The Anonymous Widower

Open Access Operators And The Lumo Model

In the UK, there are only three established Open Access operators, who run UK train services.

  • Grand Central
  • Heathrow Express
  • Hull Trains

From the 25th of October, they will be joined by Lumo.

We probably don’t think of Heathrow Express as an Open Access operator and as it is effectively a short distance special service with new trains between Heathrow and Paddington, it has its own business model, that may or may not survive.

But how will Lumo and their bold new business model affect Grand Central, Hull Trains and any future Open Access operators?

Grand Central Trains

Grand Central is a well-established Open Access operator.

  • They run services between London King’s Cross and Bradford Interchange, Sunderland and several other convenient en-route stations.
  • They are owned by Deutsche Bahn.
  • They also regularly seem to apply for new routes and extra services.

But they have a big problem fast catching up on them; they have a diesel-only fleet and need to decarbonise.

I also think that all express passenger services on the East Coast Main Line will at some date need to be run by 140 mph trains capable of running with full digital signalling and a degree of Automatic Train Operation.

In Lumo: Why Won’t The New Train Service Stop At Yorkshire Stations?, I said that to continue to be successful, they probably need to embrace the Lumo model and acquire new trains.

I will repeat what I said in the related post.

This would entail.

  • The ten diesel Class 180 trains would be replaced by new electric trains.
  • The trains would need a 140 mph capability under digital signalling to fit in with the plans of Network Rail, LNER and Lumo to create a top-class high-speed high-capacity East Coast Main Line.
  • The trains would need a battery capability as Grand Central’s routes are not fully electrified.
  • They could copy Lumo’s green marketing philosophy, ticketing and catering offering.

As to the trains, I’m sure that Hitachi could offer a version of their Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train, the specification of which is shown in this Hitachi infographic.

The trains would need a range of fifty miles on battery-power.

I have some other thoughts.

Financing

If you look at the finances of decarbonising Grand Central, they would need a new fleet of ten trains, which as Lumo’s fleet of five trains are reported to be costing £100 million, so that figure can be at least doubled.

There would also be costs for the two charging systems at Bradford Interchange and Sunderland. But at least there are several possible solutions for charging systems, so the price will probably not be more than a few million, if that.

Will Deutsche Bahn be prepared to stump up the extra finance?

A Service To Cleethorpes

In the Wikipedia entry for Grand Central, there is a section which is entitled London Kings Cross to Cleethorpes, which outlines a proposed service.

  • It would split and join with the London King’s Cross and Bradford service at Doncaster.
  • It would call at Crowle, Scunthorpe, Barnetby, Habrough and Grimsby.
  • Doncaster and Cleethorpes is 52.1 miles and should be in range of a Battery-electric train with a charging system at Cleethorpes.

Using current times from LNER and TransPennine Express, I estimate that Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Trains could travel between London and Cleethorpes in around two hours and twenty minutes.

With digital signalling on the East Coast Main Line to the South of Doncaster, the overall time could be much closer to two hours.

This could be a very viable service with battery-electric trains capable of running at 140 mph on the East Coast Main Line and for sixty miles at 100 mph on battery power.

Maximising The Use Use Of Train Paths By The Use Of Splitting And Joining

The proposed service to Cleethorpes is a classic use of splitting and joining, which enables two separate services to run a large part of their routes together.

  • On the East Coast Main Line, it means that maximum use can be made of the paths available.
  • Splitting and joining is part of the specification for the Hitachi trains and they do it automatically in under two minutes.
  • LNER are already talking about using the technique to serve various destinations from Leeds.

I wouldn’t rule out Grand Central’s two services working as a pair between London King’s Cross and Doncaster, where they would split and join.

Conclusion On Grand Central Trains

Decarbonisation with high-speed battery-electric trains could ensure the future of Grand Central Trains.

Hull Trains

Hull Trains is another well-established Open Access operator.

  • They run services between London King’s Cross and Hull and Beverley.
  • They have a fleet of five bi-mode Class 802 trains.
  • The company is part of First Group.

Hull Trains don’t have the decarbonisation problem of Grand Central Trains, as I suspect Hitachi will come up with a solution to turn Class 802 trains into a battery-electric train with a range of perhaps seventy miles on battery power.

  • Beverley and Temple Hirst junction is a distance of 44.3 miles and is the only section of the route without electrification.
  • Charging of the batteries will be needed at the Eastern end and probably would be best handled by a short length of electrification in Hull station or between Hull and Brough stations.

The Class 802 trains are also ready for updating to run under the new digital signalling of the East Coast Main Line.

First Harrogate Trains

First Harrogate Trains was a subsidiary of Hull Trains, which hoped to run the following services.

  • London King’s Cross and Harrogate via York
  • London King’s Cross and Cleethorpes via Peterborough, Spalding and Lincoln

Both these services could be run in conjunction with the current service with an appropriate split and join.

Conclusion On Hull Trains

As both Hull Trains and Lumo share London King’s Cross and are both owned by First Group, I would expect that both train operators would share some services, methods and ideas.

There may be advantages if Hull Trains’s Class 802 trains and Lumo’s Class 803 trains could run each other’s services.

Grand Union

Grand Union is a prospective open access operator who are proposing to operate train services from England to Wales and Scotland.

They are proposing two services.

London Paddington and Cardiff Central via Reading, Bristol Parkway, Severn Tunnel Junction, Newport and Cardiff Parkway, with a possible extension later to Swansea andLlanelli or Carmarthen.

London Euston and Stirling via Milton Keynes Central, Nuneaton, Crewe, Preston, Carlisle, Lockerbie, Motherwell, Whifflet, Greenfaulds and Larbert.

Note.

  1. London Paddington and Cardiff Central is fully electrified, but there is no electrification West of Cardiff Central.
  2. Cardiff Central and Swansea are 45.7 miles apart.
  3. London Euston and Stirling is fully electrified.

Currently, the rolling stock for both services is proposed to be a tri-mode Class 93 locomotive hauling a rake of Mark 4 coaches and a driving van trailer.

The locomotive should be capable of handling the routes to Stirling and Cardiff using the electrification alone.

When the Cardiff route is extended, Grand Union would intend to use Class 802 trains, which could be fitted with batteries to serve Swansea, where the batteries would be charged.

There is no sign as yet, that the Office of Rail and Road have approved any of their possible services, but both services might be improved with some Lumo-style thinking.

Alliance Rail Holdings

Alliance Rail Holdings, which is a sister company to Grand Central, is ultimately owned by Deutsche Bahn, seems to have several ideas for new services, but only seems to have got approval to one.

They were given approval some years ago to run a service between London Euston and Blackpool North.

  • Calls would be made at Poulton-le-Fylde, Kirkham and Wesham, Preston, Nuneaton and Milton Keynes Central.
  • There will be six trains per day.
  • Trains would be InterCity 225 trains.
  • The approval is for seven years from 2018.

But because of the pandemic it hasn’t run.

Conclusion

The Lumo model will affect all these services.

 

 

 

September 12, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

ORR Rejects Grand Union’s London Paddington To Cardiff Train Service Bid

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

I wrote about this service in Grand Union Seeks ’91s’ To Cardiff and this was my conclusion.

I like this proposal.

    • The important Paddington and Cardiff route gets a fifty percent increase in train frequency.
    • There could be genuine competition on the route.
    • Grand Union would be using five of the thirty InterCity225 sets, which are in good condition, judging by my recent journeys.
    • Could we see a customer service and catering war between the two operators?

If Grand Union Railway runs to Cardiff, I’ll give it a go.

I can see a revised proposal being successful.

February 11, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Go-op Plans New Services From Summer 2020

The title of this article is the same as that of this article on Modern Railways.

This is the first sentence.

Community-owned rail operator Go-op Co-operative Ltd is seeking views on proposed new open access rail services in Somerset and Wiltshire. Services, which it hopes could start in summer 2020, would be operated by two refurbished Class 769 units working ‘a complex series of trips between Oxfordshire and Somerset’

I wrote about this before in An Ambitious Proposal For A New Train Service?

In the intervening three years, their plans have developed with more detail and a change to Class 769 trains.

I suggested the latter trains in my original post about Go-op, would be an idea.

Given the proposed route structure, they would be able to run at 100 mph on the electrified sections.

April 2, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Budget Trains To Get Rail Network Flying

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in The Times.

It outlines how open access operators like Grand Central and Hull Trains, are being encouraged by the Office and Rail and Road to set up new services.

I think that these companies are a welcome addition to the UK rail network.

I don’t always use them, when one is available, but if their train is at the right time for my trip, I usually do.

Sometimes I save money and sometimes I don’t!

March 24, 2018 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment