The Anonymous Widower

Will Hitachi Announce A High Speed Metro Train?

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

London Kings Cross And Cambridge/Kings Lynn

This Great Northern service is run by Class 387 trains.

  • Services run between London Kings Cross and King’s Lynn or Cambridge
  • The Class 387 trains have a maximum operating speed of 110 mph.
  • The route is fully electrified.
  • The trains generally use the fast lines on the East Coast Main Line, South of Hitchin.
  • Most trains on the fast lines on the East Coast Main Line are travelling at 125 mph.

When in the future full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling is implemented on the East Coast Main Line, speeds of up to 140 mph should be possible in some sections between London Kings Cross and Hitchin.

The Digswell Viaduct Problem

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

Consider.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Sixteen fast trains
  • Four slow trains

That is one train every three minutes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Speed improvements between Hitchin and Cambridge could also benefit timings.

London Kings Cross And Cambridge/Norwich

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

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

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

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

The Cambridge Cruiser would become the Cambridge High Speed Cruiser.

London Paddington And Bedwyn

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

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

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

London Paddington And Oxford

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

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

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

Local And Regional Trains On Existing 125 mph Lines

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

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

Note.

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

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

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

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

  • East Midlands Railway – 1 tph – Leicester and Lincoln – Uses Midland Main Line
  • East Midlands Railway – 1 tph – Liverpool and Norwich – Uses Midland Main Line
  • East Midlands Railway – 2 tph – St. Pancras and Corby – Uses Midland Main Line
  • Great Western Railway – 1 tph – Cardiff and Portsmouth Harbour – Uses Great Western Main Line
  • Great Western Railway – 1 tph – Cardiff and Taunton – Uses Great Western Main Line
  • Northern – 1 tph – Manchester Airport and Cumbria – Uses West Coast Main Line
  • Northern – 1 tph – Newcastle and Morpeth – Uses East Coast Main Line
  • West Midlands Trains – Some services use West Coast Main Line.

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

Southeastern Highspeed Services

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

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

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

Thameslink

Thameslink is a tricky problem.

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

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

Note.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hitachi’s Three Trains With Batteries

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

Hyperdrive Innovation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hitachi Regional Battery Train

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

Note.

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

No orders have been announced yet.

But it would surely be very suitable for routes like.

  • London Paddington And Bedwyn
  • London Paddington And Oxford

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

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

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

Hitachi InterCity Tri-Mode Battery Train

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

Note.

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

Nothing is said about battery range away from electrification.

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

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

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

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

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

Class 803 Trains For East Coast Trains

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

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

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

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

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

Thoughts On The Design Of The Hyperdrive innovation Battery Packs

Consider.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I think they will as it will give several advantages.

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

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

What Size Of Battery Would Be Possible?

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

5 * 1.6 / 0.022 = 364 kWh

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

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

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

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

Note.

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

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

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

Cleethorpes and Hull would need a battery charge before return.

A Specification For A High Speed Metro Train

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

These are a few thoughts.

Electrification

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

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

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

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

  • 25 KVAC overhead.
  • 750 VDC third rail.

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

Operating Speed

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

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

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

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

Full Digital In-cab ERTMS Signalling

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

Regenerative Braking To Batteries

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

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

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

Acceleration

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

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

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

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

London Kings Cross And Cleethorpes

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

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

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

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

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

Note.

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

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

Interiors

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

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

Battery Charging

Range On Batteries

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

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

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

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

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

The Ultimate Battery Train

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

This is a paragraph.

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

Consider.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I think there are three possibilities.

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

 

 

 

March 9, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

EMR Set To Retain Liverpool – Nottingham Service

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

The Department for Transport has confirmed to East Midlands Railway that, for the time being at least, it is no longer planning to transfer the Liverpool Lime Street – Nottingham service to TransPennine Express from the December 2021 timetable change.

My experience of the service is limited these days, but occasionally, I do use the Liverpool and Sheffield section of the service to get across the Pennines on trips North.

In January 2020, I had a horrendous trip on an overcrowded train composed of several one-car Class 153 trains, which I wrote about in Mule Trains Between Liverpool And Norwich.

This is not the way to run a long distance service, which takes over five and a half hours.

The plan to improve the service involves splitting it into two from the December 2021 timetable change.

  • Liverpool and Nottingham
  • Derby and Norwich

It was thought that the Liverpool and Nottingham section would be going to TransPennine Express (TPE).

These points summarise the Railway Gazette article.

  • TPE were training drivers and that has now stopped.
  • EMR have told staff, they will be keeping both services.
  • The service will still be split.
  • EMR  will not have enough trains to run the split service.

This paragraph sums up what could happen to run the service.

One option favoured by industry insiders would see EMR take on 15 Class 185 Desiro trainsets which are due to be released by TPE during 2021 as its fleet renewal programme concludes. These trains are maintained by Siemens at its conveniently located Ardwick depot in Manchester.

I see this splitting, as being a pragmatic solution to the problems of running a long service, with a very varied loading at various parts of the route.

  • As one company runs both sections, the changeover can be arranged to be very passenger-friendly.
  • EMR manage the possible change stations at Derby and Nottingham.
  • Passengers can be given proper care in the changeover.
  • Derby gets a direct connection to Peterborough, Cambridge and Norwich.

With my East Anglian hat on, I can see advantages in the split, as I regularly used to travel as far as Derby or Nottingham, when I lived in the East, but only once took the full service to Liverpool.

I have a few thoughts.

Capacity Between Liverpool And Nottingham

This section of the service is generally run by a pair of Class 158 trains, which have a capacity of around 140 each or 280 in total.

The Class 185 trains have three-cars and a capacity of 180 seats.

Currently, Liverpool and Nottingham takes just under two hours and forty minutes, which would make for a comfortable six-hour round trip. This would mean, that an hourly service between the two cities, will need a fleet of six trains.

Under Future in the Wikipedia entry for Class 185 trains, this is said.

Following the August 2020 decision not to transfer the Liverpool Lime Street to Nottingham route to TransPennine Express, East Midlands Railway could opt to take on the 15 trainsets due to be released from TPE to run this route.

Fifteen trains would be more than enough trains to run a pair on each hourly service and perhaps run some extra services.

Pairs of Class 185 trains between Liverpool and Nottingham would go a long way to solve capacity problems on this route.

Calling At Derby

The current service between Liverpool and Norwich doesn’t call at Derby, as it uses the Erewash Valley Line via Alfreton.

The proposed Eastern portion of the split service has been proposed to terminate at Derby, so passengers would change at Nottingham, if they wanted to travel to Sheffield, Manchester or Liverpool.

As East Midlands Railway, runs both services, they can optimise the service to serve and attract the most passengers.

Preparation For High Speed Two At East Midlands Hub Station

Eventually, the two halves of the Liverpool and Norwich service must surely call at the future East Midlands Hub station for High Speed Two, so future routes must fit in with the plans for High Speed Two.

But there’ll be plenty of time to get that right.

Interchange At Nottingham

I’m sure a quick and easy interchange can be performed at Nottingham.

In the simplest interchange, the two services could share a platform and passengers could just walk between the two trains on the level.

The following sequence could be used at Nottingham.

  • The train from Derby to Norwich would arrive in the platform and stop at the Eastern end of the platform.
  • The train from Liverpool to Nottingham would arrive in the platform and stop close behind it.
  • Passengers on the train from Liverpool, who wanted to take the Norwich train, would simply walk a along the platform and board the train.
  • The Norwich train would leave when ready.
  • The train from Liverpool would stay where it had stopped and be prepared for the return trip to Liverpool.
  • , The next train from Norwich to Derby would pull in behind the Liverpool train.
  • Passengers on the train from Norwich, who wanted to take the Liverpool train, would simply walk a along the platform and board the train.
  • The Liverpool train would leave when ready.
  • Finally, the Norwich to Derby train would leave for Derby.

Only one platform would be needed at Nottingham station, that would need to be long enough to handle the two trains.

Between Norwich And Derby

This is the only section of the Liverpool and Norwich route with any electrification.

  • Currently about thirty miles between Grantham and Peterborough are electrified.
  • The lines around Ely and Norwich are also electrified.

I think that Ely and Peterborough will be electrified earlier than other lines.

  • It would be part of an electrified freight route between Felixstowe and the East Coast Main Line.
  • It would enable electric passenger trains between Cambridge and the North.
  • It would mean the Ipswich and Peterborough services could be run by battery electric trains.
  • It could be a useful electrified diversion route to London, during engineering works.

,This extra electrification, would also mean that Norwich and Derby would probably be within range of battery electric trains.

Stadler have stated that Greater Anglia’s Class 755 trains can be converted from bi-mode into battery electric trains.

So as Greater Anglia and East Midlands Railway are both Abellio companies, could we see battery electric operation on the around 150 miles between Norwich and Derby?

Conclusion

Splitting the Liverpool and Norwich service opens up a lot of possibilities to improve the service.

 

 

November 15, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

East West Rail Takes New Steps Further East

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

A business case for improving train services between Cambridge, Ipswich and Norwich is to be developed by consultants on behalf of the East West Rail Consortium, as an addition to the plans for reopening the former Varsity Line between Oxford, Bedford and Cambridge.

I have covered this before in East West Rail Makes ‘Powerful Case’ For Direct Services From Ipswich And Norwich To Oxford, where I reference this report on the East-West Rail web site, which is entitled Eastern Section Prospectus and gives full details of their proposals.

I particularly like these smaller projects.

  • An A14 Parkway station.
  • A frequent tram-train between Ipswich and Felixstowe.
  • Some extra electrification
  • Increase of speed limits to 100 mph
  • Haughley Junction improvements.

I suspect the consultants will come up with a few more useful projects.

August 6, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Beeching Reversal – Reopening Wymondham-Dereham Line

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

It has looked to me, that for some years, that those in Norfolk’s rail industry and Local Government, have been co-operating with rail problems and developments in the county.

If you read the Wikipedia entry for the Mid-Norfolk Railway, various activities are revealed.

  • Regular steam and diesel services between Wymondham and Dereham stations.
  • Occasional sightseeing services North of Dereham station.
  • Mid-Norfolk Railway facilitates commercial freight trains.
  • Dereham yard has been used as a servicing depot by Direct Rail Services for over ten years.
  • Network Rail store track plant at Dereham.
  • There are facilities to transfer damaged rail vehicles to road vehicles at Dereham.
  • The Army uses the line to transport vehicles by train.
  • Storage of trains for Greater Anglia, who have a chronic lack of space.
  • The line appears to be used for specialist crew and driver training.
  • In Mid Norfolk Railway Completes Work On ‘First For UK’ Railway Level Crossing, I wrote about how the railway company used new Dutch technology to demonstrate how to rebuild a level crossing.

It seems, that if you have a different rail-related need in Norfolk, that the Mid-Norfolk Railway will at least listen to your needs.

The company and volunteers have the ambition to restore the railway as far as Fakenham, which will make it one of the longest heritage railways in England.

I am not surprised that reopening services between Wymondham and Dereham stations, is on the list of Beeching Reversal projects.

Dereham

Dereham is a market town of 18,600 residents.

This Google Map shows the Dereham station complex.

It is the headquarters of the Mid-Norfolk Railway.

Wymondham

Wymondham is a developing market town of 14,400 residents, that has a station on the Breckland Line between Cambridge and Norwich via Ely and Thetford.

The Mid-Norfolk Railway also has a connection to the Breckland Line and access to Wymondham station at Wymondham South junction.

This Google Map shows the town of Wymondham.

Note.

  1. The Breckland Line going SW-NE across the map.
  2. Wymondham station in the middle of the map.
  3. Wymondham Abbey station, which is on the Mid-Norfolk Railway in the North-West corner of the map.
  4. Wymondham South junction, where the branch divides to the South-West of Wymondham station.

The A11 Wymondham Bypass encloses a lot of land, which seems to be being developed into housing.

Breckland Line Train Services

Current train services on the Breckland Line include.

  • Greater Anglia – One train per hour (tph) – Norwich and Stansted Airport via Cambridge
  • East Midlands Railway – One tph – Norwich and Liverpool via Ely and Peterborough

Note.

  1. Both train franchises are Abellio.
  2. Both train franchises use modern diesel or bi-mode trains.

As there is significant development of housing and industry, all along the A11 and the Breckland Line between Cambridge and Norwich, many believe that there is a large opportunity for the growth of passenger train services.

All being well in a few years, Norwich will get a third service in a one tp2h service along the East West Railway to Oxford.

But towns like Wymondham probably will need better and more connections to Cambridge and Norwich, before that, as although the roads are good, the emissions won’t be!

The Trowse Swing Bridge

The single-track Trowse Swing Bridge is a major bottleneck on any service between Norwich and the South.

It does manage to carry up to nine to ten tph, but it appears that for efficient operation of extra services South from Norwich, that the bridge will have to be replaced or by-passed.

This Google Map shows Trowse Bridge.

When the Great Eastern Main Line was being electrified to Norwich station, a temporary station was built in this area, whilst electrification was added to the bridge.

A Station At Trowse

A similar strategy could be used, whilst the bridge is replaced, but I suspect, that a bolder plan might be possible.

  • There is a lot of development going on in Norwich.
  • It is expected that rail traffic South from Norwich to Cambridge and London will grow significantly in the next few years.
  • Removing the requirement for the bridge to open, would require difficult Parliamentary legislation.

This Google Map shows the wider City Centre.

Note.

  1. The River Wensum curving through the City.
  2. The large Norwich station in the middle of the map.
  3. Norwich City Centre to the West of the station.
  4. Norwich City’s Carrow Road ground to the South of the station.
  5. The blue-roofed Norwich Crown Point Depot towards the East of the map.
  6. Trowse bridge crossing the river to the South of Crown Point Depot.

It should also be noted, that to solve some of the chronic overcrowding in Crown Point Depot, Greater Anglia have developed some new sidings South of the Trowse bridge, on the Western side of the Great Eastern Main Line, around the area of the former Trowse station.

Consider.

  • If you look at the rail lines South of the Trowse bridge, the Breckland Line crosses under the Great Eastern Main Line and then joins the main line from the East.
  • Norwich could borrow an idea from other cities like Bristol and run a water bus on the River Wensum.
  • The South Bank of the river looks ripe for development.

I wonder if it would be possible to reopen Trowse station as a modern riverside station.

  • There would be two electrified through platforms.
  • The Southern ends of the through platforms would connect to the Great Eastern Main Line and the Breckland Line, as they do now.
  • The Northern ends of the through platforms would combine and cross the Trowse Bridge, as they do now.
  • On the Eastern side of the station, there would be up to two electrified bay platforms, which could connect to any route to the South.
  • At least one platform would be able to take a full-length Class 745 train.
  • There would be a river bus station, with connections to the main Norwich station, Carrow Road and Norwich City Centre.
  • The station would be fully step-free.

As the infamous bridge is only thirty-three years old, surely it can be refurbished and modernised, so that the major problem of reliability is eliminated.

This new station would give train operators advantages and options.

  • The station would be very handy for office and residential developments along the river.
  • The rail line into Norwich could probably be kept open during the construction, as the bridge is only being refurbished.
  • Some travellers to and from Norwich might prefer to use Trowse, rather than Norwich station and use the water bus.
  • Extra services to Norwich might terminate in the bay platforms at Trowse and would not need capacity on the bridge.
  • I suspect that a four or five tph frequency would operate between Norwich and Trowse station.
  • In times of disruption, the bay platforms can be used to turn trains South of the bridge.

I’m sure there is an innovative solution in there somewhere.

What is Norwich City Council intending to do along the South bank of the river?

Future Train Services Between Norwich And The South

Greater Anglia have bought a lot of new trains and I doubt, that they’ll be leaving them in sidings, if they have a job for them to do.

I can certainly see four tph Turn-Up-And-Go services running on the following routes around Norwich.

  • Norwich and Cambridge
  • Norwich and Ipswich
  • Norwich and Lowestoft
  • Norwich and Yarmouth

Being able to turn some Cambridge and Ipswich trains South of Trowse bridge, may be the better solution, than replacing, rather than refurbishing the bridge.

Norwich And Dereham

  • Norwich and Dereham stations are just over twenty miles apart and I suspect that Class 755 trains can do the trip in about twenty-five minutes.
  • This may open up the possibility of an hour’s round trip between Trowse and Dereham stations.

If the hour trip is possible, this could open up a two tph service, run by just two trains.

A Possible Timetable

I could see something like this being a possible timetable.

  • East West Rail – One tph – Norwich and Oxford via Cambridge
  • Greater Anglia – One tph – Norwich and Stansted Airport via Cambridge
  • Greater Anglia – One tph – Trowse and Stansted Airport via Cambridge
  • Greater Anglia – One tph – Trowse and Cambridge
  • Greater Anglia – Two tph – Trowse and Dereham
  • East Midlands Railway – One tph – Norwich and Liverpool via Ely and Peterborough
  • Greater Anglia – Two tph – Norwich and London Liverpool Street via Ipswich
  • Greater Anglia – One tph – Trowse and London Liverpool Street via Ipswich
  • Greater Anglia – One tph – Trowse and Ipswich

Trowse bridge would be handling five tph in both directions, with six tph terminating in Trowse station.

Obviously, there are a lot of permutations and combinations, that will be determined by customer forecasts and figures.

Conclusion

I’ve thought the route between Norwich and Dereham stations will be a commuter, shopping and leisure rail route for some time.

As I indicate, I think some work will need to be done at the Trowse bridge, but a two tph service should be possible.

 

 

 

August 2, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Cambridge South Station To Be Developed

To me, this was one of the highlights of the 2020 Budget today.

As I lived near Cambridge for over a dozen years and regularly played real tennis at the University, I know the scientific heartbeat of the City better than most.

I have discussed the problems of running a business in the City, with many, who are associated with some of the City’s most successful businesses. I have also funded several ventures in the area.

The same basic problems keep arising.

  • Lack of premises, offices and workshops, of all sizes and qualities.
  • Lack of staff to work in the ventures.
  • Lack of suitable housing, where staff moving to the City can live.
  • Staff are being forced to live further out and the roads, railways and other pubic transport systems don’t have the capacity.
  • Inadequate connections to Stansted Airport.

In the last few years, the transport has improved.

  • A sophisticated and award-winning Park-and-Ride running to five large car parks ringing the City has been developed.
  • The Park-and-Ride also caters for cyclists.
  • Cambridge North station has been opened close to the Cambridge Science Park and the A14 Cambridge Northern By-Pass, with a 450-space car-park and space for a thousand bikes.
  • The Cambridge Guided Busway has been developed across the City from Huntingdon station to Trumpington via Cambridge Science Park, Cambridge North station, Cambridge City Centre, Cambridge bus station, Cambridge station and Addenbrooke’s Hospital.
  • Addwnbrooke’s Hospital is a Major Trauma Centre.
  • The forecourts of Cambridge and Cambridge North stations have been developed to create good interchanges and meeting points.
  • Great Northern now has two fast and two stopping trains per hour (tph) between London Kings Cross and Cambridge and/or Cambridge North stations, with trains continuing alternatively half-hourly to Ely or Kings Lynn.
  • Thameslink has two tph between Brighton and Cambridge.
  • Thameslink also has two tph between Cambridge and London Kings Cross, which will be extended to Maidstone East station, within a couple of years.
  • Greater Anglia run an hourly service between Norwich and Stansted Airport via Ely, Cambridge North and Cambridge stations.
  • Greater Anglia run two tph between London Liverpool Street and Cambridge North stations.
  • Greater Anglia run an hourly service between Ipswich and Cambridge via Bury St. Edmunds and Newmarket stations.
  • All Greater Anglia trains are being replaced with new and much larger Class 755 or Class 720 trains.
  • CrossCountry run an hourly service between Birmingham New Street and Stansted Airport via Peterborough, March, Ely, Cambridge North and Cambridge stations.
  • The A14 and A428 roads are being improved between Cambridge and the A1.
  • The East West Railway between Reading and Cambridge via Oxford, Milton Keynes and Bedford is being developed and should open before the end of the decade.

But Cambridge still needs better links to the surrounding countryside and further.

  • Connections to Peterborough could be doubled to hourly.
  • Cnnections to Haverhill and Wisbech are poor.
  • East West Railway have ideas about improving connections to both East and West of Cambridge.
  • Better connections are needed at Addenbrooke’s to connect the rail system to the hospital and the Cambridge Biomedical Campus.

Cambridge South station would be the icing on the cake.

  • It could be the Southern terminus of a Wisbech service.
  • It could be on a service of at least four tph between Ely and Cambridge South stations via Waterbeach, Cambridge North and Cambridge stations.
  • It would bring Addenbrooke’s and the Cambridge Biomedical Campus within easy commuting of London.
  • It would be well-connected to Bedford, London, Milton Keynes, Oxford, Reading, Stansted Airport and Stevenage.
  • There have also been rumours, that the station could be connected to the Cambridge Autonomous Metro, which would be developed from the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway and the Park-and-Ride.

Cambridge South station would be the hub, that ties all the various routes together,

The station could be a fairly simple station to build, by just building platforms and buildings alongside the existing electrified line.

This Google Map shows the hospital. and the West Anglia Main Line running North-South to the West of the hospital.

Note the West Anglia Main Line running North-South to the West of the hospital.

Station Design

This page on the Network Rail web site gives a basic design.

  • Four platforms with step-free access via a footbridge and lifts;
  • Platforms with seating and shelter for waiting passengers;
  • A ticket office and ticket machines, along with automatic ticket gates;
  • Taxi and passenger drop off facilities:
  • Facilities such as a retail/catering unit, a waiting room and toilets;
  • Blue badge parking; and
  • Cycle parking.

The page then gives various location options.

Services

These are my take on the initial services, based on the current ones and those proposed by the East West Railway.

  • 1 tph – CrossCountry – Birmingham New Street and Stansted Airport, via Coleshill Parkway, Nuneaton, Leicester, Melton Mowbray, Oakham, Stamford, Peterborough, March, Ely, Cambridge North, Cambridge, Cambridge South and Audley End.
  • 1 tph – Greater Anglia – Norwich and Stansted Airport, via Wymondham, Attleborough, Thetford, Brandon, Lakenheath, Ely, Cambridge North, Cambridge, Cambridge South, Whittlesford Parkway and Audley End.
  • 1 tph – Greater Anglia – Ipswich and Cambridge South via Needham Market, Stowmarket, Bury St. Edmunds, A14 Parkway, Newmarket and Cambridge.
  • 2 tph – Greater Anglia – Cambridge North and London Liverpool Street via Cambridge, Cambridge South, Audley End, Bishops Stortford, Harlow, Broxbourne and Cheshunt.
  • 1 tph – Greater Anglia – Wisbech and Cambridge South via March, Ely, Cambridge North and Cambridge.
  • 2 tph – Thameslink – Cambridge and Brighton via Stevenage, London St. Pancras, East Croydon and Gatwick Airport.
  • 2 tph – Thameslink – Cambridge and Maidstone East via Stevenage, London St. Pancras and Blackfriars
  • 2 tph – Great Northern – Ely/Kings Lynn and London Kings Cross via Stevenage.
  • 1 tph – East West Railway – Norwich and Reading or Oxford, via Ely, Cambridge North, Cambridge, Cambridge South, Bedford and Milton Keynes.
  • 1 tph – East West Railway – Manningtree and Reading or Oxford, via Ipswich, Needham Market, Stowmarket, Bury St. Edmunds, A14 Parkway, Newmarket, Cambridge, Cambridge South, Bedford and Milton Keynes

Note.

  1. I have left out a few less important stations.
  2. I have extended the current Ipswich and Cambridge service to Cambridge South.
  3. I have added East West Rail’s proposed A14 Parkway station.
  4. I have added a Wisbech and Cambridge South service.

This simple service gives the following frequencies.

  • 6 tph – Ely and Cambridge North
  • 8 tph – Cambridge North and Cambridge
  • 10 tph – Cambridge and Cambridge South
  • 2 tph – Cambridge/Cambridge South and Stansted Airport
  • 1 tph – Cambridge North/Cambridge/Cambridge South and Kings Lynn
  • 8 tph – Cambridge/Cambridge South and London
  • 2 tph – Cambridge/Cambridge South and Ipswich.
  • 2 tph – Cambridge North/Cambridge/Cambridge South and Norwich.
  • 1 tph – Cambridge North/Cambridge/Cambridge South and Peterborough.
  • 6 tph – Cambridge/Cambridge South and Stevenage.

I feel strongly about the following.

  • If six tph is thought to be ideal between Cambridge/Cambridge South and Stevenage, then surely more services are needed between Cambridge and Ipswich, Kings Lynn, Norwich. Peterborough and Stansted Airport. Perhaps as many as four tph are needed to give a Turn-Up-And-Go service.
  • The frequency through Ely, Cambridge North, Cambridge and Cambridge should be as high as possible. With digital signalling ten tph must be possible.

At least Greater Anglia have plenty of Class 755 trains.

Conclusion

Rishi Sunak is right to build Cambridge South station.

You might even be able to argue, that the work done on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus could be key in fighting diseases like the coronavirus.

March 11, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Economics Of Very Light Rail Between Cromer And Sheringham

In Very Light Rail Research On Track, I reviewed an article of the same name on Railway Gazzette International.

The article ,mentioned that the route between Cromer and Sheringham stations could be run by very light rail vehicles.

Very Light Rail Vehicles

Very Light Rail vehicles are defined as weighing less than a tonne per linear metre.

  • Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) found the most efficient propulsion system, was diesel-electric hybrid with battery storage. Was it nicked from an LEVC taxi?
  • An eighteen metre long vehicle will hold 56 seating and 60 standing passengers.
  • Will turn round times at the end of a shuttle route be reduced to perhaps two minutes as the driver only has to walk eighteen metres?
  • The article doesn’t give any speed estimates for very light rail vehicles. But I suspect 50-60 mph would be possible, as this is the operating speed of a Class 399 tram-train and very much the speed of typical single-decker buses.

If seated passengers weigh 90 kilograms with baggage, bikes and buggies and standing passengers perhaps 75 kilograms, this gives a vehicle weight of around 27.5 tonnes.

I estimate that a three-car Class 755 train, with the same passenger load would weigh around 108 tonnes or about 98 tonnes empty, which is about a tonne and a half per linear metre. A single-car Class 153 train is about 1.8 tonnes per linear metre.

Very light rail vehicles appear to be considerably lighter.

Cromer And Sheringham Line

This section of the Bittern Line can be considered a branch of the main section of the line, which links Norwich and Cromer stations.

  • It is single-track.
  • There is a simple cross-over outside Cromer station
  • It is just over 3.5 miles long.
  • Sheringham station is a single platform, that has recently been extended to take four-car Class 755 trains.
  • The only intermediate station is West Runton, which is a single platform.
  • Cromer station has two platforms.
  • Trains take eight minutes to go between Sheringham and Cromer stations.
  • The average speed of the train between Sheringham and Cromer is just 26 mph.
  • The maximum speed of the route is given in Wikipedia as 75 mph. As it is fairly straight it could probably be improved.

As four trains per hour (tph) between Cromer and Sheringham would take a total of 64 minutes, it would seem to be impossible to run such a schedule with current trains, given that the driver would have to change ends eight times in an hour.

Cromer Station

This Google Map shows the two-platform Cromer station.

Note the Northern platform, which is directly connected to the route to Sheringham.

A Split Service

Operation of a split service could be as follows.

  • A shuttle using the Northern platform 2 to Sheringham via West Runton.
  • A service to Norwich using the Southern platform 1.

I suspect to save signalling costs, that the Sheringham service could be run for most of the time under the principle of one-train on the line.

Could Four tph Run Between Cromer And Sheringham?

I suspect that a driver in running shoes could squeeze four tph out of a three-car Class 755 train.

Consider.

  • Three-car trains would save 160 metres of walking over four-car trains.
  • The Class 755 trains are designed for quick stops and have fast acceleration.
  • Versions of the trains are to be fitted with batteries.
  • Two crew working together with some automation might mean that the driver doesn’t have to change ends.
  • Three tph would be easier, as it would give more time for the driver to change ends.
  • Automation with the crew having an override could surely be used.

I don’t believe it would be impossible for a system of operation for this shuttle to be run using a Class 755 train.

Certainly, three tph is easier, but four tph is much more passenger friendly.

Could Two tph Run Between Cromer And Norwich?

Currently, trains take fifty-seven minutes between Norwich and Sheringham, which means that two tph would be very complicated, but not impossible.

Running the Cromer and Sheringham section independently, would mean that the time between Cromer and Norwich could be as low as forty-six minutes.

For a start, this means that a single train could work an hourly service between Cromer and Norwich.

It probable means that two trains could run a two tph service, provided that they could pass at a suitable place, where there are two tracks, as at North Walsham or to the South of Hoverton & Wroxham station.

Possible Service Patterns

I think the ideal service pattern would be something like this.

  • Two tph between Cromer and Norwich.
  • Three or four tph between Cromer and Sheringhan.

Currently, there is an hourly service along the whole route, which needs two trains to operate.

Two tph to and from Norwich and a shuttle would only need one extra train.

Savings With Very Light Rail

There are various ways cost savings can be made.

Cost Of The Vehicle

Leasing a single very light rail vehicle will be much less than leasing even an ancient one-car Class 153 train.

Obviously, for a reliable service, a spare will be needed, if a company had several routes that could be developed using very light rail, then the spare could be shared.

It looks like Greater Anglia are also thinking about other routes, so this may be an economic proposition.

One Train On Line Operation

Cromer and Sheringham could be run with a single train shuttling between the two stations and the points set, so that no other train could use the track.

This must surely reduce signalling costs.

Track Access Charges

Lighter trains have lower track access charges.

This could be a substantial saving, especially if there were four tph in both directions.

Cost Of New Infrastructure

Some routes that will be proposed for very light rail operation will need bridges and embankments to be built.

If the maximum weight of the vehicle is lower, this must surely reduce costs, as lighter structures could be used.

Fast Turnround Times

One of the limiting factors in providing frequent services over a short branch line is the time it takes to turn the train at each end of the route.

But in a very light rail vehicle, which is only eighteen metres long, the driver can probably change cabs in under two minutes, which is of the order of the time it takes to load and unload the train with passengers.

The only high frequency shuttle service over a short route in the UK is the one between Stourbridge Junction and Stourbridge Town stations.

  • The route is just 0.8 of a mile long.
  • It is served by Class 139 trains, which are just 8.7 metres long and can carry 20–25 seated, 30–35 standing passengers.
  • Trains run every ten minutes
  • The turnround time appears to be about two minutes

It is reputed to be the shortest operational branch line in Europe.

I can’t see why, that in a well-designed very light rail vehicle that is only twice the length of a Class 139 train, that the turnround time could not be the same time of two minutes.

It probably can’t be any shorter, in case several people turn up in wheel-chairs at the same time.

If we look at the Cromer and Sheringham route, I can see the following timing being possible for a well-designed shuttle train on the route.

  • Cromer to West Runton – two minutes
  • Stop at West Runton – one minute
  • West Runton to Sheringham – two minutes
  • Turnround at Sheringham – two minutes
  • Sherington to West Runton – two minutes
  • Stop at West Runton – one minute
  • West Runton to Cromer – – two minutes
  • Turnround at Cromer – two minutes

Note.

  1. The round trip would take fourteen minutes.
  2. I have assumed that the train is running at around 50-60 mph.
  3. The West Runton stop could be by request.
  4. There is only one train on the route at all times.

The round trip could be scheduled at four tph.

It must surely be an affordable way to provide a service.

I would also do the following.

  • As at Stourbridge have a second train on standby, to guarantee a reliable service, rescue a failed train and perhaps double the capacity at busy times.
  • Services between Cromer and Sheringham would be free.
  • Cromer, West Runton and Sheringham would be part of a group called Cromer stations, like Birmingham stations and Manchester station. So to book to any of the stations, you’d buy a ticket to Cromer stations.

If the latter ideas didn’t attract passengers then nothing would.

Greater Anglia would get their revenue on the onward services from Cromer.

Could The Cromer And Sheringham Shuttle Be Extended To Holt?

If the train crosses the level crossing at Sheringham station, the track extends all the way to Holt on the North Norfolk Railway.

This Google Map shows the two stations at Sheringham on either side of the level crossing.

The National Rail station is on the East side, with the heritage railway on the West.

Some heritage railways are certified to be able to run scheduled services to and from the main rail network.

This may even be possible here, to allow a service between Cromer and Holt.

Although the North Norfolk Railway seem to run a frequent timetable, I’m sure if there was the necessary coming together, that a service that was beneficial to all parties could be arranged.

Conclusion

Very light rail could be very exciting!

February 2, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Mule Trains Between Liverpool And Norwich

I have done two trips to Liverpool in the last week.

On Saturday, I saw this collection of one-car Class 153 trains with a two-car Class 156 train thrown in.

They were forming one of East Midlands Railway‘s Liverpool and Norwich services.

And then yesterday, I had to travel between Liverpool and Sheffield and this was the collection of trains that took me.

So what was it like?

It started badly, with the driver announcing that because of the late arrival due to an undisclosed problem with the incoming train, that we would be leaving ten minutes after the planned departure time of 1551. He also indicated that our late departure meant that we would be stuck behind one of Northern’s services.

In the end, despite the gloomy faces of passengers we left twelve minutes late at 1603.

It was a bit like one of those classic films, where an ancient train escapes in the nick of time, with a lot of important and assorted passengers.

The asthmatic Cummins diesels under the train could be heard straining.

  • But the driver was at the top of his game and the train was running smoothly towards Manchester at close to 75 mph, which is the maximum speed of a Class 153 train.
  • At Manchester Piccadilly, the driver had pulled back two minutes.
  • There were obviously, no problems on the Dove Valley Line and the driver pulled back another minute before Sheffield, to arrive nine minutes late.

Looking at Real Time Trains, the train ran well until March (The place, not the month!), but there was some form of delay there and sadly it was thirty-four minutes late into Norwich.

The Train Was Clean

I should say there was nothing wrong with the train except for its design and age. It was also as clean as you can get one of these trains. The toilet, that I used was better than many I’ve used on trains and worked as it should.

Customer Service

East Midlands Railway had loaded a trolley and a steward and in the two hours I was on the train, he came through twice. The only problem for me, that he had no card machine, but I did find a fiver in my briefcase.

At least it was very drinkable. Even, if I hate those plastic tubs of milk, as they are difficult to open with one good hand.

Where Did Two Cars Go?

I had been fairly certain, that we had started with six cars, but we only arrived in Sheffield with four Class 153 trains.

I suspect that the trouble that delayed the train, concerned two cars and these were left on the naughty step or the end of Platform 6 in Liverpool Lime Street station.

Being Fair To East Midlands Railway

This service used to be run by a four-car formation of two-car Class 158 trains, but these have been causing trouble lately and they will be replaced by Class 170 trains cascaded from other operators.

But because of late arrivals of new trains the much better Class 170 trains haven’t arrived yet.

The driver, steward and other staff did a good job and I feel that the steward enjoyed it. No-one was abusive and stories were just exchanged, as we climbed across the Pennines in what by Sheffield was a very crowded train.

Class 153 trains may have been built as a stop-gap for short branch lines, but you couldn’t fault their performance.

Unless of course, one caused the delay at March, by expiring in a cloud of blue smoke.

Other Observations

These are other observations.

Scheduled Journey Times

On my journey the scheduled times were

  • Liverpool and Manchester Oxford Road – forty-seven minutes.
  • Liverpool and Sheffield – one hour and forty-eight minutes.
  • Liverpool and Nottingham – two hour and forty minutes.
  • Liverpool and Norwich – Five hours and twenty-seven minutes

The train considering the configuration, nearly achieved them.

It’s probably the motoring equivalent of doing the journey in a Morris Minor!

The Nine Stops Were Executed Perfectly

There were nine stops on my journey and eight took less than a minute, with Sheffield taking four, as the driver and crew changed.

A modern train like a Class 755 train, with fast acceleration and level boarding could probably save up to three minutes a time on each stop.

The Route Is A Genuine 75 mph Railway In Good Condition

I was checking the speed of the train on parts of the route and the driver had his motley crew at a steady 75 mph for long periods.

  • The train was riding well, indicating to me, that both trains and track were in reasonably good condition.
  • Note that 75 mph is the maximum speed of a Class 153 train.
  • The train recovered three minutes on the late departure from Liverpool.

I can see a faster train and improvements to the route, some of which are underway, could reduce the journey time by a few minutes.

Could Merseyrail’s New Class 777 Trains Work To The Bay Platform At Oxford Road?

Merseyrail’s new Class 777 trains will have the following performance.

  • A possible range of perhaps 40-50 miles on battery power.
  • An operating speed of 75 mph.
  • An acceleration rate of 1.1 m/sec², which is faster than a Class 153 or Class 170 train.
  • Fast stops due to regenerative braking, fast acceleration and level boarding.

As Liverpool Lime Street to Oxford Road is thirty four miles of which nine is electrified, I suspect that these new trains could extend Merseyrail’s Northern Line service from Hunts Cross to Manchester Oxford Road.

  • Two trains per hour (tph), but I’m sure four tph would transform the area.
  • I doubt any track modifications would be needed.

But would Liverpool and Manchester be able to sort out the local politics?

The Future Of The Liverpool And Norwich Service

This service will probably be spilt into two services.

  • Liverpool Lime Street and Derby, which could be run by TransPennine Express or Northern Trains.
  • Derby and Norwich, which would be run by East Midlands Railway.

As to the trains to be used, consider the following.

The Liverpool and Derby leg would probably need six trains, with the same number needed for Derby and Norwich, or twelve in total.

Currently, eleven or twelve is needed for the longer service.

Sections of the route like through Manchester and between Grantham and Peterborough are electrified.

There are even sections of route, where 125 mph running is possible.

Run reliably to an hourly frequency, I think that this service could attract passengers, especially, as it would serve Derby and extra stops like Ilkeston and Warrington West could be added.

This leads to the following trains being possibilities.

Class 802 trains – 125 mph bi-mode train of which TransPennine Express have 19 trains.

Class 185 trains – 100 mph diesel train of which TransPennine Express have 51 trains.

Class 810 trains – 125 mph bi-mode train of which East Midlands Railway have ordered 33 trains.

Class 755 trains – 100 mph diesel train of which Greater Anglia have 38 trains, which are based at Norwich.

Alstom Breeze hydrogen trains could be ideal for Liverpool and Derby.

Note.

  1. Greater Anglia and East Midlands Railway are both subsidiaries of Abellio.
  2. Developments of Class 755 trains could include battery and hydrogen versions.
  3. I suspect that 125 mph trains may be required for both legs, to maximise capacity on the East Coast Main Line and Midland Main Line.

The trains will certainly get better.

January 29, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Comparing Ride And Perceived Performance In Class 170 And Class 755 trains

I had intended to go to Norwich and Sheringham today, to take some pictures of Class 755 trains at Sheringham station.

Unfortunately, when I got to Norwich, the Sheringham train was a Class 170 train, so as I was running late, I came back.

But as I had travelled to Norwich in a twenty-year-old Class 170 train and returned in a brand-new Class 755 train, I was able to compare their ride and passenger performance on the well-maintained and straight Breckland Line.

The Class 170 train has a good ride and I’ve never felt to complain, even when travelling at 100 mph on some CrossCountry and Greater Anglia routes.

But I did feel that the Class 755 train had a smoother ride.

I did time the 755 at 90 mph on parts of the route, but at most times it was doing a motr sedate 75 mph.

Could it be that twenty years has enabled train dynamics to have been improved using computer simulation?

Intriguingly, the three-car Class 170 train is twenty percent heavier and has half the power of the four-car Class 755 train, which probably results in more sprightly acceleration for the new train.

Could this acceleration mean that the trains will be faster on a route with lots of stops?

 

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

Greater Anglia’s Norwich And Stansted Airport Service Starts On December 15th 2019

The annual December timetable change on December 15th 2019, will see Greater Anglia bringing in their new service between Norwich and Stansted Airport stations start as an hourly service.

The Route

Between Norwich and Ely stations, the route is on the Breckland Line.

  • It is not electrified, except for a short section at the Norwich end.
  • It is a full double-track, except for the single-track Trowse Bridge, that it shares with the Great Eastern Main Line on the approach to Norwich.
  • The operating speed is between 75-90 mph.
  • There are intermediate stations at Shippea Hill, Lakenheath, Brandon, Thetford, Attleborough, Spooner Row and Wymondham.

There is potential to increase the line speed, perhaps add some extra stations and remove the antiquated Trowse Bridge.

South from Ely through Cambridge to Stansted Airport, the route is a busy, fully-electrified double-track line.

The New Timetable

The Sunday journeys are as follows

  • Journey time appears to be a couple of minutes over two hours both ways.
  • Most services seem to leave Stansted at XX:09
  • First Northbound train is 08:18
  • Last Northbound train is 21:11
  • Most services seem to leave Norwich at XX:03
  • First Southbound train is 09:03
  • Last Southbound train is 20:03
  • Calling points appear to be Audley End, Wittlesford Parkway, Cambridge, Cambridge North, Ely, Brandon, Thetford, Attleborough and Wymondham.

Weekday services appear to be more-or-less similar.

  • Northbound services take around 6-9 minutes less than two hours.
  • Most services seem to leave Stansted at XX:48
  • First Northbound train is 05:27
  • Last Northbound train is 21:11
  • Southbound services take around 3-9 minutes less than two hours.
  • Most services seem to leave Norwich at XX:27 or XX:33
  • First Southbound train is 08:33
  • Last Southbound train is 19:27
  • Calling points are the same.

My Observations follow.

Convenience And Capacity

It is currently actually quicker by a few minutes to use the following services.

  • East Midland Railway’s service between Norwich and Ely
  • CrossCountry’s service between Ely and Stansted Airport.

These two trains can be very overcrowded at times and the new four-car Class 755 trains are much better and have more capacity, than the other services, which are often just two-car Class 158 or Class 170 trains.

Two Trains Per Hour Between Norwich And Stansted Airport

It also appears that the service with the single change at Ely will still be possible after the timetable change.

Thjis means that Norwich and Stansted Airport will have a two trains per hour (tph) service.

Train Timings

It would appear that the times between Cambridge and Norwich are very similar before and after the timetable change.

So it doesn’t appear that Greater Anglia are taking advantage of the superior performance of the new Class 755 trains.

How Many Trains Will Greater Anglia Need For The Norwich And Stansted Airport Service?

The current service between Norwich and Cambridge stations has a three hour round trip, so three trains are needed to provide the hourly service.

It looks like the Norwich and Stansted Airport service has a four hour round trip, so four trains will be needed to provide the hourly service.

Extending the Norwich and Cambridge service to Stansted Airport needs just one extra train.

How many extra passengers will Greater Anglia attract?

Whittlesford Parkway Gets An Extra Hourly Service To And From Cambridge

The extended hourly service between Norwich and Stansted Airport will call at Whittlesford Parkway station, which will increase the frequency on the busy commuter route between the Parkway station and Cambridge City Centre.

When we lived near Newmarket and C was practising as a barrister, she would sometimes go to Norwich up to tyree times a week. I wouldn’t be surprised to find that travellers between Whittlesford Parkway and Norwich stations are rather more numerous than the forecast.

  • The train will take about ninety minutes and driving about seventy-five.
  • The Class 755 trains have wi-fi.
  • There is a lot of parking at Whittlesford Parkway station.
  • Will Greater Anglia put a snack trolley on the train?

C would have certainly used the service, as Whittleford Parkway station was around fifteen minutes from where we lived.

What Will Greater Anglia Do With Lakenheath And Shippea Hill Stations?

These two stations are By Request and only get a few services a week.

Consider.

  • The modern Class 755 trains with their high performance and short dwell times could probably selectively stop at these stations without degrading the train timings.
  • Cambridge needs satellite development to provide housing and commercial development.
  • The future of RAF Mildenhall is uncertain and it could be sold for housing.
  • It could be argued that Cambridge needs a new Park-and-Ride station to the North to take the pressure off Ely station.

This Google Map shows RAF Lakenheath and the Breckland Line running Easy-West between Ely and Norwich.

Note.

  1. RAF Mildenhall is to the South-West of RAF Lakenheath.
  2. The railway going across the North side of the map through Shippea Hill, Lakenheath and Brandon stations.
  3. Most of the land is aricultural and very flat.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see substantial development of the railway through the area in the next ten or twenty years.

What Will Greater Anglia Do With Spooner Row Station?

Spooner Row station is another By Request station on the Breckland Line bertween Attleborough and Wymondham stations..

Spooner Row is not a busy station, although as this Google Map shows it is just off the main A11 road.

Noyr that Spooner Row station is in the South-East corner of the map.

Perhaps with more services and some increased car parking, it might pick up commuters and shoppers for Cambridge and Norwich it might become a convenient station for local residents travelling to and from Stansted Airport.

Could There Be A Norwich And Dereham Service?

Greater Anglia seems to be working closely with the Mid Norfolk Railway, which runs between Wymondham station on the Breckland Line to the town of Dereham.

  • In Aerial Pictures Show New Trains Housed In Mid-Norfolk, I showed how the heritage railway was storing trains for Greater Anglia.
  • According to Wikipedia, it would appear that several million pounds were spent to i8mprove the railway and its signalling, so that Greater Anglia’s new trains could be safely stored.
  • The line is mainly single track and signalled for an hourly service.
  • The yard at Dereham station seems to be regularly used for freight purposes, including loading damaged rolling stock on to road vehicles. It is also used by Network Rail for storage of track plant.
  • Train operating companies and heritage railways are increasingly working together for their mutual benefit.

As an InterCity 125 trains has recently been beyond Dereham, I wouldn’t rule out Greater Anglia running a new service between Norwich and Dereham, with a future aim of extension to Fakenham.

Because of the limitations of the track, it could probably only be a limited service.

Can Capacity Be Increased If Needed?

Having lived near Cambridge for nearly thirty years of my life, I believe that there will come a time, when one four-car train between Norwich and Stansted Airport will not be enough.

  • Two tph could be run on the route, which is relatively lightly used by other services.
  • Longer trains could be created or two three-car trains could be run as a six-car train.
  • The current speed limit of 75-90 mph of the Breckland Line,  can probably be increased closer to the 100 mph of the Great Eastern Main Line.

Higher speeds would shorten journey times and increase capacity.

Could We See 125 mph Trains From Kings Cross To Kings Lynn And Norwich?

In Call For ETCS On King’s Lynn Route, I talked about putting digital signalling on the Kings Cross and Kings Lynn route and running 125 mph trains via Cambridge.

If the Kings Cross and Kings Lynn route were to be upgraded for faster running, this would also upgrade the proposed Kings Cross and Norwich route as far as Ely.

This would make it very feasible to run the following serrvices using 125 mph trains like Class 800 trains.

  • Kings Cross and Kings Lynn
  • Kings Cross and Norwich

Because of their speed these trains would help to open up capacity between Hitchin and Kings Cross.

I feel that these 125 mph bi-mode trains could do the trip between Kings Cross and Norwich in ninety minutes, which would match the time via Ipswich.

Do I Have Any Criticism?

My main criticism is that the service between Norwich and Stansted Airport, doesn’t have trains that run early and late enough.

Wil lthe service be timed to better fit the services out of the Airport?

Further Development Of The Breckland Line

This report in the Ely Standard from 2015, is entitled Could Railway Revolution See New Station Built at Ely North?.

These improvements are listed.

  • A new four-platform station North of Ely would improve connectivity.
  • A service between Kings Cross and Norwich via Cambridge is suggested.
  • Improvements in services across East Anglia.

A cost of a billion pounds is mentioned.

125 mph Trains From Kings Cross To Kings Lynn And Norwich

In Call For ETCS On King’s Lynn Route, I talked about putting digital signalling on the Kings Cross and Kings Lynn route and running 125 mph trains via Cambridge.

If the Kings Cross and Kings Lynn route were to be upgraded for faster running, this would also upgrade the proposed Kings Cross and Norwich route as far as Ely.

This would make it very feasible to run the following serrvices using 125 mph trains like five-car Class 800 trains.

  • Kings Cross and Kings Lynn
  • Kings Cross and Norwich

The two services could even split and join at the proposed Ely North station to make full use of the paths into Kings Cross.

The 125 mph or more operating speed of these trains on the East Coast Main line would help to increase capacity between Hitchin and Kings Cross.

I estimate that these 125 mph bi-mode trains could do the trip between Kings Cross and Norwich in ninety minutes, which would match the time via Ipswich.

Norwich could have the following services.

  • Three tph to and from London via Ipswich
  • Two tph to and from London via Cambridge
  • Two tph to and from Stansted Airport via Cambridge.

It sounds fantastic, but if we are to get travellers out of their cars, they must be given a high quality train service.

Conclusion

The improved Norwich and Stansted Airport service will be the first major improvement brought in by Greater Anglia.

September 25, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The East-West Rail Link Plans For Services Between Reading And East Anglia

This report on the East-West Rail web site is entitled Eastern Section Prospectus and gives full details of their proposals for the train services along the East-West Rail Link.

This post is particularly about services to Reading and the report says this about services between Reading and East Anglia.

Proposed Core Train Services

This is a sentence.

It has been assumed that, by this stage, a half hourly service will operate on the Central and Western sections between Oxford – Cambridge.

The report then goes on to add.

25 minutes are added to the Oxford journey time to represent the option of one service being extended to / from Reading with a Reading – Oxford non-stop.

So that looks like there will be a core hourly service between Reading and Cambridge, which will take 98 minutes.

The report then goes on to detail how various towns and cities in East Anglia will be connected to Reading.

Bury St. Edmunds

2h16 hourly with cross-platform changes at Cambridge and new A14 Parkway station.

Great Yarmouth

3h14 hourly direct

Ipswich

2h43 hourly with cross-platform changes at Cambridge and new A14 Parkway station.

Lowestoft

3h30 hourly with change at Norwich and cross platform change at Reedham.

Norwich

2h40 hourly direct

Trains For The Route

It looks like there will be two direct hourly train services.

  • Reading and Great Yarmouth via Cambridge and Norwich, which will take three hours and fourteen minutes.
  • Oxford and Ipswich via Cambridge and Bury St. Edmunds, which will take two hours and nineteen minutes.

The long term service pattern, envisages extending the Oxford and Ipswich service to Manningtree, which would add twenty-five minutes.

These are long services and given the overcrowding that happens on the current service between Norwich and Liverpool, I would think that the trains should be as follows.

  • At least four or five cars.
  • An on-board buffet.
  • At least 100 mph operation.

I also think the trains should be bi-mode trains, able to use 25 KVAC overhead electrification or onboard power.

How Many Trains?

It looks like the Reading and Great Yarmouth service would be a seven-hour round trip, which would need seven trains.

The future Oxford and Manningtree service would be a six-hour round trip, which would need six trains.

So add in an allowance for maintenance and a spare, I suspect the fleet should be sixteen trains.

 

July 15, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment