The Anonymous Widower

My First Ride In A Class 769 Train

I went to Cardiff today and had my first ride in a Class 769 train. These pictures summarise my ride on the train between Cardiff Central and Bargoed stations.

So what was it like?

Noise And Vibration

Going up to Bargoed, I deliberately sat as near over the top of the engine as I could.

There was a bit of a whine, but not as much as in a new Class 195 train.

For those, who commuted on Class 319 trains for years on Thameslink, they probably wouldn’t notice much difference.

Performance

For a 100 mph electric train built for running between the flat lands of Bedfordshire and the South Coast over the hillocks of the Downs, the train climbed to Bengoed, which has an altitude of around a thousand feet with a purpose.

But then I have a Porterbrook brochure for these trains and the power source was sized, such that the train would be able to climb the stiffest routes in the UK.

The Interior

It looked to me like the Thameslink interior with new sea covers and plugs to charge a mobile phone.

They could certainly be upgraded a bit further to the standard of the Class 319 trains on the Abbey Line, that I wrote about in A Very Smart Class 319 Train.

A Job To Do

Trains for Wales has acquired these trains for extra capacity, whilst they refurbish their Class 150, 153 and 160 trains.

It looks to me, that they will do this job more than adequately.

Future Uses

I suspect Porterbrook hope that these trains will find uses around the UK, as they have spent a lot of time, effort and money to bring these trains into service.

But there are around eighty of the Class 319 trains in service or in store, from which the Class 769 trains are converted.

So they could find uses in several niche applications.

Short Term Fleets

This is effectively, the Trains for Wales application, where extra trains are provided, so that a fleet refurbishment can be performed.

  • They would surely, have been a better replacement fleet for Greater Anglia, than the three Mark 2 coaches and a pair of diesel locomotives, that they used after a series of level crossing accidents.
  • They could also be used to increase capacity for some major events like the Open Golf or a pop festival.
  • Uniquely, they can stand in for both a 100 mph electric train or a 90 mph diesel train.
  • They can even be fitted with third-rail shoes.
  • They are the right size at four cars.
  • They fit most UK platforms.
  • They can be run in formations of up to twelve cars.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Porterbrook or someone on their behalf, keep a fleet of trains on standby to handle short term needs.

Route Development And Testing

There has been a lot of pressure to open up new routes in recent years and these trains would be ideal to try out routes and test new electrification.

Tri-Mode Services

Great Western Railway have a particular problem with their service between Reading and Gatwick, in that it has some third-rail electrification. As they might like to extend this service to Oxford, an ideal train would be dual-voltage and self-powered.

This extract is from the Great Western Railway section in the Wikipedia entry for the Class 769 train.

Although initially planned for use in London and the Thames Valley whilst twelve Class 387 units are modified for Heathrow Express services, the future plan for these units will be operating on services between Oxford, Reading and Gatwick Airport, which would mean operating on unelectrified, 25 kV AC OHLE and 750 V DC third-rail routes. To enable this, Great Western Railway’s allocation of Class 769 units will retain their dual-voltage capability in addition to being fitted with diesel power units. The units will also receive an internal refurbishment and be fitted with air cooling.

I suspect, that they’ll also be used on the Henley, Marlow and Windsor branches, which have some operational problems.

  • The branches are not electrified.
  • Some branches run occasional services to Paddington.
  • The Windsor branch probably needs more capacity.

The Marlow branch could be difficult, but I suspect that, there’s a solution somewhere.

Luxury Bi-Modes

Greater Anglia felt they needed luxury bi-modes for East Anglia and they bought Class 755 trains, which are probably a lot more expensive, as they are brand-new and from Stadler of Switzerland.

Surprisingly, the Class 319 trains have a higher passenger capacity.

But both trains could do a similar task, where the route is partially electrified.

As I said earlier about the GWR units.

The units will also receive an internal refurbishment and be fitted with air cooling.

Porterbrook’s brochure for the Class 769 train talks about using them between Manchester and Buxton.

Surely, this route could do with a Northern version of a GWR interior.

I also think a service should link Hellifield and Buxton. as I wrote about in Why Not Buxton To Hellifield?

That would show what Class 769 trains could do!

It would also connect the Peak District to the hills North of Lancashire.

I might also be, that the standby-fleet should also be the luxury variant of the train. Surely, supporters going to the Open at some of the inaccessible venues could afford pay to pay extra for a comfy train.

Express Freight And Parcels Services

Rail Operations Group would appear to have placed the second-largest order for Class 769 trains, which they will use to launch a high-speed parcels service called Orion.

This extract is from the Rail Operations Group section in the Wikipedia entry for the Class 769 train.

Orion is aiming to launch its first trial service conveying parcels and light freight in April 2021, with the Midlands to Mossend now likely to be the debut flow. The company is to use converted Class 319s for the service and is now planning for a fleet of 19 four-car units – nine Class 319s and 10 Class 769s. Arlington Fleet Services at Eastleigh is modifying the interiors of the units to accommodate roller cages for parcels, with the aim of operating primarily under electric power but with the 769s using their diesel engines to act as tractor units for the 319s on non-electrified stretches. The first 769 bi-mode, No 769501, has undergone its Flex conversion at Brush in Loughborough and is due to be outshopped from Arlington at Eastleigh in March following its interior modification.

In Did These Strawberries Have Road- Or Rail-Miles?, I talked about strawberries going between Scotland and London.

Surely, the movement of high-quality food could be one of the cargoes for Orion.

It wouldn’t be the first such traffic, as Class 43 power cars of the InterCity 125s used to carry flowers and fish up to London from Cornwall.

There’s a lot of space in the back of a Class 43 power car.

I certainly feel there are possibilities for using Class 769 trains as high speed parcels transport.

It should be noted that Class 325 trains already run high speed parcel services up and down the country on behalf of Royal Mail. These trains may look like later British Rail trains, but they are in fact based on Class 319 trains.

 

So I doubt, there’ll be any worries that the trains can’t handle the required services after conversion.

Conclusion

It looks to me that Porterbrooks plan to convert numbers of their Class 319 trains into Class 769 trains will find several ready markets.

It could be argued that more carbon savings could be achieved by perhaps a new battery-electric or hydrogen-electric train. But these will take years to develop!

These trains are a good short-term solution, that will help define their zero-carbon successors.

 

 

 

 

June 9, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Headbolt Lane Station Fly-Through

I had to show this Merseytravel YouTube video, as I feel the new Headbolt Lane station uses some interesting ideas.

This Google Map shows Headbolt Lane and the railway.

Note.

  1. The footbridge over the railway. I took the pictures from and around this bridge in Merseyrail To Skelmersdale – Headbolt Lane Station.
  2. The footbridge can’t be seen in the YouTube video.

Liverpool is to the West and Wigan is to the East.

These are my thoughts.

Is The Station North Or South Of The Railway?

As it is called Headbolt Lane, the station must have good access from that road, otherwise travellers will get rather confused.

So until proven otherwise, I will assume that the station must be to the North of the railway.

Which Way Is Liverpool In the Video?

If the station is North of the railway, then in the first part of the video, the visualisation approaches the station from the North and Liverpool is to the right and Wigan is to the left.

If that is right, then the yellow bus always points towards Liverpool.

How Many Platforms?

Wikipedia says that Headbolt Lane station will have three platforms.

From the video there will be two platforms for trains to and from Liverpool, although the current layout at Kirkby station makes do with just one platform.

There would also appear to be a single platform for trains to and from Wigan, Bolton and Manchester.

But there is a second Eastern track shown in the video, which possibly indicates provision has been made for a second platform for services in that direction.

Wot No Bridge?

It would appear that there is no bridge over or subway under the railway.

But it does appear that the platform layout shown allows passengers to walk between the ends of the tracks on the level to the platform or platforms on the side of the station away from the station building.

Will There Be A Second Entrance To The Station On The Other Side Of The Tracks?

The layout would allow this and it could be useful for those passengers living or working on that side of the railway.

Is The Platform Layout Unique?

I have travelled widely looked at railway stations all over the world.

But I can’t remember seeing a layout like this.

The layout does have advantages.

  • An expensive bridge with lifts will not be needed.
  • There is nothing mechanical or electrical to go wrong.
  • Extra platforms can be added if required.
  • It can also be used as a simple step-free way to cross the railway.

I suspect that the layout could be used in other places.

Train Frequencies To Liverpool

The current service between Kirkby station and Liverpool is four trains per hour (tph), which is handled on a single platform.

One platform at Headbolt Lane would surely be sufficient, but a second platform must surely allow extra services and provide more resilience in case of train failure.

Train Frequencies To Wigan, Bolton And Manchester

The current service between Kirkby station and Manchester is one tph, which is handled on a single platform.

One platform at Headbolt Lane would surely be sufficient and could easily handle two tph.

Are two platforms provided for Liverpool services, so that extra services could be run in the Peak or to provide more resilience, should a train fail in the station.

A Service To Skelmersdale

Consider.

  • Skelmersdale is about five miles North of the line between Headbolt Lane and Wigan.
  • One of Merseyrail’s current Class 507 trains covers the 5.5 miles between Kirkby and Sandhills station in twelve minutes.
  • The proposed layout of Headbolt Lane station does not allow direct services between Liverpool and Skelmersdale.

These distances and timing would mean the following.

  • A single shuttle train between Headbolt Lane and Skelmersdale could run a two tph service.
  • A pair of shuttle trains between Headbolt Lane and Skelmersdale could run a four tph service.

Passengers would need to change trains at Headbolt Lane station.

This may seem less passenger-friendly than a direct service, but it could be the most affordable option.

And it could always be improved with modifications at Headbolt Lane station.

Is There A Role For Battery-Electric Trains?

Consider.

  • For Health and Safety reasons, it is very unlikely that any new third-rail track will be laid in the UK.
  • The distance between the current Kirkby station and the new Headbolt Lane station is about 1.5 miles.
  • The distance between Headbolt Lane and Skelmersdale stations is less than eight miles.
  • I suspect Headbolt Lane and Skelmersdale stations would both have good power supplies.
  • Merseyrail’s new Class 777 trains have a battery capability.

Would this allow the following?

  • Liverpool and Headbolt Lane services to use battery power between Kirkby and Headbolt Lane station. All charging would be done between Liverpool and Kirkby.
  • The shuttle train between Headbolt Lane and Skelmersdale would work on battery power, with batteries charged at both ends of the route.

There is also the possibility, that the Headbolt Lane and Manchester Victoria service could be run using battery-electric Class 331 trains.

  • Headbolt Lane and Manchester Victoria will be a 28.5 mile service with a couple of miles of electrification at the Manchester end.
  • I estimate that the battery-electric Class 331 trains will have sufficient range to handle this route with charging at Headbolt Lane station.
  • Currently, trains from Manchester Victoria take over ten minutes to turnround at Kirkby station.
  • Provision for a charger could be built into Headbolt Lane station.

It would be a simple way to electrify the Kirkby and Manchester Victoria service.

In addition, battery-electric Class 331 trains are likely to have longer battery range than the Class 777 trains.

So might it be better if the Headbolt Lane and Skelmersdale shuttle was worked by battery-electric Class 331 trains.

If the two East-facing platforms at Headbolt Lane station were to be fitted with charging facilities, this would give an increased level of reliability.

Could Northern’s Manchester Victoria Service Terminate At Skelmersdale?

If both services were to be run by Northern’s battery-electric Class 331 trains, this could be a possibility.

  • A reverse would be needed at Headbolt Lane station.
  • I estimate that 2tph on the route would fit together well.
  • Trains would be charged at Skelmersdale station.
  • Chargers might not be needed at Headbolt Lane station.

In addition, a two tph service would fit in well with four or six tph to Liverpool.

Conclusion

It’s almost as if Headbolt Lane station could consist of three elements.

  • The station facilities, bus interchange and car parking.
  • A two-platform station for Merseyrail services to Liverpool
  • A two-platform station with charging facilities for Northern services to Blackburn, Bolton, Manchester Victoria, Skelmersdale and Wigan.

All services from Headbolt Lane station will be run by battery-electric reains.

Costs have been saved by the following.

  • Not having a bridge over the tracks.
  • Maintaining the separation between Northern and Merseyrail services.
  • Not electrifying between Kirkby and Headbolt Lane stations.
  • Not electrifying the Skelmersdale Branch.

The whole station appears to have been designed on a single level.

 

 

 

May 24, 2021 Posted by | Design, Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Battery-Electric Class 331 Trains On The Radar

In the June 2021 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article which is entitled Northern Looks To The Future.

This is a paragraph.

Also on the radar is the creation of hybrid Class 331 EMUs fitted with batteries. A proposal has been developed by CAF and owner Eversholt Rail to augment three-car ‘331s’ with a fourth vehicle containing batteries, which would see batteries also fitted to the existing centre car. The Manchester to Windermere route has been touted as a possible location for deployment, with trains switching to battery power on the non-electrified branch from Oxenholme, although the line’s user group still favours electrification of the branch.

I have a few thoughts.

Electrification at Oxenholme

In Surprising Electrification At Oxenholme, I detailed the electrification at Oxenholme station in May 2018.

Consider.

  • Platform 3 used by the Windermere trains is fully electrified.
  • The crossover South of the station used by trains going between the Windermere Branch Line and the West Coast Main Line is fully electrified.
  • The electrification continues for perhaps a hundred metres along the Windermere branch.

I am fairly certain, that this electrification has been designed so that a bi-mode or battery-electric train can perform a reliable power changeover in Platform 3 at Oxenholme station.

What Will Be The Range Of A Four-Car Battery-Electric Class 331 Train?

This is very much a case of how long is a piece of string.

At least we know from the extract above that the train is designed to do a return trip between Oxenholme and Windermere stations, which is a distance of 20.4 miles and a six minute turnround.

We should also note that Hitachi are claiming a range of 56 miles for their Regional Battery Train, which is described in this Hitachi infographic.

As the Class 331 with batteries will compete with the Hitachi Reional Battery Train, I would suspect that the range on easy level ground would be at least fifty miles at a speed of over 80 mph, if not 100 mph.

A Selection Of Possible Routes

These are a selection of other Northern routes where the battery-electric Class 331 trains might be used.

Manchester Airport and Barrow-in-Furness

Consider.

  • This is a sibling route to the Manchester Airport and Windermere route and currently has eleven services to Windermere’s four.
  • This is a 103.7 mile route.
  • All but 28.1 miles is electrified.

Battery-electric Class 331 trains with a charge at Barrow-in-Furness should be able to handle this route.

Lancaster and Barrow-in-Furness

Consider.

  • This is a 34.8 mile route
  • All but 28.1 miles is electrified.
  • Lancaster is a fully electrified station.

Battery-electric Class 331 trains with a charge at Barrow-in-Furness should be able to handle this route.

Carlisle and Barrow-in-Furness

This is the 85.7 mile route of the Cumbrian Coast Line of which none is electrified.

Consider.

  • Carnforth is a fully-electrified station.
  • Barrow-in-Furness station could be electrified.
  • It is a fairly level route along the coast.
  • I suspect that electricity supplies are available at Barrow-in-Furness, Sellafield, Whitehaven and Workington to power electrification.
  • Carlisle is a fully-electrified station.
  • Barrow-in-Furness and Sellafield are only 35 miles apart.
  • CAF have produced trams for Birmingham and Seville, that work with discontinuous electrification.
  • There are parts of the route, where there would be those, who would object to the erection of electrification gantries.

I feel it would be possible to electrify the Cumbrian Coast Line using battery-electric Class 331 trains, with a range of at least fifty miles and some short sections of new electrification.

Surely, a battery-electric train along the Cumbrian Coast by the Lake District would be the ideal train for the area

Lancaster and Morecambe

Consider.

  • This is a 4 mile route.
  • None is electrified.
  • Heysham is another four miles past Morecambe.
  • Lancaster is a fully-electrified station.

This route might have been built for battery-electric trains.

This route might be possible with no extra infrastructure.

York and Blackpool North

Consider.

  • This is a 105.5 mile route.
  • In a few years about 62 miles will be without electrification.
  • It goes through the picturesque Calder Valley.

As with the Cumbrian Coast Line, I believe that this service could be run using battery-electric Class 331 trains, with a range of at least fifty miles and some short sections of new electrification.

Preston and Colne

Consider.

  • This is a 29 mile route.
  • None is electrified.
  • It is steeply uphill to Colne.

Battery-electric Class 331 trains with a charge at Colne should be able to handle this route.

Alternatively, they could use Newton’s friend to return down the hill.

This route might be possible with no extra infrastructure.

As with York and Blackpool North, this route would benefit with electrification between Preston and Blackburn.

Preston and Blackpool South

Consider.

  • This is a 20 mile route.
  • 7.7 miles is electrified.

Battery-electric Class 331 trains  should be able to handle this route.

This route might be possible with no extra infrastructure.

In an ideal world, Preston and Blackburn would be electrified and trains would run between Colne and Blackpool South, as they used to do.

Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Airport

Consider.

  • This is a 45.5 mile route,
  • 26.5 miles is not electrified.
  • It is fully electrified at both ends.

Battery-electric Class 331 trains  should be able to handle this route.

This route might be possible with no extra infrastructure.

Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Oxford Road

Consider.

  • This is a 34.2 mile route.
  • 26.5 miles is not electrified.
  • It is fully electrified at both ends.

Battery-electric Class 331 trains  should be able to handle this route.

This route might be possible with no extra infrastructure.

Southport and Alderley Edge

  • This is a 52 mile route,
  • 27 miles is not electrified.
  • It is fully electrified at the Southern end.
  • There is third rail electrification at Southport.

Battery-electric Class 331 trains with a charge at Southport should be able to handle this route.

Could some Class 331 be fitted with third-rail equipment to charge on Merseyrail’s third-rail electrification?

Manchester Piccadilly and Chester

Consider.

  • This is a 45 mile route.
  • 38 miles is not electrified.
  • It is fully electrified at Manchester end.
  • There is third rail electrification at Chester.

Battery-electric Class 331 trains with a charge at Chester should be able to handle this route.

Could some Class 331 be fitted with third-rail equipment to charge on Merseyrail’s third-rail electrification?

Manchester Piccadilly and Buxton

Consider.

  • This is a 25.5 mile route.
  • 17.8 miles is not electrified.
  • It is steeply uphill to Buxton.

Battery-electric Class 331 trains with a charge at Buxton should be able to handle this route.

Alternatively, they could use Newton’s friend to return down the hill.

This route might be possible with no extra infrastructure.

Manchester Piccadilly and Rose Hill Marple

Consider.

  • This is a 13.3 mile route.
  • 8.3 miles is not electrified.
  • It is fully electrified at Manchester end.

Battery-electric Class 331 trains should be able to handle this route.

This route might be possible with no extra infrastructure.

Manchester Piccadilly and New Mills Central

Consider.

  • This is a 13 mile route.
  • Only 2 miles is electrified.
  • It is fully electrified at Manchester end.

Battery-electric Class 331 trains should be able to handle this route.

This route might be possible with no extra infrastructure.

Manchester Piccadilly and Sheffield

Consider.

  • This is a 42 mile route.
  • Only 2 miles is electrified.
  • It is fully electrified at Manchester end.
  • It is a scenic route.

Battery-electric Class 331 trains with a fifty mile range and a charge at Sheffield should be able to handle this route.

Southport and Stalybridge

  • This is a 45 mile route.
  • 27 miles is not electrified.
  • It will be fully electrified at the Southern end, when electrification between Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge is completed.
  • There is third rail electrification at Southport.

Battery-electric Class 331 trains with a charge at Southport should be able to handle this route.

Could some Class 331 be fitted with third-rail equipment to charge on Merseyrail’s third-rail electrification?

Manchester Victoria And Kirkby

  • The Kirkby end of this route will change to the new Headbolt Lane station in a couple of years.
  • This is a 30 mile route.
  • 28 miles is not electrified.
  • It is fully electrified at the Southern end.
  • There is third rail electrification at Kirkby or Headbolt Lane.

Battery-electric Class 331 trains with a charge at Kirkby or Headbolt Lane should be able to handle this route.

Could some Class 331 be fitted with third-rail equipment to charge on Merseyrail’s third-rail electrification?

I would hope that the new Headbolt Lane station is being designed with battery-electric trains from Manchester in mind!

Rochdale And Clitheroe

Consider.

  • This is a 44.7 mile route.
  • There is 10.7 miles of electrification between Bolton and Manchester Victoria.
  • The Clitheroe end of the route has 23.7 miles of line without electrification.
  • The Rochdale end of the route has 10.4 miles of line without electrification.
  • It is steeply uphill to Clitheroe.

Battery-electric Class 331 trains should be able to handle the Rochdale end, but could struggle with the climb to Clitheroe.

But it appears that all services needing to climb the hills to Colne and Clitheroe now stop in Platform 2, which is different to Wikipedia, which says that services to Clitheroe stop in Platform 1.

  • With charging in platform 2 and a fifty-mile range battery-electric Class 331 trains could reach Clitheroe (9.8 miles), Colne (17 miles), and possibly Leeds (50 miles).
  • With charging in platform 4 and a fifty-mile range battery-electric Class 331 trains could reach Bolton (14 miles) and Preston (12 miles)
  • Would a fully-charged train leaving Blackburn be able to go via Todmorden and reach the electrification at Manchester Victoria, which is a distance of 39.4 miles?

Note.

If necessary a few well-planned extra miles of electrification would ensure reliable battery-electric services  in East Lancashire centred on Blackburn.

The closely-related Blackburn and Rochdale and Blackburn and Wigan Wallgate services would fit in well with an electrified Blackburn station, that could fully charge trains.

I certainly believe that electrifying Preston and Blackburn could give extra benefits.

  • Battery-electric trains between Blackpool and Liverpool in the West and Colne, Hebden Bridge, Bradford, Leeds and York in the East.
  • Direct electric services from Euston to Blackburn and Burnley.
  • Fast freight paths across the Pennines.

In addition, it would probably allow battery-electric trains to run to Leeds via a reinstated Skipton and Colne link.

Wigan And Leeds

Consider.

  • The route can terminate at either Wigan North Western or Wigan Wallgate station.
  • This is a 68.2 mile route using Wigan North Western.
  • Wigan North Western is a fully-electrified station.
  • The 16 miles between Wigan North Western and Salford Crescent stations is not electrified.
  • The 5 miles between Salford Crescent and Manchester Victoria stations is electrified.
  • The 37.2 miles between Manchester Victoria and Mirfield stations is not electrified.
  • The 12.2 miles between Mirfield and Leeds will be electrified in the next few years.
  • Leeds is a fully-electrified station.

Battery-electric Class 331 trains with a fifty mile range should be able to handle this route.

Chester And Leeds

Consider.

  • This is a 89.7 mile route.
  • There is third rail electrification at Chester.
  • The 18.1 miles between Chester and Warrington Bank Quay stations is not electrified.
  • The 21.8 miles between Warrington Bank Quay and Manchester Victoria stations is electrified.
  • The 40.3 miles between Manchester Victoria and Bradford Interchange stations is not electrified.
  • The 9.4 miles between Bradford Interchange and Leeds stations is not electrified.
  • Leeds is a fully-electrified station.
  • There seems to be generous turnround times at Chester and Leeds.

It looks to me that the trains are going to need a full battery charge at Bradford Interchange or perhaps Leeds and Bradford Interchange needs to be fully electrified.

I also feel that it would help if the electrification through Manchester Victoria were to be extended towards Rochdale.

But I don’t think it will be impossible for battery-electric Class 331 trains to work the route between Leeds and Chester with some new electrification and/or charging at Bradford Interchange.

Manchester Victoria And Leeds

Consider.

  • This is a shortened version of the Chester and Leeds route.
  • This is a 49.8 mile route.
  • Manchester Victoria is a fully-electrified station.
  • The 40.3 miles between Manchester Victoria and Bradford Interchange stations is not electrified.
  • The 9.4 miles between Bradford Interchange and Leeds stations is not electrified.
  • Leeds is a fully-electrified station.

My comments would be similar to the Chester and Leeds route.

Leeds And York Via Harrogate And Knaresborough

Consider.

  • This is a 38.8 mile route.
  • Leeds is a fully-electrified station.
  • The Harrogate Line is not electrified.
  • York is a fully-electrified station.

Battery-electric Class 331 trains with a fifty mile range should be able to handle this route.

There are two other services on the Harrogate Line.

  • Leeds and Harrogate – 18.3 miles
  • Leeds and Knaresborough – 22.1 miles

I have a feeling that a fleet of battery-electric trains could electrify all services on the Harrogate Line with no extra infrastructure.

Summing Up The Possible Routes

I have assumed that the proposed battery-electric Class 331 train has a range of around fifty miles, which is not unlike that for the Hitachi Regional Battery Train.

It would appear that many of Northern’s routes can be run by a train with this range including some that are around a hundred miles.

There are also routes like the Harrogate Line, which would accept a battery-electric Class 331 train tomorrow, if it were available.

Will A  Mix Of Four-Car Electric And Battery-Electric Trains Be Better Than A Mix Of Four-Car And Three-Car Electric Trains?

If the technology is right, I suspect that a four-car battery-electric Class 331 train will be able to substitute for one without batteries on a route that doesn’t need battery power.

This must surely have advantages when trains are in maintenance or otherwise unavailable, as nothing annoys passengers more than an overcrowded train.

Conclusion

The Modern Railways article also says this.

More widely, Northern has previously stated ambitions to acquire more trains, and work was underway last year to identify what this requirement might be.

From my simple analysis on some of their routes, I would look to acquire some four-car battery-electric Class 331 trains, once they have been oroven to work.

May 23, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Will Hitachi Announce A High Speed Metro Train?

As the UK high speed rail network increases, we are seeing more services and proposed services, where local services are sharing tracks, where trains will be running at 125 mph or even more.

London Kings Cross And Cambridge/Kings Lynn

This Great Northern service is run by Class 387 trains.

  • Services run between London Kings Cross and Kings Lynn or Cambridge
  • The Class 387 trains have a maximum operating speed of 110 mph.
  • The route is fully electrified.
  • The trains generally use the fast lines on the East Coast Main Line, South of Hitchin.
  • Most trains on the fast lines on the East Coast Main Line are travelling at 125 mph.
  • When in the future full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling is implemented on the East Coast Main Line, speeds of up to 140 mph should be possible in some sections between London Kings Cross and Hitchin.

I also believe that digital signalling may be able to provide a solution to the twin-track bottleneck over the Digswell Viaduct.

Consider.

  • Airliners have been flown automatically and safely from airport to airport for perhaps four decades.
  • The Victoria Line has been running automatically and safely at over twenty trains per hour (tph) for five decades. It is now running at over 30 tph.
  • I worked with engineers developing a high-frequency sequence control system for a complicated chemical plant in 1970.

We also can’t deny that computers are getting better and more capable.

For these reasons, I believe there could be an ERTMS-based solution to the problem of the Digswell Viaduct, which could be something like this.

  • All trains running on the two track section over the Digswell Viaduct and through Welwyn North station would be under computer control between Welwyn Garden City and Knebworth stations.
  • Fast trains would be slowed as appropriate to create spaces to allow the slow trains to pass through the section.
  • The driver would be monitoring the computer control, just as they do on the Victoria Line.

Much more complicated automated systems have been created in various applications.

The nearest rail application in the UK, is probably the application of digital signalling to London Underground’s Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan Lines.

This is known at the Four Lines Modernisation and it will be completed by 2023 and increase capacity by up to twenty-seven percent.

I don’t think it unreasonable to see the following maximum numbers of services running over the Digswell Viaduct by 2030 in both directions in every hour.

  • Sixteen fast trains
  • Four slow trains

That is one train every three minutes.

Currently, it appears to be about ten fast and two slow.

As someone, who doesn’t like to be on a platform, when a fast train goes through, I believe that some form of advanced safety measures should be installed at Welwyn North station.

It would appear that trains between London Kings Cross and King’s Lynn need to have this specification.

  • Ability to run at 125 mph on the East Coast Main Line
  • Ability to run at 140 mph on the East Coast Main Line, under control of full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling.

This speed increase could reduce the journey time between London Kings Cross and Cambridge to just over half-an-hour with London Kings Cross and King’s Lynn under ninety minutes.

The only new infrastructure needed would be improvements to the Fen Line to King’s Lynn to allow two tph, which I think is needed.

Speed improvements between Hitchin and Cambridge could also benefit timings.

London Kings Cross And Cambridge/Norwich

I believe there is a need for a high speed service between London Kings Cross and Norwich via Cambridge.

  • The Class 755 trains, that are capable of 100 mph take 82 minutes, between Cambridge and Norwich.
  • The electrification gap between Ely and Norwich is 54 miles.
  • Norwich station and South of Ely is fully electrified.
  • Greater Anglia’s Norwich and Cambridge service has been very successful.

With the growth of Cambridge and its incessant need for more space, housing and workers, a high speed train  between London Kings Cross and Norwich via Cambridge could tick a lot of boxes.

  • If hourly, it would double the frequency between Cambridge and Norwich until East-West Rail is completed.
  • All stations between Ely and Norwich get a direct London service.
  • Cambridge would have better links for commuting to the city.
  • London Kings Cross and Cambridge would be less than an hour apart.
  • If the current London Kings Cross and Ely service were to be extended to Norwich, no extra paths on the East Coast Main Line would be needed.
  • Trains could even split and join at Cambridge or Ely to give all stations a two tph service to London Kings Cross.
  • No new infrastructure would be required.

The Cambridge Cruiser would become the Cambridge High Speed Cruiser.

London Paddington And Bedwyn

This Great Western Railway service is run by Class 802 trains.

  • Services run between London Paddington and Bedwyn.
  • Services use the Great Western Main Line at speeds of up to 125 mph.
  • In the future if full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling is implemented, speeds of up to 140 mph could be possible on some sections between London Paddington and Reading.
  • The 13.3 miles between Newbury and Bedwyn is not electrified.

As the service would need to be able to run both ways between Newbury and Bedwyn, a capability to run upwards of perhaps thirty miles without electrification is needed. Currently, diesel power is used, but battery power would be better.

London Paddington And Oxford

This Great Western Railway service is run by Class 802 trains.

  • Services run between London Paddington and Oxford.
  • Services use the Great Western Main Line at speeds of up to 125 mph.
  • In the future if full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling is implemented, speeds of up to 140 mph could be possible on some sections between London Paddington and Didcot Parkway.
  • The 10.3 miles between Didcot Parkway and Oxford is not electrified.

As the service would need to be able to run both ways between Didcot Parkway and Oxford, a capability to run upwards of perhaps thirty miles without electrification is needed. Currently, diesel power is used, but battery power would be better.

Local And Regional Trains On Existing 125 mph Lines

In The UK, in addition to High Speed One and High Speed Two, we have the following lines, where speeds of 125 mph are possible.

  • East Coast Main Line
  • Great Western Main Line
  • Midland Main Line
  • West Coast Main Line

Note.

  1. Long stretches of these routes allow speeds of up to 125 mph.
  2. Full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling is being installed on the East Coast Main Line to allow running up to 140 mph.
  3. Some of these routes have four tracks, with pairs of slow and fast lines, but there are sections with only two tracks.

It is likely, that by the end of the decade large sections of these four 125 mph lines will have been upgraded, to allow faster running.

If you have Hitachi and other trains thundering along at 140 mph, you don’t want dawdlers, at 100 mph or less, on the same tracks.

These are a few examples of slow trains, that use two-track sections of 125 nph lines.

  • East Midlands Railway – 1 tph – Leicester and Lincoln – Uses Midland Main Line
  • East Midlands Railway – 1 tph – Liverpool and Norwich – Uses Midland Main Line
  • Great Western Railway – 1 tph – Cardiff and Portsmouth Harbour – Uses Great Western Main Line
  • Great Western Railway – 1 tph – Cardiff and Taunton – Uses Great Western Main Line
  • Northern – 1 tph – Manchester Airport and Cumbria – Uses West Coast Main Line
  • Northern – 1 tph – Newcastle and Morpeth – Uses East Coast Main Line
  • West Midlands Trains – Some services use West Coast Main Line.

Conflicts can probably be avoided by judicious train planning in some cases, but in some cases trains capable of 125 mph will be needed.

Southeastern Highspeed Services

Class 395 trains have been running Southeastern Highspeed local services since 2009.

  • Services run between London St. Pancras and Kent.
  • Services use Speed One at speeds of up to 140 mph.
  • These services are planned to be extended to Hastings and possibly Eastbourne.

The extension would need the ability to run on the Marshlink Line, which is an electrification gap of 25.4 miles, between Ashford and Ore.

Thameslink

Thameslink is a tricky problem.

These services run on the double-track section of the East Coast Main Line over the Digswell Viaduct.

  • 2 tph – Cambridge and Brighton – Fast train stopping at Hitchin, Stevenage and Finsbury Park.
  • 2 tph – Cambridge and Kings Cross – Slow train stopping at Hitchin, Stevenage, Knebworth, Welwyn North, Welwyn Garden City, Hatfield, Potters Bar and Finsbury Park
  • 2 tph – Peterborough and Horsham – Fast train stopping at Hitchin, Stevenage and Finsbury Park.

Note.

  1. These services are run by Class 700 trains, that are only capable of 100 mph.
  2. The fast services take the fast lines South of the Digswell Viaduct.
  3. South of Finsbury Park, both fast services cross over to access the Canal Tunnel for St, Pancras station.
  4. I am fairly certain, that I have been on InterCity 125 trains running in excess of 100 mph in places between Finsbury Park and Stevenage.

It would appear that the slow Thameslink trains are slowing express services South of Stevenage.

As I indicated earlier, I think it is likely that the Kings Cross and King’s Lynn services will use 125 mph trains for various reasons, like London and Cambridge in well under an hour.

But if 125 mph trains are better for King’s Lynn services, then they would surely improve Thameslink and increase capacity between London and Stevenage.

Looking at average speeds and timings on the 25 miles between Stevenage and Finsbury Park gives the following.

  • 100 mph – 15 minutes
  • 110 mph – 14 minutes
  • 125 mph – 12 minutes
  • 140 mph – 11 minutes

The figures don’t appear to indicate large savings, but when you take into account that the four tph running the Thameslink services to Peterborough and Cambridge stop at Finsbury Park and Stevenage and have to get up to speed, I feel that the 100 mph Class 700 trains are a hindrance to more and faster trains on the Southern section of the East Coast Main Line.

It should be noted, that faster trains on these Thameslink services would probably have better acceleration and and would be able to execute faster stops at stations.

There is a similar less serious problem on the Midland Main Line branch of Thameslink, in that some Thameslink services use the fast lines.

A couple of years ago, I had a very interesting chat with a group of East Midlands Railway drivers. They felt that the 100 mph Thameslink and the 125 mph Class 222 trains were not a good mix.

The Midland Main Line services are also becoming more complicated, with the new EMR Electric services between St. Pancras and Corby, which will be run by 110 mph Class 360 trains.

Hitachi’s Three Trains With Batteries

Hitachi have so far announced three battery-electric trains. Two are based on battery packs being developed and built by Hyperdrive Innovation.

Hyperdrive Innovation

Looking at the Hyperdrive Innovation web site, I like what I see.

Hyperdrive Innovation provided the battery packs for JCB’s first electric excavator.

Note that JCB give a five-year warranty on the Hyperdrive batteries.

Hyperdrive have also been involved in the design of battery packs for aircraft push-back tractors.

The battery capacity for one of these is given as 172 kWh and it is able to supply 34 kW.

I was very surprised that Hitachi didn’t go back to Japan for their batteries, but after reading Hyperdrive’s web site about the JCB and Textron applications, there would appear to be good reasons to use Hyperdrive.

  • Hyperdrive have experience of large lithium ion batteries.
  • Hyperdrive have a design, develop and manufacture model.
  • They seem to able to develop solutions quickly and successfully.
  • Battery packs for the UK and Europe are made in Sunderland.
  • Hyperdrive are co-operating with Nissan, Warwick Manufacturing Group and Newcastle University.
  • They appear from the web site to be experts in the field of battery management, which is important in prolonging battery life.
  • Hyperdrive have a Taiwanese partner, who manufactures their battery packs for Taiwan and China.
  • I have done calculations based on the datasheet for their batteries and Hyperdrive’s energy density is up with the best

I suspect, that Hitachi also like the idea of a local supplier, as it could be helpful in the negotiation of innovative applications. Face-to-face discussions are easier, when you’re only thirty miles apart.

Hitachi Regional Battery Train

The first train to be announced was the Hitachi Regional Battery Train, which is described in this Hitachi infographic.

Note.

  1. It is only a 100 mph train.
  2. The batteries are to be designed and manufactured by Hyperdrive Innovation.
  3. It has a range of 56 miles on battery power.
  4. Any of Hitachi’s A Train family like Class 800, 802 or 385 train can be converted to a Regional Battery Train.

No orders have been announced yet.

But it would surely be very suitable for routes like.

  • London Paddington And Bedwyn
  • London Paddington And Oxford

It would also be very suitable for extensions to electrified suburban routes like.

  • London Bridge and Uckfield
  • London Waterloo and Salisbury
  • Manchester Airport and Windermere.
  • Newcastle and Carlisle

It would also be a very sound choice to extend electrified routes in Scotland, which are currently run by Class 385 trains.

Hitachi InterCity Tri-Mode Battery Train

The second train to be announced was the Hitachi InterCity Tri-Mode Battery Train, which is described in this Hitachi infographic.

Note.

  1. Only one engine is replaced by a battery.
  2. The batteries are to be designed and manufactured by Hyperdrive Innovation.
  3. Typically a five-car Class 800 or 802 train has three diesel engines and a nine-car train has five.
  4. These trains would obviously be capable of 125 mph on electrified main lines and 140 mph on lines fully equipped with digital in-cab ERTMS signalling.

Nothing is said about battery range away from electrification.

Routes currently run from London with a section without electrification at the other end include.

  • London Kings Cross And Harrogate – 18.3 miles
  • London Kings Cross And Hull – 36 miles
  • London Kings Cross And Lincoln – 16.5 miles
  • London Paddington And Bedwyn – 13.3 miles
  • London Paddington And Oxford – 10.3 miles

In the March 2021 Edition of Modern Railways, LNER are quoted as having aspirations to extend the Lincoln service to Cleethorpes.

  • With all energy developments in North Lincolnshire, this is probably a good idea.
  • Services could also call at Market Rasen and Grimsby.
  • Two trains per day, would probably be a minimum frequency.

But the trains would need to be able to run around 64 miles each way without electrification. Very large batteries and/or charging at Cleethorpes will be needed.

Class 803 Trains For East Coast Trains

East Coast Trains have ordered a fleet of five Class 803 trains.

  • These trains appear to be built for speed and fast acceleration.
  • They have no diesel engines, which must save weight and servicing costs.
  • But they will be fitted with batteries for emergency power to maintain onboard  train services in the event of overhead line failure.
  • They are planned to enter service in October 2021.

Given that Hyperdrive Innovation are developing traction batteries for the other two Hitachi battery trains, I would not be the least bit surprised if Hyperdrive were designing and building the batteries for the Class 803 trains.

  • Hyperdrive batteries are modular, so for a smaller battery you would use less modules.
  • If all coaches are wired for a diesel engine, then they can accept any power module like a battery or hydrogen pack, without expensive redesign.
  • I suspect too, that the battery packs for the Class 803 trains could be tested on an LNER Class 801 train.

LNER might also decide to replace the diesel engines on their Class 801 trains with an emergency battery pack, if it were more energy efficient and had a lighter weight.

Thoughts On The Design Of The Hyperdrive innovation Battery Packs

Consider.

  • Hitachi trains have a sophisticated computer system, which on start-up can determine the configuration of the train or whether it is more than one train running as a longer formation or even being hauled by a locomotive.
  • To convert a bi-mode Class 800 train to an all-electric Class 801 the diesel engines are removed. I suspect that the computer is also adjusted, but train formation may well be totally automatic and independent of the driver.
  • Hyperdrive Innovation’s battery seem to be based on a modular system, where typical modules have a capacity of 5 kWh, weighs 32 Kg and has a volume of 0.022 cu metres.
  • The wet mass of an MTU 16V 1600 R80L diesel engine commonly fitted to AT-300 trains of different types is 6750 Kg or nearly seven tonnes.
  • The diesel engine has a physical size of 1.5 x 1.25 x 0.845 metres, which is a volume of 1.6 cubic metres.
  • In How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 mph?, I calculated that a five-car Class 801 electric train, needed 3.42 kWh per vehicle-mile to maintain 125 mph.
  • It is likely, than any design of battery pack, will handle the regenerative braking.

To my mind, the ideal solution would be a plug compatible battery pack, that the train’s computer thought was a diesel engine.

But then I have form in the area of plug-compatible electronics.

At the age of sixteen, for a vacation job, I worked in the Electronics Laboratory at Enfield Rolling Mills.

It was the early sixties and one of their tasks was at the time replacing electronic valve-based automation systems with new transistor-based systems.

The new equipment had to be compatible to that which it replaced, but as some were installed in dozens of places around the works, they had to be able to be plug-compatible, so that they could be quickly changed. Occasionally, the new ones suffered infant-mortality and the old equipment could just be plugged back in, if there wasn’t a spare of the new equipment.

So will Hyperdrive Innovation’s battery-packs have the same characteristics as the diesel engines that they replace?

  • Same instantaneous and continuous power output.
  • Both would fit the same mountings under the train.
  • Same control and electrical power connections.
  • Compatibility with the trains control computer.

I think they will as it will give several advantages.

  • The changeover between diesel engine and battery pack could be designed as a simple overnight operation.
  • Operators can mix-and-match the number of diesel engines and battery-packs to a given route.
  • As the lithium-ion cells making up the battery pack improve, battery capacity and performance can be increased.
  • If the computer, is well-programmed, it could reduce diesel usage and carbon-emissions.
  • Driver conversion from a standard train to one equipped with batteries, would surely be simplified.

As with the diesel engines, all battery packs could be substantially the same across all of Hitachi’s Class 80x trains.

What Size Of Battery Would Be Possible?

If Hyperdrive are producing a battery pack with the same volume as the diesel engine it replaced, I estimate that the battery would have a capacity defined by.

5 * 1.6 / 0.022 = 364 kWh

In an article in the October 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled Celling England By The Pound, Ian Walmsley says this in relation to trains running on the Uckfield Branch, which is not very challenging.

A modern EMU needs between 3 and 5 kWh per vehicle mile for this sort of service.

As a figure of 3.42 kWh per vehicle-mile to maintain 125 mph, applies to a Class 801 train, I suspect that a figure of 3 kWh or less could apply to a five-car Class 800 train trundling at around 80-100 mph to Bedwyn, Cleethorpes or Oxford.

  • A one-battery five-car train would have a range of 24.3 miles
  • A two-battery five-car train would have a range of 48.6 miles
  • A three-battery five-car train would have a range of 72.9 miles

Note.

  1. Reducing the consumption to 2.5 kWh per vehicle-mile would give a range of 87.3 miles.
  2. Reducing the consumption to 2 kWh per vehicle-mile would give a range of 109.2 miles.
  3. Hitachi will be working to reduce the electricity consumption of the trains.
  4. There will also be losses at each station stop, as regenerative braking is not 100 % efficient.

But it does appear to me, that distances of the order of 60-70 miles would be possible on a lot of routes.

Bedwyn, Harrogate, Lincoln and Oxford may be possible without charging before the return trip.

Cleethorpes and Hull would need a battery charge before return.

A Specification For A High Speed Metro Train

I have called the proposed train a High Speed Metro Train, as it would run at up to 140 mph on an existing high speed line and then run a full or limited stopping service to the final destination.

These are a few thoughts.

Electrification

In some cases like London Kings Cross and King’s Lynn, the route is already electrified and batteries would only be needed for the following.

  • Handling regenerative braking.
  • Emergency  power in case of overhead line failure.
  • Train movements in depots.

But if the overhead wires on a branch line. are in need of replacement, why not remove them and use battery power? It might be the most affordable and least disruptive option to update the power supply on a route.

The trains would have to be able to run on both types of electrification in the UK.

  • 25 KVAC overhead.
  • 750 VDC third rail.

This dual-voltage capability would enable the extension of Southeastern Highspeed services.

Operating Speed

The trains must obviously be capable of running at the maximum operating speed on the routes they travel.

  • 125 mph on high speed lines, where this speed is possible.
  • 140 mph on high speed lines equipped with full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling, where this speed is possible.

The performance on battery power must be matched with the routes.

Hitachi have said, that their Regional Battery trains can run at up to 100 mph, which would probably be sufficient for most secondary routes in the UK and in line with modern diesel and electric multiple units.

Full Digital In-cab ERTMS Signalling

This will be essential and is already fitted to some of Hitachi’s trains.

Regenerative Braking To Batteries

Hitachi’s battery electric  trains will probably use regenerative braking to the batteries, as it is much more energy efficient.

It also means that when stopping at a station perhaps as much as 70-80% of the train’s kinetic energy can be captured in the batteries and used to accelerate the train.

In Kinetic Energy Of A Five-Car Class 801 Train, I showed that at 125 mph the energy of a full five-car train is just over 100 kWh, so batteries would not need to be unduly large.

Acceleration

This graph from Eversholt Rail, shows the acceleration and deceleration of a five-car Class 802 electric train.

As batteries are just a different source of electric power, I would think, that with respect to acceleration and deceleration, that the performance of a battery-electric version will be similar.

Although, it will only achieve 160 kph instead of the 200 kph of the electric train.

I estimate from this graph, that a battery-electric train would take around 220 seconds from starting to decelerate for a station to being back at 160 kph. If the train was stopped for around eighty seconds, a station stop would add five minutes to the journey time.

London Kings Cross And Cleethorpes

As an example consider a service between London Kings Cross and Cleethorpes.

  • The section without electrification between Newark and Cleethorpes is 64 miles.
  • There appear to be ambitions to increase the operating speed to 90 mph.
  • Local trains seem to travel at around 45 mph including stops.
  • A fast service between London Kings Cross and Cleethorpes would probably stop at Lincoln Central, Market Rasen and Grimsby Town.
  • In addition, local services stop at Collingham, Hykeham, Barnetby and Habrough.
  • London Kings Cross and Newark takes one hour and twenty minutes.
  • London Kings Cross and Cleethorpes takes three hours and fifteen minutes with a change at Doncaster.

I can now calculate a time between Kings Cross and Cleethorpes.

  • If a battery-electric train can average 70 mph between Newark and Cleethorpes, it would take 55 minutes.
  • Add five minutes for each of the three stops at Lincoln Central, Market Rasen and Grimsby Town
  • Add in the eighty minutes between London Kings Cross and Newark and that would be  two-and-a-half hours.

That would be very marketing friendly and a very good start.

Note.

  1. An average speed of 80 mph would save seven minutes.
  2. An average speed of 90 mph would save twelve minutes.
  3. I suspect that the current bi-modes would be slower by a few minutes as their acceleration is not as potent of that of an electric train.

I have a feeling London Kings Cross and Cleethorpes via Lincoln Central, Market Rasen and Grimsby Town, could be a very important service for LNER.

Interiors

I can see a new lightweight and more energy efficient interior being developed for these trains.

In addition some of the routes, where they could be used are popular with cyclists and the current Hitachi trains are not the best for bicycles.

Battery Charging

Range On Batteries

I have left this to last, as it depends on so many factors, including the route and the quality of the driving or the Automatic Train Control

Earlier, I estimated that a five-car train with all three diesel engines replaced by batteries, when trundling around Lincolnshire, Oxfordshire or Wiltshire could have range of up to 100 miles.

That sort of distance would be very useful and would include.

  • Ely and Norwich
  • Newark and Cleethorpes
  • Salisbury and Exeter

It might even allow a round trip between the East Coast Main Line and Hull.

The Ultimate Battery Train

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%.

This is a paragraph.

The projected improvements in battery technology – particularly in power output and charge – create opportunities to replace incrementally more diesel engines on long distance trains. With the ambition to create a fully electric-battery intercity train – that can travel the full journey between London and Penzance – by the late 2040s, in line with the UK’s 2050 net zero emissions target.

Consider.

  • Three batteries would on my calculations give a hundred mile range.
  • Would a train with no diesel engines mean that fuel tanks, radiators and other gubbins could be removed and more or large batteries could be added.
  • Could smaller batteries be added to the two driving cars?
  • By 2030, let alone 2040, battery energy density will have increased.

I suspect that one way or another these trains could have a range on battery power of between 130 and 140 miles.

This would certainly be handy in Scotland for the two routes to the North.

  • Haymarket and Aberdeen, which is 130 miles without electrification.
  • Stirling and Inverness, which is 111 miles without electrification, if the current wires are extended from Stirling to Perth, which is being considered by the Scottish Government.

The various sections of the London Paddington to Penzance route are as follows.

  • Paddington and Newbury – 53 miles – electrified
  • Newbury and Taunton – 90 miles – not electrified
  • Taunton and Exeter – 31 miles – not electrified
  • Exeter and Plymouth – 52 miles – not electrified
  • Plymouth and Penzance – 79 miles – not electrified

The total length of the section without electrification between Penzance and Newbury  is a distance of 252 miles.

This means that the train will need a battery charge en route.

I think there are three possibilities.

  • Trains can take up to seven minutes for a stop at Plymouth. As London and Plymouth trains will need to recharge at Plymouth before returning to London, Plymouth station could be fitted with comprehensive recharge facilities for all trains passing through. Perhaps the ideal solution would be to electrify all lines and platforms at Plymouth.
  • Between Taunton and Exeter, the rail line runs alongside the M5 motorway. This would surely be an ideal section to electrify, as it would enable battery electric trains to run between Exeter and both Newbury and Bristol.
  • As some trains terminate at Exeter, there would probably need to be charging facilities there.

I believe that the date of the late 2040s is being overly pessimistic.

I suspect that by 2040 we’ll be seeing trains between London and Aberdeen, Inverness and Penzance doing the trips without a drop of diesel.

But Hitachi are making a promise of London and Penzance by zero-carbon trains, by the late-2040s, because they know they can keep it.

And Passengers and the Government won’t mind the trains being early!

Conclusion

This could be a very useful train to add to Hitachi’s product line.

 

 

 

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

Huge Step Taken As Greater Manchester Takes Over First Rail Station

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Today (1 Feb) marks a significant moment for Manchester’s long-term vision for rail as Transport for Greater Manchester takes over operation of Horwich Parkway Station.

These are some pictures of the station.

Horwich Parkway station is a fairly typical parkway station, that is also a destination in its own right, as Bolton Wanderers stadium, a shopping centre, a very much bog-standard Premier Inn and a University campus are nearby.

Services At Horwich Parkway Station

Currently, these services call at the station.

  • Hazel Grove and Blackpool North
  • Manchester Airport and Blackpool North
  • Manchester Victoria and Preston

Note.

  1. All services are electric and run by Northern.
  2. All services are one train per hour (tph)

Some TransPennine Services also pass through on their way between Manchester Airport and Scotland.

My Thoughts

These are a few thoughts.

Local Authority Or Remote Management?

I like the concept of stations being managed by local authorities.

When I moved back to London from Suffolk nearly a dozen years ago, the stations in North East and East London were managed by Greater Anglia from Norwich.

  • Many of these stations were very shabby.
  • Many of these stations have now been taken over by Transport for London.
  • Stations are now managed by either the London Overground or Tfl Rail.
  • Stations seem to have improved and they are in many cases, a lot cleaner.

Perhaps, the shorter communication links to Senior Management mean, that problems get solved. Or does the local councillor know the right person to kick?

Hopefully, we’ll see a more efficient station at Horwich Parkway.

Facilities

Consider.

  • There are ramps to the footbridge.
  • There is a booking office.
  • Previously, this station was managed by Northern

It is one of those stations that on a cold winter’s day can be a bit bleak.

Hopefully, Transport for Greater Manchester will be improving the station.

Four Trains Per Hour?

Birmingham, Liverpool and London seem to like the concept of Turn-Up-And-Go stations with a frequency of four tph.

Would Horwich Parkway station  benefit from this frequency?

Two Trains Per Hour To And From Manchester Airport?

This may be beneficial,

Perhaps some of the TransPennine Express service between the Airport and Scotland could call?

Certainly, a sort out of train services at Horwich Parkway, led by Transport for Greater Manchester could be beneficial for passengers and train operating companies.

Conclusion

I shall be interested to see, if the station is improved.

 

February 3, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Northern Powerhouse Rail – Significant Upgrades And Electrification Of The Rail Lines From Leeds And Sheffield To Hull

In this article on Transport for the North, which is entitled Northern Powerhouse Rail Progress As Recommendations Made To Government, one of the recommendations proposed for Northern Powerhouse Rail is significant upgrades and electrification of the rail lines from Leeds and Sheffield to Hull.

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

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

  • The distance between the two stations is 51.7 miles
  • The current service takes around 57 minutes and has a frequency of one train per hour (tph)
  • This gives an average speed of 54.4 mph for the fastest journey.
  • The proposed service with Northern Powerhouse Rail will take 38 minutes and have a frequency of two tph.
  • This gives an average speed of 81.6 mph for the journey.

This last figure of nearly 82 mph, indicates to me that a 100 mph train will be able to meet Northern Powerhouse Rail’s objective.

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

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

  • The distance between the two stations is 59.4 miles
  • The current service takes around 80 minutes and has a frequency of one tph.
  • This gives an average speed of 44.6 mph for the fastest journey.
  • The proposed service with Northern Powerhouse Rail will take 50 minutes and have a frequency of two tph.
  • This gives an average speed of 71,3 mph for the journey.

This last figure of over 70 mph, indicates to me that a 90 mph train will be able to meet Northern Powerhouse Rail’s objective.

Services From Hull Station

Hull station is a full interchange, which includes a large bus station.

  • Currently, the station has seven platforms.
  • There appears to be space for more platforms.
  • Some platforms are long enough to take nine-car Class 800 trains, which are 234 metres long.
  • There are some good architectural features.

If ever there was a station, that had basic infrastructure, that with appropriate care and refurbishment, could still be handling the needs of its passengers in a hundred years, it is Hull.

  • It would be able to handle a 200 metre long High Speed Two Classic-Compatible train, tomorrow.
  • It would probably be as no more difficult to electrify than Kings Cross, Liverpool Lime Street, Manchester Piccadilly or Paddington.
  • It would not be difficult to install charging facilities for battery electric trains.

These are some pictures of the station.

Currently, these are the services at the station, that go between Hull and Leeds, Selby or Sheffield.

  • Hull Trains – 7 trains per day (tpd) – Hull and London via Brough, Selby and Doncaster.
  • LNER – 1 tpd – Hull and London via Brough, Selby and Doncaster.
  • Northern Trains – 1 tph – Hull and Halifax via Brough, Selby, Leeds and Bradford Interchange.
  • Northern Trains – 1 tph – Hull and Sheffield via Brough, Gilberdyke, Goole, Doncaster, Rotherham Central and Meadowhall.
  • Northern Trains – 1 tph – Hull and York via Brough and Selby.
  • Northern Trains – 1 tph – Bridlington and Sheffield via Hull, Brough, Goole, Doncaster and Meadowhall.
  • TransPennine Express – 1 tph – Hull and Manchester Piccadilly or Manchester Airport via Brough, Selby, Leeds, Huddersfield and Stalybridge.

Note.

  1. I have included services through Selby, as the station is on the way to Leeds and is a notorious bottleneck.
  2. All services go through Brough.
  3. All trains work on diesel power to and from Hull.
  4. Hull Trains and LNER use Hitachi bi-mode trains, that work most of the route to and from London, using the 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  5. Northern use a variety of diesel trains only some of which have a 100 mph operating speed.

There would also appear to be freight trains working some of the route between Hull and Brough stations.

Upgrading The Tracks

I very much believe that to meet Northern Powerhouse Rail’s objectives as to time, that the lines to Hull from Leeds and Sheffield must have a 100 mph operating speed.

Hull And Leeds And On To London

This Google Map shows a typical section of track.

Note.

  1. Broomfleet station is in the North-West corner of the map.
  2. Brough station is just to the East of the middle of the map.
  3. Ferriby station is in the South-East corner of the map.

The Hull and Selby Line is fairly straight for most of its route.

The Selby Swing Bridge

The main problem is the Selby swing bridge, which is shown in this Google Map.

Note.

  1. The bridge was opened in 1891.
  2. It is a Grade II Listed structure.
  3. It is a double-track bridge.
  4. It swings through ninety degrees to allow ships to pass through.
  5. It has a low speed limit of 25 mph.
  6. The bridge regularly carries the biomass trains to Drax power station.

This page on the Fairfield Control Systems web site, describes the major refurbishment of the bridge.

  • The bridge structure has been fully refurbished.
  • A modern control system has been installed.
  • The page says the bridge glides to an exact stop.

Network Rail are claiming, it will be several decades before any more work needs to be done on parts of the bridge.

It looks to me, that Network Rail have decided to live with the problems caused by the bridge and automate their way round it, if possible.

Level Crossings

One general problem with the route between Hull and Selby is that it has around a dozen level crossing, some of which are just simple farm crossings.

The main route West from Selby goes to Leeds and it is double track, fairly straight with around a dozen level crossings.

West from Selby, the route to the East Coast Main Line to and from London is also double track and reasonably straight.

But it does have level crossings at Common Lane and Burn Lane.

The Google Map show Burn Lane level crossing, which is typical of many in the area.

Hull And Sheffield

The other route West from Hull goes via Goole and Doncaster.

This Google Map shows the Hull and Doncaster Branch between Goole and Saltmarshe stations.

Note.

  1. The Hull and Doncaster Branch runs diagonally across the map.
  2. Goole and its station is in the South West corner of the map.
  3. The Hull and Doncaster Branch goes leaves the map at the North-East corner and then joins the Selby Line to the West of Gilberdyke station.

This Google Map shows that where the railway crosses the River Ouse there is another swing bridge.

This is the Goole Railway Swing Bridge.

  • The bridge was opened in 1869.
  • The maximum speed for any train is 60 mph, but some are slower.
  • It is a Grade II* Listed structure.
  • In the first decade of this century the bridge was strengthened.
  • It appears to carry a lesser number of freight trains than the Selby bridge

As with the Selby bridge, it appears to be working at a reasonable operational standard.

I’ve followed the line as far as Doncaster and it is fairly straight, mostly double-track with about a half-a-dozen level crossings.

Updating To 100 mph

It looks to my naïve eyes, that updating the lines to an operating speed of 100 mph, should be possible.

But possibly a much larger problem is the up to thirty level crossings on the triangle of lines between Hull, Leeds and Sheffield.

Full ERTMS In-Cab Digital Signalling

This is currently, being installed between London and Doncaster and will allow 140 mph running, which could save several minutes on the route.

The next phase could logically extend the digital signalling as far as York and Leeds.

Extending this signalling to Hull and Sheffield, and all the lines connecting the cities and towns of East Yorkshire could be a sensible development.

It might even help with swing bridges by controlling the speed of approaching trains, so that they arrive at the optimal times to cross.

Electrification

Eventually, all of these routes will be fully electrified.

  • Hull and Leeds via Brough, Selby and Garforth.
  • Hull and Scarborough via Beverley and Seamer.
  • Hull and Sheffield via Brough, Goole, Doncaster and Rotherham.
  • Hull and York via Brough and Selby.
  • York and Scarborough via Seamer.

But there are two problems which make the electrification of the routes to Hull challenging.

  • The Grade II Listed Selby swing bridge.
  • The Grade II* Listed Goole Railway swing bridge.

There will be diehard members of the Heritage Lobby, who will resist electrification of these bridges.

Consider.

  • Both bridges appear to work reliably.
  • Adding the complication of electrification may compromise this reliability.
  • Train manufacturers have developed alternative zero-carbon traction systems that don’t need continuous electrification.
  • Hitachi have developed battery electric versions of the Class 800 and Class 802 trains, that regularly run to and from Hull.
  • Other manufacturers are developing hydrogen-powered trains, that can use both hydrogen and overhead electrification for traction power.

My Project Management experience tells me, that electrification of these two bridges could be the major cost and the most likely cause of delay to the completion of the electrification.

It should also be noted that Network Rail are already planning to electrify these routes.

  • Huddersfield and Dewsbury on the TransPennine Route, which might be extended to between Huddersfield and Leeds.
  • York and Church Fenton

There is also electrification at Doncaster, Leeds and York on the East Coast Main Line, which would probably have enough power to feed the extra electrification.

Hitachi’s Regional Battery Trains

Hitachi and Hyperdrive Innovation are developing a Regional Battery Train.

This Hitachi infographic gives the specification.

Note.

  1. The train has a range of 90 kilometres or 56 miles on battery power.
  2. It has an operating speed of 100 mph on battery power.
  3. Class 800 and Class 802 trains can be converted to Hitachi Regional Battery Trains, by swapping the diesel engines for battery packs.

When running on electrification, they retain the performance of the train, that was converted.

Discontinuous Electrification

I would propose using discontinuous electrification. by electrifying these sections.

  • Hull and Brough – 10.5 miles
  • Hull and Beverley – 13 miles
  • Doncaster and Sheffield – 20 miles
  • Selby and Leeds – 21 miles
  • Selby and Temple Hirst Junction – 5 miles
  • Seamer and Scarborough – 3 miles

This would leave these gaps in the electrification in East Yorkshire.

  • Brough and Doncaster – 30 miles
  • Brough and Selby – 21 miles
  • Brough and Church Fenton – 31 miles
  • Seamer and Beverley – 42 miles
  • Seamer and York – 39 miles

A battery electric train with a range of fifty miles would bridge these gaps easily.

This approach would have some advantages.

  • There would only need to be 72.5 miles of double-track electrification.
  • The swing bridges would be untouched.
  • TransPennine services terminating in Hull and Scarborough would be zero-carbon, once Huddersfield and Dewsbury is electrified.
  • LNER and Hull Trains services to London Kings Cross would be zero-carbon and a few minutes faster.
  • LNER could run a zero-carbon service between London Kings Cross and Scarborough.

But above all, it would cost less and could be delivered quicker.

Collateral Benefits Of Doncaster and Sheffield Electrication 

The extra electrification between Doncaster and Sheffield, would enable other services.

  • A zero-carbon service between London Kings Cross and Sheffield.
  • Extension of Sheffield’s tram-train to Doncaster and Doncaster Sheffield Airport.
  • A possible electric service along the Dearne Valley.

As plans for Sheffield’s rail and tram system develop, this electrification could have a substantial enabling effect.

Hydrogen

This map shows the Zero Carbon Humber pipeline layout.

Note.

  1. The orange line is a proposed carbon dioxide pipeline
  2. The black line alongside it, is a proposed hydrogen pipeline.
  3. Drax, Keadby and Saltend are power stations.
  4. Easington gas terminal is connected to gas fields in the North Sea and also imports natural gas from Norway using the Langeled pipeline.
  5. There are fourteen gas feels connected to Easington terminal. Some have been converted to gas storage.

I can see hydrogen being used to power trains and buses around the Humber.

Conclusion

Discontinuous electrification could be the key to fast provision of electric train services between Leeds and Sheffield and Hull.

If long journeys from Hull were run using battery electric trains, like the Hitachi Regional Battery Train, perhaps hydrogen trains could be used for the local services all over the area.

Project Management Recommendations

I have proposed six sections of electrification, to create a network to allow all services that serve Hull and Scarborough to be run by battery electric trains.

Obviously with discontinuous electrification each section or group of sections to be electrified is an independent project.

I proposed that these sections would need to be electrified.

  • Hull and Brough – 10.5 miles
  • Hull and Beverley – 13 miles
  • Doncaster and Sheffield – 20 miles
  • Selby and Leeds – 21 miles
  • Selby and Temple Hirst Junction – 5 miles
  • Seamer and Scarborough – 3 miles

They could be broken down down into four sections.

  • Hull station, Hull and Brough and Hull and Beverley
  • Doncaster and Sheffield
  • Selby station, Selby and Leeds and Selby and Temple Hirst Junction.
  • Scarborough station and Scarborough and Seamer.

I have split the electrification, so that hopefully none is challenging.

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 27, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Northern Announce On Train Permit Scheme For Scooter Users

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

This is the opening paragraph.

A new scheme has been launched by train operator Northern which will allow mobility scooter users to travel to and from over 100 stations on the network.

Sounds like if you live in the North and have a mobility scooter, you should investigate the scheme.

October 30, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

Northern Welcome New Link Between East And West Yorkshire

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Rail Operator, Northern Railway, is celebrating the improved links between East and West Yorkshire today (Dec 19) following the introduction of a new service on the network, providing a direct service between Halifax and Hull.

The tone may be a bit self-congratulatory by Northern, but it is to me a very necessary service.

  • The trains run hourly.
  • Looking at today’s early morning Saturday service, it appears to have doubled the frequency to and from Leeds.
  • Families and friends are more spread out these days..
  • Events like football matches and concerts bring in supporters and attendees from a lot further, than when the rail services were carved in stone.

I shall be very interested to see the figures for ridership on this new service..

The Suffolk Experience

Over the last few years, Suffolk’s cross-county service between Ipswich and Cambridge has gone from an hourly single-car Class 153 train through two and three-car Class 170 trains to the proposed four-car Class 755 trains.

Greater Anglia may be having trouble introducing the Class 755 train, but the proposed capacity increase is there. They are also proposing to double the frequency on the Eastern section of the route.

Nationwide

Hopefully, we’ll see more improvements in services on routes like these all over the country. Certainly, Northern and Greater Anglia have been increased threir train fleets to provide more services.

I would also like to see a nationwide capacity standard for routes like these between cities and large towns.

December 21, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Minister Quotes Definitive Dates For Final Northern Pacer Withdrawals

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Class 142 Pacers are expected to be withdrawn by Northern by February 17 2020, with all the ‘144s’ out of service by May 17 2020, according to Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris.

This is a mess and a mess, where the main culprits are not those usually blamed by the unfortunate travellers; Northern Rail  and the Government.

  • Network Rail made a terrible hash of installing electrification, mainly it appears to some bad surveying, some bad management decisions and their hiring of Carillion.
  • CAF for the late delivery of Class 195 and Class 331 trains.
  • Porterbrook and their contractor for the late delivery of Class 769 trains.

There was a similar problem on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line as Bombardier were having problems with the computer systems on the Class 710 trains, which came into service several months after the electrification was finally complete.

So Bombardier put their hands up and paid for a free month’s travel on the line.

Surely, those that are responsible for the Pacers still being in service, should follow Bombardier’s  lead.

 

October 31, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Pacers To Continue Into 2020, Operators Confirm

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Operators have confirmed that their Pacer diesel multiple-units will remain in service into early 2020, in spite of previous announcements that the unpopular four-wheeled vehicles dating from the 1980s would be withdrawn before enhanced PRM accessibility requirements come into force on January 1 2020.

The article then summarises the situation in the three operators running Pacers.

Northern

Some Pacers used by Northern will continue in service into 2020, because of late delivery of new Class 195 diesel trains and Class 331 electric trains.

They are also still awaiting delivery of eight Class 769 trains, which are very late into service.

Great Western

Great Western has said, that some Pacers will continue in service around Exeter.

No reason is given, but it does appear that because of non-delivery of electrification to Oxford and the late arrival of Crossrail, Great Western they still need Class 165 and Class 166 trains to work services for London commuters.

They are also still awaiting delivery of nineteen Class 769 trains.

Transport For Wales

Transport for Wales are in the same position as Great Western, in that the Class 769 trains, they ordered have still not been delivered.

The Operator Will Get The Blame!

Obviously, the operator will get the blame, but I would argue that all three have at least tried hard to avoid this crisis, as they knew the Pacers would have to be on their way to the scrapyard at the end of 2019.

  • If CAF had delivered their trains for Northern on time, things would be much better in the North.
  • If Porterbrook and their engineers had delivered the Class 769 trains on time, all three operators would be in a better position.

Hopefully, in a few months, the new trains will have been delivered and the Class 769 trains will have been created and in service.

 

October 24, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment