The Anonymous Widower

Using Hitachi ABB Power Grids Technology At Uckfield Station

This post describes how the ABB Power Grids technology could be used to allow battery-electric trains to run between London Bridge and Uckfield stations.

The London Bridge And Uckfield Route

The London Bridge And Uckfield route has these characteristics.

  • It is forty-six miles long
  • The Southern section between Heald Green junction and Uckfield station is 24.7 miles and is not electrified.
  • A service takes approximately eighty minutes.
  • Trains run at a frequency of one train per hour (tph)
  • The route has been upgraded to be able to handle twelve car trains.
  • The route is currently run by Class 171 diesel trains.
  • Govia Thameslink Railway is the operator.

It looks to me if you assume a ten minute turnround, then that gives a three-hour round trip.

This would mean the following.

  • Trains would have ten minutes charging time at Uckfield.
  • If twelve car trains were running on the branch then nine four-car trains would be required for an hourly service.
  • Two tph would require twice as many trains.

It looks to me, that Network Rail have arranged the route and the timetables for a fleet of battery-electric trains.

The Battery-Electric Trains

There have been several hints in the rail media, that battery-electric Bombardier Electrostars will be used for the London Bridge and Uckfield route.

I wrote Battery Electrostars And The Uckfield Branch in September 2019.

  • In the related post I suggested Class 377, Class 379 or Class 387 trains.
  • All are four-car Bombardier Electrostars.
  • All are 100 or 110 mph trains.
  • The Class 387 trains are already dual voltage, but I suspect all trains could be converted to third-rail or dual-voltage.
  • My choice would be Class 379 trains, as they are being made redundant by Greater Anglia and thirty quality trains are looking for a new home.

But all three types would be acceptable and Govia Thameslink Railway has both of the other types in its extensive fleet.

Charging The Battery-Electric Trains

This picture shows the single twelve-car platform at Uckfield station.

There would appear to be plenty of space on the side away from the platform.

There would appear to be two main methods of charging the trains.

A Length Of 750 VDC Third-Rail Electrification On The Side Away From The Platform

  • The electrification would be long enough to charge a twelve-car train.
  • It could even be made very safe, if an interlock were to be provided, that ensured that the third-rail were only to be live, when a train was in the station that needed charging.

This would be possible, but I suspect the Anti-Third-Rail Electrification Mafia will get this simple method stopped.

A Length Of 25 KVAC Overhead Electrification Powered By One Of Hitachi ABB Power Grids Containised Power Systems

The electrification would be long enough to charge a twelve-car train.

The driver or an automated system would raise the pantographs after the train stopped in the station.

Interlocks could be provided to increase safety.

The overhead electrification would be powered by one or more of Hitachi ABB Power Grids’s containerised power systems

Lightweight catenary could be used to reduce visual intrusion.

The curved beam at the top of this overhead electrification gantry is laminated wood.

Because of the higher voltage used, I suspect that the Hitachi ABB Power Grids could charge a twelve-car train in under ten minutes.

 

July 9, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wiltshire’s Recycled Railway Sleepers A UK First

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

This is the first paragraph.

Railway sleepers made of recycled bottles, food packaging and unwanted plastics have been installed on a mainline railway for the first time.

This paragraph describes their durability.

The new railway sleepers are designed to be used for 50 years as they do not split, rot or degrade, and can resist water, oil, chemicals and fungi.

The new sleepers would appear to be an advance on wood and concrete in certain applications.

Conclusion

This seems to be a good example of creative recycling.

July 8, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Freightliner Secures Government Funding For Dual-Fuel Project

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from Freightliner.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Freightliner, a subsidiary of Genesee & Wyoming Inc. (G&W), in partnership with a consortium of specialist suppliers, has been successful in securing government funding to develop a dual-fuel solution for the Class 66 locomotive.

The technology is one of the 30 winners of the latest round of the First of a Kind (FOAK) competition announced today by the Transport Secretary. Already the safest and greenest mode of ground-freight transportation, the competition has been aimed at making the railways even cleaner, greener and more passenger friendly.

These are my thoughts.

A Big Opportunity

Freightliner have a total of 113 Class 66 locomotives, out of a UK total of well over 400.

If the project succeeds, this could cut a large amount of carbon emissions from UK rail freight.

Who Are The Partners?

The press release gives these project partners.

The key project partners are Freightliner, which operates over 113 Class-66s in the UK, and Clean Air Power, providers of innovative clean air solutions for freight. The project is also supported by Network Rail, Tarmac, Rail Safety Standards Board (RSSB), Flogas, Carrickarory and the University of Birmingham.

It is a comprehensive group of partners, which probably covers all aspects.

  • From their web site, Clean Air Power would appear to have the expertise for the project, with back-up from the University of Birmingham, who seem to be involved in several high-profile rail projects.
  • The early involvement of standards must be a good thing.
  • Flogas are a gas company
  • Carrickarory would appear to be consultants specialising in rail.

Getting the team right is important in having a successful project.

What Are The Objectives Of The Project?

The press release gives these project objectives.

The project will investigate the ability to substitute diesel with both hydrogen and biogas on the Class-66 locomotive which hauls over 80% of freight on the UK rail network and, in doing so, reduce carbon emissions on one of the industry’s most challenging two-stroke locomotives.

This will be achieved by retrofitting the Class 66 with Clean Air Power’s precision injection technology, creating a Class 66 that can run on a combination of diesel, biogas and hydrogen.

Sounds a good set of reduced carbon objectives!

Would The Technology Be Applicable To Other Operators And Locomotives?

The press release says this.

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.

Does this mean that the eventual Class 66 replacement will be a locomotive, that runs exclusively on hydrogen?

I suspect it does!

How very sensible!

Conclusion

This could be a big step in the battle to decarbonise.

July 5, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Will Camden Road Station Get A Third Platform?

 

London has a rail capacity problem, for both freight and passenger trains.

This report from Network Rail is entitled The London Rail Freight Strategy (LRFS).

One of the recommendations of the report is to build a third platform at Camden Road station. It says this about the third platform.

Reinstatement of a third track and platform on the northern side of Camden Road station, utilising part of
the former 4-track formation through the station.

Camden Road station used to have four platforms, but now it just have two.

This Google Map shows the station as it is today.

Note.

  1. Platform 1 is on the South side of the tracks with the London Overground roundel conveniently shown on the roof.
  2. Platform 2 is on the North side of the tracks.
  3. Regular users of the station can probably pick out the lift at the Eastern end of Platform 2.
  4. There is a bridge to the East of the station which takes the tracks over the junction of Royal College Street and Camden Road.

To the North of this bridge, two further bridges can be seen, that used to take the former third and fourth tracks over the roads and into two additional platforms to the North of the current two.

This map from cartometro.com shows the track layout through Camden Road station.

Note.

  1. The tracks shown in orange are the route of the North London Line of the London Overground.
  2. The two orange platforms labelled 1 and 2 at Camden Road station.
  3. The two former lines passing behind Platform 2, used to rejoin the North London Line to the West of the station.

These pictures were taken on the current Platform 2.

And these are some pictures of the bridge, what is behind the fence and other bridges.

Note.

  1. Most of the pictures of Platform 2, were taken from Platform 1.
  2. Behind the fence on Platform 2, there appears to be a substantial urban forest.
  3. Renewing the bridges and updating the railway arches could improve the area significantly.
  4. Camden Road station is a Grade II Listed building.

I don’t think, that any of the construction would be too challenging.

How Would The Third Platform Be Used?

This is said in the Network Rail document about the third platform at Camden Road station.

This proposal would reinstate a third track and platform on the northern side of Camden Road station, utilising part of the former 4-track formation through the station.

The additional capacity provided would facilitate much greater flexibility in pathing options for trains on this busy central section of the NLL, opening up new options for future service provision and bolstering performance resilience.

Reinstatement of a third platform would enable platform 2 to be used as a central turnback, with platform 3 becoming the eastbound line for through London Overground services and the majority of freight.

Transport for London modelling suggests that the eastern end of the NLL, from Canonbury to Stratford, will see some of the strongest long-term demand growth on the Overground network.

A turnback platform will allow this to be addressed with peak capacity boosting services between Stratford and Camden Road and there would also be the option to operate these through the off-peak, which could offer a means of providing additional passenger capacity where it is most needed.

The availability of an additional platform would also aid performance recovery during perturbation on
the orbital routes.

That all looks fairly sensible and wouldn’t require much work to the current station.

Note.

  1. Platform 2 is currently a fully-accessible platform with a lift and will become a spacious fully-accessible island platform with two faces 2 and 3, both serving London Overground services going East.
  2. There must surely be space on the island platform to build a substantial shelter, where passengers can sit, when long freight trains are passing through.
  3. There could even be space for a coffee kiosk.

The former Platform 3 appeared to be a Westbound platform, but the proposed new one appears to be an Eastbound one.

The Track Layout Immediately To The East Of Camden Road Station

These are my thoughts on the track layout to the East of Camden Road station.

This map from cartometro.com shows the track layout between Camden Road and Highbury & Islington stations.

Much of the route through Caledonian Road and Barnsbury station is four tracks. These tracks are named from North to South as follows.

  • Down North London Reversible
  • Down North London
  • Up North London Reversible
  • Up North London

Note.

  1. Eastbound London Overground services use the Down North London track.
  2. Eastbound freight services use the Down North London Reversible track.
  3. Eastbound freight services are sometimes held by signallers on the Down North London Reversible track.
  4. Westbound London Overground services use the Up North London Reversible track, before crossing over to the Up North London track at Camden Road East Junction.
  5. London Overground services only use the central island platform at Caledonian Road and Barnsbury station.
  6. Westbound freight services use both of the Up North London tracks.
  7. The London Borough of Camden have stated that they would like to see the reopening of Maiden Lane station.

These pictures show the former trackbed between the former Maiden Lane station and Camden Road station.

Looking at these pictures, I can deduce the following.

  • There is very little constructuction of the former trackbed.
  • There would be some signalling equipment to move.
  • Some of the steel bridges would have to be replaced.

I feel,  that a single track could definitely be created between the new Platform 3 at Camden Road station to connect with  both Down North London tracks before the site of the former Maiden Line station.

It may even be possible to squeeze in two tracks.

A new track or tracks would enable the following.

  • Eastbound London Overground services to go from Platform 3 at Camden Road station to Platform 3 at Caledonian Road and Barnsbury station.
  • Eastbound freight services to go from Platform 3 at Camden Road station to either the Down North London Reversible or the Down North London tracks through Caledonian Road and Barnsbury station.

Note.

  1. Westbound services going through Camden Road station would be unaffected.
  2. Westbound London Overground services terminating in Platform 2 at Camden Road station would cross over to the current Up North London Reversible at the current Camden Road Central junction.
  3. Eastbound London Overground services starting in Platform 2 at Camden Road station would cross over to the new track or tracks to proceed to the East.

These are my answers to a few questions.

Will There Be One Or Two Extra Tracks?

Consider.

  • It could probably be organised that the extra track or tracks start perhaps fifty metres or so to the East of Camden Road station.
  • The distance between this point and Westbourne Road Junction is around a mile.
  • Network Rail allows freight trains up to a length of 775 metres.

I am drawn to the conclusion, that if two tracks were to be built, then signallers would be able to hold the longest freight trains on the extended Down North London Reversible track, without interrupting London Overground passenger services.

How Will The Extra Tracks Affect The Camden Highline?

If two new tracks are built, I would expect that it will be impossible to build the Camden Highline.

But if only one is built, I suspect that a narrower Camden Highline might be able to be squeezed in.

Could Provision Be Made So A New Maiden Lane Station Could Be Built?

This map from cartometro.com shows the track layout around the former Maiden Lane station.

Consider.

  • Eastbound London Overground services use the Down North London track and call in Platform 3 at Caledonian Road and Barnsbury station.
  • Westbound London Overground services use the Up North London Reversible track and call in Platform 2 at Caledonian Road and Barnsbury station.
  • To connect Platform 3 at Camden Road station to the Down North London Reversible and Down North London tracks, I suspect that Camden Road East junction will have to be remodelled.

I wonder if by the application of Network Rail’s latest track layout software, space could found for an island platform between the Up North London Reversible and Down North London tracks.

In Is Caledonian Road And Barnsbury An Ideal Four-Track Station?, I discuss the design of Caledonian Road and Barnsbury station,

I think it is a distinct possibility, that provision could be made for a future Maiden Lane station.

Will There Be Changes At Camden Road West Junction?

This map from cartometro.com shows the track layout to the West of Camden Road station.

Note.

  1. Platforms 1 and 2 of Camden Road station at the Eastern end of the map.
  2. Camden Road West junction to the West of the platforms.
  3. The dotted lines of old tracks leading to the former Platform 3 and 4 at Camden Road station.

Two double tracks lead away to the West from Camden Road West junction.

  • The orange tracks are the North London Line to Willesden Junction and Acton.
  • The black and orange tracks are an extension of the Watford DC Line, that links Camden Road station to the West Coast Main Line via Primrose Hill station.

Will both pairs of tracks be connected to the North London Line at Camden Road West junction, as they are now?

  • Currently, a few freight trains per day, use the Primrose Hill route.
  • There have been plans in the past, for the London Overground to use this route.
  • They have also been known to run a Rail Replacement Train between Willesden Junction and Camden Road stations during engineering works, as I wrote about in The Future Of The Watford DC Line.

So I suspect Network Rail will design a comprehensive junction, that is all things to all operators and trains.

Through Running Between The East London Line and Willesden Junction Station

This was originally talked about in the original plans for the London Overground.

If you travel on the Overground to Barking, Blackhorse Road, Canada Water, Highbury & Islington, West Brompton, Hampstead, Whitechapel or Willesden Junction in the Peak, the interchanges are very busy, as passengers are transferring to the Underground.

Was this why through running was originally proposed between the East and North London Lines at Highbury & Islington station, as it would allow direct connection to extra Underground lines?

But one of the aims of the Overground was to enable journeys around London without going via Central London.

Platform 3 at Camden Road station, seems to increase the capacity on the North London Line, so perhaps this upgrade would give extra paths to allow some services to terminate to the West of Highbury & Islington.

This map from cartometro.com shows the track layout to the West of Highbury & Islington station.

I’m sure if Network Rail’s engineers can sort out King’s Cross, then they can come up with a track and signalling system that can handle this,

Could Platform 2 At Camden Road Be Used As An Alternative Terminus For Watford DC Line Services?

Euston station is being rebuilt and Network Rail might like to kick Watford DC Line services out of the station either temporarily or even permanently.

There are two routes that the Watford DC Line could take to get between Harlesden and Camden Road stations.

  1. They can use the route, I took one Sunday, when the London Overground was running a Rail Replacement Train, via Willesden Junction Low Level, Kensal Green, Queens Park, Kilburn High Road and South Hampstead.
  2. They might also be able to join the North London Line an improved Kensal Green junction.

The first route works and the second may need some extra work at Harlesden junction.

I estimate that Platform 2 at Camden Road station is presently as long as 120 metres.

I also estimate that it could be lengthened at both ends, during the building of a new platform 3 alongside.

Could a platform be built long enough to be able to handle two trains simultaneously?

A 200 metre long platform would probably suffice!

I think the concept has possibilities.

  • Willesden Junction station has connections to the Bakerloo Line.
  • West Hampstead station has connections to Thameslink and the Jubilee and further connections could be developed,
  • Camden Road station could be connected to Camden Town station, which is on both branches of the Northern Line.
  • A reopened Primrose Hill station could be connected to Chalk Farm station on the Northern Line.
  • The Northern Line connects to Crossrail at Moorgate and Tottenham Court Road stations.

I suspect, if Camden Town station were to be expanded and rebuilt, that the connection between the two Camden stations would be more likely.

Either route could be taken between Willesden Junction and Camden Road stations.

But I feel, it might be less costly to take the North London Line route, especially, as this connects to West Hampstead station.

Could The Track Layout Be Further Simplified?

I’m no track expert, but it strikes me that a four-track layout could be built between just East of Camden Road station and Westbourne Road junction. From North to South these tracks would be.

  • Eastbound Freight line – Connecting at the Western end to Platform 3 at Camden Road station and following the existing Down North London Reversible track to Westbourne Road junction.
  • Eastbound Overground line – Connecting at the Western end to Platforms 2 and 3 at Camden Road station and following the existing Down North London track through Caledonian Road and Barnsbury station to Westbourne Road junction.
  • Westbound Overground line – Connecting at the Western end to Platforms 1 and 2 at Camden Road station and following the existing Up North London Reversible track through Caledonian Road and Barnsbury station to Westbourne Road junction.
  • Westbound Freight line – Connecting at the Western end to Platform 1 at Camden Road station and following the existing Up North London track to Westbourne Road junction.

Note.

  1. Both freight lines would be long enough for signallers to hold freight trains, so that other services could overtake.
  2. East of Caledonian Road and Barnsbury station, Overground and freight service would share the two tracks, as they do now!
  3. West of Camden Road station, Overground and freight service would share the two tracks, as they do now!

It strikes me that by good design, the capacity and speed through this section of the busy North London Line can be increased.

Related Posts

These are related posts about the London Rail Freight Strategy (LRFS).

Decarbonisation Of London’s Freight Routes

Doubling Harlesden Junction

East Coast Main Line South Bi-Directional Capability

Gauge Improvements Across London

Gospel Oak Speed Increases

Headway Reductions On The Gospel Oak To Barking, North London and West London Lines

Heavy Axle Weight Restrictions

Kensal Green Junction Improvement

Longhedge Junction Speed Increases

Moving The West London Line AC/DC Switchover To Kensington Olympia

Moving The West London Line AC/DC Switchover To Shepherd’s Bush

Nunhead Junction Improvement

Stratford Regulating Point Extension

Will Clapham Junction Station Get A Platform 0?

 

 

 

 

June 19, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Vivarail At COP26

This press release from Network Rail is entitled Network Rail And Porterbrook To Showcase Britain’s Green Trains Of The Future At COP26.

These two paragraphs are from the end of the first section of the press release.

It is envisaged that the HydroFLEX may also be used to transport visitors to see the Zero Emission Train, Scotland’s first hydrogen powered train.

Network Rail is also in the earlier stages of planning a similar event with Vivarail to bring an operational battery train to COP26.

Vivarail have taken battery trains to Scotland before for demonstration, as I wrote about in Battery Class 230 Train Demonstration At Bo’ness And Kinneil Railway.

Will other train companies be joining the party?

Alstom

It looks like Alstom’s hydrogen-powered Class 600 train will not be ready for COP26.

But I suspect that the French would not like to be upstaged by a rolling stock leasing company and a university on the one hand and a company with scrapyard-ready redundant London Underground trains on the other.

I think, they could still turn up with something different.

They could drag one of their Coradia iLint trains through the Channel Tunnel and even run it to Scotland under hydrogen power, to demonstrate the range of a hydrogen-powered train.

Alstom have recently acquired Bombardier’s train interests in the UK and there have been rumours of a fleet of battery-electric Electrostars, even since the demonstrator ran successfully in 2015. Will the prototype turn up at COP26?

Alstom’s UK train factory is in Widnes and I’ve worked with Liverpudlians and Merseysiders on urgent projects and I wouldn’t rule out the Class 600 train making an appearance.

CAF

Spanish train company; CAF, have impressed me with the speed, they have setup their factory in Newport and have delivered a total of well over a hundred Class 195 and Class 331 trains to Northern.

I wrote Northern’s Battery Plans, in February 2020, which talked about adding a fourth-car to three-car Class 331 trains, to create a battery-electric Class 331 train.

Will the Spanish bring their first battery-electric Class 331 train to Glasgow?

I think, they just might!

After all, is there a better place for a train manufacturer looking to sell zero-carbon trains around the world to announce, their latest product?

Hitachi

A lot of what I have said for Alstom and CAF, could be said for Hitachi.

Hitachi have announced plans for two battery-electric trains; a Regional Battery Train and an Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train.

I doubt that either of these trains could be ready for COP26.

But last week, I saw the new Hitachi Class 803 train speeding through Oakleigh Park station.

This is not a battery-electric train, where battery power can be used for traction, but according to Wikipedia and other sources, it is certainly an electric train fitted with batteries to provide hotel power for the train, when the overhead electrification fails.

Are these Class 803 trains already fitted with their batteries? And if they are, have they been tested?

And who is building the batteries for the Class 803 trains?

The traction batteries for Hitachi’s two battery-electric trains are to be produced by Hyperdrive Innovation of Sunderland, which is not far from Hitachi’s train factory at Newton Aycliffe.

As an engineer, I would suspect that a well-respected company like Hyperdrive Innovation, can design a battery-pack that plugs in to Hitachi’s trains, as a diesel engine would. I would also suspect that a good design, would allow an appropriate size of battery for the application and route.

I feel it is very likely, that all batteries for Hitachi’s UK trains will be designed and build by Hyperdrive Innovation.

If that is the case and the Class 803 trains are fitted with batteries, then Hitachi can be testing the battery systems.

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, gives a very comprehensive description of the electrical and computer systems of the Hitachi trains.

As an engineer and a computer programmer, I believe that if Hyperdrive Innovation get their battery design right and after a full test program, that Hitachi could be able to run battery-electric trains based on the various Class 80x trains.

It could be a more difficult task to fit batteries to Scotland’s Class 385 trains, as they are not fitted with diesel engines in any application. Although, the fitting of diesel engines may be possible in the global specification for the train.

It is likely that these trains could form the basis of the Regional Battery Train, which is described in this infographic.

Note.

  1. The Class 385 and Regional Battery trains are both 100 mph trains.
  2. Class 385 and Class 80x trains are all members of Hitachi’s A-Train family.
  3. Regional Battery trains could handle a lot of unelectrified routes in Scotland.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Hitachi bring a battery-equipped train to COP26, if the Class 803 trains have a successful introduction into service.

Siemens

Siemens have no orders to build new trains for the national rail network in the UK.

But there are plans by Porterbrook and possibly other rolling stock leasing companies and train operators to convert some redundant Siemens-built trains, like Class 350 trains, into battery-electric trains.

According to Wikipedia, Siemens upgraded East Midlands Railways, Class 360 trains to 110 mph operation, at their Kings Heath Depot in Northampton.

Could Siemens be updating one of the Class 350 trains, that are serviced at that depot, to a prototype battery-electric Class 350 train?

Stadler

Stadler have a proven design for diesel-electric, battery-electric and hydrogen trains, that they sell all over the world.

In the UK, the only ones in service are Greater Anglia’s Class 755 trains, which are diesel-electric bi-mode trains.

The picture shows one of these trains at Ipswich.

  • They are 100 mph trains.
  • Diesel, battery or hydrogen modules can be inserted in the short PowerPack car in the middle of the train.
  • Diesel-battery-electric versions of these trains have been sold for operation in Wales.
  • The interiors of these trains are designed for both short journeys and a two-hour run.

There is a possibility, that these trains will be upgraded with batteries. See Battery Power Lined Up For ‘755s’.

Conclusion

Times will be interesting in Glasgow at COP26!

 

June 6, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport, World | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Class 319 Train, But Not As We Know It!

This article on Rail Advent is entitled COP26 To Showcase Britain’s Sustainable Trains Of The Future Thanks To Network Rail And Porterbrook Partnership.

The article talks about and shows pictures of Porterbrook’s HydroFLEX or Class 799 train, which has been developed by the University of Birmingham, fitted out for COP26.

I have downloaded this picture of the interior from Network Rail’s media centre.

Who’d have thought a Class 319 train could look so grand?

But then some Class 319 trains used by commuters don’t look their age of over thirty years.

These pictures were taken on the Abbey Line in 2018.

There’s also this BBC Profile and video of the technology behind the HydroFLEX train.

Conclusion

It looks like Network Rail and Porterbrook are doing their best to showcase the best that Britain and Scotland can offer.

I am reminded of a tale, that I heard from a former GEC manager.

He was involved in selling one of GEC’s Air Traffic Control radars to a Middle Eastern country.

The only working installation of the radar was at Prestwick in Scotland, so he arranged that the dignitaries and the sales team would be flown to Prestwick in GEC’s HS 125 business jet.

As they disembarked at Prestwick and walked to the terminal, the pilot called the GEC Manager over.

The pilot told him “The Scottish Highlands at this time of the year, are one of the most beautiful places in the world! Would you and your guests like a low-level tour on the way back? I can arrange it, if you say so!”

Despite knowing GEC’s draconian attitude to cost control he said yes.

The sale was clinched!

Are Network Rail, Porterbrook, the UK and Scottish Governments, setting up the same Scottish treatment to all the delegates to COP26?

 

June 6, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport, World | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Is Possible On The East Coast Main Line?

In the Wikipedia entry for the Class 91 locomotive, there is an amazing story.

This picture shows one of these locomotives at Kings Cross.

Note.

  1. They have a design speed of 140 mph.
  2. They have a power output of 4.8 MW.
  3. They were built around 1990 by British Rail at Crewe.

They were designed to run services between London King’s Cross and Edinburgh as fast as possible, as the motive power of the InterCity 225 trains.

This section in the Wikipedia entry for the Class 91 locomotive is entitled Speed Record. This is the first paragraph.

A Class 91, 91010 (now 91110), holds the British locomotive speed record at 161.7 mph (260.2 km/h), set on 17 September 1989, just south of Little Bytham on a test run down Stoke Bank with the DVT leading. Although Class 370s, Class 373s and Class 374s have run faster, all are EMUs which means that the Electra is officially the fastest locomotive in Britain. Another loco (91031, now 91131), hauling five Mk4s and a DVT on a test run, ran between London King’s Cross and Edinburgh Waverley in 3 hours, 29 minutes and 30 seconds on 26 September 1991. This is still the current record. The set covered the route in an average speed of 112.5 mph (181.1 km/h) and reached the full 140 mph (225 km/h) several times during the run.

Note.

  1. For the British locomotive speed record, locomotive was actually pushing the train and going backwards, as the driving van trailer (DVT) was leading.
  2. How many speed records of any sort, where the direction isn’t part of the record, have been set going backwards?
  3. I feel that this record could stand for many years, as it is not very likely anybody will build another 140 mph locomotive in the foreseeable future. Unless a maverick idea for a high speed freight locomotive is proposed.

I have a few general thoughts on the record run between Kings Cross and Edinburgh in three-and-a-half hours.

  • I would assume that as in normal operation of these trains, the Class 91 locomotive was leading on the run to the North.
  • For various reasons, they would surely have had at least two of British Rail’s most experienced drivers in the cab.
  • At that time, 125 mph InterCity 125 trains had been the workhorse of East Coast Main Line for well over ten years, so British Rail wouldn’t have been short of experienced high speed drivers.
  • It was a Thursday, so they must have been running amongst normal traffic.
  • On Monday, a typical run between Kings Cross and Edinburgh is timetabled to take four hours and twenty minutes.
  • High Speed Two are predicting a time of three hours and forty-eight minutes between Euston and Edinburgh via High Speed Two and  the West Coast Main Line.

The more you look at it, a sub-three-and-and-a-half hour time, by 1980s-technology on a less-than-perfect railway was truly remarkable.

So how did they do it?

Superb Timetabling

In Norwich-In-Ninety Is A Lot More Than Passengers Think!, I talk about how Network Rail and Greater Anglia created a fast service between Liverpool Street and Norwich.

I suspect that British Rail put their best timetablers on the project, so that the test train could speed through unhindered.

Just as they did for Norwich-in-Ninety and probably will be doing to the East Coast Main Line to increase services and decrease journey times.

A Good As ERTMS Signalling

Obviously in 1991, there was no modern digital in-cab signalling and I don’t know the standard of communication between the drivers and the signallers.

On the tricky sections like Digswell Viaduct, through Hitchin and the Newark Crossing were other trains stopped well clear of any difficult area, as modern digital signalling can anticipate and take action?

I would expect the test train got a signalling service as good as any modern train, even if parts of it like driver to signaller communication may have been a bit experimental.

There may even have been a back-up driver in the cab with the latest mobile phone.

It must have been about 1991, when I did a pre-arranged airways join in my Cessna 340 on the ground at Ipswich Airport before take-off on a direct flight to Rome. Air Traffic Control had suggested it to avoid an intermediate stop at say Southend.

The technology was arriving and did it help the drivers on that memorable run North ensure a safe and fast passage of the train?

It would be interesting to know, what other equipment was being tested by this test train.

A Possible Plan

I suspect that the plan in 1991 was to use a plan not unlike one that would be used by Lewis Hamilton, or in those days Stirling Moss to win a race.

Drive a steady race not taking any chances and where the track allows speed up.

So did British Rail drive a steady 125 mph sticking to the standard timetable between Kings Cross and Edinburgh?

Then as the Wikipedia extract indicated, at several times during the journey did they increase the speed of the train to 140 mph.

And the rest as they say was an historic time of 3 hours, 29 minutes and 30 seconds. Call it three-and-a-half-hours.

This represented a start-to-stop average speed of 112.5 mph over the 393 miles of the East Coast Main Line.

Can The Current Trains Achieve Three-And-A-Half-Hours Be Possible Today?

Consider.

  • The best four hours and twenty minutes timings of the Class 801 trains, represents an average speed of 90.7 mph.
  • The Class 801 trains and the InterCity 225 trains have similar performance.
  • There have been improvements to the route like the Hitchin Flyover.
  • Full ERTMS in-cab signalling is being installed South of Doncaster.
  • I believe ERTMS and ETC could solve the Newark Crossing problem! See Could ERTMS And ETCS Solve The Newark Crossing Problem?
  • I am a trained Control Engineer and I believe if ERTMS and ETC can solve the Newark Crossing problem, I suspect they can solve the Digswell Viaduct problem.
  • The Werrington Dive Under is being built.
  • The approaches to Kings Cross are being remodelled.

I can’t quite say easy-peasy. but I’m fairly certain the Kings Cross and Edinburgh record is under serious threat.

  • A massive power supply upgrade to the North of Doncaster is continuing. See this page on the Network Rail web site.
  • ERTMS and ETC probably needs to be installed all the way between Kings Cross and Edinburgh.
  • There may be a need to minimise the number of slower passenger trains on the East Coast Main Line.
  • The Northumberland Line and the Leamside Line may be needed to take some trains from the East Coast Main Line.

Recent Developments Concerning the Hitachi Trains

There have been several developments  since the Hitachi Class 800 and Class 801 trains were ordered.

  • Serious engineers and commentators like Roger Ford of Modern Railways have criticised the lugging of heavy diesel engines around the country.
  • Network Rail have upgraded the power supply South of Doncaster and have recently started to upgrade it between Doncaster and Edinburgh. Will this extensive upgrade cut the need to use the diesel power-packs?
  • Hitachi and their operators must have collected extensive in-service statistics about the detailed performance of the trains and the use of the diesel power-packs.
  • Hitachi have signed an agreement with Hyperdrive Innovation of Sunderland to produce battery-packs for the trains and two new versions of the trains have been announced; a Regional Battery Train and an Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train.
  • East Coast Trains have ordered five five-car Class 803 trains, each of which will have a small battery for emergency use and no diesel power-packs.
  • Avanti West Coast have ordered ten seven-car Class 807 trains, each of which have no battery or diesel power-packs.

And these are just the ones we know about.

The Class 807 Trains And Liverpool

I find Avanti West Coast’s Class 807 trains the most interesting development.

  • They have been partly financed by Rock Rail, who seem to organise train finance, so that the train operator, the train manufacturer all get the best value, by finding good technical solutions.
  • I believe that these trains have been designed so they can run between Euston and Liverpool Lime Street stations in under two hours.
  • Does the absence of battery or diesel power-packs save weight and improve performance?
  • Euston and Liverpool Lime Street in two hours would be an average of only 96.8 mph.
  • If the Class 807 trains could achieve the same start-stop average of 112.5 mph achieved by the InterCity 225 test run between Kings Cross and Edinburgh, that would mean a Euston and Liverpool Lime Street time of one hour and forty-three minutes.
  • Does Thunderbird provision on the West Coast Main Line for the Class 390 trains mean that the Class 807 trains don’t need emergency power?
  • Have diesel power-packs been rarely used in emergency by the Hitachi trains?

I believe the mathematics show that excellent sub-two hour times between Euston and Liverpool Lime Street are possible by Avanti West Coast’s new Class 807 trains.

The Class 803 Trains And Edinburgh

East Coast Trains ordered their Class 803 trains in March 2019,  nine months before Avanti West Coast ordered their Class 807 trains.

In Trains Ordered For 2021 Launch Of ‘High-Quality, Low Fare’ London – Edinburgh Service, I outlined brief details of the trains and the proposed service.

  • FirstGroup is targeting the two-thirds of passengers, who fly between London and Edinburgh.
  • They are also targeting business passengers, as the first train arrives in Edinburgh at 10:00.
  • The trains are five-cars.
  • The trains are one class with onboard catering, air-conditioning, power sockets and free wi-fi.
  • Stops will be five trains per day with stops at Stevenage, Newcastle and Morpeth.
  • The trains will take around four hours.
  • The service will start in Autumn 2021.

I also thought it would be a successful service

As I know Edinburgh, Liverpool and London well, I believe there are similarities between the Euston-Liverpool Lime Street and Kings Cross-Edinburgh routes.

  • Both routes are between two cities known all over the world.
  • Both routes are fully-electrified.
  • Both routes have the potential to attract passengers from other transport modes.

The two services could even be run at similar speeds.

  • Euston-Liverpool Lime Street in two hours will be at 96.8 mph
  • Kings Cross-Edinburgh in four hours will be at 98.3 mph.

Does this explain the similar lightweight trains?

Could Lightweight Trains Help LNER?

There is one important factor, I haven’t talked about in detail in this post. Batteries and diesel power-packs on the Hitachi trains.

I have only mentioned them in the following circumstances.

  • When trains are not fitted with battery and/or diesel power-packs.
  • When battery developments are being undertaken.

Let’s consider the LNER fleet.

  • LNER has thirteen nine-car Class 800 trains, each of which has five diesel power-packs
  • LNER has ten five-car Class 800 trains, each of which has three diesel power-packs
  • LNER has thirty nine-car Class 801 trains, each of which has one diesel power-pack
  • LNER has twelve five-car Class 801 trains, each of which has one diesel power-pack

There are sixty-five trains, 497 coaches and 137 diesel power-packs.

And look at their destinations.

  • Aberdeen – No Electrification from Edinburgh
  • Alnmouth – Fully Electrified
  • Berwick-upon-Tweed – Fully Electrified
  • Bradford Forster Square – Fully Electrified
  • Darlington – Fully Electrified
  • Doncaster – Fully Electrified
  • Durham – Fully Electrified
  • Edinburgh – Fully Electrified
  • Glasgow – Fully Electrified
  • Grantham – Fully Electrified
  • Harrogate – No Electrification from Leeds – Possible Battery Destination
  • Huddersfield – No Electrification from Leeds – Possible Battery Destination – Probable Electrification
  • Hull – No Electrification from Temple Hirst Junction – Possible Battery Destination
  • Inverness – No Electrification from Stirling
  • Leeds – Fully Electrified
  • Lincoln – No Electrification from Newark North Gate – Possible Battery Destination
  • Middlesbrough – No Electrification from Northallerton – Possible Battery Destination
  • Newcastle – Fully Electrified
  • Newark North Gate – Fully Electrified
  • Northallerton – Fully Electrified
  • Peterborough – Fully Electrified
  • Skipton – Fully Electrified
  • Retford – Fully Electrified
  • Stevenage – Fully Electrified
  • Stirling – Fully Electrified
  • Sunderland – No Electrification from Northallerton – Possible Battery Destination
  • Wakefield Westgate – Fully Electrified
  • York – Fully Electrified

The destinations can be summarised as followed.

  • Not Electrified – 2
  • Possible Battery Destination – 6
  • Fully Electrified – 20

This gives a total of 28.

Could the trains be matched better to the destinations?

  • Some routes like Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle and Stirling could possibly be beneficially handled by lightweight trains without any diesel or battery power-packs.
  • Only Aberdeen and Inverness can’t be reached by all-electric or battery-electric trains.
  • In LNER Seeks 10 More Bi-Modes, I proposed a hydrogen-electric flagship train, that would use hydrogen North of the existing electrification.

There certainly appear to be possibilities.

Example Journey Times To Edinburgh

This table shows the various time for particular start-stop average speeds between Kings Cross and Edinburgh.

  • 80 mph – 4:54
  • 85 mph – 4:37
  • 90 mph – 4:12
  • 98.2 mph – 4:00
  • 100 mph – 3:56
  • 110 mph – 3:34
  • 120 mph – 3:16
  • 125 mph – 3:08

Note.

  • Times are given in h:mm.
  • A few mph increase in average speed reduces journey time by a considerable amount.

The figures certainly show the value of high speed trains and of removing bottlenecks, as average speed is so important.

Decarbonisation Of LNER

LNER Seeks 10 More Bi-Modes was based on an article in the December 2020 Edition of Modern Railways, with the same title. These are the first two paragraphs of the article.

LNER has launched the procurement of at least 10 new trains to supplement its Azuma fleet on East Coast main line services.

In a Prior Information Notice published on 27 October, the operator states it is seeking trains capable of operating under 25kW overhead power with ‘significant self-power capability’ for operation away from overhead wires. ‘On-board Energy Storage for traction will be specified as a mandatory requirement to reduce, and wherever practical eliminate, diesel usage where it would otherwise be necessary, although LNER anticipates some degree of diesel traction may be required to meet some self-power requirements. Suppliers tendering are asked to detail their experience of designing and manufacturing a fleet of multi-mode trains with a range of traction options including battery-electric, diesel-electric, hydrogen-electric, battery-diesel, dual fuel and tri-mode.

From this, LNER would appear to be serious about decarbonisation and from the destination list I published earlier, most services South of the Scottish Central Belt can be decarbonised by replacing diesel-power packs with battery power-packs.

That last bit, sounds like a call for innovation to provide a solution to the difficult routes to Aberdeen and Inverness. It also looks as if it has been carefully worded not to rule anybody out.

This press release from Hitachi is entitled Hitachi And Eversholt Rail To Develop GWR Intercity Battery Hybrid Train – Offering Fuel Savings Of More Than 20%.

It announces the Hitachi Intercity Tri-mode Battery Train, which is described in this Hitachi infographic.

As the Hitachi press release is dated the 15th of December 2020, which is after the publication of the magazine, it strikes me that LNER and Hitachi had been talking.

At no point have Hitachi stated what the range of the train is on battery power.

To serve the North of Scotland these gaps must be bridged.

  • Aberdeen and Edinburgh Haymarket – 130 miles
  • Inverness and Stirling – 146 miles

It should also be noted that distances in Scotland are such, that if these gaps could be bridged by battery technology, then probably all of the North of Scotland’s railways could be decarbonised. As Hitachi are the major supplier of Scotland’s local and regional electric trains, was the original Prior Information Notice, written to make sure Hitachi responded?

LNER run nine-car Class 800 trains on the two long routes to Aberdeen and Inverness.

  • These trains have five diesel power-packs under coaches 2,3, 5, 7 and 8.
  • As five-car Class 800 trains have diesel power-packs under coaches 2, 3 and 4, does this mean that Hitachi can fit diesel power-packs under all cars except for the driver cars?
  • As the diesel and battery power-packs appear to be interchangeable, does this mean that Hitachi could theoretically build some very unusual trains?
  • Hitachi’s trains can be up to twelve-cars in normal mode and twenty-four cars in rescue mode.
  • LNER would probably prefer an all Azuma fleet, even if a few trains were a bit longer.

Imagine a ten-car train with two driver and eight intermediate cars, with all of the intermediate cars having maximum-size battery-packs.

Supposing, one or two of the battery power-packs were to be replaced with a diesel power-pack.

There are a lot of possibilities and I suspect LNER, Hitachi and Hyperdrive Innovation are working on a train capable of running to and from the North of Scotland.

Conclusion

I started by asking what is possible on The East Coast Main Line?

As the time of three-and-a-half hours was achieved by a short-formation InterCity 225 train in 1991 before Covids, Hitchin, Kings Cross Remodelling, Power Upgrades, Werrington and lots of other work, I believe that some journeys between Kings Cross and Edinburgh could be around this time within perhaps five years.

To some, that might seem an extraordinary claim, but when you consider that the InterCity 225 train in 1991 did it with only a few sections of 140 mph running, I very much think it is a certainly at some point.

As to the ultimate time, earlier I showed that an average of 120 mph between  King’s Cross and Edinburgh gives a time of 3:16 minutes.

Surely, an increase of fourteen minutes in thirty years is possible?

 

 

 

May 15, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Beeching Reversal – Reopening Harston Station

This is one of the Round 3 bids of Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

Harston is a Cambridgeshire village, which is shown in this Google Map.

Note.

  1. The A10 winding its way North and South through the village.
  2. Cambridge is five miles to the North.
  3. The triangular road junction in the middle of the village with Station Road leading off to the South East.
  4. The Cambridge Line crosses the South-East corner of the map, at a right angle to Station Road.

This Google Map shows the former station site at an enlarged scale..

Note.

  1. There is plenty of space.
  2. There is a level crossing.
  3. The railway is double-track.

There’s even a Harston History page for the station, so if the architect’s decide to go retro, they can visit it for design inspiration.

My initial thoughts are that compared to some of the proposals for Beeching Reversal this one is practical and not over ambitious.

These are some of my thoughts.

Car Parking

Currently, there are the following stations between Cambridge and Hitchin.

Note.

Only Royston station has more than minimal parking provision.

The addition of Harston and Cambridge South stations will probably mean, that a lot of thought will be given to parking at all the stations between Cambridge and Hitchin.

Cambridge South like Cambridge North will probably have extensive parking to also serve Addenbrooke’s Hospital and Cambridge Bio-Medical Campus.

Whittlesford Parkway station on the line between Cambridge and Liverpool Street has very adequate parking provision.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Harston station having a couple of hundred parking spaces.

East West Railway

In Looking At The East West Railway Between Bedford And Cambridge, I looked at the route of the East West Railway as it approaches Cambridge.

I very much doubt that this new railway will go through Harston station.

But Harston station will beef up the capacity on the Cambridge Line to bring more workers to one of the science and engineering capitals of the world.

Cambridgeshire Autonomous Metro

There are also plans for the Cambridgeshire Autonomous Metro.

This map shows the proposed layout of the Cambridgeshire Autonomous Metro.

Note that the green section will be in tunnel.

I doubt that the Cambridgeshire Autonomous Metro will run to Harston, as it most likely will run on rubber-tyred wheels and probably wouldn’t mix well with heavy rail.

Train Service

Currently, the current trains run through the station in the Off Peak.

  • Thameslink – 2 tph – Cambridge and Brighton
  • Thameslink – 2 tph – Cambridge and King’s Cross
  • Great Northern – 1 tph – King’s Cross and Ely
  • Great Northern – 1 tph – King’s Cross and King’s Lynn

Note.

  1. tph is an abbreviation for trains per hour.
  2. All trains are fast services, except for the Cambridge and King’s Cross service, which stops at all stations.
  3. When Cambridge South station opens, I suspect nearly all services will stop at that station.
  4. The Great Northern services also stop at Cambridge North station.
  5. In Call For ETCS On King’s Lynn Route, I talked of the possibility of running 125 mph trains on Great Northern services between King’s Cross, Cambridge, Cambridge North, Ely and King’s Lynn.

I suspect that it will be likely only the Thameslink stopping train will call at Harston station, just as it is the only service that calls at Foxton, Shepreth and Meldreth stations.

  • But is two tph enough for a Park-and-Ride station?
  • Whittlesford Parkway station already has three tph to and from Cambridge.
  • I suspect there will be a second Stansted and Cambridge service which mean Whittlesford Parkway station gets four tph to Cambridge,

I suspect Hartston station needs four tph to give a Turn-Up-And-Go service.

Barrington Quarry And Landfill

This Google map shows the location of the Barrington Quarry and Landfill, with respect to Harston.

Note.

  1. Barrington Quarry and Landfill is in the North-West corner of the map.
  2. Harston is in the North-East corner of the map.
  3. The A10 road runs South-West from Harston to Foxton station, where there is a level crossing, where the Cambridge Line crosses the road.
  4. Foxton station has a freight-only line linking it to the quarry.

This second Google Map shows Foxton station in detail.

Note the rail line to Barrington curving away to the North West.

This document from CEMEX is entitled Barrington Quarry – Restoration Project.

It appears that the quarry will be restored and some of the land will be used for new homes.

As all the track is already in place, would it be possible to run a 2tph service between Barrington and Cambridge North station?

  • It could call at  Harston, Cambridge North and Cambridge stations.
  • Harston station would get a four tph service.
  • Cambridge gets more much-needed housing connected to the city.

It could also be run using battery-electric trains that would be charged using the electrification between Foxton and Cambridge North stations.

Conclusion

Taking everything together, it appears to me, that Harston station could improve the rail network to the South West of Cambridge.

March 21, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Dartmoor Rail Service Reopens This Year In Reversal Of Beeching Cuts

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

A largely redundant Victorian railway line will be reopened this year as part of plans to resurrect routes closed in the infamous Beeching cuts.

This line was always likely to be one of the first to reopen, as there is a terminal station at Okehampton, with a bus interchange and other facilities, that has been hosting a service from Exeter on summer Sundays for some years.

The BBC have a reporter there this morning and the station looks in better condition, than some I could name.

This paragraph from The Times describes works to be done.

Network Rail said engineers would start a range of works including improvements to drainage, fencing by the trackside, rebuilding embankments and upgrading Okehampton station. Some 11 miles of track will also be replaced. It is envisaged that test trains will run later this year before it fully reopens to passengers.

Some of the BBC footage, showed a great pile of new track by the station, so it looks like Network Rail are starting to relay the track.

It is hoped to run a one train per two hour service by the end of the year, which could go hourly next year.

In Okehampton Railway Return ‘Clear Reality’ After £40m Commitment In Budget, I said more about this reopening project and I speculated that both Okehampton and Barnstaple services will terminate at Exmouth Junction, as the Barnstaple services do now.

Barnstaple has roughly an hourly service from Exeter and to run two hourly services between Exeter and Coleford Junction, where the two routes divide, may need extra work to be done, so that trains can pass each other at convenient points.

This extra work probably explains, why the service won’t be hourly until next year.

I do wonder, if this reopening also enables other improvement and possibilities.

Meldon Quarry

Meldon Quarry used to be an important source of track ballast for British Rail and it is situated a few miles past Okehampton.

This Google Map shows Meldon Quarry and Okehampton.

Note.

  1. Meldon Quarry is in the South-West corner of the map marked by a red marker.
  2. To its West is Meldon Viaduct, which is part of the old railway line between Okehampton and Plymouth, which is now a walking and cycling route.
  3. The town of Okehampton is in the North-East of the map.
  4. Okehampton station is in the South-East of the town close to the A 30.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find, that Network Rail are upgrading the line to Okehampton, so that if they need to obtain quality track ballast from Meldon Quarry, it would not require upgrades to the track East of Okehampton.

Okehampton Camp

Note Okehampton Camp to the South of Okehampton.

Many Army bases like this one need heavy vehicles to be transported to and from the base.

Have Network Rail future-proofed the design of the route to Okehampton, so that heavy vehicles can be transported to the area?

A Railhead For North Devon And North Cornwall

There are two main roads between Exeter and Cornwall.

  • The A30 goes to the North of Dartmoor and via Launceston
  • The A38 goes to the South of Dartmoor and then via Plymouth

In the past, I’ve always driven to and from Cornwall via the Northern route and I describe one journey in Dancing with Hippopotami.

This Google Map shows the A30, as it passes Okehampton.

Note that although the station and the A30 are physically close, there would be a few minutes to drive between the two.

But I do feel there is scope to create an appropriate transport interchange between.

  • Trains to and from Exeter.
  • Buses and coaches to North Cornwall and North Devon.
  • Cars on the A30.

It could effectively become a parkway station.

An Alternative Route In Case Of Trouble Or Engineering Works At Dawlish

Bodmin Parkway and Okehampton stations are about 43 miles apart and I suspect a coach could do the journey in around fifty minutes.

Would this be a sensible alternative route in times of disruption?

  • It is dual-carriageway all the way.
  • Okehampton station can certainly handle a five-car Class 802 train and could probably be improved to handle a nine- or even ten-car train.
  • Trains from London could get to Okehampton with a reverse at Exeter St. Davids.

I don’t know the area well, but it must be a possibility.

Could Okehampton Have A London Service?

As I said in the previous section, it looks like Okehampton station can handle five-, nine- and possibly ten-car Class 802 trains and there are many pictures of Great Western Railway’s InterCity 125s or HSTs at Okehampton station in years gone by.

I think it would be feasible to run a small number of services between Okehampton and London.

  • The service would have to reverse at Exeter St. Davids station.
  • As one service every two hours runs between London Paddington and Exeter St. Davids stations, a service to Okehampton could be run as an extension to the current Exeter service.
  • It could also stop at Crediton station.

There must also be the possibility of running a pair of five car trains from Paddington, that split at Exeter St. Davids, with one service going to Okehampton and the second one to Paignton.

  • Exeter St. Davids and Paignton are 26.3 miles apart and a fast train takes 34 minutes
  • Exeter St. Davids and Okehampton are probably a slightly shorter distance.

I suspect that a sensible  timetable could be devised.

The specification of the Hitachi InterCity Tri-Mode Train is given in this Hitachi infographic.

Note.

  1. It is intended to run these trains to Exeter, Plymouth and Penzance.
  2. The range of the train on batteries is not given.

These trains could use a mixture of diesel and battery power to travel to and from Okehampton and Paignton.

But I also believe that as Hitachi develop this train and batteries have an increased capacity, that it will be possible for the trin to do a round trip from Exeter to  Okehampton or Paignton without using diesel, provided the train can leave Exeter with a full battery.

According to Hitachi’s infographic, the train will take 10-15 minutes to fully charge at a station like Exeter. But that would add up to fifteen minutes to the timetable.

I feel if the roughly thirty-five miles of track between Exeter St Davids station  and Cogload Junction, which is to the North of Taunton, were to be electrified, then this would mean.

  • Trains would be fully charged for their excursions round Devon.
  • Trains would be fully charged for onward travel to Plymouth and Penzance.
  • Trains going to London would leave Taunton with full batteries to help them on their way on the ninety mile stretch without electrification to Newbury.
  • Trains going between Exeter and Bristol could take advantage of the electrification.

Eventually, this section of electrification might even help to enable trains to run between London and Exeter without using diesel.

As the railway runs alongside the M5 Motorway, this might ease planning for the electrification.

The gap in the electrification between Cogload Junction and Newbury could be difficult to bridge without using diesel.

  • Cogload Junction and Newbury are 85 miles apart.
  • I’ve never seen so many bridges over a railway.
  • I actually counted twenty-one bridges on the twenty miles between Westbury and Pewsey stations.
  • I suspect some will object, if some of the bridges are replaced with modern ones.
  • There would be a lot of disruption and expense, if a large proportion of these bridges were to be replaced.
  • Currently, Great Western Railway run expresses to Exeter, Plymouth and Penzance via Taunton and Newbury.

I think, there needs to be some very radical thinking and low cunning to solve the problem.

  • Battery technology and the best efforts of engineers from Hitachi and Hyperdrive Innovation may stretch the battery range sufficiently.
  • It might be possible to extend the electrification at the Newbury end to perhaps Bedwyn, as there are only a few bridges. This would shorten the distance by up to thirteen miles.
  • It may also be possible to extend the electrification at the Taunton end.
  • I would expect some bridges could be dealt with using discontinuous electrification techniques.

But I believe that full electrification between Newbury and Cogload junction might be an extremely challenging project.

There must also be the possibility of using lightweight overhead line structures, where challenges are made about inappropriate overhead gantries.

There is also a video.

Note.

  1. Electrification doesn’t have to be ugly and out-of-character with the surroundings.
  2. The main overhead structure of this gantry is laminated wood.

These gantries would surely be very suitable for the following.

  • Electrifying secondary routes and especially scenic ones.
  • Electrifying single lines and sidings.
  • Electrifying a bay platform, so that battery electric trains could be charged.

Innovative design could be one of the keys to more electrification.

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 19, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Thoughts On Mass Vaccination

We should steal an idea from the French.

In the first wave of the virus, they had to move seriously ill patients all over the country and to Germany, where there was bed space.

So they converted a TGV to a hospital train.

This page on the SNCF web site, is entitled Covid-10: Behind the Scenes Of Our High-Speed Hospital Train.

Could we not create a Vaccination Train using one of the recently withdrawn InterCity 125s?

They are easily shortened to any convenient length and the carriages have a very smooth ride.

The French converted their hospital train in 48 hours, so surely we can do as well!

The trains have the advantage, that they are certified go to over ninety percent of UK main line railway stations.

Network Rail have a track inspection train, called the New Measurement Train, that works a pattern all over the UK. It is based on an InterCity 125 and is full of delicate instruments, designed to keep the railways of the UK safe.

The picture shows Network Rail’s New Measurement Train at Westbury station.

The Vaccination Train or Trains could be based at a convenient central location, where the vaccine would be safely stored.

  • Trains would be loaded overnight with the vaccine and other stores and locate  early to their site for the day.
  • Sites would typically be stations, where a platform existed that was long enough for the train.
  • Staff to both process the vaccine and treat patients could either go on the train or be drawn from local medical staff, or be a mixture of the two.
  • Specialists handling the vaccine would probably come from the centre, as this would ensure totally correct handling of the vaccine.
  • They would set up at a suitable site and handle the patients booked for the day.
  • Injections could even take place on the train, in specially fitted out carriages.

I would think, that the train would be self contained and generate all its own electricity.

 

December 4, 2020 Posted by | Health, Transport | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments