The Anonymous Widower

Planning Permission Granted For The First New Railway Station On The Northumberland Line

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

This map from ITV shows the Northumberland Line.

Ashington station has been given planning permission.

Facilities include.

  • A hundred metre platform and all the gubbins. The platform length would accommodate a five-car train.
  • A 270 space car park with facilities for the disabled and electric cars.

It is due to open by 2024.

It looks like it’s just five new stations to go.

October 23, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , | 1 Comment

Level Crossing Trouble On The Northumberland Line

There is an article on Chronicle Live, which is entitled Exodus Fears Over Northumberland Line Underpass Plans For Ashington.

There is also this sub-heading.

Opponents of a planned underpass in Ashington as part of work on the Northumberland Line rail project are being urged to have their say.

So what are some people protesting about?

This page on the ABC Railway Guide is entitled Hospital Crossing Level Crossing and gives details of the level crossing, that Network Rail want to replace with an underpass.

  • The crossing is a public footpath crossing with whistleboards.
  • Individual and collective risk rating is high.
  • It is used by 110 pedestrians and cyclists per day.
  • There don’t seem to have been many recent incidents.

I know of a similar crossing in a similar town to Ashington, where there have been several deaths and suicides.

As the Northumberland Line is likely to have a half-hourly service, which will mean four trains per hour (tph) over the crossing, I doubt any Health and Safety professional would sign off the Northumberland Line without separation of the trains from pedestrians and cyclists.

Admittedly, the main complaint of the residents is noise and drunken pedestrians, but aren’t the latter most likely to be run over by a train.

There is also suggestions that the crossing be moved further to the North.

This Google Map shows the crossing.

Note how the crossing zig-zags across the railway.

This second Google Map shows a 3D visualisation from the East.

The proposed underpass would appear to connect Roseneath Court in the bottom-left and Darnley Road in the top-right.

  • It does appear that the current route goes behind houses on both sides of the railway.
  • I would suspect that underpasses could be built in line with both Roseneath Court and Darnley Road.
  • But either route would mean that the noisy and the drunks would walk further in a parallel direction to the railway and would create more disturbance.

This level crossing argument will run and run, as many do.

The Effect Of Battery-Electric Trains

I think it is likely that services on this line could be run by battery-electric trains.

These trains could be new trains from CAF, Hitachi or Vivarail or modern electrical multiple units, that have been upgraded with batteries.

  • They would be capable of 100 mph or more on the East Coast Main Line.
  • They would run on battery power at an appropriate speed of perhaps 80 mph  on the Northumberland Line, which is not planned to be electrified.
  • I suspect the passenger trains will cruise up and down the Northumberland Line faster than the current freigtht trains.
  • On battery power with no overhead wires, they will be very quiet trains.

Paradoxically, these new trains, although much better for passengers, could be more dangerous for the users of level crossings because of their faster speed and lower noise.

 

October 5, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Planning Permission Granted For The First New Railway Station On The Northumberland Line

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

The station concerned is Ashington station.

One of the reasons, I wrote this post, is that the ITV article has a very good map of the railway being reopened.

These two paragraphs describe the station’s features.

The new platform will be approximately 100 metres long, with a range of facilities including waiting shelters, CCTV, help points and lighting.

Plans also include car park providing up to 270 spaces including 17 accessible spaces and 18 electric vehicle charging bays.

It also gives the reopening date of the railway as 2024, when the service will be a half-hourly one between Newcastle and Ashington stations that should take thirty-five minutes.

September 13, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | Leave a comment

New Rail Service From Newcastle To Edinburgh To Stop At These Northumberland Stations

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

Details of the service are as follows.

  • It will be run by TransPennine Express.
  • It starts in December 2021.
  • It will run five times per day (tpd)
  • It will call at Cramlington, Morpeth, Widdrington, Alnmouth, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Reston and Dunbar.

It is planned to run at least until May 2023.

These are my thoughts.

What Trains Will TransPennine Express Use?

The service will probably need a single train, if it was run by a dedicated fleet of trains, that just shuttled between Edinburgh and Newcastle. TransPennine could use either an electric  Class 802 train or a diesel Class 185 train.

The diesel train might not be a good idea for operational reasons as TransPennine’s current services to Newcastle and Edinburgh use Class 802 trains.

But this service wouldn’t need a Class 802 train, as the route is fully electrified, so TransPennine might use a Class 800 train, if one were available from another company in the First Group.

TransPennine could also extend selected Manchester Airport and Newcastle services to Edinburgh, which might be the most efficient ways of using both trains and platforms in Newcastle.

This would give those using the intermediate stations between Edinburgh and Newcastle a service to and from Manchester Airport and the intervening stations, with a change at Newcastle, which would involve staying on the same train.

I’d organise the service as five tpd between Manchester Airport and Edinburgh with calls at Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Oxford Road, Manchester Victoria, Huddersfield, Dewsbury, Leeds, York, Northallerton, Darlington, Durham, Chester-le-Street, Newcastle, Cramlington, Morpeth, Widdrington, Alnmouth, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Reston and Dunbar.

The big advantage of this, is that TransPennine could use the existing Class 802 trains, although they may need one more.

Reston Station

It looks like it will be a much needed service, that will get the new Reston station up and running.

I suspect that,  passenger numbers at Reston station will determine the calling pattern after May 2023.

Will Other Services Continue?

TransPennine Express only has one service that stops between Newcastle and Edinburgh and that is the hourly service between Liverpool Lime Street and Edinburgh stations and that only stops at Morpeth.

I doubt this service will be changed, although after May 2023, it may make some extra stops depending on passenger numbers on the new service.

It should be noted that CrossCountry and LNER call irregularly at Alnmouth, Berwick-upon-Tweed and Dunbar.

As LNER are in rather a mess over their new timetable, I suspect that after May 2023, there could be a bit of a sort out of services.

How Will The New Service Fit With The Reopened Northumberland Line?

Initially the Northumberland Line will run as far as Ashington and won’t open until 2023 at the earliest.

But plans exist to extend the Northumberland Line to Morpeth.

The new service would fit well with an extended Northumberland Line service.

How Will The New Service Fit With East Coast Trains New London And Edinburgh Service?

East Coast Trains will be running a new Open Access service between London and Edinburgh from this autumn.

  • It will have a frequency of 5 tpd.
  • It will stop at Newcastle, Morpeth and Stevenage.
  • It will offer one way fares of £25.

East Coast Trains are another First Group company.

As both services are five tpd in both directions, will the two services co-ordinate stops, so that passengers between say London and Reston can take advantage?

Going North, the stopping train could follow the East Coast Trains express and going South the stopping train would be a few minutes in front of the express.

This would also help with maximising capacity between Edinburgh and Newcastle on the busy East Coast Main Line.

Conclusion

This new stopping service between Edinburgh and Newcastle looks to be a simple solution to improve passenger services for intermediate stations between the two important cities.

 

September 3, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Northern Rail Apologises Over Disruption On Durham Coast Line

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

These is the first two  paragraphs.

Easington MP Grahame Morris has invited Northern Rail executives and the Rail Minister to travel on the Durham Coast Line following “another weekend of rail chaos”.

As the football season kicked off and Seaham Food Festival attracted thousands of people, travellers were left angry and disappointed as they were unable to board overcrowded rail services at Horden and Seaham train stations.

The article then goes on to say that this has been an ongoing problem for several years.

I would have thought that to maximise revenue on any transport service, it is best to provide enough stagecoaches, charabancs, buses, trams or trains.

Could this business naivety be why the original Northern went bust?

What Should The Government Do?

As Northern is now run by the Government’s Operator Of Last Resort, it is up to the Government.

In Boris Johnson Backs Station Opening Which Could See Metro Link To County Durham, I report on an exchange between Boris Johnson and an MP in Prime Minister’s Questions.

These are my two main improvements.

Reopen Ferryhill Station And The Leamside and Stillington Lines To Create A New Route

Boris Johnson talked about reopening Ferryhill station, which could be key to opening up a second route between Teesside and Newcastle and Sunderland.

  • Ferryhill station would be on the East Coast Main Line and electrified to handle battery-electric trains.
  • Ferryhill terminal would be an ideal Southern terminal for a reopened Leamside Line, which most stakeholders seem in favour of, as it would take the pressure off the East Coast Main Line to the South of Newcastle and connect large areas to the rail network and in particular, the Tyne and Wear Metro.
  • Ferryhill station would be at the Northern end of the freight-only  Stillington Line, which runs South-Eastwards from the East Coast Main Line at Ferryhill to Stockton and Hartlepool or Middlesbrough.
  • A combination of the Leamside and Stillington Lines would open up a second route between the two conurbations.

It might also be possible to run a semi-fast York and Newcastle service via Northallerton, Yarm, Thornaby, Stockton, Ferryhill and the Leamside Line.

  • This service would only run on the East Coast Main Line, where there were four tracks to the South of Northallerton.
  • It could be run by a battery-electric train.
  • A battery-electric train could be charged at York, Ferryhill and Newcastle.

This article on the Northern Echo is entitled ‘Rapid’ Progress On Reopening Leamside Line, Connecting County Durham And Washington.

Things don’t seem to be standing still.

There would appear to be lots of scope for rail development between the Tyne and Wear in the North and the Tees in the South.

If the go-ahead is given by Government to develop the Leamside and Stillington Lines, the great thing is that construction of the new route will not affect anything on the important East Coast Main Line, as Network Rail would just be creating a railway by-pass around one of busiest sections of main line, that will be used by local and freight trains.

Two routes through the area, would certainly double the capacity, if both had an hourly train.

Battery-Electric Trains

I mentioned battery-electric trains as the rolling stock for a possible semi-fast service between York and Newcastle.

We are accumulating a large pile of surplus Class 350, 387 and 379 trains.

  • They are being replaced by modern units.
  • They were built within the last twenty years.
  • They are all high-quality four car trains.
  • They can all be modified for a 110 mph operating speed, so could venture on the East Coast Main Line if needed.

These trains have been mentioned several times as possibilities for conversion to battery-electric trains.

With a few strategically-placed charging systems, these would be ideal trains for services in the area.

Conclusion

It would be a great improvement for train services in the North-East.

My first step would be to convert the Hexham and Nunthorpe service via Newcastle, Sunderland, Seaham, Horden and Middlesbrough to battery-electric operation, by adding charging at Hexham and Nunthorpe stations.

Some are keen on hydrogen trains for this route, but these will have a longer gestation period.

I would also suspect that travellers in the North-East would prefer jam today, rather than possibly inferior jam sometime in the future.

Battery-electric trains based on the train classes I named would also be ideal for the Northumberland Line and the Salburn and Bishop Auckland service.

 

August 17, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Northumberland Railway Line: Test Train Runs On Planned Route

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

This is the first four paragraphs.

A test train has travelled along part of a new Northumberland line ahead of the reintroduction of passenger services.

Six new stations are to be built and 18 miles (29km) of track upgraded between Newcastle and Morpeth.

The test train contained dignitaries and rail officials, with full services expected to start in 2024.

Northern said it was looking at running two trains an hour six days a week and hourly services on Sundays.

It very much sounds to be a good start.

The article certainly has a good picture of one of the bridges on the line.

Morpeth?

Note that the article says that the first phase goes to Morpeth. I had thought it was going to Ashington.

Or could it be that Network Rail want to open up Newcastle and Morpeth to take some local services off the East Coast Main Line.

August 13, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 2 Comments

Network Rail Completes Key Step To Reopen Northumberland Line

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

It may only be the renewal of 600 yards and competry at Newsham, but it least it gets the project on the rails.

I find it heartening, that this project and the similar Beeching Reversal one at Okehampton seemed to have made quick starts.

June 30, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 3 Comments

Transport Bosses Promise The Northumberland Line Will Be Operational Before The End Of 2024

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

The article appears to be all good news for the North-East.

June 18, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | | Leave a comment

On Track – Network Rail Reaches Key Milestone On Dartmoor Line

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

These are the first two paragraphs.

The reopening of the railway line between Okehampton and Exeter is one step closer after Network Rail finished relaying the new track and sleepers this week.

Following the confirmation of government funding in March, engineers started immediately and have worked tirelessly upgrading this 14 mile stretch of track between Okehampton and Coleford Junction, where the Dartmoor Line joins the existing railway line to Exeter.

Perhaps the most significant fact about this project, is the speed with which work has progressed since it started.

So far it appears the following has been done.

  • 11 miles of track has been laid.
  • 24.000 new concrete sleepers have been installed.
  • 29,000 tonnes of ballast has been installed.

Much of the work was done by a clever machine which is shown in a video.

I do wonder if this machine, when it finishes in Devon will be sent all the way to Newcastle to relay the Northumberland Line in the same manner.

May 16, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

What Is Possible On The East Coast Main Line?

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

This picture shows one of these locomotives at Kings Cross.

Note.

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

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

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

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

Note.

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

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

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

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

So how did they do it?

Superb Timetabling

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

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

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

A Good As ERTMS Signalling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Possible Plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Consider.

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

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

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

Recent Developments Concerning the Hitachi Trains

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

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

And these are just the ones we know about.

The Class 807 Trains And Liverpool

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

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

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

The Class 803 Trains And Edinburgh

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

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

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

I also thought it would be a successful service

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

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

The two services could even be run at similar speeds.

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

Does this explain the similar lightweight trains?

Could Lightweight Trains Help LNER?

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

I have only mentioned them in the following circumstances.

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

Let’s consider the LNER fleet.

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

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

And look at their destinations.

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

The destinations can be summarised as followed.

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

This gives a total of 28.

Could the trains be matched better to the destinations?

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

There certainly appear to be possibilities.

Example Journey Times To Edinburgh

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

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

Note.

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

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

Decarbonisation Of LNER

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

May 15, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments