The Anonymous Widower

Northern Retires First Pacer Train

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

You’d think they’d be missed by everybody!

On Monday, I talked to the driver of a Pacer at Manchester Piccadilly station and he gave the impression, that he will miss the trains.

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

Rail Passengers Can Now Get From Farnworth To London In Two And A Half Hours

The title of this post is the same as that on this article on  This Is Lancashire.

It may seem to be a bit of a parochial story for those near Farnworth station in Greater Manchester, but it is a problem that sffects many rail passengers all over the UK.

From Farnworth, the quickest way to London, is not the obvious one to go to Manchester Piccadilly.

This may involve changes of trains and busy trains in the Manchester Rush Hour.

Locals find a better way, is to take a train the other way and catch a train from Wigan North Western., where the hardest thing is to decide, whether you want a coffee, as you walk across the platform to catch the London train.

The on-line timetable now has been fixed to offer this route in addition.

These computer-knows-best routes crop up everywhere.

If I want to get to Victoria station from the bus stop around the corner, the best way is to catch a 30 bus to Highbury & Isligton station. There is a walk through the everlasting road-works at the station and a long walk in a tunnel to get to the platform, but it works.

However, the recommended route is to take a 38 bus to Essex Road station and then go out of London, by one stop to Highbury & Islington station.

This route has three problems.

  • There is a double-crossing of busy roads at Essex Road station.
  • Essex Road station was last cleaned and given a makeover, when King George was on the throne.
  • The interchange at Highbury & Islington station is not for the unfit or anybody with a baggagge, bike or buggy

Only a computer working without human help, could design such a bad route.

As at Farnworth and with me in London, local knowledge is everything.

Sorting Out Manchester’s Routes

Northern Trains may have been thinking about passengers getting to the less busy stations.

They have introduced three new services that connect the West Coast Main Line and Greater Manchester.

  • Wigan North Western and Alderly Edge
  • Wigan North Western and Stalybridge
  • Chester and Leeds via Warrington Bank Quay, Manchester Victoria, Rochdale, Hebden Bridge, Halifax and Bradford.

The latter route is an interesting one, as not only does it offer some good journey possibilities, but it is a scenic route through the Pennines.

 

August 5, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 5 Comments

Northern Considering Options For More New Trains

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

This is a paragraph.

Senior Northern sources told RAIL on June 28 that the operator believes the new trains will entice more people onto its services, and that within two years – once all 101 new trains are in service – there could be overcrowding.

This sounds to me, like another case of London Overground Syndrome.

At least, Northern have identified it early and taken the only action that works – Acquire more trains.

The High Speed Train Problem

Several of Northern’s routes use 100 mph trains on the West Coast and East Coast Main Lines.

  • Blackpool and York
  • Chester and Leeds
  • Hull and York
  • Leeds and York
  • Liverpool and Blackpool via Wigan
  • Manchester and Crewe
  • Manchester and Stoke
  • Manchester Airport and Barrow
  • Manchester Airport and Blackpool
  • Manchester Airport and Windermere

Will Northern acquire some 110 mph or even 125 mph trains to ease the creation of timetables amongst so many high speed trains using the main lines?

Greater Anglia’s New Train Order

Greater Anglia have ordered thirty-eight Class 755 trains, which have a total of 138 cars.

These will replace twenty-six assorted trains, which have a total of 55 cars.

This is an increase of 46% in the number of trains and  150% in the number of cars.

Greater Anglia didn’t increase the fleet so that could sit in sidings, so I think we can expect some new services and higher frequencies.

Conclusion

Northern’s actions are in line with other operators.

July 15, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 3 Comments

Manchester Victoria To Chester

On Saturday, I went between Manchester Victoria and Chester on the new hourly Northern Connect service between Chester and Leeds.

Note.

  1. The train was a Class 158 train, with a Class 153 train acting as a capacity enhancer.
  2. The train was only doing 60 mph on the West Coast Main Line.
  3. The service was fairly busy.
  4. The route is electrified between Manchester Victoria and Warrington Bank Quay stations.

On this Saturday morning, it appeared to me that a better train is needed.

In Northern Connect Between Chester And Leeds To Start In May, I did report a rumour that Class 769 trains might be running between Chester and Leeds.

In my view Class 769 trains are ideal for the route between Chester and Leeds.

  • They are four-car trains.
  • They can do 100 mph, where electrification is available.
  • They are 90 mph trains on diesel.

There main problem, is not their age, but since they were proposed, train interiors have moved on. Passengers and train operating companies want more tables and comfortable seats. Even some refurbishments of forty-year-old trains have tables. In What Train Is This?, I described a high class refurbishment of a Class 150 train. Here’s a picture.

The Chester and Leeds route and probably many other routes in the UK need a train with the following characteristics.

  • 100 mph using either 25 KVAC overhead or 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • 100 mph on secondary power like diesel, battery or hydrogen.
  • two hundred mile range without refuelling.
  • Four or five cars.
  • Comfortable interior with tables, wi-fi, power points and everything else passengers want.

Train operating companies would probably like a 125 mph version.

Hitachi already have a train with this specification in the Class 800 train. In Hitachi Plans To Run ScotRail Class 385 EMUs Beyond The Wires, I detail, Hitachi’s plans for Class 385 trains. Could these be stretched to perhaps do 100 miles on batteries.

Bombardier are offering a High Speed Bi-Mode Aventra with batteries and Stadler are introducing the Class 755 train for Greater Anglia.

Conclusion

It looks to me, that Northern need to get themselves some new 100 mph hybrid trains. The diesels they have on order are so Twentieth Century and late!

June 3, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Comparing Class 195 And Class 769 Trains

This may seen a strange comparison to do.

  • In the blue corner is an upgraded forty-year-old four-car bi-mode Class 769 train from British Rail via Brush at Louthborough.
  • In the red corner is a new three-car diesel Class 195 train from CAF.

So how do they compare?

Seats

  • The Class 769 train shows 255 Standard Class and 12 First Seats in an example layout in the brochure.
  • The Class 195 train has 204 seats according to Wikipedia.

The seats per car in both trains are almost identical.

Diesel Power

  • The Class 769 train has two 390 kW diesel engines and electric transmission.
  • The Class 195 train has three 390 kW diesel engines and a ZF Ecolife six-speed transmission.

So it would appear that the Class 195 train is more powerful, but Class 769 train has an electric transmission, which doesn’t need to change gear.

I look forward to riding in both trains.

Operating Speed

  • The Class 769 train has a 100 mph operating speed on electricity and has been designed for 91 mph on diesel power.
  • The Class 195 train has a 100 mph operating speed.

The proof of the pudding will be in the timetables and journey times.

Conclusion

The two trains are fairly evenly matched for a lot of routes.

March 9, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Infrastructure Delays Force Northern To Soldier On With Pacers

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

This is the first paragraph.

Forty-six Pacers remained in traffic with Northern at the start of January, after they were supposed to have been sent off-lease.

Northern are saying they are still in service because of delays in the delivery of the electrification through Bolton, which would have allowed the replacement of Pacers with electric trains.

The situation has not been helped by the late delivery of eight Class 769 trains, which could be running partially-electrified routes.

The Class 331 trains should also be arriving this year.

As there are also some more Class 319 trains in store, it does look like Northern’s blaming of the late electrification is on the mark.

 

 

 

 

January 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

SuperSaturday On Southeastern

This article on IanVisits is entitled Cheap Train Tickets On Southeastern Railway This Weekend.

This is the first three paragraphs.

This weekend is SuperSaturday on Southeastern railway and they’re offering unlimited travel across their entire network for just £20. You can also add up to four children for £1 each.

You have to book a ticket from a set departure station, but beyond that, you are free to travel to as many stations as you like on the day.

It also includes travel on High Speed One out of St Pancras.

What a brilliant marketing idea!

Perhaps other train operating companies should do the same thing.

If Greater Anglia did it on a day when several of Cambridge United, Colchester United, Ipswich Town, Norwich City, Peterborough United and Southend were at home, what would it do to gates and travel around East Anglia.

Obviously, Northern couldn’t do it, as the RMT strike on Saturdays.

 

 

October 6, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Minister Claims Hydrogen Train On Trial In UK

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

This is the first paragraph.

Rail Minister Jo Johnson told the Transport Select Committee on April 30 that a hydrogen train was on trial in the Lake District.

After the end of Amber Rudd’s political career yesterday, for not telling the truth to another Select Committee, I would be very surprised if Jo Johnson’s statement is not substantially correct.

Something strange is happening on the Windermere Branch Line.

  • Most of the day, there is an hourly shuttle train between Windermere and Oxenholme Lake District stations.
  • But the 10:56, 18:03 and 22:45 services from Windermerre, continue to Preston.
  • The 06:23 from Oxenholm Lake District to Windermere starts from Lancaster.
  • The 11:20 from Oxen Lake District to Windermere starts from Preston.
  • The 18:30 from Oxen Lake District to Windermere starts from Barrow-in-Furness.

It doesn’t seem to be the sort of diagram for a regular scheduled service.

Could it be that Class 769 trains are being tested?

  • Running on the West Coast Main Line between Preston and Oxenholme stations would be at up to 100 mph using the 25 KVAC overhead wires.
  • Running  to Windermere and Barrow-in-Furness stations would be under diesel power.
  • Note that the service goes to Preston in the middle of the day. Could this mean , that they are thoroughly testing more than one train?
  • From Preston the trains can go to turnback platforms at Barrow-in-Furness, Blackburn, Blackpool North, Blackpool South, Colne, Ormskirk and Windermere stations. So, Preston would be an ideal base from where to test the trains.

Could one of the trains under test be hydrogen  powered?

If what Jo Johnson said is to believed, at least one of the test trains must be!

Who’d have thought, that an old British Rail-designed Class 319 train, that entered service thirty-years ago, could be the UK’s first hydrogen-powered train.

A Hydrogen-Powered Class 769 Train

Of course, the engineering must be possible .

  • The train would need a hydrogen tank, a hydrogen fuel cell and a battery.
  • They would probably be fitted under the train, where there wuld appear to be plenty of space.

But companies like Ballard have a lot of experience with building hydrogen-powered buses.

Don’t Rule Out Bombardier!

I believe that most train manufacturers are looking seriously at hydrogen power, as a greener alternative to diesel.

Two years ago, Bombardier showed their expertise with batteries, by developing the Class 379 BEMU demonstrator in just a few months.

Could Bombardier have taken an Electrostar or Aventra and fitted it with batteries and a hydrogen tank and a hydrogen fuel cell?

Conclusion

I think that Jo Johnson was telling the truth or at least enough of the truth, not to be caught misleading a Select Committee of the House of Commons.

 

 

May 1, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

Why Has 319448 Not Been Repainted?

In the November 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, there is a picture of this Class 319 train passing behind the Ordsall Chord bridge on Page 49.

The train is on the right hand page and appears not to be in the usual Northern Electrics blue.

So why has it not been painted?

319448 Is A Class 319/4 Train

319448 is a Class 319/4 trains, which are probably the best variant of the Class 319 trains, as they have been refurbished a couple of times and have a First Class section, less 2+3 seating and a Universal Access Toilet.

These pictures which show a typical Class 319/4 train, were taken when the trains were being used on Thameslink.

So preparing 319448 for service in the North-West was probably a lot easier, than some of the other Class 319 trains.

Northern probably needed an extra Class 319 train urgently and bringing it into service in Thameslink condition was probably acceptable to customers and their cash-flow.

The exterior painting and the tidying up of the interiors can probably be done later, when there is less pressure on stock numbers.

319448 Is Going To Be Converted To A Class 769 Bi-Mode Train

In the Wikipedia entry for the Class 769 train, the serial numbers of the Class 319 trains to be converted are given.

769424, 769431, 769434, 769442, 769448, 769450, 769456, 769458, 769???, 769???, 769???

Note.

  1. The first three digits identify the train class and the last three digits the train number in that class.
  2. After conversion 319424 will become 769424

According to Issue 834 of Rail Magazine, 319456 and 319434 are in Loughborough for the conversion.

So it looks like 319448 will be converted to 769448.

Northern’s Need For Class 769 Trains

The Wikipedia entry for the Class 769 train, says this about Northern’s initial use of the trains.

Northern have indicated that the use of these trains would be of most benefit on routes that are part electrified, whereby they would be able to use the pantograph for the main part, while being able to operate using diesel power away from the overhead lines. The first route to be confirmed by Northern for the running of Class 769 units was the Windermere branch line between Oxenholme and Windermere in North West England.

Once the current electrification program between Manchester and Blackpool, Preston and Stalybridge is complete, there are several partially-electrified routes, where Class 769 trains might be used in North West England.

  • Blackpool South to Colne
  • Liverpool Lime Street to Chester via Runcorn and the Halton Curve.
  • Manchester Piccadilly to Buxton
  • Manchester Piccadilly to Liverpool Lime Street via Warrington
  • Manchester Victoria to Blackburn via Todmodern and Burnley
  • Manchester Victoria to Clitheroe via Bolton and Blackburn
  • Manchester Victoria to Kirkby
  • Manchester Victoria to Southport
  • Preston to Barrow
  • Preston to Ormskirk

If the trains are a success, then surely more trains will be deployed around the electrical networks in Leeds and Newcastle.

A Possible Conversion Plan

Could the conversion of a Class 319 train to a Class 769 train be something like this multi-stage process.

1. Pre-Service Changes

The Class 319/4 trains have for several years been running without serious problems on the Thameslink route,

However, due to different operational rules, I suspect that there will be some changes that have to be carried out before the trains can run in the North. 319448 has obviously had these changes.

2, Pre-Conversion Test Running

If I’ was going to spend a lot of money converting a train, I’d give it a thorough testing with experienced drivers and engineers to make sure there wasn’t an expensive fault.

Northern have a team of drivers with lots of experience of their current fleet of thirty-two Class 319 trains.

The train could even be used in passenger service, as it is an unmodified Class 319/4 train little different to the others in Northern’s fleet.

3, Conversion To Class 769 Train

The train can then be removed from service and converted to a Class 769 train.

4, Testing And Entry Into Service

The trains can be appropriately tested.

5. Interior Refurbushment And External Painting

Doing this last is probably a lot easier, given that the Class 319/4 trains are generally in a good state cosmetically.

A Production Line Would Be Possible

I believe if you do the Project Management professionally for the conversion of the eleven trains need by Northern and the extra five for Wales, it will be possible to fit together a very orderly and efficient production line.

I can envisage that production of units getting quicker as experience is gained.

 

 

November 20, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Increasing Capacity Across The Pennines

I’m not sure, if this is what Northern said they would do to increase the capacity across the Pennines.

The Class 168 train is towing a Pacer to nearly double capacity.

I saw this approach three times between Todmorden and Leeds.

This gallery shows the Class 150 train pulling a Pacer, I used between Todmodern and Halifax.

Do you get a discount for travelling in inferior accommodation?

November 18, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment