The Anonymous Widower

Class 345 Trains Really Are Quiet!

This morning I was sitting waiting on Platform 8 at Stratford station.

Platform 8 is separated from Platform 9 by just two tracks, so you notice a train, when it goes through Platform 9 at speed.

Usually, the trains that go through Platform 9 at speed towards Liverpool Street station are Class 321 trains or rakes of Mark 3 coaches oulled by a Class 90 locomotives.

Today, a new Class 345 train went through and the level of noise was extremely low compared to other trains.

Bombardier have applied world class aviation aerodynamics to these trains. Particularly in the areas of body shape, door design, car-to-car interfaces, bogies and pantographs.

Remember too, that low noise means less wasted energy and greater energy efficiency.

May 18, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Will The Third Runway At Heathrow Be Actually Built In The Near Future?

If nothing else the 25th ofSeptember 2026 statement by the Government, stated that the UK is going to build another runway in the South-East.

But I have my doubts, that a third runway will be open at Heathrow in the near future.

Building The Third Runway

As I said in Building The Third Runway At Heathrow, I don’t believe that the actual construction of the Airport would present any problems for any large construction company or more likely  consortium. This is illustrated today, by this article on the BBC, which is entitled New Heathrow runway may be built above the M25, which says to me that engineers are looking for easier and more affordable ways to build the new runway.

Rebuilding The Current Terminals

Heathrow are also disclosing a master-plan, for rebuilding a lot of the airport to make it more efficient and up with the best.

  • There will be two main terminals; Heathrow West and Heathrow East with satellites in between handling the actual planes.
  • These two terminals and the satellites will be between the two existing runways, with a passenger and baggage transport system beneath.
  • Terminal Five will become Heathrow West.
  • An extended Terminal Two will become Heathrow East.
  • Crossrail, Heathrow Express and the Underground will serve both main terminals.
  • A Terminal Six would be mainly for the third runway, would effectively be part of Heathrow West.

I believe that this rebuilding could start well before the third runway is even given the go-ahead, as many of the works will be within the current Airport boundary.

Rail Links To The Airport

Part of the master-plan is extensive rail links to the Airport.

  • Crossrail, Heathrow Express and the Underground will serve London.
  • There will be rail links to both the West and South.
  • There will be a rail link to both HS1 and HS2.
  • Could we even see a rail-based cargo transport system running under all the terminals, bringing in supplies for the terminals and the planes?

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the current rail links at Heathrow.

Rail Lines At Heathrow

Rail Lines At Heathrow

Note.

  • The Piccadilly Line is shown in blue.
  • The lines going South lead to Terminal Four.
  • Crossrail has Terminal Four as its terminus
  • The Heathrow West and Heathrow East concept fits the rail lines well.
  • Terminal Five station is ready for access from the West.

I think just as Gatwick are embracing rail with a vengeance, rail can be a major force in the development of Heathrow.

We could even be seeing the current rail line through Terminals Two and Five becoming a high-capacity rail line connecting all the terminals to the West, East and South.

A Greener Airport

If as many of the traffic movements in and around the airport could be moved from polluting road transport to electric trains, Heathrow’s pollution footprint could be reduced.

As an example, you could envisage a factory in a low cost area by a rail line to the West of Heathrow creating airline meals. These would be packaged by flight number and then taken by electric cargo train direct to the appropriate terminal or satellite, ready for loading onto the plane.

Could we even see an airport, where very few trucks and service vehicles, use the runways and aprons? You certainly see a lot less vehicles on an airport, than you did decades ago.

I found this page on the Heathrow  web site, which is entitled Our Vehicle Fleet Is Making The Switch.

This is a paragraph.

850 vehicles in the airside fleet at Heathrow are electric, making it one of the largest fleets of electric airside vehicles in Europe. As well as electric tugs that move baggage around the airfield, we use electric cars and vans to transport our people. We are trialling electric specialist ground support vehicles such as belt loaders, cargo loaders and push back tractors.

I was surprised to see pushback tractors mentioned, as some weigh up to fifty tonnes. But according to the Wikipedia entry for pushback, there are interesting developments in this field. This is said about robotic push back tractors.

The Lahav Division of Israel Aerospace Industries has developed a semi-robotic towbarless tractor it calls Taxibot that can tow an aircraft from the terminal gate to the take-off point (taxi-out phase) and return it to the gate after landing (taxi-in phase). The Taxibot eliminates the use of airplane engines during taxi-in and until immediately prior to take-off during taxi-out potentially saving airlines billions of dollars in fuel that is used. The Taxibot is controlled by the pilot from the cockpit using the regular pilot controls.

Even as a trained Control Engineer and a private pilot with over a thousand hours in command, I can’t help but wonder at the concept.

As a final thought, surely if all unnecessary vehicles could be removed from air-side, this must improve safety and security.

What too, would low or even zero carbon operations, do for the image of the airport?

Travelling To The Airport

One consequence of the rebuilding of the terminals with rail links to both London and the West, will be a reduction in the number of travellers, who drive or are driven to to the airport.

In the London Olympics every event ticket came with a London Travelcard, so that you used public transport. Could we see public transport tickets bundled in with air tickets to cut the need for vehicles to drive to and from the airport?

I certainly think, that we’ll see rail-connected parking to the airport, just because land close to an airport is so expensive.

Local Transport To The Airport

I suspect that a lot of journeys to and from the airport are quite local, as they concern local residents, employees or travellers perhaps spending a night after or before a flight close to the airport.

These journeys have not been forgotten in the master-plan, as it talks of improving bus services.

But the most interesting development is the ULTra PRT system, I talked about in A Visit To Heathrow Terminal 5.

A Heathrow-wide system has been proposed. This is said in Wikipedia.

In May 2013 Heathrow Airport Limited announced as part of its draft five year (2014-2019) master plan that it intended to use the PRT system to connect terminal 2 and terminal 3 to their respective business carparks. The proposal was not included in the final plan due to spending priority given to other capital projects and has been deferred.

There have been suggestions that they will extend the service throughout the airport and to nearby hotels using 400 pods.

The system at Heathrow may not be built, but expect something like it at an airport near you.

Imagine turning up in a convenient car park or train station, with family and baggage, ready to travel on holiday. You scan your pre-printed boarding pass or click one on your phone and a pod arrives, which takes you to the satellite your flight will use.

As they travelled, passengers could scan passports and they would be given up-to-date flight information.

Flying is a total pain, best summed up by the old pilot’s moto.

Time to spare, go by air!

A decent system to bring people to the airport, could make flying more of a pleasure.

Integration With Thameslink

I believe that it would be possible to have a direct Thameslink connection into Heathrow using the |Dudding Hill Line to link to Crossrail.

In Could Thameslink Connect To Heathrow?, I show how it would be possible to create a four tph service between Heathrow and Thameslink.

This could create an easy link to and from Gatwick and Luton Airports and Kings Cross, St. Pancras and London Bridge stations.

Integration With HS2

I’m taking this first, as it’s probably easier than linking to HS1

When Phase 2 of HS2 opens, services Northward from Old Oak Common station are proposed to be.

  • Birmingham – 3 tph
  • Edinburgh – 2 tph
  • Glasgow – 2 tph
  • Leeds – 3 tph
  • Liverpool – 2 tph
  • Manchester – 3 tph
  • Newcastle – 2 tph
  • Preston – 1 tph
  • Sheffield – 2 tph
  • York – 1 tph

I estimate that Heathrow to Old Oak Common will be about 20 minutes by Crossrail and Heathrow Express.

As changing planes at Heathrow, according to the Airport takes between 75 and 90 minutes, using HS2 would be competitive.

,Especially if the interchange at Old oak Common was well-designed.

Leeds will be about ninety minutes from Old Oak Common. so if the interchange timings are right, a passenger could be in the centre of Leeds around two hours after coming through Arrivals at Heathrow. A chauffeur-driven Ferrari couldn’t do that legally.

Integration With HS1

This is more difficult, as neither Crossrail nor Heathrow Express serves St. Pancras.

There are a choice of routes.

  • Crossrail to Farringdon and then Thameslink or the Metropolitan Line to Kings Cross St. Pancras.
  • Heathrow Express to Paddington and then a taxi.
  • Heathrow Express to Paddington and then the Metropolitan Line
  • Piccadilly Line to Kings Cross St. Pancras.

Interchange could have been designed to be a lot better.

I seem to remember that original plans for the Heathrow Express envisaged St. Pancras as a second London terminal, using the Dudding Hill Line.

But this route is probably impossible owing to there not being enough platforms at St. Pancras, which is A Fur Coat And No Knickers Station.

As there are other operators, who need extra platform space at St. Pancras, perhaps a couple of extra platforms could be built.

But I doubt it!

If Heathrow were to be linked to Thameslink, as I indicated earlier, this would solve the problem.

 

Terminals And The Third Runway

Extra terminal capacity, will be able to handle more passengers, but will the runways be able to handle the extra planes?

I suspect there are various strategies, that will keep the number of flights within the capacity of a two-runway airport.

  • Larger aircraft with more capacity, will make better use of slots. 737s and A320s are carrying more passengers.
  • Quieter aircraft, linked to better air traffic control, might givenoise and capacity advantages. Thuis page on the Heathrow web site, is entitled Steeper approach trial report.
  • Reorganisation of air cargo to release slots.
  • Use of Crossrail and/or Heathrow Express to connect to HS1 and HS2.

The more Heathrow use their intelligence, the further into the future the date for the third runway will recede.

Looking At The Cash Flow

Obviously, I don’t have any figures, but sorting out the terminals early and creating extra passenger capacity, may give Heathrow better cash flow to generate the vast sums needed to build the completely new Terminal Six and the third runway.

I’d love to see their full cash flow, but I suspect that the third runway, will only be needed when to expand the traffic, they need m the slots it will deliver.

The early costs would and could be.

  • Fighting the protestors and the politicians.
  • Obtaining Planning Permission.
  • Buying up the private .properties in the way.
  • Rolling out an anti-pollution philosophy.
  • Creating Heathrow West (Terminal Five) and Heathrow East (An Extended Terminal Two)
  • Extending the rail network.
  • Professional fees.

Perhaps by the early 2020s, they would have a strong cash flow and ownership of all the land they might need.

Then at an appropriate time, they would build the new runway and any terminals needed, in the space they had acquired.

As today’s article on the BBC indicated, they wouldn’t even have to build a tunnel for the M25.

It would hopefully be a large, but reasonable straightforward construction operation.

The Opposition Is Gathering

This article in the Independent is entitled Heathrow expansion: Airlines react to Government’s airport decision.

  • Stewart Wingate of Gatwick of Gatwick is quoted as being disappointed and saying he’ll read the Government’s reasons in detail.
  • Dame Carolyn McCall of easyJet, said their planned move to Heathrow is contingent on the right deal.
  • Willie Walsh of BA’s parent said he was pleased a decision had been made.
  • Craig Kreeger of Virgin Atlantic, said: “We support expansion, provided it delivers for our customers.”
  • Nick Burton of Luton Airport said that we must now focus on demand before the new runway is built in 10-15 years time.
  • Charlie Cornish, chief executive of Stansted’s owner, Manchester Airports Group, said that we should make the best use of the runways we’ve got.

That doesn’t sound like a vote of confidence to me.

And I haven’t included all those who will lose their homes, the environmental protesters and those like me who don’t like Heathrow’s attitude.

The statistics are also not on Heathrow’s side either, as traffic is growing fast and another runway is needed soon, with a second one perhaps ten years later, to satisfy rising demand for air travel.

So What Could Happen?

Much of this is speculation, but Nostradamus couldn’t predict this one.

  •  In The Planemakers’ View On The South East’s New Runway, I quoted from an article in The Times, which said that Heathrow’s hub model is superseded by the views of the planemakers, who think it’s all about point-to-point flights in appropriate aircraft.
  • Gatwick could probably apply for permission for a second runway in 2019.
  • Luton, Southend and Stansted Airports are ambitious and want to expand.
  • Better rail services to Stansred Airport have been announced.
  • Luton Airport wants a better rail service.
  • Birmingham Airport gets a connection to HS2 in the mid-2020s.
  • Eurostar and other companies will increasingly add rail services to Europe.

These and other factors will eat into Heathrow’s market share, thus delaying that crucial point, where the third runway needs to be built.

But that doesn’t really solve the short term problem  The only way to satisfy that is to create a runway in the South-East as soon as possible.

And the only place that can be built is Gatwick.

The growth in air traffic will continue and a few years later, Heathrow will get its runway.

 

 

October 26, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Heathrow Decision

Perhaps the best comment on the decision to go for the NW Runway at Heathrow, a this reasoned one from Construction News, which is headlined, Heathrow: Still ifs and buts.

That sums it all up.

This decision is still twenty years away from opening.

.But I suspect it won’t open, as there is too much opposition to the runway.

October 25, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Oxford Now Wants Silent Track

Network Rail must rue the day they agreed to extend the Chiltern Line to Oxford, as the locals have done everything they can to tell Network Rail, that they don’t want the new railway. I wrote about it in July 2015, in Network Rail’s Problems In Oxford.

This article in the Oxford Mail was published yesterday. This title is.

City council bosses to force Network Rail to install Silent Track on another stretch of North Oxford railway.

Which is a good precis of the article.

So what is silent track?

This article on Railway Technology is entitled Tata Steel’s SilentTrack to reduce noise levels at London Blackfriars station.

It gives a sensible explanation.

I know something about noise and vibration and feel very strongly that we should do what we can to minimise noise, where it causes problems.

Noise from a railway comes from several sources.

  • The track
  • Diesel locomotives and multiple units.
  • Pantographs on electric locomotives and multiple units.
  • Freight wagons.

All contribute to a various degree.

In my view, the worst noise comes from diesel locomotives like the noisy and smelly Class 66 locomotives and there is not much point on spending millions on silent track and then allowing these to run through sensitive areas.

The sooner lines like this one through North Oxford are electrified the better.

 

October 13, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , | 2 Comments

Are You Annoyed By Noisy Trains At The Bottom Of Your Garden?

I have just found this document on the European Parliament web site, which is entitled Reducing Railway Noise Pollution.

It is a fascinating document and this is the abstract.

12 million EU inhabitants are affected by railway noise during the day and 9 million during the night. This study lists measures, funding and regulations to reduce it. The introduction of modern rolling stock will lower noise most significantly. In the short run, the replacement of cast iron by composite brake blocks on rail freight cars is most important. Developing a regulation scheme for a staged process towards low-noise rolling stock is the heart of a rail noise abatement strategy.

Many of us in the UK, would think that we suffer badly from the noise of trains, but it would appear that Germany and other Central European countries suffer badly from all freight trains passing through. The Rhine Valley which has over 400 freighs trains a day, suffers badly from noise.

So how can we reduce noise?

  • As the abstract says new rolling stock is the best way to reduce noise and many of our trains have been replaced with new or refurbished ones in the last few years.
  • The report says that most (approximately 75%) of UK freight wagons have disc brakes or composite brake blocks. So that is good.
  • In my view one of things that gets most complaints is noisy and smelly diesel locomotives, like the dreaded Class 66 locomotives. They may be liked by the freight companies, but they are not favourites of drivers and those living by the railway. More friendly types of diesel locomotives like the Class 68 are starting to appear and it can’t be too soon.
  • Surprisingly, with electric trains, pantograph noise is a problem. I’d hand that and any other aerodynamic problems over to the engineers in Formula One and aircraft design. I have read that Bombardier’s new Aventra will be very clean aeodynamically, which must make for a reduction in noise.

Let’s hope that these small improvements continue to reduce the noise by trains.

The report also says this about physical noise barriers.

Noise barriers are a visual intrusion, particularly since they are a target for graffiti; they have a high cost, and cause problems for track access. Their effectiveness depends on their absorption properties, their height, and the proximity of the barrier to the noise source and/or to the receiver.

I am not a fan, as they ruin my taking of photographs.

 

 

 

July 9, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

My Thoughts On Tube Noise At Walthamstow Central

This report in the Standard is entitled Homes in Walthamstow hit by ‘jack-hammer’ Tube train noise after Victoria line upgrade work.

It describes how after all of the upgrade work I described in What Really Happened At Walthamstow Central, noise levels have increased in some of the houses by the station. This is an extract.

Resident Lynda Bailey said the noise, which strikes about every three minutes during peak hours and less frequently the rest of the time, began after Transport for London undertook engineering work over the summer.

“We bought this house about 10 years ago knowing it was above the southbound tunnel of the Victoria line.

“We came a couple of times – it was a rumble but we deemed it to be reasonable noise, as did everyone else.

“But this is unacceptable. I would liken it to a jack-hammer in the next room, like a banging sound … It’s almost like we’re on a Tube platform itself.”

Tonight, I had supper with my son in Walthamstow. He told me how one of his friends lives in a hoise, where the noise has reduced considerably since the work.

It’s all very curious.

Taking my answers from this article in Rail Engineer, there are major differences, indicated in this extract.

Careful survey work of the tunnels checked every millimetre of available space – especially length. The new crossover design is a technical step-change in that it involves the use of Sonneville Low Vibration Track (LVT) – a track system embedded in slab concrete. The point ends have been taken as far as practicable into the tunnels to achieve the longest possible crossover length. Coupled with new components, the maximum speed has been raised to 60kph (35 mph) – enough to secure the required turnround and the 36 trains per hour throughout the line.

Put simply, the crossover should generate less noise because of the Low Vibration Track, but because of the increased speed, more noise could be generated unless LVT was used for a lot more of the line.

I would think that my son’s friend lives over the crossover and its LVT, whereas the other complainants are on lines, where the trains are now going faster. The Standard reports this.

“Our engineers are treating this as a priority and have been improving and renewing the track beneath their properties over the last week.

Hopefully, this will affect a solution. If not, I suspect that London Underground will have a solution in their toolbox.

I have been involved in various noise and vibration issues in the past and in most cases a simple solution is usually found.

If they can’t find one, then I suspect they’ll lay a bit more Low Vibration Track.

 

 

 

October 7, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , , | 1 Comment