The Anonymous Widower

Engineers At Network Rail Are Building A Tiny Railway Crossing For Wild Hazel Dormice To Help Protect The Endangered Species From Extinction

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

This is the brief introductory paragraph.

This dormouse bridge will be the first of its kind. It will be built in summer 2022 on the Furness line in Lancashire.

Let’s hope after all this care and work, the dormice like it.

December 1, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel, World | , , , | 8 Comments

Nuggets From The Union Connectivity Review

The Union Connectivity Review has now been published and it can be read online.

This paragraph outlines the objective of the Review.

The UK Government asked Sir Peter Hendy CBE to undertake a detailed review into how transport connectivity across the UK can support economic growth and quality of life in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Sir Peter was also asked to make recommendations as to whether and how best to improve transport connectivity between the nations of the UK.

Sir Peter Hendy is the Chairman of Network Rail.

In no particular order, these are some nuggets from the review.

The Case For UKNET – A Strategic Transport Network For The Whole United Kingdom

This paragraph introduces the case for UKNET.

Having identified the importance of good connections across internal borders and the challenges that currently prevent a pan-UK strategic vision or investment strategy, the Review recommends that the UK Government develop UKNET – a strategic transport network for the whole United Kingdom which would connect all the nations of the
UK, with appropriate funding and coordination with the devolved administrations to deliver it.

The creation only follows best practice from the European Union and large countries like the United States.

These three paragraphs sum up how UKNET would work and how it would bring benefits to the whole of the UK.

UKNET would provide a network into which transport investment would be made on a pan-UK basis to support economic growth, jobs, housing and social cohesion, across the nations of the UK, for the benefit of the whole country.

It would allow transport appraisals for schemes on the network to be undertaken on a UK-wide basis with all costs and benefits being fully accounted for. This would limit the risk of cross-border schemes being deprioritised.

The development of such a network would provide additional certainty for businesses and the private sector, allowing them to plan complementary investments in specific regions and to invest in the supply chain across the country.

I think overall that UKNET is sound thinking, but my only feeling is that it should also look at transport links to and from the whole island of Ireland.

The Case for Faster Rail Journey Times Between England And Scotland

These three paragraphs probably apply to most rail journeys in the world, that compete against air and road travel.

Both the UK and Scottish Governments have previously agreed to develop options which could support a rail journey time between London and Scotland of three hours. A journey time improvement of this size, even when compared to expected journey times once HS2 opens, would dramatically increase the number of people travelling by rail.

There is a correlation between journey times and how many people choose to travel by rail over air. If it takes the same amount of time to travel by rail or by air, the evidence shows that people choose to travel by rail. Rail is typically favoured when the journey time is around three hours between city centres.

Work undertaken by Network Rail and HS2 Ltd on behalf of the Review has demonstrated the potential for increased trips by rail if journey times are reduced. For assurance purposes, two forecasting models were used to assess savings of 20, 35 and 50 mins on the journey times forecast for HS2 Phase 2b. The outcomes for both models were broadly similar and the approach built upon the changes in mode share observed between rail and aviation following previous UK and European rail investments.

Three hours between London and Scotland could be a tough ask.

Note these points about the East Coast Main Line.

  1. An InterCity 225 ran between London and Edinburgh on the 26th September 1191 in three hours and 29 minutes.
  2. Full digital in-cab signalling will allow running at 140 mph.
  3. There are improvements to come on the East Coast Main Line.
  4. As now, the review says two tph will run between London and Edinburgh.
  5. London Kings Cross and Edinburgh is 393 miles
  6. On the East Coast Main Line a non-stop train between would need to average 131 mph.

Three hours is tough but not impossible.

And these points about the West Coast Main Line.

  1. Trains will run on High Speed Two between London Euston and Crewe.
  2. High Speed Two are claiming fifty-six minutes between London Euston and Crewe.
  3. Full digital in-cab signalling will allow running at 140 mph.
  4. Crewe and Glasgow Central is 243.4 miles.
  5. Current fastest time between Crewe and Glasgow Central is three hours and five minutes.
  6. Between Crewe and Glasgow Central, a non-stop train would need to average 118 mph.

A well-driven InterCity 125, with a clear track, could average that speed between Crewe and Glasgow Central.

Three hours is tough but very possible.

This paragraph sums up the mode shift expected between air and road to rail.

These initial estimates indicated that a three-hour journey time was forecast to increase the number of passengers by around four million a year and increase rail mode share from the 2019 level of 29% to around 75%. It was also forecasted that journey times in the region of three hours would generate considerable transport user benefits and revenues over the lifetime of the scheme.

People travelling from the Midlands and North West England to and from Scotland would also get substantial reductions in journey times.

Linking High Speed Two With The WCML

The review says this about linking High Speed Two with the West Coast Main Line.

The UK Government has already acknowledged some of the issues identified by the Review. The ‘Golborne Link’—the current proposed connection between HS2 and the WCML—is expected to deliver quicker journey times and more capacity between England and Scotland and resolve some of the constraints between Crewe and Preston.

However, the ‘Golborne Link’ does not resolve all of the identified issues. The suitability of alternative connections between HS2 and the WCML have been considered by the Review. The emerging evidence suggests that an alternative connection to the WCML, for example at some point south of Preston, could offer more benefits and an opportunity to reduce journey times by two to three minutes more than the ‘Golborne Link’. However, more work is required to better understand the case for and against such options.

These benefits could also include additional operational flexibility when timing freight services and less disruption to the WCML than major upgrades as most construction could take place away from the railway.

An infrastructure philosophy is also detailed.

  • Replacing and enhancing track, signalling and power supply.
  • Possible new sections of line north of Preston.
  • Maximising of line speed.

My feeling is that for good project management reasons and to give faster journey times with the existing trains, that a lot of these improvements should be started as soon as possible.

Borders Railway

The Review says this about the Borders Railway.

Communities in the Scottish Borders region are enthusiastic about the economic and social benefits they see resulting from an extension of the Borders Railway south, across the border, to Carlisle.

The Review also welcomes the £5 million in funding that the UK Government has made available for the development of a possible extension to the Borders Railway which would support improved connections to and from Scotland and with the WCML at Carlisle.

I would build this early, as when the West Coast Main Line is being upgraded between Carlisle and Glasgow, this would be available as a diversion route.

Perhaps too, the Glasgow South Western Line should be improved and electrified as well.

Air Passenger Duty

The Review has a sizeable session on Air Passenger Duty, where it concentrates on the problems of its application to domestic flights.

The Review makes this recommendation.

Where journeys are too long to be reasonably taken by road or rail, the UK Government should reduce the rate of domestic aviation tax.

I believe that before the end of this decade, there will be smaller zero-carbon airliners, that will be ideal for domestic routes, which could totally change the regime of domestic Air Passenger Duty.

Decarbonisation And The Future Of Flight

This is a section in the Review, where this is the first paragraph.

In July 2021, the Department for Transport published the Jet Zero Consultation: a consultation on our strategy for net zero aviation127, alongside the Transport Decarbonisation Plan. This includes the ambition to have zero-emission routes connecting different parts of the UK by 2030 and a commitment to assess the feasibility of serving PSO routes with low carbon aviation. The Review welcomes the commitments made in both publications to accelerate the uptake of sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) and develop low and zero-emission aircraft.

The Review goes on to make two recommendations.

  • Drive the uptake of sustainable fuels and zero emission technologies on domestic aviation through a combination of incentives, tax benefits and subsidies to make the UK a world  leader in developing these fuels and technologies.
  • Support the development of sustainable aviation fuel plants in parts of the United Kingdom that are particularly reliant on aviation for domestic connectivity.

Note.

  1. PSO means Public Service Obligation.
  2. One of the world leaders in the field of sustainable aviation fuels is Velocys, which is a spin out from Oxford University.
  3. The Review also suggests building a sustainable aviation fuel plant in Northern Ireland.

The Review gives the impression it is keen on the use of sustainable aviation fuel

 

Conclusion

There are some good nuggets in the sections I have read in detail.

This post is not finished and there will be additions to the list.

 

 

 

November 30, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Integrated Rail Plan For The North And Midlands And The East Coast Main Line

Note that this is not a finished post.

To read the The Integrated Rail Plan For The North And Midlands (IRP), click this link.

There is a section in the IRP called Serving Leeds, York and North East England.

It is a section of six paragraphs and I shall describe their contents in detail separately.

Paragraph 3.41

This is said in the IRP.

Under the original plans, HS2 trains would have served Leeds, York and North East England via the West Midlands, with the Eastern Leg branching off from the Phase One line just north of Birmingham Interchange.

This is a significantly longer route than the current East Coast Main Line from King’s Cross, which goes directly up the eastern side of the country.

Due to capacity constraints north of Doncaster HS2 trains to Newcastle and York could also only be accommodated at the expense of existing services, potentially reducing or removing connections between the North East and Doncaster, Newark and Peterborough.

Unlike the West Coast Main Line, there is also potential to lengthen existing trains by up to three carriages, increasing the number of seats on those trains by around 40%.

Geography wins and I’ll discuss the train lengthening later.

Paragraph 3.42

This is said in the IRP.

The IRP has concluded in favour of a significant package of upgrades to the East Coast Main Line which could deliver similar journey times to London and capacity improvements for York and the North East as the original proposals – but many years sooner, and with operational carbon savings because trains will be taking a shorter route.

Speed is important in both project delivery and running of the trains.

Paragraph 3.43

This is said in the IRP.

We are therefore taking forward a substantial package of investment for the East Coast Main Line between London and Leeds and the North East, subject to future business case. Development work will consider interventions from both NPR designs undertaken by Network Rail, mainly focussed on York and northwards, and work undertaken by Mott MacDonald for the Department for Transport focused on the line south of York. North of York we will look to increase the number of paths for long distance high speed trains from 6 to 7 or 8 per hour. In addition to the already planned roll-out of digital signalling, work is expected to include looking at opportunities to improve rolling stock performance; power supply upgrades to allow longer and faster trains; route upgrades to allow higher speeds, including of up to 140mph on some sections; measures to tackle bottlenecks, for example south of Peterborough and at stations and junctions such as Newark, Doncaster, York, Northallerton, Darlington and Newcastle all of which limit speed and capacity; and to replace level crossings where needed.

We will ask Network Rail to now take forward these proposals, including considering any alternatives which may deliver better outputs and/or more cost-effective solutions.

I’ll discuss a lot of this later in more detail.

Paragraph 3.44

This is said in the IRP.

This package is intended to:

    • Cut journey times from London to a range of destinations, including Leeds, Darlington, Northallerton, Durham, and Newcastle by up to 28 minutes, bringing journey times closer to those proposed by HS2, much earlier than previously planned;
    • Allow the introduction of longer trains, increasing the number of seats;
    • Provide 7–8 long distance high speed paths per hour north of York to Newcastle, compared to the current 6 paths (and so allowing a minimum of two fast Manchester to Newcastle services each hour alongside other ambitions);
    • Improve performance and reliability, enabling faster and more reliable services for passengers.

I’ll discuss a lot of this later in more detail.

Paragraph 3.45

This is said in the IRP.

Journey times from London to Newcastle under this plan could be as little as 2 hrs 25-28 minutes (subject to stopping pattern), about 21-24 minutes faster than now and 8 minutes slower than under the full HS2 plans.

Journey times to York and Darlington under this plan would be about 15 minutes faster than now and 12-14 minutes slower than under the full HS2 plans.

Journey times from London to Leeds, at around 1 hour 53, would be about 20 minutes faster than now, but 32 minutes slower than under the full HS2 plans.

I’ll discuss a lot of this later in more detail.

Paragraph 3.46

This is said in the IRP.

Journey times from Birmingham to Leeds would be around 30 minutes faster than the current typical time, and, subject
to further analysis, York and the North East could be would be around 30 minutes faster than the current typical time,
via HS2 Western Leg, Manchester and NPR (based on indicative train service).

I’ll discuss a lot of this later in more detail.

My Thoughts

These are my thoughts.

Longer Trains

This is said in Paragraph 3.41

Unlike the West Coast Main Line, there is also potential to lengthen existing trains by up to three carriages, increasing the number of seats on those trains by around 40%.

The Hitachi Class 800, Class 801, Class 802 and Class 803 trains, that run the routes out of King’s Cross come in lengths of five, nine and ten coaches.

  • The maximum length of an individual train is twelve cars according to this Hitachi document.
  • All destinations with the possible exception of Harrogate, Lincoln and Middlesbrough can handle the current nine-car trains.
  • Lengthening a five-car train by three cars would increase capacity by 60 %. You’d just run a current nine-car train.
  • Lengthening a nine-car train by three cars would increase capacity by 33.3 %. Poor maths but possible.
  • Lengthening a ten-car train by three cars would increase capacity by 30 %. Two trains would have to be lengthened, as ten-car trains are a pair of five-car trains.

It looks to me that the IRP is talking about running twelve-car trains.

  • The Hitachi trains are all plug-and-play.
  • The main stations on the route are Doncaster, Edinburgh, King’s Cross, Leeds, Newcastle and York.
  • Some platforms would need to be lengthened, but some like Edinburgh, Leeds and York are probably already long enough.

But what about the important London terminus at King’s Cross?

These pictures show the Northern ends of the platforms at King’s Cross station.

The two trains are both nine-car Hitachi Class 800 or Class 801 trains and I was standing in line with their noses.

I wonder what is the maximum length of trains that can be handled in these platforms.

  • They can certainly handle ten-car trains, as LNER run these to Leeds.
  • Looking at maps, I suspect that eleven-car trains could be the largest that can be handled.

I suspect it will be tight, but I suspect with a simple platform extension, twelve car trains could be accommodated in King’s Cross station.

Journey Times

These times come from High Speed Two’s Journey Planner and the IRP.

  • London and Edinburgh – Three hours and forty-eight minutes – Four hours and nineteen minutes – Three hours and fifty-eight minutes – My estimate based on IRP figures
  • London and Newcastle – Two hours and seventeen minutes – Two hours and forty-nine minutes – Two hours and 25-28 minutes
  • London and Durham – Two hours and sixteen minutes – Two hours and fifty-five minutes – Two hours and forty minutes
  • London and Darlington – One hour and fifty minutes – Two hours and twenty-two minutes – Two hours and seven minutes
  • London and York – One hour and twenty-four minutes – Two hours and ten minutes – One hour and fifty-five minutes – My estimate based on IRP figures
  • London and Leeds – One hour and twenty-one minutes – Two hours and thirteen minutes – One hour and fifty-three minutes

Note.

  1. The first time is that from High Speed Two, which assumes the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two has been built.
  2. The second time is the current best time via the East Coast Main Line.
  3. The third time is the IRP’s estimate via an upgraded East Coast Main Line.
  4. Where the estimates are mine it is noted.

London and York and London and Leeds are under two hours, London and Newcastle is under three hours and London and Edinburgh is under four hours.

Are these times fast enough for modal shift from the Air and Roads to Rail?

Project Delivery

Rail projects in the UK have a variable record in the delivering of projects on time and on budget.

I haven’t done the full analysis, but I do believe that smaller projects have a better record of delivery, based on media reports.

In Railway Restored: Regular Trains To Run On Dartmoor Line For First Time In 50 Years, Network Rail have delivered an important smaller project, for which I said.

Network Rail have set themselves a good precedent to open the line in nine months and £10 million under budget.

As the improvement of the East Coast Main Line is more of a succession of smaller projects, rather than one large project does this mean it is more likely to be delivered on time and on budget?

Extra Paths

This is said in Paragraph 3.43

North of York we will look to increase the number of paths for long distance high speed trains from 6 to 7 or 8 per hour.

One of the min reasons for building High Speed Two, but here we have extra capacity being created on the East Coast Main Line.

One extra path would be very good, but two would be excellent.

Power Supply Upgrades

In the last eighteen months, I’ve written two articles about updating of the power supply on the East Coast Main Line.

The second article talks about the involvement of the University of Leeds to get the power supply to a high standard.

It does appear that Network Rail are doing all they can to enable the East Coast Main Line to handle the eight electric trains per hour

140 mph Running

There are several elements to the successful achievement of 140 mph running on a railway.

  • The trains must be capable of running safely at 140 mph.
  • The track must be able to support trains at that speed.
  • The signalling must be in-cab and fully tested.
  • The electrification must be designed for running at the required speed.
  • The drivers must be fully trained.

Note.

  1. There are certainly 140 mph trains in service and there are tracks in the UK, where they can be tested at that speed.
  2. I wouldn’t be surprised as we have been running 140 mph InterCity 225 trains on the East Coast Main Line for thirty years, that a lot of the track is already profiled for 140 mph running.
  3. The digital signalling is being installed.
  4. The electrification on the East Coast Main Line has been dodgy for years, but is now being upgraded.
  5. Drivers are probably the least to worry about, as they probably know the route well and are honing their skills in simulators.

I can see 140 mph running being delivered in stages and on time.

Darlington Improvements

In First Phase Of ‘Transformational’ Darlington Rail Station Upgrade Approved, I said this about the improvements at Darlington station.

This upgrade is on the Eastern side of the current station and will include a new entrance, station building, concourse and three new platforms.

This design should allow the following.

    • LNER, High Speed Two and other expresses not stopping at the Darlington station to pass through at speeds of up to 125 mph or more.
    • Expresses stopping in the station will slow and accelerate in less time than they do now.
    • It will probably allow more local trains to Bishops Auckland, Middlesbrough and Saltburn

A seventy-five percent increase in platforms probably offers other advantages.

This could knock several minutes off journey times.

York Improvements

I describe this problem and my solution in Improving The North Throat Of York Station Including Skelton Bridge Junction.

My solution won’t happen, as I advocate replacing the historic Skelton Bridge with a modern four-track bridge.

Effects On Lincoln Service

It will be interesting to see how the improvements to the East Coast Main Line effect LNER’s service between King’s Cross and Lincoln.

Any time improvements South of Newatk will surely be reflected in the time between King’s Cross and Lincoln.

Conclusion

The plan seems feasible to me.

November 24, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Digital Signalling Work Outlined By Network Rail For Northern City Line

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

This is the first paragraph.

Network Rail has detailed work due to be delivered on the Northern City Line to Moorgate.

I use this line regularly and I believe that with digital signalling the Northern City Line could see a large increase in frequency.

Currently, the service from Moorgate is as follows.

  • 4 tph to Welwyn Garden City via Potters Bar
  • 4 tph to Hertford North of which 2 tph extending to Watton-at-Stone and 1tph of those continuing to Stevenage.

Note.

  1. tph is trains per hour.
  2. Although the service is reduced from that shown, because of the pandemic and lower passenger demand.

But eight tph means a train every seven minutes and thirty seconds.

If you look at London’s high frequency lines, they have or will have passenger frequencies as follows.

  • Crossrail – 24 tph on dedicated tracks with digital signalling.
  • East London Line – 16 tph on dedicated tracks.
  • North London Line – 8 tph on tracks shared with freight trains.
  • Thameslink – 24 tph on dedicated tracks with digital signalling.

Note.

  1. The East London Line is planned to go to 20 tph with two extra tph to Clapham Junction and Crystal Palace.
  2. 20 tph means a headway between trains of three minutes.
  3. 24 tph means a headway between trains of two minutes and thirty seconds.

It should also be noted that the Victoria Line runs upwards of thirty tph on a fully digitally-signalled line.

What Level Of Service Would Be Possible?

These are my thoughts on various aspects of the Northern City Line.

How Many Trains Could Be Handled Between Finsbury Park And Moorgate?

This section of track is a simple double-track with a diamond crossing to the North of the two platforms at Moorgate, so that trains can use either platform.

This layout is used at Brixton and Walthamstow Central on the Victoria Line and Battersea Power Station on the Northern Line to name just three of many.

So I suspect that the track layout at the terminus at Moorgate can handle well-upwards of twenty tph.

The new Class 717 trains that run into Moorgate have an operating speed of 85 mph, which is faster than the previous Class 313 trains, which appear to have run at 30 mph South of Drayton Park.

I suspect that eventually twenty or even twenty-four tph will be possible on a digitally-signalled route between Finsbury Park and Moorgate.

But in the interim, sixteen tph would be a good compromise.

How Many Trains Could Be Handled On The Current Routes?

Currently, four tph use the both the Welwyn Garden City and the Hertford East/Stevenage routes.

I am fairly sure that both routes could handle eight tph, with the only proviso, that there is enough terminal capacity to turn the trains.

Looking at the layout of Welwyn Garden City station, I am certain that it could be modified to be able to handle eight tph.

I would hope that the new platform at Stevenage station, built to handle trains to and from Moorgate, can cater for four tph. As there are turnback platforms at Gordon Hill and Hertford North stations, I’m sure the other four tph could be handled.

The Piccadilly Line And The City of London

It has always been difficult to get between the Northern section of the Piccadilly Line and the City of London.

In the 1960s, I used to use my bicycle. By public transport, you generally had to use the bus or the 641 trolley bus to Moorgate.

With the improvement of the Northern City Line and Finsbury Park station, the fastest route to Moorgate is probably to change between the Piccadilly and Northern City Lines at Finsbury Park station.

Increasing the frequency of Northern City Line services between Finsbury Park and Moorgate would create a high-capacity route to the City for those commuting from the Northern section of the Piccadilly Line.

The Piccadilly Line And Crossrail

There is no connection between the Piccadilly Line and Crossrail.

A trip between Oakwood and Canary Wharf would be difficult.

As with getting to the City of London, the improvement of the Northern City Line and Finsbury Park station offers a route to Crossrail.

Oakwood and Canary Wharf would probably be done with changes at Finsbury Park and Moorgate.

The Victoria Line And The City of London

There is a cross-platform interchange at Highbury & Islington station between the Victoria and Northern City Lines.

With an increased frequency of Northern City Line services between Finsbury Park and Moorgate, I would expect that more people would use this route.

The Victoria Line And Crossrail

There is no connection between the Victoria Line and Crossrail.

The easiest route will be to take the route in the previous section and join Crossrail at Moorgate.

Conclusion

It does look that with the current routes sixteen tph to and from Moorgate could be a practical limit.

But that would still be a train every three minutes and forty-five seconds between Finsbury Park and Moorgate.

This increased frequency could be needed to create a high capacity link between the Northern sections of the Piccadilly and Victoria Lines and the City of London and Crossrail.

 

November 23, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

‘Box Structure’ Flyover Saves £70m And Six Months For East West Rail

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release on Network Rail.

This is the first paragraph.

Engineers have saved £70m of taxpayers’ money by using creative new methods to build a railway flyover as part of the East West Rail project.

This Network Rail picture shows how the new flyover rests on a concrete box, that spans the West Coast Main Line (WCML).

Note that the press release contains a video that explains how the flyover was replaced and why the method of construction saved all the money and time.

The main cost savings came about because of the following.

  • Construction could go on above the WCML without having to stop the trains.
  • Components for the flyover were made in a factory, with subsequent cost reductions and quality increases.

Anybody, who’s ever poured a concrete slab in typical British weather will understand the second point.

According to the press release, the method of construction gives a hundred and twenty year life span for the structure.

For comparison, this 3D Google Map visualisation shows the Hitchin flyover, which was opened in 2013.

Note the columns supporting the single-track railway.

If this was being built today, would a box be used as at Bletchley?

November 16, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hitachi Rail And Angel Trains To Create Intercity Battery Hybrid Train On TransPennine Express

The title of this post, is the same as that of this Press Release from Hitachi Rail.

The press release starts with these three points.

  • Hitachi Rail, Angel Trains and TransPeninne Express (TPE) agree to trial retrofitting battery on intercity train
  • Trial, starting next year, can cut fuel usage by at least 20% and reduce emissions on Transpennine network from 2022 onwards
  • Tri-mode service can cut noise pollution in urban areas and improve air quality.

Hitachi also point to this infographic.

This very much looks to be a step forward from the Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train that was announced in December 2020 in this press release from Hitachi which is entitled Hitachi And Eversholt Rail To Develop GWR Intercity Battery Hybrid Train – Offering Fuel Savings Of More Than 20%.

The Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train is described in this Hitachi infographic.

The specifications are very similar, except for the following.

  • The battery range is given as five kilometres.
  • Fuel savings are up to 30% instead of at least 20%.
  • A performance increase of 30 % is claimed.
  • The upgrade appears to be able to be fitted to Hitachi intercity trains, as opposed to a straight replacement of one engine by batteries.

It looks to me, that Hitachi have been working hard to improve their design.

I think this paragraph of the press release is key.

The trial will see a diesel engine replaced by batteries to help power a five-carriage train, along with the two remaining engines. The power provided by the batteries will help to reduce the amount of fuel required to operate the train.

Hitachi don’t say, but I suspect the trains and their batteries have a lot of energy saving features.

  • Regenerative braking is already used to power some services like lighting and air-conditioning on the trains.
  • But I suspect regenerative braking will also be used to recharge the batteries.
  • A sophisticated computer system will drive the train in the most optimal manner.
  • Hopefully, diesel will only be used as a last resort.

Features like these and others will enable the trains to jump gaps in the electrification. As more and more tricks are added and batteries hold more charge, the gaps the trains will be able to cross will get larger.

Five kilometres might not sound much, but I think it could be surprisingly useful.

I will use an example from the Midland Main Line to illustrate how the trains and discontinuous electrification might work.

In Discontinuous Electrification Through Leicester Station, I described the problems at Leicester station and how discontinuous electrification could solve the problem.

The following is a modified extract from that post.

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

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

A solution could be discontinuous electrification.

  • The electrification from the South, would finish on the South side of bridge.
  • The electrification from the North, would finish at a convenient point in Leicester station or just to the North.
  • Electric trains would cover the gap of up to five kilometres on battery power.

Note.

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

Trains would probably use a stopping profile in Leicester station, that ensured they stopped with full batteries.

This would mean they had enough electricity to get back up to speed and reconnect to the electrification on the other side of the station.

To get an idea at how long five kilometres is in the Centre of Leicester, this Google Map shows the Leicester station.

Note that the platforms are around three hundred metres long.

In other words the electrification can be kept well away from the station and its troublesome bridge.

How much money would be saved and disruption avoided?

Application To The TransPennine Express Routes

These are the various routes, where Class 802 trains could be used.

Liverpool Lime Street And Edinburgh, Newcastle, Scarborough Or York

Sections are as follows.

  • Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Victoria – 31.7 miles – Electrified
  • Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge – 8 miles – Electrified probably by 2024
  • Stalybridge and Huddersfield – 18 miles – Diesel
  • Huddersfield and Dewsbury – 8 miles – Electrified probably by 2024
  • Dewsbury and Leeds – 9.2 miles – Diesel
  • Leeds and York – 25.6 miles – Electrified probably by 2024
  • York and Newcastle – 80.2 miles – Electrified

Note.

  1. All services take a common route between Liverpool Lime Street and York.
  2. A surprising amount is electrified.
  3. A further 42 miles are being electrified.
  4. The 3 km Morley Tunnel between Dewsbury and Leeds might not be electrified.
  5. The 5 km  Standedge Tunnel between Huddersfield and Stalybridge might not be electrified.

It looks to me that the 5 km battery range will avoid electrification of two long Victorian tunnels.

Manchester Airport And Newcastle Or Redcar Central

Sections are as follows.

  • Manchester Airport and Manchester Victoria – 13.2 miles – Electrified
  • Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge – 8 miles – Electrified probably by 2024
  • Stalybridge and Huddersfield – 18 miles – Diesel
  • Huddersfield and Dewsbury – 8 miles – Electrified probably by 2024
  • Dewsbury and Leeds – 9.2 miles – Diesel
  • Leeds and York – 25.6 miles – Electrified probably by 2024
  • York and Newcastle – 80.2 miles – Electrified
  • Northallerton and Redcar Central – 29 miles – Diesel

The route goes through the Morley and Standedge tunnels.

Manchester Piccadilly And Hull

Sections are as follows.

  • Manchester Piccadilly and Stalybridge – 7.5 miles – Electrified probably by 2024
  • Stalybridge and Huddersfield – 18 miles – Diesel
  • Huddersfield and Dewsbury – 8 miles – Electrified probably by 2024
  • Dewsbury and Leeds – 9.2 miles – Diesel
  • Leeds and Selby – 21 miles – Diesel
  • Selby and Hull – 31miles – Diesel

The route goes through the Morley and Standedge tunnels.

Manchester Piccadilly And Huddersfield

The route goes through the Standedge tunnel.

Huddersfield And Leeds

The route goes through the Morley tunnel.

Manchester Airport And Cleethorpes

The Hope Valley Line which is part of this route has three tunnels.

Perhaps they will use a bit of diesel to get through Totley.

The Future

This paragraph sums up what Hitachi and Angel Trains could see as a possible future direction.

Once complete, the trial provides a pathway for Hitachi Rail, the train builder and maintainer, and Angel Trains, the train’s owner to develop plans to retrofit batteries to the wider fleet.

These plans will probably go in the directions like decarbonisation, more efficient operation and better standards for passengers.

Conclusion

This looks like a solution that has been helped by real ale in an appropriate hostelry.

  • The battery range has been chosen so Network Rail don’t necessarily have to electrify the tunnels.
  • Full electrification can be used either side of the tunnels.
  • Will any stations not be electrified. After all if the trains are using battery power in stations do they need electrification?
  • It might be useful to have some more bi-mode freight locomotives, that could traverse the tunnels on diesel or batteries.

Hitachi and Network Rail certainly seem to be cooking up a solution.

 

 

 

November 10, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Network Rail And Vivarail Bring The Next-Generation Battery Train To COP26

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

These are the first two paragraphs.

Network Rail and Vivarail today announced that Vivarail’s next-generation battery train will be launched at COP26 and will run daily services throughout the international climate change conference.

This zero-emission train uses new batteries, developed by Vivarail, to combine maximum range with the ability to recharge quickly. The result is a train that can travel for up to 80 miles on battery power and recharge in only 10 minutes using Vivarail’s patented Fast Charge system.

That is an excellent range coupled with a fast turnround time.

How will other companies like CAF, Hitachi and Stadler respond?

If all battery-electric trains can reach this range, I don’t think we’ll need hydrogen for multiple units, but we will probably need it for freight and other locomotives.

 

September 29, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 18 Comments

New East Linton Station Development Given The Go Ahead

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

This is the first paragraph.

Proposals to open a station in the village of East Linton, for the first time in over half a century, have just been approved by East Lothian Council’s planning committee.

In The Scottish Borders Have Caught London Overground Syndrome, I said this.

It would also appear that because of the success of the Borders Railway, that there are suggestions to add new stations on the East Coast Main Line at Reston and East Linton. This is said under Future in the Wikipedia entry for East Linton station.

Proposals to reopen the station, along with the former station at Reston, have received the backing of John Lamont MSP, who has taken the case to the Scottish Parliament. A study published in 2013 proposed that East Linton and Reston stations be reopened. Since Abellio ScotRail took over the franchise in April 2015, they have now committed to reopening East Linton and Reston Stations as part of the local Berwick service by December 2016 but due to the shortage of rolling stock this will now commence in December 2018.

So it would appear there is a high chance it will happen.

Reston station is well on the way to completion and the site is shown in this Google map.

Note.

  1. The East Coast Main Line running between the North-West and South-East corners of the map.
  2. The brown scars around the railway indicate the site of the station.
  3. The main A1 road is just off this map to the North.

In New Rail Service From Newcastle To Edinburgh To Stop At These Northumberland Stations, I indicated that a new service from TransPennine Express will start running in December 2021 and will call at Reston station, when it opens.

Now East Linton station is on its way.

This Google Map shows the village of East Linton.

Note.

  1. The East Coast Main Line going through the middle of the village.
  2. The A1 curves South of the village.

Will the station be built in the middle of the village?

The page on Scotland’s Railway, indicates it will be.

East Linton and Reston stations seem to be progressing at speed, but then so did Horden and it appears Soham will be open this year.

Network Rail seem to have at last got their project management right.

 

September 10, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

The London And Edinburgh Travel Market

This paragraph comes from of this article on Railway Gazette.

Lumo is aiming to carry more than 1 million passengers per year. It is particularly targeting people who currently fly between Edinburgh and London; in June it says there were 74 764 air journeys on the route, compared to 82 002 by rail.

Lumo’s million passengers per year, will equate to around 83,300 passengers per month.

What these figures don’t show is the number of rail journeys made to intermediate stations like Newcastle, York, Doncaster and Peterborough.

These are a few thoughts.

Rail Capacity Between London And Edinburgh

Consider.

  • LNER is currently the only rail carrier offering a daytime service between London and Edinburgh.
  • LNER run approximately 26 trains per day (tpd) in both directions between London and Edinburgh.
  • A nine-car Class 801 train can carry 510 Standard Class passengers and 101 First Class passengers.

That means that LNER had a capacity of just over 950,000 seats in June.

It might seem poor to have only sold 82,002 seats in June between London and Edinburgh, which is just 8.6 % of the available seats.

On the other hand, LNER’s two trains per hour (tph) are a lot more than London and Edinburgh trains, as they connect towns and cities all the way up the East Coast Main Line between London and Aberdeen.

Lumo’s capacity of a million seats per year, works out at 83,300 seats per month, which is another 8.7 % of capacity.

  • Lumo will sell seats on price initially and I suspect they’ll end up running about 85-95 % full.
  • It has been stated that they need to run 80% full to break even.
  • I also think, that they would like to have a few seats for late bookers.

But even so, they will surely affect LNER’s bookings.

What Will LNER Do?

Several of the things, that Lumo are doing can be easily copied by LNER.

  • Early booking.
  • Improve onboard service.
  • Better seating.

They could even reduce prices.

I think it is very likely we could end up with a price and service war between LNER and Lumo.

Would The Airlines Be The Losers?

This could be an outcome of competition between LNER and Lumo.

We are now talking about times of around four hours and twenty-five minutes between London and Edinburgh, but there are improvements underway on the East Coast Main Line.

  • The remodelling of the approach to Kings Cross station has not been reflected in the timetables.
  • The Werrington Dive Under has not been completed yet.
  • Digital signalling is being installed South of Doncaster.
  • The power supply is being upgraded North of Newcastle.

When these and other improvements are complete, I can see journey times reduced below four hours.

But would that only be for starters?great b

If a 1970s-technology Intercity 225 train, admittedly running as a shortened train formation, could achieve a time of just under three-and-a-half hours for the 393.2 miles between Kings Cross and Edinburgh stations in September 1991, what could a modern Hitachi train do, if all of the improvements had been completed and perhaps half of the route could be run at 140 mph under the watchful eyes of full digital signalling and an experienced driver.

Consider.

  • London and York is nearly two hundred miles of fairly straight railway, that is ideal for high speed.
  • Current trains run the 393.2 miles in four hours 25 minutes, which is an average speed of 89 mph.
  • A train running at 89 mph would take two hours and fifteen minutes to cover 200 miles.
  • A train running at 125 mph would take one hour and thirty-six minutes to cover 200 miles.
  • A train running at 140 mph would take one hour and twenty-six minutes to cover 200 miles.

When Network Rail, Great British Railways or the Prime Minister renames the East Coast Main Line as High Speed East Coast, I think we can be sure that trains between London and Edinburgh will be able to achieve three-and-a-half hours between the two capitals.

High Speed Two is only promising three hours and forty-eight minutes.

What About LNER’s New Trains?

LNER Seeks 10 More Bi-Modes, was written to explore the possibilities suggested by a short article in the December 2020 Edition of Modern Railways.

There has been no sign of any order being placed, but Hitachi have moved on.

  • They are building the prototype of the Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery for testing on the Great Western Railway.
  • They have completed some of the Class 803 trains for East Coast Trains, which has now been renamed Lumo. These trains have a battery for hotel power in case of catenary failure, but no diesel engines.
  • They are building the Class 807 trains for Avanti West Coast, which appear to be designed for high speed and have no batteries or diesel engines.
  • The latest versions of the trains will have a reshaped nose. Is it more aerodynamic at high speeds?

It does seem that there is an emphasis on speed, better acceleration and efficiency.

  • Could the lessons learned be used to improve the performance of the existing trains?
  • Could a small high performance sub-fleet be created to run LNER’s Scottish services?

There are certainly possibilities, that would cut journey times between London and Edinburgh.

Conclusion

I can see the airlines flying between London and Edinburgh suffering a lot of collateral damage, as the two train companies slug it out.

 

September 10, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Comings And Goings At Ely Station

On my meander around the Fens yesterday, I spent twenty minutes or so at Ely station, as the variety of trains came through the station, whilst I waited for a train to March.

Ely and the surrounding lines are to be remodelled, so that more trains can pass through the complicated junctions.

I had hoped to see a freight train pass through, which would have used the avoiding lines to pass the station.

In some ways, Ely sums up the problems of some of our major railway junctions.

  • Several important passenger services needing to pass through.
  • Several long freight trains a day.
  • Level crossings everywhere.
  • More passenger services are needed.

And on top of it all, there is a need to decarbonise.

British Rail and Network Rail have been trying to sort Ely for decades and it should be noted that the Fen Line to King’s Lynn station was electrified in 1992, which was probably an early phase of their master-plan.

Ely And Battery-Electric Trains

These are the distances without electrification on the various routes from Ely.

  • Ipswich – 39 miles
  • Norwich – 52 miles
  • Peterborough – 30.5 miles
  • Wisbech – 25 miles

Routes to King’s Cross, King’s Lynn, Liverpool Street, Stansted Airport and Stevenage are all fully electrified.

It does appear to me, that the new generation of battery-electric should be able to handle services from Ely on battery power.

For many of these services, which are or will be run by Greater Anglia, the required battery range can be achieved by swapping some of the diesel engines in the Class 755 trains for batteries.

Freight And Hydrogen Power

In Was This The Most Significant Statement On Freight Locomotives Last Week?, I referred to this press release from Freightliner, which is entitled Freightliner Secures Government Funding For Dual-Fuel Project.

This sixth paragraph from the press release is very significant.

This sustainable solution will support a programme to decarbonise freight operating companies’ diesel fleets in a cost-efficient manner that does not require significant short-term investment and facilitates operational learning in support of a longer-term fleet replacement programme, potentially using 100% hydrogen fuel.

I believe the paragraph indicates, that Freightliner and possibly the other companies involved in the building and operation of heavy freight locomotives have concluded, that the technology is now such, that a zero-carbon rail locomotive powered by 100 % hydrogen is now possible.

Hydrogen offers several advantages.

  • Large amounts of power.
  • Range comparable with diesel locomotives.
  • Depots and freight terminals can be without electrification.
  • As hydrogen-powered locomotive will most likely have an electric transmission, this opens the possibilities of using electrification where it exists and regenerative braking to an onboard battery.

My unreliable crystal ball says that we’ll see hydrogen-powered locomotives by 2026.

 

August 5, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 3 Comments