The Anonymous Widower

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

LNER To Keep Class 91s Until 2023

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

This is the two introductory paragraphs.

Class 91s hauling Mk 4s will remain with London North Eastern Railway until 2023.

Ten rakes of coaches and ten ‘91s’ will be used, with two additional spare ‘91s’ and a handful of spare Mk 4s also retained.

It looks like LNER are keeping enough Class 91 locomotives and Mark 4 coaches to guarantee having ten trains in service.

Why 2023?

The answer to this question is probably contained in an article in Issue 901 of Rail Magazine, which is entitled ORR Approves New Hitachi Inter-Car Connector Design, which has these two statements.

  • All inter-car connectors will have been updated by Summer 2022.
  • Hitachi has deals for a further 61 trains for three operators and all will be in traffic by the end of 2022.

It looks like Hitachi could have production capability from 2023.

The original Rail Magazine article also says this.

The extension is until the end of 2023 while LNER sources brand new trains, which would take a minimum of around two years to build and deliver. The operator has previously told RAIL it needs around six new trains.

It appears the difference between retaining ten InterCity 225 trains and adding six new trains to the fleet, is to cover for the retrofit of the inter-car connectors.

The Performance Of A Class 91 Locomotive And Five Mark 4 Coaches

I have seen in mentioned that Virgin East Coast were intending to run shortened rakes of Mark 4 coaches.

In the Wikipedia entry for the Class 91 locomotive, there is a section called Speed Record, where this is said.

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.

When you consider, this was nearly forty years ago, there can’t be much wrong with British Rail’s train engineering.

What Average Speed Do You Need  To Achieve London And Edinburgh In Four Hours?

The rail distance between London and Edinburgh is 393 miles, so four hours needs an average speed of 98 mph.

Consider.

  • I have travelled in InterCity 125 and InterCity 225 trains, where I have measured the speed at around 125 mph for perhaps thirty or forty miles.
  • In Norwich-In-Ninety Is A Lot More Than Passengers Think!, I travelled to Norwich and back, at around 100 mph most of the way.
  • Continuous 125 mph running is just as much about the track as the train.
  • I have watched a driver in an InterCity 125 at work and these guys and girls know the route and their charges, like the backs of their hands.

I think it is possible to arrange train pathing, so that trains could run between London and Edinburgh in excess of 100 mph.

I believe, that this would enable London and Edinburgh in under four hours.

Will LNER Run Faster Services With Short Sets?

Virgin East Coast’s original plan, was to run short sets between London and Edinburgh.

Would these short sets have been faster, than full size sets?

  • The power-to-weight ratio is higher, so acceleration would be better.
  • A five-car train would probably need half the power of a ten-car train to cruise at a given speed.
  • It might be possible to save weight to increase performance.
  • There would be no intermediate stops.
  • They know that the Kings Cross and Edinburgh record is three-and-a-half hours, which was set by a five-car train.
  • In-cab digital signalling and other improvements could be fitted.

It should also be noted, that a short set would probably do significantly less damage to the track than a full-size set at 140 mph.

Possible Short InterCity 225 Routes

LNER have only six fully-electrified routes, where they could run short InterCity 225 sets.

  • Kings Cross and Leeds
  • Kings Cross and Doncaster
  • Kings Cross and York
  • Kings Cross and Newcastle
  • Kings Cross and Edinburgh
  • Kings Cross and Stirling

Note.

  1. All routes are fully-electrified, which is a pre-requisite, as InterCity 225 sets have no self-power capability.
  2. Kings Cross and Leeds will probably be run by pairs of Class 800 trains, as LNER looks like it will split trains at Leeds and serve two destinations.
  3. Do Doncaster, York and Newcastle generate enough traffic for a fast service?
  4. The Edinburgh route will have direct competition from East Coast Trains, who will be running five-car Class 803 trains.
  5. The Stirling route at over five hours is probably too long.

It looks to me, that the preferred route for InterCity 225 sets,; short or full-size will be Kings Cross and Edinburgh.

How Many Trains Would Be Needed To Run An Edinburgh Service?

A flagship service between London and Edinburgh might have the following timetable.

  • One tph perhaps leaving at a fixed time in every hour.
  • A timing of under four hours.
  • Minimal numbers of intermediate stops.
  • The service would not be extended past Edinburgh, as the trains need electrified lines.

Suppose, the trains could do a round trip in eight hours, this would mean that eight trains would be needed to provide a service.

Ten trains would allow one train in maintenance and one ready to be brought into service at a moment’s notice.

Does this explain, why ten InterCity 225 sets are being retained.

Would In-Cab Signalling Be Needed?

I suspect that under current rules, in-cab digital signalling might be needed! But as I observed in Partners On Board For In-Cab Signalling Project On East Coast Main Line, this is on its way!

But, as the average speed needed to do London and Edinburgh in four hours is only 98 mph, I wonder what time could be achieved by one of the top drivers, using the following.

  • All their route knowledge and driving skill.
  • A five-car train.
  • Maximum acceleration.
  • A well-thought out pathing structure.
  • A clear track
  • No hold-ups
  • A non-stop run.

If the train were to run at 125 mph all the way without stopping, the journey time would be around three hours and ten minutes.

Wikipedia says this about in-cab digital signalling on the East Coast Main Line.

The line between London King’s Cross and Bawtry, on the approach to Doncaster, will be signalled with Level 2 ERTMS. The target date for operational ERTMS services is December 2018 with completion in 2020.

  • I estimate that that this will mean that 145 miles of the route will have full in-cab digital signalling.
  • Currently, the fastest London and Doncaster times are around 90 minutes, with many taking 97-98 minutes for the 155 miles.

This means the fast train takes 84 minutes between King’s Cross and Bawtry, at an average speed of 103 mph.

Suppose this fast train could go at 125 mph for all but twenty of the distance between King’s Cross and Bawtry, how much time would this save?

  • 125 miles at 125 mph would take 60 minutes.
  • 125 miles at 103 mph would take 72 minutes.

This means that just by running at 125 mph continuously for all but twenty miles could save up to twelve minutes.

If 140 mph running could be maintained on this section, another six minutes would be saved.

As they say, every little helps!

Lessons From Norwich-in-Ninety

In Norwich-In-Ninety Is A Lot More Than Passengers Think!, I travelled to Norwich and back, at around 100 mph most of the way.

Liverpool Street and Norwich is 114 miles and a ninety minute journey is an average of just 76 mph, which is 24 mph below the maximum cruise of a Class 90 locomotive and a rake of eight Mark 3 coaches. Compare this with an average speed of 98 mph needed for London and Edinburgh in four hours and the 125 mph maximum certified cruise of an InterCity 225 train, without in-cab digital signalling.

It should also be noted that Greater Anglia, run an additional stopping train after the Norwich-in-Ninety expresses, that call at several important stations and not just Ipswich.

Will LNER use a similar strategy? It was working well and successfully for Greater Anglia, until services were decimated by COVID-19!

Will LNER Increase Frequency Between London And Edinburgh To Three Trains Per Hour?

It would seem that the current two tph service running nine- or ten-car trains, runs with a high level of occupancy, so to replace some of these trains with faster and shorter trains might cause capacity problems.

But to add, a third faster train in the hour might be possible. Especially, if the Norwich-in-Ninety strategy were to be used. The timetable in both directions could be something like.

  • XX:00 – Four hour express
  • XX:06 – Four-hour plus train to current timing
  • XX:30 – Four-hour plus train to current timing

LNER’s Marketing Department would like it.

Could Hitachi Trains Achieve London and Edinburgh In Four Hours?

The all-electric Class 801 trains most certainly have a performance to match an InterCity 225 in terms of acceleration and maximum operating speed without in-cab digital signalling. After all, the Japanese train was designed as a direct replacement for British Rail’s last high performance train!

So I believe that with a well-designed timetable, electric Hitachi trains will be able to run between London and Edinburgh in under four hours, with a small number of stops.

Note that LNER will have a fleet of thirty nine-car and twelve five-car all-electric Class 801 trains.

But East Coast Trains will have a fleet of five five-car all-electric Class 803 trains, which could get near to a four-hour timing, despite their four stops at Stevenage, Durham, Newcastle and Morpeth.

  • I have timed a Class 800 train leaving Kings Cross and they get up to 125 mph fairly fast, by about Potters Bar, which is reached in eleven minutes.
  • Stops at Stevenage, Durham and Morpeth will probably each add two minutes to the timing, with Newcastle adding five minutes.
  • 125 mph all the way from Kings Cross to Edinburgh would be a timing of three hours and ten minutes.

Add up the stationary times at the stops (2+2+2+5) and that gives a journey time of three hours and twenty-one minutes, which leaves thirty-nine minutes for the five decelerations and accelerations between stationary and 125 mph.

This page on the Eversholt Rail web site, has a data sheet for a Class 802 train, which is a Class 800 train with larger engines.

The data sheet shows that a five-car train can accelerate to 125 mph and then decelerate to a stop in six minutes in electric mode. So five accelerations/deceleration cycles  to 125 mph would take thirty minutes. This gives a journey time between London and Edinburgh of three hours and fifty-one minutes.

Note that Class 801 trains, which don’t lug diesel engines about will have better acceleration, due to the lower weight, so should have better acceleration and deceleration.

Does this time seem reasonable? First Group with their extensive experience of running Class 800 trains on the Great Western Main Line will know the capabilities of the trains, down to the last mph.

I doubt, they’d have bought the trains for East Coast Trains, if they couldn’t do London and Edinburgh in four hours.

I believe that both InterCity 225 and Class 801/803 trains can do London and Edinburgh in four hours and any train company that doesn’t offer this timing, will come second!

A Possible Hitachi-Based Timetable For LNER

I would be very surprised if a service pattern like this wouldn’t be possible.

  • XX:00 – Four hour express – Class 801 train
  • XX:06 – Four-hour plus train to current timing – Class 801 train or InterCity 225
  • XX:30 – Four-hour plus train to current timing – Class 801 train or InterCity 225

Note.

  1. As there is only one extra train per hour, ten extra trains would be the addition to the fleet, needed to run this service pattern.
  2. Class 801 trains could be five-car or nine-car sets as passenger numbers require.
  3. InterCity 225 trains could be as long as are needed.

InterCity 225 trains would only be doing the job, they’ve done for many years.

Targeting The Airline Market

In Trains Ordered For 2021 Launch Of ‘High-Quality, Low Fare’ London – Edinburgh Service, which described the launch of First East Coast Trains, I said this about their target market.

First East Coast Trains is targeting the two-thirds of passengers, who fly between London and Edinburgh. The company are also targeting business passengers, as the first train arrives in Edinburgh at 10:00. Trains will take around four hours.

Note that currently, LNER’s first train arrives at 11:12. In the future, I would envisage that LNER intend to go for four hour journeys.

It would seem to me, that both train companies will be attempting to take passengers from the airlines.

Conclusion

It looks to me that ten InterCity 225 trains could add a third train in each hour between London and Edinburgh for LNER, that would do the journey in under four hours.

The third train could either be an InterCity 225 or a Class 801 train.

 

 

March 24, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Norwich-In-Ninety Is A Lot More Than Passengers Think!

But, I very much expect that Greater Anglia know what they are doing.

I came up to Norwich on the 1100 train, which was timed to get in at 1230. According to the driver, there were signalling problems at Manningtree, which meant we arrived in Norwich twenty-one minutes late.

I was going on to Cromer or Lowestoft. So by the time I’d had a cider and bought a ticket, I didn’t leave Norwich until 1345 for Cromer. But I did have time by the sea to take a few pictures and have a coffee and a gluten-free scone, before getting the return train to Norwich.

Back at Norwich, I had a choice of two trains.

  • The 1700 stopping at just Ipswich and Norwich
  • The 1703 stopping at Diss, Stowmarket, Ipswich and a few other places.

I was booked on the 1700, from where I’m writing this note on my phone.

These are some of my observations.

Operating Speed

I have just travelled between Norwich and Ipswich in thirty minutes, with Speedview on my phone reading within a couple of mph of 100 mph all the way from where we got to operating speed South of Norwich to where we slowed for Ipswich station.

Diss, Stowmarket and Nedham Market stations were passed at almost 100 mph

Ipswich to Colchester was at a slower 90 mph, but then from Marks Tey to just before Chelmsford, the train was back to around 100 mph.

Speeds between 70 and 90 mph were held from Chelmsford to Liverpool Street, which was reached at 1830 as scheduled.

Acceleration

I got the impression, that the acceleration of the train wasn’t up to the operating speed. Certainly, it didn’t seem to accelerate as fast as an InterCity 125,

But then we’re talking about a rather puny Class 90 locomotive with just 930 kW pulling eight Mark 3 coaches.

In an InterCity 125, there is nearly 1,400 kW to accelerate the same number of similar coaches to 125 mph.

But these are small numbers compared to a four-car Class 755 train running on electrical power, which according to Stadler’s data sheet is 2,600 kW, which is 86% more power than an InterCity 125.

As there are two power-bogies each must be good for 1,300 kW.

Typical four-car electric Flirts seem to have around 2-3,000 kW, according to various Stadler data sheets.

Flirts seem to be seriously powerful trains and I can understand why some Norwegian Flirts are capable of 125 mph running. This is said in Wikipedia about the Norwegian Flirts.

All trains have five cars. However, in contrast to previous five-car FLIRTs they will have a third powered bogie giving them a maximum power output of 4,500 kW (6,000 hp) and a top speed of 200 km/h (120 mph).

If that extract is saying that each bogie can provide up to 1,500 kW, then Class 745 trains with four bogies have 6,000 kW.

If they were Class 755 train-sized bogies, then Class 745 trains, then the trains have 5,200 kW.

For comparison, an eleven-car Class 390/1 train has 5,950 kW.

With these figures, I feel it is reasonable to assume, that Class 745 trains, will accelerate to operating speed faster than the current forty-year-old BR stock.

  • They appear to have a lot more power, than the current trains.
  • Their aluminium bodies probably mean they weigh less, than the steel-bodies of the current trains.
  • Their aerodynamics are probably more advanced.
  • They probably have sophisticated technology that stops wheel slip, controls the train in a smooth manner and assists the driver.
  • The rolling dynamics will be no worse than that of the current trains.

Some conclusions can be drawn about the current trains and their operation.

  • A Class 90 locomotive with only 930 kW has sufficient power to keep an eight-car train running at 100 mph. It looks like the figure  is around 1.2 kWh per car per mile.
  • They must be in top condition.
  • The drivers probably know the route like the back of their hand and can coax the required performance from their ageing charges.

BR’s forty-year-old design must still be seriously good and the trains get the TLC they need.

Passing Stations At 100 mph

Diss, Stowmarket, Needham Market, Marks Tey, Kelvedon, Hatfield Peverel and Ingatestone stations were all passed within a few mph of 100 mph, with Maningtree and Colchester stations passed at around 85-90 mph.

Obviously, this must be allowed and not having to slow means that the speed is not degraded.

The only station where there was a substantial slowing was Chelmsford, where the train slowed to about 60 mph.

The Current Norwich-in-Ninety Services

These are the current ninety minutes services between Liverpool Street and Norwich.

  • 0900 – Norwich to Liverpool Street
  • 1100 – Liverpool Street to Norwich
  • 1700 – Norwich to Liverpool Street
  • 1900 – Liverpool Street to Norwich

Only one train is needed that starts and finishes in Norwich, where it is stabled overnight.

Serving The Intermediate Stations

Both the 1100 train to Norwich and the 1700 to Liverpool Street only stop at Ipswich.

But leaving a couple of minutes behind was another Class 90 locomotive/Mark 3 coach set stopping at more stations.

  • Going North, the train takes nineteen minutes longer, with stops at Colchester, Manningtree, Ipswich and Diss.
  • Going South, this train takes ten minutes longer, with stops at Diss, Stowmarket, Ipswich, Colchester and Stratford.

I suspect that when the Bombardier Class 720 trains have been delivered, these might be used for the stopping trains.

How Many Trains Will Be Needed?

It appears that the slower trains are currently timetabled to take between 111 and 115 minutes.

If a round trip can be done in four hours, then two trains per hour (tph), will require eight Class 745 trains.

As there are ten trains on order, this means the following.

  • Eight trains will be used to run the two tph stopping service.
  • One train will be needed for the Norwich-in-Ninety service.

This leaves one train as a spare or in maintenance.

Cromer And Back In A Day

In the four-and-a-half hours, I was in Norwich, I was able to take a train to Cromer, take a few pictures, have a quick lunch and then return to Norwich.

This is possible using the slower trains, but the fast trains can give you another hour in Norwich.

Obviously, this hour will be available for many journeys and must surely open up many possibilities for frequent travellers on the route.

How Reliable Is The Norwich-in-Ninety Service?

There have been twenty services in the first week of the service..

  • Fourteen have been on-time or a couple of minutes early.
  • Five have been under ten minutes late.
  • One was late by more than ten minutes.

That last train was twenty-two minutes late and I was on it, on the first Wednesday of the service.

I shall update this table, until I get bored with it!

Can The Timetable Be Changed?

The way the timetable is set out is an interesting solution to trying to be all things to all passengers.

  • There is a basic two tph service, which stops between London and Norwich according to a simple pattern.
  • Four services per day, with two in each direction, are delayed by two or three minutes.
  • The original departure times are taken by a fast train, that only stops at Ipswich.
  • These four departure times, are arranged, so that the services can be handled by a single fast train shuttling between Liverpool Street and Norwich
  • The fast train starts in Norwich at 0900 in the morning and returns to Norwich and its depot at 2030. The train can then have a good service after a hard day’s work!

Obviously, Greater Anglia have all the passenger data, so they have probably laid out a fast timetable, that will reflect current passenger numbers.

But as time goes on, this timetable can be augmented.

At present, they are using their express trains for both the two tph and the fast services.

These will be changed to Class 745 trains during the remainder of this year.

The venerable Class 90 locomotives and their Mark 3 coaches have blazed the trail and made everybody’s dream of Norwich-in-Ninety a reality, but now it is up to Greater Anglia’s new trains to fully develop the timetable.

  • If they are successful in attracting passengers more services will do Norwich in ninety and Ipswich in sixty.
  • The back-up stopping service running behind the fast train could be run by a new Class 720 train, which have a similar 100 mph operating speed.
  • Several services per day, using Class 755 trains, will be running between Lowestoft and London and augmenting the fast service between London and Ipswich.

Interestingly, as I left Norwich for Cromer, there was a Class 321 Renatus at Norwich station in Platform 2 Checking with Real Time Trains, this other relic from British Rail, but refurbished to a modern standard for passengers and performance, formed the 1400 express to London and arrived on time after seven stops.

It looks to me that Greater Anglia have a creditable back-stop, if there should be any unforeseen problems with the new trains.

But it also shows that the stopping service that follows the Norwich-in-Ninety service can be run by a 100 mph electric multiple unit.

This would surely release Class 745 trains to run more fast services.

An Improved Ipswich And Norwich Service

Greater Anglia have said that there will be three tph between London and Norwich and that one may or will be run the new Class 720 trains.

The only section of the Great Eastern Main Line, that won’t have four tph will be between Ipswich and Norwich. So could we see a 100 mph local service between two rivals.

Yesterday’s Class 321 Renatus did Norwich to Ipswich in forty-one minutes.

  • The route is fully-electrified.
  • Class 720 or Class 321 Renatus trains could be used.
  • Trains would stop at Diss, Stowmarket and Needham Market stations.
  • The rail line is not busy North of Stowmarket.
  • The bottleneck of Trowse bridge South of Norwich is to be replaced.

Running four tph between Ipswich and Norwich would be a lot more affordable, than improving the capacity on the mainly single-carriageway A140.

Would Faster Running Be Possible North Of Ipswich?

There are two major problems on the Great Eastern Main Line to the North of Ipswich.

  • Trowse Bridge to the South of Norwich.
  • Haughley Junction, where the Cambridge and Norwich routes divide to the North of Stowmarket.

Both projects have been kicked into the long grass more times than most, but it does look, that these two bottlenecks could be fixed in the next few years.

I also observed the following between Ipswich and Norwich.

  • The line wasn’t busy North of Stowmarket.
  • The train had no difficulty maintaining 100 mph.
  • The quality of the overhead electrification gantries might suggest a need for replacement.
  • There are some level crossings, that have no place on a 100 mph main line.

Would it be advantageous to update the line, so that higher speeds were possible?

I suspect that both the Class 745 and Class 720 trains could handle perhaps 110 mph with modifications, that are proven or planned with similar trains.

Conclusion

I had an exhilarating ride yesterday and it is a foretaste for the greatest improvement in transport for East Anglia in my lifetime.

 

 

May 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The First Norwich To London Service In Ninety Minutes

These pictures show the arrival of the first Norwich-in-Ninety service in Liverpool Street

Looking at Real Time Trains, it appears the train left Norwich at 0900 and arrived in Liverpool Street at 1030.

Normal services take three or four minutes under two hours, so ninety minutes with a Class 90 locomotive, eight Mark 3 coaches and a driving van trailer isn’t bad!

May 20, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Norwich-In-Ninety Timetable

The Norwich-In-Ninety trains are now visible on the National Rail timetable.

London To Norwich

Norwich-In-Ninety trains leave London at 11:00 and 19:00!

The current times of the 11:00 train are as follows.

  • Liverpool Street – 11:00
  • Colchester – 11:46
  • Manningtree – 11:55
  • Ipswich – 12:07
  • Diss – 12:36
  • Norwich – 12:50

Those of the faster train are.

  • Liverpool Street – 11:00
  • Ipswich – 11:55
  • Norwich – 12:30

I can remember in the 1960s, the diesel service was advertised as two-hour two-stop between London amd Norwich.

Norwich To London

Norwich-In-Ninety trains leave Norwich at 09:00 and 17:00!

The current times of the 09:00 train are as follows.

  • Norwich – 09:00
  • Diss – 09:17
  • Stowmarket – 09:29
  • Ipswich – 09:41
  • Manningtree – 09:52
  • Colchester – 10:02
  • Chelmsford – 10:21
  • Stratford – 10:45
  • Liverpool Street – 10:55

Those of the faster train are.

  • Norwich – 09:00
  • Ipswich – 09:33
  • Liverpool Street- 10:30

Note that the current Southbound services are slower than those going North.

The Current Linespeed

For part of my trip back from Ipswich today, I was following the linespeed using the Speedview App on my phone.

  • Between Kelvedon and Hstfield Peverel the train averaged around 100 mph.
  • It then slowed to 60 mph through Chelmsford.
  • By Ingatestone, it was up to 90 mph, before slowing for 60 mph through Shenfield.
  • There seemed to be some checking from a slower train, but at places into Liverpool Street it was up to 80-90 mph.

The Norwich-In-Ninety improvements certainly seemed to have helped.

It certainly left me with the feeling that the elderly Class 90 locomotive and Mark 3 carriages could achieve Ipswich to Liverpool Street in around an hour.

The Future

These four services are probably just the start. These four services can probably be achieved with one train.

  • Leave Norwich at 09:00 and arrive in Liverpool Street at 10:30
  • Leave Liverpool Street at 11:00 and arrive in Norwich at 12:30
  • Leave Norwich at 17:00 and arrive in Liverpool Street at 18:30
  • Leave Liverpool Street at 19:00 and arrive in Norwich at 20:30

Although, Greater Anglia will be running the initial service with Class 755 trains, the company has ten Class 745 trains on order.

The only thing so far disclosed, is that the Liverpool Street and Norwich service will go to three trains per hour (tph).

It should also be said, that the design of the new trains and their power, should make station stops much faster.

But what pattern of stops will be performed by the three trains?

April 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Are Abellio Starting Norwich-in-Ninety With Class 755 Trains?

At the May timetable change Abellio Greater Anglia will be running four trains per day between London and Norwich in ninety minutes.

I have read that this is possible with the current Class 90 locomotive /Mark 3 coach train sets and that is a fall-back position.

I was also told by a former employee of Greater Anglia, that one night, he was a passenger between Norwich station and Illford depot in an empty Class 321 train, that achieved an incredible time.

So why take the risk with untried Class 755 trains on the first day of the new timetable?

  • Abellio must be very sure that the trains will perform, as they say in the brochure.
  • They also know all the publicity that running new trains will bring.

But could Abellio just want to check the public’s reaction to these trains with effectively a locomotive in the middle, before they decide on the 125 mph bi-mode trains for the Midland Main Line?

I don’t believe that building a 125 mph version of Class 755 train would be beyond the bounds of possibility.

The Weight Of A Class 755 Train

I haven’t been able to do my energy calculation for a Class 755 train, as I can’t find the weight of a Class 755 train on the Internet.

However, I can estimate the weight of a four-car Class 755/4 train from the Stadler data sheet for the train.

This gives the following.

  • Mean Acceleration Electric (0-40 mph) – 1.1 metres/second squared
  • Maximum traction – 200 kN
  • 202 seats and 27 tip-up seats

I think it is reasonable to assume that the acceleration rate is for a train with a typical load of passengers.

Using Omni’s Acceleration Calculator, this gives a time of 16.256 seconds to accelerate from 0-40 mph.

Then putting this time into Omni’s Newton’s Second Law Calculator, gives a train mass of 181.8 tonnes.

As passengers can weigh around twenty tonnes, if they weigh 90 Kg each, with baggage, bikes and buggies, I would estimate that an empty Class 755/4 train weighs around 160-170 tonnes.

By comparison.

I don’t think a figure of 160-170 tonnes is out of line, with a figure of 180 tonnes for a typical loaded train.

Remember too, that these trains are Stadler FLIRTs, where FLIRT is Fast Light Intercity and Regional Train.

Applying Omni’s Kinetic Energy Calculator, gives these figures for the kinetic energy of a train.

  • 90 mph – 40 kWh
  • 100 mph – 50 kWh
  • 125 mph – 78 kWh

As some electric FLIRTs can nun at 125 mph, I believe that a bi-mode FLIRT, based on the Class 755 train could be designed with these characteristics.

  • 125 mph on electric power
  • 125 mph on diesel power

Acceleration on diesel to 125 mph would probably be the biggest problem and it is likely that more power than for a Class 755 train will be needed.

Do Abellio Greater Anglia’s initial Norwich-in-Ninety trains give a clue in that they will be two four-car Class 755 trains working as an eight-car train?

  • It will be eight passenger cars and two power cars at the 25% and 75% positions in the formation.
  • Stadler have built the similar Stadler GTW with two power cars in a single train.

So I suspect that Stadler know the dynamics of these trains very well.

I wouldn’t be surprised if someone told me, that Stadler had offered a bi-mode Stadler FLIRT with two power cars, for the Midland Main Line.

  • The power car concept has been sold to operators with diesel, electric and battery power options.
  • Stadler are proposing to use battery power in the Class 93 locomotive to boost performance.
  • Many would believe, as I do, that hydrogen power could be added to a Stadler power car.

So are these runs at 100 mph with two four-car Class 755 trains, a final trial of the technology to prove that similar higher-powered trains could run at 125 mph on the Midland Main Line, before Abellio sign a contract?

April 21, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Norwich In Ninety And Ipswich In Sixty Is Just Seventy Days Away!

This article on the Norwich Evening News is entitled At Last! High Speed Train Service Delivering Norwich To London In 90 Minutes Will Soon Begin.

This is the key section.

The first of the faster services are due to come into service on Monday, May 20.

The 90-minute services will depart from Norwich at 9am and 5pm, Monday to Saturday, and will call at Ipswich at 9.33am and 5.33pm.

Meanwhile the London Liverpool Street service departs at 11am and 7pm, Monday to Saturday, and calls at Ipswich at 11.55am and 7.57pm.

Greater Anglia said it will shave 12 minutes off the current fastest journey between Norwich and London and cut the fastest journey between Ipswich and London by four minutes.

I shall be on the first train from London as far as Ipswich.

I don’t want to get tainted do I?

March 10, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Could Class 387 Trains Do Norwich In Ninety And Ipswich In Sixty?

In Are More Class 387 Trains On The Way?, I postulated that Bombardier may have the capability to build more Class 387 trains, and that they could be used on services between Liverpool Street, Ipswich and Norwich.

Currently, the route is worked by Class 90 locomotives pulling and pushing eight Mark 3 coaches, with the help of a driving van trailer.

There are several problems and possible problems with the current trains.

  • The Class 90s are approaching thirty years old.
  • The Class 90s have had maintenance issues in the past.
  • The Class 90s don’t have regenerative braking.
  • The sewage discharge from the toilets  in the Mark 3 coaches, doesn’t meet the latest regulations.
  • The doors on the Mark 3 coaches, don’t meet the latest regulations or the expectation of passengers.
  • The doors must lengthen stops at stations. I wonder what is the difference between these trains and say a Class 390 train!
  • Entrance and exit from the Mark 3 coaches is not step-free.
  • Ride in the Mark 3 coaches is good, but the quality of the seating and number of tables in standard class, leaves a lot to be desired.
  • Wi-fi is not to the standard passengers expect these days.
  • Effectively you get eight coaches of passengers in a train the length of ten cars, that is running on a line with 12-car platforms.
  • The trains can’t serve Great Yarmouth.

Refurbishment is being applied to the train sets, but will that be good enough?

Updating the line’s, sixteen rakes of eight carriages would be a totally different matter to Chiltern’s creation of their superb sets of six carriages.

  • Would fixing the doors and the toilets on a hundred and thirty carriages be economic?
  • Is there the capacity to do the rebuild?
  • Fifteen trains are probably needed to run the service, so how long would it take to upgrade sixteen trains one after the other?
  • New carriages from the only source I know; CAF would mean waiting a few years.

In addition, this is said under proposed developments of the Great Eastern Main Line in Wikipedia.

In November 2013 an upgrade of the GEML to enable London-Norwich express services to achieve an improved journey time of 90 minutes was announced, this indicated that a raised line speed of 110 mph would be required and the replacement of the existing Mark 3 rolling stock with new inter-city rolling stock.

So it looks like Norwich in Ninrty isn’t on with the current trains. Could this be the reason, why the specification for the new franchise specifies just two fast trains per day in each direction?

The East Anglian Express

The starting point for this would be three Gatwick Express-style Class 387 trains working as a 12-car unit.

  • Twelve cars would be able to run on the line’s long platforms.
  • The Gatwick-style interior, without the extra luggage capacity, would be a good starting point for what is needed.
  • It would certainly be able to maintain 110 mph for large parts of the route from London to Norwich.
  • An IPEMU version would be available.
  • Delivery could be as early as 2018.

What would be the issues raised by replacing the current trains with twelve-car Class 387 trains?

Capacity

Capacity is a problem on the services between London and Norwich.

It is a problem, despite passengers being squeezed in tightly.

At present the current trains have eight carriages, but Class 387 trains on Gatwick Express regularly run with twelve carriages.

I think that we can assume that, twelve-car electric multiple units are possible from London to Norwich, perhaps after some platform lengthening.

I can’t find any reliable figures on the Internet as to capacity, so I’ll have to resort to riding on the trains and counting seats.

Certainly, the Class 387 trains have more tables.

Acceleration

I don’t know if the acceleration of the Class 387 trains or the current trains is better.

But the Class 387 train has a power of 2,250 HP or 750 HP per carriage, whereas the current train has an installed power of just 1,250 HP or 156 HP per carriage.

I know it’s a bit of a comparison between apples and oranges, but it would appear that the Class 387 train has more power per carriage and might accelerate faster.

Braking

It may surprise some people, but if you want a train to run fast over a route with stops, you need efficient and high quality braking systems. The Class 387 train has the latest regenerative braking, whereas the current train has technology from thirty years ago.

As the Class 360 trains, that share the line to Ipswich have regenerative braking, I suspect that some parts of the line is built to accept returned energy, but is all of it?

With Class 387 trains, there is always the option to make them IPEMUs, so that braking energy is stored on the train and used to give extra acceleration on pulling away from the station.

Line Speed

Obviously, the faster the line speed, the quicker the journey time. At present it is 100 mph and the current trains are 110 mph capable as are the Class 387 trains.

So it looks like a bigger increase in performance can come by giving as much of the track as possible a 110 mph line speed.

Remember too, that between Haughley Junction and Norwich, the only significant feature of the line is the stop at Diss, so I would suspect it would almost be 110 mph all the way. As you’re looking for savings of thirty minutes or so between London and Norwich, I wonder if this section of line could be even faster.

Stops

Several factors determine the speed of calling at a station in a train.

  • How fast the train can brake from line speed and stop in the station.
  • How long it takes the passengers to get off and on the train.
  • Good design of the train-platform interface, with wide doors, large lobbies and just a step across all helping.
  • How fast the train can accelerate back up to line speed.
  • Well-trained staff.

There are obviously other factors like waiting for other trains to connect or clear signals, but these will effect all trains.

Because of their better design, faster acceleration and regenerative braking, I think that the Class 387 trains will save something at every stop over the current trains.

I also think we’ll see stops reduced to an absolute minimum on the fastest trains, which might only stop at Ipswich and Colchester.

Interaction With Stopping Trains

I will make an assumption that London to Norwich trains will never run more frequently than four trains per hour. As it is currently two trains per hour, I think that is a reasonable assumption.

From Liverpool Street to Shenfield, there will be occasional trains stopping at perhaps, Stratford, Ilford and Romford, but with a fifteen minute window between fast expresses, I suspect everything could be fitted in, especially as local trains and passengers will use the frequent Crossrail.

Shenfield to Colchester is the difficult bit, as there are trains to Colchester Town, Clacton, Frinton and Walton to accommodate on the double-track main line.

North of Colchester it gets easier, with the only section with serious levels of traffic being the stretch between Ipswich and Haughley Junction, where freight trains to and from Felixstowe run along the double-track main line.

One way of easing the problem would be to make as many trains as possible on the line capable of running at line speed. The thirteen-year-old Class 360 trains are only capable of 100 mph.

Perhaps the expensive part of Norwich in Ninety is replacing the Class 360 trains with more Class 387 trains or some other 110 mph train?

The Digital Railway

Network Rail’s Digital Railway must surely help in running trains at up to 110 mph on some of the busier parts of the line.

Crossrail

Crossrail is going to have effects on the Great Eastern Main Line.

  • Crossrail will mean that between Liverpool Street and Shenfield, a lot fewer trains will stop on the fast lines.
  • Would it be possible to have 110 mph running between Liverpool Street and Shenfield?
  • Journeys like Diss to Goodmayes and Ipswich to Ilford should be quicker and easier.
  • If Norwich services stop at Shenfield and/or Stratford, how many passengers will transfer to Crossrail?

But we will have to wait until Crossrail opens to see how it changes travel patterns.

Stopping At Shenfield

One consequence of swifter stops is that an extra stop at Shenfield might be possible. This would connect to Crossrail, Southend and Southend Airport.

If you stop at Shenfield, there might be less need to stop at Stratford.

But passenger statistics will decide what is best.

Buffet Car

The current service has a buffet car. The Henry Blofelds of this world like to enjoy their train travel, so something better than a trolley service must be provided.

But that is a design issue, not one to do with the actual trains!

If the trains were fixed twelve-car formations, First Class might be in cars 1-3, with a buffet/shop in car 4. Car 1 would be the London end of the train.

Extra Services

There are several services in East Anglia, that could benefit from the intreoduction of new modern electric trains of at least four-cars.

  • London to Norwich via Cambridge, Cambridge North and Ely.
  • London to Great Yarmouth via Norwich.
  • Ipswich to Cambridge and Peterborough

All routes are electrified and would be possible with a Class 387 train with an IPEMU capability.

Delivery And Introduction Into Service

If we assume that the two Norwich in Ninety and Ipswich in Sixty are to start as soon as possible, then it will be a challenging condition to meet.

Suppose, that delivery of just one twelve-car train is possible at an early date, how could it be used?

Currently, the first three trains out of Norwich leave at 05:00, 05:30 and 06:00 taking a few minutes under two hours to Liverpool Street.

Let’s suppose that after running into London in ninety minutes non-stop or with just a stop at Ipswich, it arrives back in Norwich perhaps three hours and twenty minutes later.

The train that left at 05:00 could now form the 08:30 to London and do the trip in ninety minutes, provided it could thread its way through the traffic between Colchester and Shenfield.

Obviously, the 05:30 and 06:00 trains could form the 09:00 and 09:30 trains to London respectively.

But Norwich has got two ninety minute high-capacity East Anglian Express services to London with the delivery of just one 12-car train.

Obviously, in the evening the reverse would happen.

In fact, they might get more than two Norwich in Ninety services, as I doubt the train would sit around all day in a siding. If the pattern of a Norwich in Ninety service every three and a half hours through the day, there would be at least five services possible.

Two new trains would mean that say all on the hour departures from Norwich were Norwich in Ninety, with the existing stock performing as now on the half hour.

Alternative Strategies

As only one train is needed to meet the franchise requirement, are there  alternative trains that could be used? The train would need.

  • 110 mph or greater top speed.
  • Preferably electric power, as diesel-powered would be a backward step.
  • At least eight carriages.
  • A quality interior.

I don’t think a second-hand train would be good enough, as East Anglia has had enough of hand-me-downs!

The only suitable train, that the new East Anglian Franchise could obtain, would be a twelve-car Class 379 train, which is a close relation of the Class 387 train.

  • The Class 379 trains are in service with Abellio Greater Anglia on Stanstead Express and Cambridge services.
  • They are only a 100 mph train, but probably could be uprated to 110 mph.

But that would ask the question of what would fill in on the West Anglia Main Line.

The Final Solution

I feel that by using every trick in the book, that a suitable train can be found, that could do Norwich in Ninety and Ipswich in Sixty at least twice a day.

I suspect it would only need one train to meet the franchise requirement.

But two trains a day from Norwich in Ninety and Ipswich in Sixty will not satisfy the passengers for long.

Given that all the 100 mph Class 360 and Class 321 trains on the line, slow everything down, I can see these trains being updated or replaced with 110 mph units.

In addition to the services I mentioned under Extra Services, there are several lines that could benefit from trains fitted with IPEMU technology.

Could we be seeing a large order for Aventra trains or something similar soon after the franchise is awarded. Some trains would need a 125 mph capability for Norwich services and some would have an IPEMU capability for the lines without electrification.

Conclusions

I have come to the conclusion that Class 387 trains can probably do Norwich in Ninety and Ipswich in Sixty from London.

I think though to achieve this, the following must happen.

  • Line speed is raised to 110 mph in all places possible.
  • Bottlenecks like the Trowse Bridge are minimised.
  • Stops will be cut to an absolute minimum on the fastest trains.
  • The Class 360 and Class 321 trains must also be replaced with 110 mph trains.
  • The Digital Railway will play its part.

I do think though that to get all London to Norwich trains to ninety minutes, that it might need a faster train with a speed of 125 mph on the line north of Haughley Junction, which would be upgraded for perhaps 120 mph.

But I don’t know how much good engineers can squeeze out of the current 100 mph line on the long straights North of Haughley.

 

June 23, 2016 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 7 Comments

Norwich In Ninety

I travel regularly on the Great Eastern Main Line to Ipswich and have used the line since the 1970s, when we lived just north of Ipswich.

In those years, there has been very little improvement in journey times, although the trains are newer and perhaps slightly more comfortable.

So I was interested to find this report on the Treasury’s web site. Here’s the first paragraph.

Plans for a new expert group charged with finding ways to speed up rail services to the East of England by as much as 25% have been set out by the Chancellor.

Personally, I will be pleased if the speed improvement to Norwich, is matched on my shorter journey to Ipswich.

At present Ipswich and Norwich take 67 and 110 minutes respectively on a typical train. If Norwich were to be reached in ninety minutes, then Ipswich should be a few minutes or so under the magic figure of one hour.

Given that these trains would probably interface to Crossrail at \Shenfield, Stratford and Liverpool Street, it should be possible to go from Ipswich to Heathrow in under a hundred minutes. The Norwich figure would be two hours ten minutes.

I would think that this could be one of those small improvements, that show a very high return on the money invested. At least the line is fully electrified and all of the major stations can accept long high-capacity trains.

The major problem of delays caused by freight trains going to and from Felixstowe is also being solved with the Bacon Factory Curve, so I’m hopeful that by the end of this decade, we’ll be seeing much reduced journey times to East Anglia.

Will we also be seeing more electrication in East Anglia, like Ely to Norwich and Ipswich to Peterborough? I doubt it, although the latter would really help with the movement of freight out of Felixstowe.

November 16, 2013 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 4 Comments