could a service go to Huddersfield?
  • Hull is probably too far.

One tph could terminate at Sheffield and one splitting and one tph could split and serve other destinations.

Advantages could include.

  • Barnsley and Rotherham get a direct hourly service to London.
  • South Yorkshire and Leeds have a direct hourly service to the East Midlands.
  • Sheffield and Leeds have an hourly fast service.

I’m sure Abellio have a very workable plan to improve services North of Sheffield.

Serving Lincolnshire And Nottinghamshire

Consider.

  • Splitting and joining at Nottingham may allow an increase in direct services to and from Lincoln.
  • Perhaps parts of North Lincolnshire could be well-served by a fast train from Nottingham.
  • Would Mansfield and Worksop benefit from a direct service from London on the Robin Hood Line, after a reverse at Nottingham.

The five-car trains give the flexibility to do the previously unthinkable.

Conclusion

There is a lot of developments that can or will happen with Midland Main Line services.

August 1, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Rock Rail Wins Again!

This article on the Railway Gazette, is entitled Abellio Orders East Midlands Inter-City Fleet.

The order can be summarised as follows.

  • The trains will be Hitachi AT-300 trains
  • There will be thirty-three bi-mode trains of five cars.
  • The trains will be 125 mph capable.
  • Unlike the similar Class 802 trains, the trains will have 24 metre long cars, instead of 26 metres.
  • They will have a slightly modified nose profile.
  • The new trains will have an extra diesel engine.
  • The new trains will cost a total of £400 million.

A few of my thoughts.

I shall constantly refer to an earlier post called Vere Promises East Midlands Bi-Modes In 2022.

Cost Of The Trains

In the earlier post, I calculated that the five five-car AT-300 all-electric trains, ordered by First Group for London and Edinburgh services cost four million pounds per car.

Thirty-three trains at this four million pounds per car, works out at £660 million, which is sixty-five percent higher than the price Abellio is quoted as paying.

Abellio are actually paying just £2.42 million per car or forty percent less First Group.

So are Abellio buying a cut price special?

As Abellio East Midlands Railway will be competing up against LNER’s Azumas on some journeys, I can’t see that running a second class train would be a sound commercial decision.

I am left to the conclusion, that Abellio have got a very good deal from Hitachi.

What Diesel Power Is Used?

In a five-car Class 802 train, there are three MTU 12V 1600 R80L diesel engines, each of 700 kW , which gives a total power of 2,100 kW.

If the Abellio train needs this power, with four diesel engines, each must have 525 kW.

Not sure yet, but this could save a couple of tonnes in weight.

I doubt that Hitachi are dissatisfied with the performance of the MTU diesel engines in the current Class 800, 801 and 802 trains, as there are no media reports of any ongoing problems. So I feel that they could go with the same supplier for the trains for Abellio East Midlands Railway.

If you type “Class 800 regenerative braking” into Google, you will find this document on the Hitachi Rail web site, which is entitled Development of Class 800/801 High-speed Rolling Stock for UK Intercity Express Programme.

The only mention of the R-word is in this paragraph.

An RGS-compliant integrated on-train data recorder (OTDR) and juridical recording unit (JRU), and an EN-compliant energy
meter to record energy consumption and regeneration are fitted to the train.

If you search for brake in the document, you find this paragraph.

In addition to the GU, other components installed under the floor of drive cars include the traction converter, fuel tank, fire protection system, and brake system.

Note that GU stands for generator unit.

The document provides this schematic of the traction system.

Note BC which is described as battery charger.

Braking energy doesn’t appear to be re-used to power the train, but to provide hotel power for the train.

I talk about this in more detail in Do Class 800/801/802 Trains Use Batteries For Regenerative Braking?.

In my view, it is an outdated design compared to some of those seen in the latest road vehicles and trains from other manufacturers.

This is a sentence from the Railway Gazette article.

According to Hitachi, the EMR units will be an ‘evolution’ of the AT300 design supplied to other UK operators, with 24 m long vehicles rather than 26 m, and a slightly modified nose profile.

So does that evolution include regenerative braking to batteries on the train.

This could have advantages.

  • improved acceleration and smoother braking
  • Less electricity and diesel consumption.
  • No running of diesel engines in stations.

I’m only speculating, but could the batteries or supercapacitors be under the car without a diesel engine? A balanced design might make this the middle car of the train

There must also be the possibility, that instead of using MTU diesel engines, the trains use MTU Hybrid PowerPacks.

Why shouldn’t Hitachi get their respected supplier to do as much of the hard work as possible?

Train Length

A five-car Class 222 train, which work the Midland Main Line now, consists of two 23.85 metre and three 22.82 metre cars. So it is 116.16 metres long.

The article says the cars in the new trains will be 24 metres long,,so a new train will be 1220 metres long or 3.84 metres longer.

This will probably mean that there will be no need for costly and disruptive platform lengthening at a couple of stations.

Capacity

Abellio have stated that passengers like having a table and that they will be offering a catering service

So will we see most seats having a table?

Chiltern have proved it’s a philosophy that works for all stakeholders!

This means that capacity comparisons with the current trains will be difficult, as you’re comparing apples with oranges.

Hopefully, we’ll get more details soon!

Splitting And Joining

I would assume the new trains will have the ability to split and join an route like the other Hitachi trains.

This could be very useful in organising trains in the limited number of paths South of Kettering.

A ten-car train might leave St. Pancras as two five-car units running as a pair. It could split at East Midlands Parkway station and one train could go to Nottingham and the other to Derby. Coming South the two trains would join at East Midlands Parkway.

A Nose Job

I’m intrigued by the phrase “slightly different nose profile” in the extract I quoted earlier.

Have Hitachi’s champion origamists found a way of designing a train which can split and join with both an aerodynamic nose and a corridor connection?

After their experience with the Class 385 train and its curved windows, I suspect Hitachi have learned a lot. Could for instance one end of the five-car train have a Class 800-style nose and the other an improved Class 385-style front end?

Trains would mate blunt-to-blunt, so the Southern train would always point towards London and the Northern train would always point towards Sheffield.

I used to have a friend, who learned origami skills at Hiroshima in the 1950s, whilst doing National Service in the Army.

I don’t think my proposal is impossible, but I’l admit it’s unusual!

  • The blunt end might have a pair of doors, each with a flat window, thus giving the driver an uninterrupted view, when driving from that end.
  • When the trains connected the doors would open and swing forward. The gang way would unfold probably from under the cab The driver’s desk would probably fold away, as the two cabs wouldn’t be needed in a ten-car train.
  • Connect and disconnect would be totally automatic.

Effectively, two five-car trains would convert into a ten-car train.

The Number Of Trains

In my earlier post, I estimated that Abellio East Midlands Railway would buy 140 bi-mode carriages.

This works out as 35 trains, as against the thirty-three actually ordered.

This is close enough to say, that these new trains are only for main line services and will not be used on the electric services to Corby, which I estimate will be another seven 240 metre-long electric trains

A Complete Fleet Renewal

This is a paragraph from the Railway Gazette article.

Abellio UK Managing Director Dominic Booth said the new trains would ‘form the centrepiece of our ambitious plans for a complete replacement of all the trains on the East Midlands Railway’, representing ‘a more than £600m investment to really improve the region’s railway’.

When Abellio say renewal, they mean renewal.

So will Bombardier or another manufacturer receive a consolation prize of the seven high-capacity 240 metre long electric trains for the St. Pancras and Corby service?

A version of the Abellio part-owned, West Midlands Trains‘s, Class 730 train, would surely do just fine.

The Role Of Rock Rail

The trains will be leased from Rock Rail.

The Rock Rail web site gives this insight.

Rock Rail’s game changing approach to rolling stock funding has:

  • Enabled long term institutional investors to invest directly into a new sector.
  • Driven better value for government, operators and passengers.
  • Extended the market for infrastructure finance.

Rock Rail works closely with the franchise train operators and manufactures to ensure a collaborative approach to design, manufacture and acceptance of the new state of the art trains on time and to budget as well as to manage the long-term residual value and releasing risks.

It’s obviously an approach that has worked, as they have been behind three rolling stock deals at they have funded trains for Moorgate services, Greater Anglia and South Western Railway in recent months.

The Abellio East Midlands Railway makes that a fourth major fleet.

Take a few minutes to explore their web site.

Rock Rail say their backers are institutional investors. So who are these faceless institutions with deep pockets.

I have seen Standard Life Aberdeen mentioned in connection with Rock Rail. This Scottish company has £670 billion of funds under management and it is the second largest such company in Europe.

Companies like these need secure long term investments, that last thirty to forty years, so that pension and insurance funds can be invested safely to perhaps see us through retirement. I know that some of my pension is invested in a product from Standard Life Aberdeen, so perhaps I might ultimately own a couple of threads in a seat cover on a train!

As the Government now insists everybody has a pension, there is more money looking for a safe mattress!

Rock Rail allows this money to be used to purchase new trains.

Rock Rail seem to be bringing together train operators, train manufacturers and money to give train operators, their staff and passengers what they want. I seem to remember that Abellio did a lot of research in East Anglia about the train service that is needed.

Conclusion

Abellio have made a very conservative decision to buy trains from Htachi, but after my experiences of riding in Class 800, 801 and 802 trains in the last few months, it is a decision, that will satisfy everyone’s needs.

Unless of course, Hitachi make a horrendous mess of the new trains!

But the four fleets, they have introduced into the UK, have only suffered initial teething troubles and don’t seem to have any long term problems.

There are some small design faults, which hopefully will be sorted in the new trains.

  • Step-free access between train and platform.
  • The carriage of bicycles and other large luggage.

The second will be more difficult to solve as passengers seem to bring more and more with them every year.

July 31, 2019 Posted by | Finance, Transport | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Vere Promises East Midlands Bi-Modes In 2022

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

This is the first paragraph.

East Midlands Railway will have its entire bi-mode fleet in traffic by December 2022, according to Baroness Vere, the Government’s transport spokesman in the House of Lords.

This statement means that whoever manufactures the trains has just over three years from today to design, build and test the trains.

This paragraph from the article talks about how Bombardier and Hitachi would design the trains.

It’s known that Bombardier and Hitachi are interested in the contract, but both will be supplying new designs, with the former offering a bi-mode Aventra while the latter will offer an AT300 (the Intercity Express Programme platform) but with shorter vehicles.

What do we know about these two trains?

Bombardier Bi-Mode Aventra

In the July 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article entitled Bi-Mode Aventra Details Revealed.

As is typical with Bombardier interviews, they give their objectives, rather than how they aim to achieve them.

In Bombardier Bi-Mode Aventra To Feature Battery Power, I said this.

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

A few points from the article.

  • Development has already started.
  • Battery power could be used for Last-Mile applications.
  • The bi-mode would have a maximum speed of 125 mph under both electric and diesel power.
  • The trains will be built at Derby.
  • Bombardier’s spokesman said that the ambience will be better, than other bi-modes.
  • Export of trains is a possibility.

Bombardier’s spokesman also said, that they have offered the train to three new franchises. East Midlands, West Coast Partnership and CrossCountry.

Very little more can be gleaned from the later Modern Railways article.

Consider.

  • Aventras are designed to a modular concept.
  • Bombardier have finally got the software for the train working to a high standard.
  • The trains are designed for ease of manufacture, at a high rate.
  • Development of the bi-mode train must have started before June 2018.
  • Christian Wolmar disclosed the objective of a 125 mph Aventra in February 2017.
  • I have seem references to Aventras, being tested at 110 mph.

On the balance of probabilities, I think it is very possible that Bombardier can deliver a full fleet of 125 mph bi-mode trains with batteries before the end of 2022.

Hitachi AT-300

Consider.

  • Class 802 trains are a version of the AT-300 train, which in turn are a member of Hitachi’s A-Train family.
  • Class 802 trains are successfully in service on the Great Western Railway.
  • Class 385, 395, 800 and 801 are all members of the A-train family and are closely related to the Class 802 train.
  • The A-Train is a modular family.and different numbers of cars and car length, shouldn’t be a problem.
  • Hull Trains ordered their fleet of five Class 802 trains in November 2016 and they will enter service around December 2019 or early in 2020.
  • First Group ordered five AT-300 trains in March 2019 and they will enter service in Autumn 2021.

If the order has been placed in the last few months, there is every chance that Hitachi could deliver a fleet of new bi-mode trains for service in December 2022.

Stadler Flirt

These aren’t mentioned in the Rail Magazine article, but they were mentioned as a possibility for the order in an article by Roger Ford, which was entitled East Midlands IC125 Dilemma, in the June 2019 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is an extract from Roger’s article.

In theory, Stadler should be in pole position. Itis also supplying Abellio’s Greater Anglia franchise, where Flirt bi-modes are running on test.

As they haven’t had any serious problems yet, and they are Swiss, everyone thinks they are amazingly efficient and wonderful. Whjich may turn out to be the case.

In the end, Roger rates their chances as slim.

But Stadler certainly has the technical capability to produce a 125 mph bi-mode train.

Electric Trains To Corby

When the electrified St. Pancras and Corby service opens in December 2020, a round trip will take three hours.

This means that as few as three trains would be needed to provide the service.

The specification would be.

  • Electric traction
  • Twelve cars and 240 metres long.
  • 125 mph capability.
  • Three trains and a spare would probably be needed by December 2020, with a further three trains by December 2021.

Abellio would also probably like the trains to be very similar for drivers and staff.

Currently, it appears that the electric services to Corby, will be run initially by cascaded Class 360 trains.

  • But with a bit of juggling of production, Bombardier, Hitachi and Stadler might be able to manufacture, the four trains needed to start the service in December 2020.
  • Abellio also have Class 360 and Class 379 trains working on Greater Anglia, that are likely to be replaced before December 2020.

So they have a sensible back-stop.

How Many Trains Will Abellio Need?

The current service is two trains per hour to both Nottingham and Sheffield.

These are fastest times.

  • London and Nottingham is one hour forty minutes
  • London and Sheffield is two hours

Even if there is a bit of a speed increase, it looks like at least eight trains will be needed for both services.

As to train length, I doubt five cars will be enough on all trains.

  • Some services are currently run by six and eight-car HSTs.
  • Have Abellio promised more seats?
  • Abellio will be extending some Sheffield services to Rotherham, Barnsley and Leeds.
  • It has already been stated that the Corby trains will be 240 metres long
  • So will we see a uniform fleet of longer trains?

There are some short platforms, so I suspect Abellio will buy a mixture of full-length 240 metre-long trains and half-length 120 metre-long trains, as several train companies have done.

I feel we could see something like eight full length trains and perhaps twelve half-length trains.

I have calculated that seven full-length trains are needed for Corby.

Adding this up gives the following.

  • Eight full-length bi-mode trains of ten-cars.
  • Seven full-length electric trains of ten-cars.
  • Twelve half-length bi-mode trains of five-cars

This gives a total of 27 trains of a total of 210 cars, of which 140 are bi-mode and 70 are electric.

All of this is based on running the current service with new trains.

abellio Greater Anglia have not not just done this in East Anglia, but have purchsed extra trains to add new services and increase frequencies.

So I would feel, that these trains are a minimum order, if Abellio are not doing any expansion.

Daily Telegraph Report – 19th July 2019

A report in the Daily Telegraph on the 19th July 2019, which is entitled Blow For Bombardier’s Derby Plant As £600m Train Contract Goes To Hitachi, says the order has gone to Hitachi.

  • Value is quoted at £600million.
  • A formal announcement is expected next week.

Has next week already passed without an announcement from Abellio?

I do find it strange, that there has been no reference to the Telegraph report in local sources around Derby.

This article on Railway Gazette is entitled Trains Ordered For 2021 Launch Of ‘High-Quality, Low Fare’ London – Edinburgh Service.

FirstGroup have ordered AT-300 trains.

  • All-electric.
  • Five trains of five-cars.
  • A total order value of £100 million.
  • Order placed in March 2019
  • Service starting in Autumn 2021

This works out at four million pounds per car.

Earlier, I calculated that Abellio needed to buy 140 bi-mode cars and seventy electric ones.

Assuming that Abellio run the Corby services with refurbished Class 360 trains, then 140 carriages will cost £560 million.

But this would mean the following.

  • Abellio would be running two separate fleets on the Midland Main Line.
  • The Corby services would run below the operating speed of the route.
  • Expansion would mean the purchase of more trains.

This is very different to their philosophy in Abellio Greater Anglia.

  • Class 745 and Class 755 trains are very similar to drivers and other staff.
  • Both trains can operate at 100 mph on the Great Eastern Main Line.
  • Abellio Greater Anglia have significantly increased the size of their train fleet.

I believe that Bombardier, Hitachi and Stadler can all met this schedule.

  • Deliver four 125 mph electric trains by a date early enough for a December 2020 start for Corby services.
  • Deliver another three 125 mph electric trains by December 2021 for two trains per hour to Corby.
  • Deliver the fleet of 125 mph bi-mode electric trains by December 2022 for Derby,Nottingham, Sheffield and beyond.

At four million pounds for a car for a Hitachi train, this works out at £840 million.

So could it be, that Hitachi have thrown in a good discount to make sure of the order.

It will be very interesting, when Abellio announce their order.

Interim Trains

Baroness Vere also discussed the other trains on the Midland Main Line.

This was the final two paragraph from the article.

As it stands, the 12 High Speed Trains cannot operate in passenger traffic beyond December 31 2019 this year, as they will not meet new accessibility regulations.

When announcing the Abellio contract win in April, Government confirmed that four Class 180s would transfer from Hull Trains to EMR. There was also the possibility that the LNER HSTs could also transfer to the MML, although these do not meet the disability requirements either.

So what is going to happen?

It appears that the four Class 180 trains and the twenty-seven Class 222 trains of various lengths will have to manage.

But I do think, that Baroness Vere’s statement.

East Midlands Railway will have its entire bi-mode fleet in traffic by December 2022.

Is very welcome, as the HSTs will retire on the 31st December 2019 and there will be less than three years of a reduced fleet.

These points should also be noted.

  • In December 2020, when the electrification goes live and new electric trains start running between London and Corby, there will be a few more Class 222 trains available.
  • The Corby electric trains, will also add capacity between London and Kettering.
  • I don’t think it unlikely, that some other trains are rustled up to fill the gaps using perhaps Mark 4 coaches and Class 43 locomotives.

I hope for Abellio’s and their passengers sake, that what Baroness Vere said, comes true!

Could Abellio Go For A Safety-First Solution?

Consider.

  • Abellio Greater Anglia’s new Class 745, Class 755 and Class 720 trains are all running, if not years, but a few months late.
  • There has been nothing serious and Greater Anglia only has one fleet that is not PRM-compliant; the London and Norwich expresses.
  • Providing all goes reasonably well with the introduction of the new Class 745 trains, Greater Anglia’s fleet will be fully PRM-compliant, by the end of the year.

But if they had opted for off-the-shelf Hitachi Class 801 trains for London and Norwich, there might have been less worry. On the other hand, Hitachi way of making trains, by shipping the bodies from Japan probably doesn’t lead itself to high productio rates.

But for Midland Main Line services, Abellio East Midlands Railway aren’t looking at a large fleet of trains.

I estimate they could need.

  • Eight full-length bi-mode trains of ten-cars.
  • Seven full-length electric trains of ten-cars.
  • Twelve half-length bi-mode trains of five-cars

Now that Hitachi’s big orders are coming to an end, Abellio can probably be sure, they will get the main line trains on time and with the minimum of fuss.

Going the safety-first route of buying a fleet of Hitachi trains could deliver the trains that are needed urgently.

  • Four 125 mph electric trains by a date early enough for a December 2020 start for Corby services.
  • Another three 125 mph electric trains by December 2021 for two trains per hour to Corby.
  • A fleet of 125 mph bi-mode electric trains by December 2022 for Derby,Nottingham, Sheffield and beyond.

It might be a bit tight for the Corby electrics, but other trains that could work the route in the interim are available.

Abellio could do a lot worse than give Hitahi the order, if they could deliver early!

Conclusion

If any of the three train manufacturers can supply new trains for the St. Pancras and Corby service to the tight timetable, Abellio would surely be very pleased, as they would only have one train type to introduce on the route.

But I do think, that there is a possibility, that a good discount has won it for Hitachi!

 

 

 

July 26, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

The High Speed Local Train

If Great Western Railway (GWR) are going to run a train service between Paddington and Bedwyn, they need an electric train which can power itself on the last thirteen miles between Newbury and Bedwyn, which is not electrified and is unlikely to be so in the next couple of decades.

The train must also be capable of cruising at 125 mph on the fast lines of the Great Western Main Line between Reading and Paddington.

GWR have no choice, but to run the service with a five-car Class 802 train.

When Hitachi were designing these 125 mph trains in Japan, I don’t suspect that running a service over a distance of 66.5 miles between London and a small village in Berkshire, was in the specification.

This morning, I took the 10:05 service from Paddington to Bedwyn, with the intention of returning on the 11:41 from Bedwyn to Paddington.

These are a few of the pictures that I took.

But things didn’t turn out as planned.

  • Nothing serious and some animals got on the tracks between Reading and Swindon, meaning that we were some minutes late into Bedwyn, due to platform congestion at Reading.
  • The return journey was consequently delayed.

These are a few observations.

Operating Speed

These were speeds on various parts of the journey.

  • I timed the train at 115 mph through Southall and at 123 mph through Hayes & Harlington as the train accelerated out of Paddington.
  • The train was doing just short of 125 mph for the major part of the route between London and Reading, until it had to stop because of the congestion.
  • The train was doing around 100 mph on the electrified line between Reading and Newbury.
  • Between Newbury and Bedwyn, speeds were between 80 and 90 mph.

Similar speeds were attained on the return journey.

Passenger Numbers

As the pictures show, there weren’t that many passengers who were travelling to Bedwyn, although there were more heading back to London.

Many more joined and left the service at the three larger stations of Reading, Newbury and Hungerford.

Now that the service is hourly between Reading and Bedwyn and half-hourly between Reading and Newbury in modern, comfortable trains, I can see passenger numbers growing.

Current Service

There are eleven trains per day, between Paddington and Bedwyn, at an hourly frequency, which take around three hours for a round trip.

So it would appear that three trains are needed for the service.

The service is also supplemented by an hourly stopping shuttle train between Reading and Newbury.

Two years ago, the service was just one three-car diesel train per hour between Paddington and Bedwyn with a few additional stops from long-distance trains.

Bedwyn Station Improvements

I got the impression, that Bedwyn station is probably at its limit for car parking with the current twenty-five spaces and cars all over the place.

This article on the Wiltshire Gazette and Herald, is entitled It’s A Rail Problem At Great Bedwyn and indicates that commuters and residents don’t see eye-to-eye with the car parking.

If the car parking were to be increased and usage at the station increased then I feel that a step-free bridge could be needed.

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

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

The installation wouldn’t be difficult, but the politics could be.

Other Station Improvements

A quick look at other stations suggest these improvements.

  • Hungerford station, which has a large car park, needs a step-free bridge.
  • Kinbury station doesn’t have a bridge.
  • Midgham station doesn’t have a bridge
  • Theale station has improvements planned.

There are level crossings at Hungerford, Kintbury, Thatcham and Midgham.

Future Trains To Bedwyn

In Hitachi Plans To Run ScotRail Class 385 EMUs Beyond The Wires, I discussed how Hitachi were proposing to add battery power to Class 385 trains, which are in the same family as GWR’s Class 802 trains.

So surely, what is a power source for the goose is also a power source for the gander.

As it would only be a journey of thirteen miles both ways between Newbury and Bedwyn, this would surely be an ideal route for the use of battery power.

The other route, where battery power could be used would be between Didcot and Oxford, which is just over ten miles.

A Future Service To Marlborough

I covered this proposal in A Station For Marlborough.

Marlborough would be served by a single-track branch line on an old railway alignment, probably terminating near the large Tesco superstore in a single platform station.

The advantages of doing this would be.

  • Marlborough, which is an important market town of 8,500 people would be connected to the rail network.
  • Adequate car parking could be provided.
  • Creating a station at Marlborough could be an alternative to expanding Bedwyn station, which could be problematical.
  • It would improve the economics of the Paddington and Bedwyn service.

This is the sort of service, that should be developed.

Other Possible Services

The big advantage of this high speed local service for Great Western Railway, is that when it is on the Great Western Main Line, it becomes just another 125 mph service or once digital signalling is installed a possible 140 mph service.

These routes could have this type of high speed local services.

Great Western Main Line

Great Western Railway has several routes, where Class 800 and Class 802 trains break away from the Great Western Main Line to operate local services.

  • Paddington and Bedwyn
  • Paddington and Oxford

It could be argued that services to Cheltenham and Hereford are also high speed local services.

East Coast Main Line

In April 2018, I wrote Call For ETCS On King’s Lynn Route.

This post was based on an article in Rail Magazine, which talked about running 125 mph trains on the Kings Cross and Kings Lynn route.

This would make operation of the East Coast Main Line easier with herds of 125 mph trains steaming into and out of London.

I think, improvement would also extend to the Cambridge Line, in addition to the Fen Line.

  • Operating speed up from 90 mph to 110 mph plus.
  • Full digital signalling.
  • Automatic Train Control.

Journey times and frequency to and from London Kings Cross would be improved significantly.

Siemens would probably need to uprate the Class 700 trains for faster running, as 100 mph trains are just too slow!

If you look at the East Coast Main Line between Doncaster and Edinburgh, large sections of the line are only double track.

It is the ambition of train operating companies to run more high speed expresses between London and the North of England and Scotland.

I can see a time, when all trains using the East Coast Main Line will have to confirm with a high minimum speed, otherwise the future plans cannot be fulfiled.

Midland Main Line

By the end of 2020, the Midland Main Line South of Market Harborough, will be a 125 mph electrified railway with a high speed branch to Corby, which will be served by a half-hourly twelve-car electric service.

From 2022, 125 mph bi-mode trains will be running services on the Midland Main Line.

I can see services between St. Pancras and Corby becoming another high speed local service.

  • Half-hourly service.
  • 125 mph running.
  • Limited stop between Corby and London, with stops at Kettering, Luton And Luton Airport Parkway.
  • The journey time could even be under an hour.

Selected trains could even use battery power to extend the service to Melton Mowbray.

West Coast Main Line

The West Coast Main Line will become increasingly crowded with fast 140 mph trains, especially after the opening of Phase 2a of High Speed Two to Crewe in 2027.

I believe that this will mean that all passenger services using the West Coast Main Line will need to be run using trains capable of at least 110 mph and possibly 125 mph.

The new operation of suburban services on the West Coast Main Line; West Midlands Trains are replacing their fleet with new Class 730 trains. Like the previous trains, they are 110 mph units, but are they capable of upgrading to 125 mph?

If they are upgradeable, they would ease timetabling problems between London and the West Midlands, as they could mix it with Virgin’s Class 390 trains.

Further North, Northern run services like these.

  • Barrow and Manchester Airport.
  • Blackpool and Manchester Airport
  • Windermere and Manchester Airport

Currently, the operator is introducing new Class 195 and Class 331 trains, alongside the Class 319 trains.All of these trains are 100 mph capable, which is probably not fast enough, if they have to use the West Coast Main Line between Crewe and Lancaster, some of which is only double-track.

In Northern Considering Options For More New Trains, I wrote about Northern’s future rolling stock plans.

I suspect some 125 mph trains are in their plans for both the East and West Coast Main Lines.

Implications For Freight

There must surely be pressure for freight trains to go faster.

The 110 mph Class 93 locomotive is on its way, but with rail freight increasing we need to radically think how we run freight trains on a busy passenger line.

Conclusion

We will increasingly see upgrading of suburban services that use 125 mph line and not just around London.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 16, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Leicester Station – 11th July 2019

I took these pictures at Leicester station today.

These are a few of my thoughts.

Long Straight Platforms

The two main platforms for trains to and from London are long and straight and can easily accommodate the longest trains that do or will use the station.

Wide Spacious Platforms

The two island platforms are wide and spacious.

In my time at the station, I didn’t see any trains use the outer platforms and I do wonder if the station is used to the maximum capacity allowed by the layout.

The Station Could Have More Trains And Be A Better Interchange

When you arrive at Ipswich station on a fast train from London, one of the half-hourly services has an easy connection to either Bury St. Edmunds and Cambridge, Felixstowe, Lowestoft and/or Peterborough. and staff and information screens are there to speed you on your way.

Leicester station doesn’t seem to welcome you to continue your journey elsewhere

Abellio And Ipswich Station

Abellio with their new trains and timetable, will be increasing frequencies, so that Suffolk’s County Town with a population of 133,000, will have the following services.

  • Two trains per hour (tph) to Bury St. Edmunds. – Doubled from current.
  • One tph to Cambridge – A second hourly service will be available with a change at Ely.
  • One tph to Felixstowe – Might be doubled, now thst the Felixstowe branch has more capacity.
  • Three-four tph to London – Faster and up from two expresses and a stopping train per hour.
  • One tph to Lowestoft – Better timetable and faster.
  • Three tph to Norwich – Up from two tph
  • One tph to Peterborough – Doubled from current one train per two hours.

The creation of the East-West Rail Link will see a doubling of the service to Cambridge and one train per two hours to Oxford.

Applying Abellio’s East Anglian Rules To Leicester

Leicester is a city and County Town, with a population of 330,000.

These appear to be the current services.

  • Two tph to Birmingham
  • One tph to Cambridge, Peterborough and Stansted Airport
  • Two tph to Derby
  • One tph to Lincoln – Stopping train via Loughborough and East Midlands Parkway.
  • Four tph to London
  • Two tph to Nottingham
  • Two tph to Sheffield

Leicester doesn’t seem to have the sort of train service the City deserves.

This is the London, Ipswich and Norwich philosophy as proposed by Abellio and in the process of being delivered.

  • New maximum-length and maximum-speed high-capacity Class 745 trains will provide more seats on the route.
  • A fifty per-cent increase in train frequency from two tph to three tph.
  • Four express services per day, only stopping at Ipswich, have been introduced, giving a ninety minute service between London and Norwich.
  • Four trains per day between Lowestoft and London.

What would a similar philosophy for London Midland Main Line, look like at Leicester?

  • Three tph to Derby, Chesterfield and Sheffield.
  • Six tph to London
  • Three tph to Nottingham
  • All trains would be maximum-length with a capacity at least similar to a 2+8 HST.
  • Greater Anglia’s Class 745 trains will have 757 seats in two classes and a buffet. Expect a similar specification on the Midland Main Line.
  • Services will be faster, with I suspect no trains taking longer than an hour from Leicester to London or Sheffield.
  • Could there be a couple of non-stop trains every hour between London and Leicester?

This service would be a lot better and it only needs.

  • An extra tph between London and Sheffield via Derby and Chesterfield
  • An extra tph between London and Nottingham.
  • Enough new maximum-length trains, which will probably be bi-mode trains, that are scheduled to arrive in 2022.

Four tph between London and Sheffield and London and Nottingham would surely be the ideal, but there just isn’t the capacity to the South of Kettering and in St. Pancras station.

So will we see extra services on the Midland Main Line to boost services North of Leicester?

  • One tph between Leicester and Sheffield via Louthborough, East Midlands Parkway, Long Eaton, Derby and Chesterfield.
  • One tph between Leicester and Sheffield via Louthborough, East Midlands Parkway, Ilkeston, Langley Mill, Alfreton and Chesterfield.
  • One tph between Leicester and Nottingham via Louthborough, East Midlands Parkway and Beeston.
  • The one tph Leicester to Lincoln service could also be included.

The services would be as follows.

  • Trains would probably be shorter versions of the maximum-length bi-mode Midland Main Line trains.
  • They would use the outer platforms at Leicester station to give cross-platform interchange with the frequent London trains.
  • Services could possibly be extended past Sheffield to Leeds and past Nottinghm to Newark or Lincoln.

Leicester’s excellent platform design would see an increase in the number of trains and hopefully passengers.

Leicester And East-West Services

I also think, that there is sufficient capacity in Leicester station to add the following East-West services.

  • Four tph to Birmingham
  • Four tph to Cambridge
  • Four tph to Peterborough

The following should be noted.

  • Abellio has a substantial interest in all three stations and Leicester.
  • The routes are often run by two-car Class 170 trains.
  • The trains are often full.
  • There is only short sections of lines that are electrified.

I believe that there should be the  following service between Birmingham and Cambridge.

  • Four tph
  • At least four-car bi-mode trains.
  • At least a 100 mph capability.
  • Stops would include Coleshill Parkway, Nuneaton, Leicester, Melton Mowbray, Oakham, Stamford, Peterborough, March and Ely.
  • At the Birmingham end, services could go via Birmingham International and Coventry.
  • At the Cambridge end. perhaps two tph could be extended to Audley End and Stansted Airport.
  • At Leicester there would be an easy interchange to London, the East Midlands and Sheffield.
  • At Peterborough, there would be an easy interchange to London, Leeds, Newcastle and Scotland

It could be argued that if there is a need for a Cambridge and Oxford rail link, then Britain’s fastest growing high-technology hub, needs to have a high quality rail link to Birmingham via Leicester, Coventry and Birmingham International.

One overcrowded hourly two-car diesel train is not suitable for this important rail route.

Currently, trains take two hours forty-five minutes between Birmingham and Cambridge, which means with a fifteen minute turnround at either end, twenty-four trains would be needed for the service.

So it is probably not feasible, but I suspect it could be an aspiration for Abellio.

  • I wouldn’t be surprised to see Abellio try to take over the Birmingham and Stansted Airport service from CrossCountry.
  • Greater Anglia’s four-car Class 755 trains would double the capacity and be able to use electrification at both ends of the route.
  • Greater Anglia have a few spare Class 755 trains, so is this takeover in their ambitions.
  • Would the service be easier for Abellio to run, than CrossCountry?

This is a service to watch over the next couple of years.

Class 755 Trains In The East Midlands

I also suspect that Class 755 trains could be in Abellio’s plans for the East Midlands. Lincolnshire’s railways are little different to those of East Anglia.

The Bridges At The Southern End Of The Station

An East Midlands Trains driver told me, that one of the problems of electrifying through Leicester station with 25 KVAC overhead wires, is that the bridges at the Southern end of the station are a problem.

The general impression, I got was that the structure under the bridges is so complicated, that there would need to be a massive reconstruction of the railway.

So if this meant that the railway had to be closed for a number of months, is this the reason for only electrifying as far as Market Harborough?

Surely, if the Midland Main Line is only to be partly-electrified, then Leicester would surely be a better changeover point.

Charging Battery Electric Trains

In The Mathematics Of Fast-Charging Battery Trains Using Third-Rail Electrification, I showed how a third-rail-based fast charging sstem, like that proposed by Vivarail could transfer several hundred kWh to the batteries of a train stopped in the station, for a few minutes.

Leicester station with the two tracks between widely-spaced platforms with a gap between the tracks, would be an ideal location for such a charging system.

  • The two third-rail would be laid together between the two tracks.
  • The third-rails could be shielded, but as they would only be live with a train on the top, would it be necessary?
  • The driver would only need to stop the train in the correct position, but they do that anyway.

In a three minute contact between the train and the third-rail, I believe it would be possible to transfer up to 200 kWh to the batteries of the train.

Conclusion

Leicester station is a station, that suits the ambitions of the City.

But the unimaginative train service as provided by Stagecoach, is very fourth-rate and has left Abellio with a lot of scope to improve the train service throughout the East Midlands.

Stagecoach have only themselves to blame for losing the franchise.

 

 

 

July 12, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment