The Anonymous Widower

Norfolk Rail Line To Remain Closed As £68m Upgrade Project Overruns

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

This is the first three paragraphs.

A major railway upgrade project has been delayed, meaning a Norfolk branch line will go longer without a service.

Network Rail is spending £68m to replace Victorian signalling equipment with a computer-based system between Norwich, Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft .

The project was due to be complete by 31 March, but the deadline will now be pushed back to allow for more testing.

As only Berney Arms station will be without a service, this probably isn’t a major disaster for the thousand passengers, who use the station in a year, but the story does have a very familiar ring.

Network Rail + Signalling = Overrun

Either they’ve found a very serious problem or the planning wasn’t the best!

The Possible Reinstatement Of The Reedham Chord

There used to be a direct Yarmouth to Lowestoft Line, but now it is possible to use the Wherry Lines, with a reverse at Reedham station.

Network Rail are talking about reinstating the Reedham Chord to create a more direct route between East Anglia’s largest North-Eastern towns. This is said about the Reedham Chord in Direct Yarmouth Services in the Wikipedia entry for Lowestoft station.

In January 2015, a Network Rail study proposed the reintroduction of direct services between Lowestoft and Yarmouth by reinstating a spur at Reedham. Services could once again travel between two East Coast towns, with an estimated journey time of 33 minutes, via a reconstructed 34-chain (680 m) north-to-south arm of the former triangular junction at Reedham, which had been removed in c. 1880. The plans also involve relocating Reedham station nearer the junction, an idea which attracted criticism.

This is a Google Map of the Reedham area.

Note.

  1. Reedham station is in the North-West corner of the map.
  2. The single-track line to Yarmouth and the double-track line to Lowestoft, run together to form a triple-track railway to the East of Reedham station.
  3. There are a large number of cross-overs in the triple-track section to the East of Reedham station, so that trains can easily go between either platform at Reedham and Yarmouth or Lowestoft.
  4. The line to Yarmouth goes straight away to the East.
  5. The line to Lowestoft curves South to cross the River Yare.
  6. The Reedham to Lowestoft tracks appear to have been relaid, as far as the bridge.

Will the new track layout and signalling, allow trains between Lowestoft and Yarmouth to perform a fast reverse in either platform at Reedham station?

This approach has advantages over the reinstallation of the Reedham Chord.

  • Reedham station won’t need to be relocated.
  • All trains between Lowestoft and Yarmouth will stop at Reedham station.
  • There would be no need to build the Reedham Chord.

I also suspect, that not building the Reedham Chord is the more affordable option.

Do Class 755 Trains Have a Fast Reverse Procedure?

Greater Anglia have a number of routes, that will be run by new Class 755 trains, where the trains will need to be reversed at either end.

  • Cambridge and Ipswich
  • Colchester and Peterborough
  • Colchester Town and Sudbury
  • Ipswich and Felixstowe
  • Ipswich and Lowestoft
  • Norwich and Lowestoft
  • Norwich and Sheringham
  • Norwich and Stansted Airport
  • Norwich and Yarmoiuth

When Stadler designed the Class 755 trains for Greater Anglia, did they propose simple automation, so that trains could be reversed in the minimum time at these numerous terminals?

A simple system could be as follows.

  • On arrival in a station, the driver would put the train into a standby mode, when it was safely stopped.
  • The driver would then walk through the train to the second cab.
  • Whilst the driver is changing ends, the conductor is opening and closing the train doors and supervising the loading and unloading of passengers.
  • On arrival in the second cab, the driver would wake up the train and check everything.
  • After the doors are closed and having received the all clear from the conductor and a green light from the signals, the driver would proceed.

At all times, the driver and conductor, would have emergency remote controls to immobilise the train, if something is not what it should be.

Modern automation is certainly able to design a very safe system, that would save time at every reverse.

What I have described here, is much less ambitious than the system I described in Crossrail Trains Will Have Auto-Reverse.

This auto-reverse system will be used at Paddington on Crossrail, by the Class 345 trains, to allow the driver to change ends on a two-hundred metre long train, whilst it is reversing to return to the East.

Testing The Signalling With The New Class 755 Trains

Obviously, adequate testing must be done with all trains that will use the  new signalling on the Wherry Lines between Norwich, Lowestoft and Yarmouth.

This article on the BBC is entitled ScotRail Class 385 Fishbowl Windscreen Safety Concern.

This is the first three paragraphs.

Aslef has warned that modifications must be made to ScotRail’s new Class 385 electric trains – or its drivers will refuse to work them.

The train drivers’ union is concerned that the curved windscreen is causing reflections of other signals at night.

Drivers identified the problem on a recent evening test run between Glasgow Central and Paisley Gilmour Street.

Testing of the ~Norfolk signalling will cover a myriad of possible problems, against the whole route and all possible trains.

But there is one problem, that is probably delaying the project.

The Class 755 trains have not been certified yet! So starting of the testing can’t be started.

Conclusion

This delay is more complicated, than initial reports suggest.

On the other hand, I wouldn’t be surprised if Network Rail have produced a track and signalling solution, that will allow a direct service between Lowestoft and Yarmouth, with a reverse at Reedham.

Typical timings appear to be.

  • Between Reedham and Yarmouth – 14-16 minutes
  • Between Reedham and Lowestoft – 24-26 minutes

Given that the Class 755 trains have the following characteristics.

  • They are 100 mph trains.
  • They are optimised for fast stops.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a sub-forty minute time between Lowestoft and Yarmouth.

Using the current times between Ipswich and Lowestoft and Norwich and Yarmouth, it also looks like a sub-three hour scenic route is possible between Ipswich and Norwich.

 

January 11, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where Will Greater Anglia Deploy The First Class 745 Trains?

This article on Railway Gazette is entitled ‘Gorgeous Beast’ Will Change Perception Of Rail Travel.

This is unusual language, when you’re talking about modern diesel and electric trains, especially when it comes from the CEO of a financial company investing in trains, as a safe long-term investment for money like pension funds.

But if the Class 755 trains cause Mark Swindell to use such language, they must have something about them.

Perhaps, it’s the fact that they follow the layout of the legendary and much-loved by some, Class 442 train, which also had a power-car in the middle. It is informative to compare the Class 442 train with a four-car Class 755/4 train.

  • The 442’s power-car is electric, whilst the 755/4’s is diesel/electric and can be diesel/electric/battery.
  • The 442 has seats for 346 in two classes, whilst the 755/4 has 229 in a single class.
  • The 442 has 1200 kW of power, whilst the 755/4 has 2600 kW on electric power and 1920 kW on diesel-electric power
  • Both are 100 mph trains, although the 442 holds the World Record for a third-rail train at 108 mph.

I am drawn to the following conclusions about the Class 755 train.

Passenger Comfort

Passengers will have plenty of space, in addition to the customer comforts, which appear to be of a high standard.

Some passengers might miss First Class, but will the extra space compensate.

Power

The power figures quoted in the Railway Gazette show the following.

  • In electric mode, the train will have more than double of the power of the 442.
  • In diesel-electric mode, the train has sixty percent more power, than the 442.

This will mean that the train should have superb acceleration.

Top Speed

With all this power, the planned operating speed of 100 mph will be determined more by the track, signalling and other trains, rather than any limitations of the trains.

There are three improvements in Network Rail’s Improvement Pipeline, that will allow faster running by Class 755 trains.

  • Trowse Swingbridge
  • Haughley Junction doubling
  • Ely Area service improvements

The improvement will help these services by Class 755 trains.

  • Norwich to Stansted Airport via Ely, Cambridge North and Cambridge.
  • Peterborough to Colchester via Ely, Bury St. Edmunds and Ipswich
  • Cambridge to Ipswich

I could also see the operating speed on the Breckland Line raised.

Routes

How will the routes be affected by trains with a better performance?

Norwich To Stansted

Currently, the two legs take.

  • Norwich to Cambridge – 1:24
  • Cambridge to Stansted – 0:39

Which adds up to a convenient 2:03.

With the faster trains and eight stops, it looks like this route could be done several minutes under two hours, with a round trip of four hours, which would need four trains for a one train per hour (tph)service.

Ipswich to Cambridge

Currently, this route takes 1:16 with eight stops.

This is not very convenient and the time savings needed to get the route under an hour will not be easy.

Colchester to Peterborough

Currently, the two legs take.

  • Colchester to Ipswich – 0:19
  • Ipswich to Peterborough – 1.41

Which adds up to a convenient 2:00.

With the faster trains, it looks like this route could be done several minutes under two hours, with a round trip of four hours, which would need four trains for a one tph service.

Ipswich to Lowestoft

Currently, this route takes 1:26 with nine stops.

With the faster trains, it looks like this route could be done several minutes under one-and-a-half hours, with a round trip of three hours, which would need three trains for a one tph service.

It also looks like up to three trains per day will run from London to Lowestoft.

So Which Route Will Get The New Trains First?

Greater Anglia will obviously deploy them, where there is the greatest need for extra capacity or there is the greatest return to be made!

I think, we’ll see them on the Lowestoft route or between Cambride and Norwich first.

They’ll certainly be worth waiting for, if Mark Swindell is right.

September 22, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Will Greater Anglia Fit Batteries To Their Class 755 Trains?

Greater Anglia have ordered the following Class 755 trains.

  • 14 x three-car trains with two diesel engines in the power-pack
  • 24 x four-car trains with four diesel engines in the power-pack

The power-pack would appear to have four slots, each of which could take.

  • A V8 16-litre Deutz diesel that can produce 478 kW and weighs 1.3 tonnes.
  • A battery of about 120 kWh, which would probably weigh about 1.2 tonnes.

I estimated the battery size , by using typical battery energy densities for a battery of similar weight to the diesel engine.

The KeolisAmey Wales Tri-Mode Flirts

The Tri-Mode Flirts ordered by KeolisAmey Wales can use either electric, diesel or battery power.

From the pictures it appears that these trains have the same basic structure as the Class 755 trains.

In the July 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article entitled KeolisAmey Wins Welsh Franchise.

This is said about the Stadler Tri-Mode Flirts on the South Wales Metro.

The units will be able to run for 40 miles between charging, thanks to their three large batteries.

So does this mean that these Flirts have just one Deutz diesel engine of 478 kW and three batteries in the four slots of the power-pack?

These trains will run between Penarth and Rhymney stations.

  • I estimate about half the route will be electrified.
  • Penarth to the electrification at Cardiff is under ten miles.
  • The trains will work on battery power from Ystrad Mynach to Rhymney, which is ten miles up the hill.
  • Coming down from Rhymney, Newton’s friend will give assistance.

This seems a challenging task, but it must be possible, even after an important rugby match in Cardiff.

I think it is true to say, that these Tri-Mode Flirts are no wimps.

Greater Anglia’s Flirts And Batteries

Four-Car Flirts

The four-car Class 755 trains don’t have a spare slot, as they have four engines.

I also suspect the four-car trains will tend to serve the longer routes or those with more passengers.

  • Colchester and Peterborough
  • Stansted Airport and Norwich
  • Ipswich and Cambridge
  • Lowestoft and London via Ipswich
  • Norwich and Lowestoft
  • Norwich and Great Yarmouth

Consider.

  • These routes are partially-electrified.
  • These routes don’t have challenging terrain.
  • Except for Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth, all end stations are electrified.
  • A short length of electrification could be installed at Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth stations.

I wonder if one of the diesel engines were to be replaced with a battery, by capturing and reusing the regenerative braking energy, this could improve the economics of running the services.

In Tri-Mode Stadler Flirts, I estimated the following.

  • A four-car Tri-Mode Flirt will weigh around 150 tonnes.
  • I will assume 250 passengers at 90 Kg. each with all their baggage, which gives a weight of 22.5 tonnes.
  • This gives a total rain weight  of 172.5 tonnes.
  • The train is running at 100 mph.

This gives a kinetic energy of 48 kWh.

This would mean that a single 120 kWh battery could easily handle the regenerative braking and use the energy for the following purposes.

  • Hotel power, which includes the power to run passenger and train systems.
  • Traction power on sections, where low noise is important.
  • Traction power, if there is overhead electrification failure.
  • Short movements in depots and sidings.

I think that once Stadler have got their Tri-Mode Flirts working, that replacing one diesel with a battery in four-car Class 755 trains may be a sensible decision.

Lowestoft And London Via Ipswich

When the Class 755 trains are running services, there will be four direct trains per day from Lowestoft to London via Ipswich.

I will assume the following.

  • There will also be four trains in both directions.
  • An hourly service operates between Lowestoft and Ipswich
  • Lowestoft to Ipswich will take the current 90 minutes.
  • Greater Anglia will meet their promise of Ipswich to London in 60 minutes.
  • The first train currently leaves Lowestoft just after five in the morning.
  • The last train currently arrives at Lowestoft just before midnight.

For one train to do four round trips between five in the morning and midnight would need a round trip of around four hours and thirty minutes, which would mean that a time of around seventy minutes is needed between Ipswich and Lowestoft.

That is extraordinarily challenging.

But I think that could be Greater Anglia’s ultimate aim.

  • There must be savings of a minute or two at each of the nine stations between Ipswich and Lowestoft.
  • Some trains could be limited stop.
  • The current maximum speed on the East Suffolk Line is just 55 mph and could probably be increased in places.
  • The 100 mph Class 755 trains are quicker and probably accelerate and stop faster, than the current 75 mph Class 150 trains.
  • Trains turn at Liverpool Street in under five minutes.

If it can be done, then the four trains per day between Lowestoft and London can be run with just one train.

Would batteries help the achievement of this aim?

They might do! But they would certainly improve the electrical efficiency and cut the amount of running of the diesel engines.

Three-Car Flirts

The three-car Class 755 trains have two spare slots, as they have two engines.

I would expect that the three-car trains would be used on the shorter routes and those with less passengers.

  • Colchester Town and Sudbury
  • Ipswich and Felixstowe
  • Norwich and Sheringham via Cromer

To my mind the first two routes stand out for battery operation.

Ipswich and Felixstowe

Consider the following about the service between Ipswich and Felixstowe stations.

  • The Felixstowe Branch is just over twelve miles long.
  • There is one train per hour (tph) each way.
  • It takes the current trains abut 26-29 minutes to do the journey.
  • Currently, one train can provide the service.

In The New Trimley Freight Loop And Trimley Station, I talk about how a 1.4 km loop is being built to allow more freight trains to use the branch.

I also feel that there could be a second path in each hour for passenger trains, which would help reliability

But it also might make it possible to run a two tph service with two trains.

I also think, that if it was felt worthwhile, that this route could be run on battery power, charging at Ipswich and possibly with a short length of electrification in Felixstowe.

The advantages would be

  • Diesel-free running.
  • Less noise.
  • The environmentally friendly trains may attract new passengers.

As with the trains on the South Wales Metro, they’d probably have one diesel engine and three large batteries.

Knowing the bicycle-friendly contours of the centre of Ipswich and Felixstowe as I do, the trains would probably need adequate capacity for bikes.

Colchester Town And Sudbury

I am sure that this new route between Colchester Town and Sudbury stations has been designed for a battery train.

Consider.

  • A direct run between Colchester Town and Sudbury would probably take 45 minutes.
  • Over half the route would be electrified.
  • The Gainsborough Line is just eleven miles long.
  • A silent battery train would be ideal for the rural route.

A Class 755 train could leave the Great Eastern Main Line at Marks Tey with full batteries, go both ways on the branch and then return to Colchester Town using the electrification.

Norwich And Sheringham Via Cromer

At thirty miles, the Bittern Line is probably too long for running totally on batteries.

But one battery handling regenerative braking would make the train more environmentally friendly.

Conclusion

Batteries would make the Class 755 trains more economical and environmentally-friendly to run, but with the exception of the Felixstowe and Sudbury branches, I suspect that the routes are too long for pure battery power.

I do believe that Greater Anglia knew about Stadler’s concept for fitting batteries on Class 755 trains before they ordered the trains.

As this opens up possibilities for the future and the ability to be more environmentally-friendly and fiscally efficient, I suspect it was a factor in their decision to buy the trains.

 

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July 18, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment