The Anonymous Widower

Will Crossrail Open To Reading in 2019?

The latest rather dodgy date for the opening of Crossrail’s Core Tunnel is Autumn 2019.

In the January 2019 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article, which is entitled Crossrail Can’t Commit To Autumn Opening.

This a paragraph from the article.

TfL also says that it is exploring with DfT the possibility of beginning to operate Reading to Paddington services ahead of the completion of the Elizabeth Line to help provide a boost in revenue.

This is a very interesting possibility.

How Much Work Is Still To Be Done To The West of Hayes & Harlington?

This is the key factor as to whether Western Branch of Crossrail can be opened.

  • The biggest problem is that Class 345 trains can’t run to Heathrow as there are signalling issues to eradicate.
  • There are also several stations, that need to be completed.

There is no work-round to the first problem, but trains seem to be able to call at the unfinished stations.

It would appear, that for TfL’s proposal to be taken fully forward, the signalling issues to and from Heathrow, must be dealt with.

The stations can be finished later.

The Current Proposed Crossrail Service To Reading And Maidenhead

These are the proposed services shown on Wikipedia, so they could have been updated.

Reading To Paddington – Limited Stop

This service will be run at two trains per hour (tph) in the Peak with no trains in the Off-Peak.

Stops are Twyford, Maidenhead, Slough, West Drayton and Ealing Broadway.

Reading To Paddington – All Stations

This service will be run at two tph all day.

The service will call at all stations except Hanwell and Acton Main Line.

Maidenhead To Paddington

This service will be run at two tph all day.

The service will call at all stations except Hanwell and Acton Main Line.

A Summary Of Peak/Off Peak Calls

Adding these service up, gives the following numbers for Peak and Off Peak calls in trains per hour (tph)

  • Reading – 4,2
  • Twyford – 4,2
  • Maidenhead – 6,4
  • Taplow – 4.4
  • Burnham 4,4
  • Slough – 6,4
  • Langley – 4,4
  • Iver – 4,4
  • West Drayton – 6,4
  • Hayes & Harlington – 4.4
  • Southall – 4,4
  • Hanwell – None to Reading/Maidenhead
  • West Ealing – 4.4
  • Ealing Broadway – 6,4
  • Acton Main Line – None to Reading/Maidenhead
  • Paddington – 6,4

Note.

  1. 4,2 means 4 tph in the Peak and 2 tph in the Off Peak.
  2. It would appear that all stations except Reading and Twyford have at least four tph all day.
  3. Stations between Hayes & Harlington and Ealing Broadway will get another six tph all day going to Heathrow.
  4. Acton Main Line station will get another four tph all day going to Heathrow.

This gives the following frequencies.

  • Reading – 4,2
  • Twyford – 4,2
  • Maidenhead – 6,4
  • Taplow – 4.4
  • Burnham 4,4
  • Slough – 6,4
  • Langley – 4,4
  • Iver – 4,4
  • West Drayton – 6,4
  • Hayes & Harlington – 10,10
  • Southall – 10,10
  • Hanwell – 6,6
  • West Ealing – 10,10
  • Ealing Broadway – 12,10
  • Acton Main Line – 4,4
  • Paddington – 12,10

I can draw these conclusions from the figures.

  • Every station has a good service from Crossrail.
  • But could Reading and Twyford have another two tph in the Off-Peak to make the services four tph all day?
  • Paddington station would need perhaps two or three platforms dedicated to Crossrail to handle twelve tph.
  • The maximum frequency of 12 tph should be easily handled with conventional signalling and could be increased with modern digital signalling.

It looks like running the Western services of Crossrail from Paddington could be a possibility.

Consider.

  • The Reading and Maidenhead services will be run on routes with mainly conventional signalling.
  • The Class 345 trains, which each can hold 1,500 passengers would give a massive capacity boost to the outer Crossrail stations.
  • Heathrow services can be run with Class 345 trains, when the signalling problems are solved.
  • Higher frequencies to and from Paddington may enable trains to provide a better interchange with branch line services, at West Ealing, Slough, Maidenhead and Twyford.

But I think that separating these services initially from Crossrail will have substantial operational and development  benefits.

  • Paddington to Reading is essentially a self-contained railway, with a major branch to Heathrow and four small branch lines worked by diesel shuttle trains.
  • The route, with the exception of the Heathrow branch, has conventional signalling.
  • The signalling problems of the Heathrow branch can be solved independently.
  • The Western branches of Crossrail could be fully debugged before trains start running through the Core Tunnel.

I also wonder, if the route could be useful for mileage accumulation, driver training  and certification of newly-delivered trains.

Is It Just About The Money?

The original Modern Railways extract said that the proposal was to help provide TfL with extra revenue.

It must bring in revenue and especially when the Heathrow Branch is working reliably to plan.

Faster Journeys

Modern Class 345 trains have the following advantages over the current British Rail-era Class 156 trains.

  • They are slightly faster.
  • They have better acceleration.
  • They are modern trains designed for short dwell times at stations.

It would be very likely, that journey times between Paddington and Reading, will improve..

Passenger Behaviour

But passengers may change their behaviour .

  • Will passengers use Crossrail as a lower-cost alternative to Heathrow Express?
  • Will passengers use Crossrail as a faster alternative to the Piccadilly Line?
  • Will passengers,  going between Heathrow and the West and Wales, use Crossrail to and from Reading, with a change at Hayes & Harlingon?
  • Will passengers on branch lines find the extra capacity helpful, when travelling to London or Reading?

In addition, as I said earlier, I think opening Paddington to Reading early,, could make finishing the Crossrail project easier.

If nothing else, it shortens the to-do list!

GWR Might Object

Will GWR object to losing their local services between Reading and London to Crossrail?

Consider the following issues.

Heathrow Express

GWR have taken over the lucrative Heathrow Express.

  • Heathrow Express will be run using 110 mph Class 387 trains in an Airport Express configuration.
  • Will these trains be less of a block on the line, than the 100 mph Class 332 trains currently running the service?
  • Currently both Class 332 and Class 800 trains take nine 9½ minutes to go between Paddington and Heathrow Airport Junction.

Perhaps GWR could squeeze in extra trains, by replacing the Class 332 trains with faster Class 387 trains?

The more trains they could squeeze into Paddington, the larger their revenue.

Reading, Bedwyn and Oxford Services

I am not sure, but it does appear that GWR services to places like Bedwyn and Oxford will in future be run using the new five-car Class 802 trains.

  • The trains will surely use electric traction on the fast lines to Paddington.
  • Will passengers going between Bedwyn/Oxford and stations between Reading and Paddington, be happy to change at Reading?

As it appears that Bedwyn/Oxford services might not need to use the slow lines, these will be used  exclusively by  Crossrail and the occasional freight.

Could Bedwyn And Oxford Services Be Combined?

There is also the possibility that to save paths on the fast lines between Reading and Paddington, that hourly Bedwyn and Oxford services could be combined and split at Reading.

  • GWR already splits and joins Class 387 trains at Reading.
  • Class 800/802 trains are designed to be split and joined quickly.
  • Timings to the two destinations are about the same, being around 75 minutes.

Two five-car Class 802 trains with one running to Bedwyn and one to Oxford might be a good idea. Especially, as it saves one high-speed path between Paddington and Reading  and possibly a few trains.

It does look, that Oxford and Bedwyn services could be moved out of the way of Crossrail services.

Will There Be Enough Class 800/802 Trains?

In Huge Increase In Capacity On GWR As Final Class 800 Enters Traffic, I wrote that there are now only fifteen trains of a total fleet of 93 trains to be delivered.

I suspect that GWR can find enough trains to run Bedwyn/Oxford services to London.

Too Many Class 387 Trains!

But it does strike me that GWR will have too many Class 387 trains, if Crossrail takes over local services to Reading and Class 802 trains take over services to Bedwyn and Oxford.

Twelve Class 387 trains are being converted to take over Heathrow Express services, but that still leaves GWR with 33 trains to find a use for.

It seems like Greater Anglia’s twenty Class 379 trains, they could become homeless orphans.

Will The Class 769 Trains Get In The Way?

Original plans talked about using 100 mph Class 769 trains to back up the Class 387 trains, whilst twelve of these were updated to Heathrow Express standard.

But it appears now from Wikipedia and other sources on the Internet, that these trains will concentrate on the following services.

  • Reading To Gatwick Airport
  • Reading to Oxford

I can’t find any reference of them continuing to serve Paddington, so it looks like they should keep out of the way.

Serving The Henley And Marlow Branches

Henley-on-THames station on the Henley Branch Line and Bourne End station on the Marlow Branch Line are having their Peak services to London gradually withdrawn.

If Crossrail took over services between Reading and Paddington, the frequencies in the Peak at the interchange stations would be.

  • Maindenhead for the Marlow Branch Line – 6 tph,
  • Twyford for the Henley Branch Line – 4 tph

Two tph at each interchange station run limited stop to and from Paddington.

The trains will each hold 1,500 passengers.

Could it be that GWR feel that the increased frequencies and reduced journey times to and from Paddington mean that there is a lesser need to run a direct diesel service.

But I could see the following.

  • A four-car shuttle train, which could be a Class 769 bi-mode, at two tph on the Henley Branch Line.
  • Two tph on the Marlow Branch Line.

At least GWR have the trains to provide a service to match customer demand.

I also wouldn’t be surprised to see a radical plan for these branches.

No Diesel Running Into Paddington

Every train run by GWR and Crossrail, between Paddington and Reading, would use electric traction.

  • Now that large numbers of Class 800/802 trains have been delivered, it can’t be long before the last InterCity 125 runs into Paddington on a regular service.
  • Class 165 and Class 166 diesel trains will be refurbished and sent to the West Country.
  • Bedwyn and Oxford services will be run by Class 800/802 trains.

In addition all GWR trains running into Paddington will be 125 mph units running on electricity.

What is that worth as a marketing hook?

Conclusion

It looks to me, that running a full Western Branch service for Crossrail could be a good move.

So will it happen in 2019?

I think it all depends on solving the signalling issues on the Heathrow Branch!

But I feel, it should be possible, otherwise TfL wouldn’t have suggested it!

December 30, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pedestrian Tunnels In London’s Transport System

I take particular interest in pedestrian tunnels, as I believe properly designed tunnels can be a solution to improving access to stations.

This list will be extended as I photograph more.

Bank – Bank And Monument Escalator Connection

I still think of this tunnel, as an escalator connection, as that was how it was marked on the tube map in the 1950s.

It is two escalators down a walk between the Docklands Light Railway platforms and then two escalators up at the other end.

Verdict – The connection is being upgraded.

Bank- Central To Northern Interchange Tunnel

This is the shortest way from the Central Line to the Northern Line.

It does involve a descent of a circular staircase.

When the Bank station upgrade is complete this route will be replaced by an escalator connection between the two lines.

This visualisation shows the connecting escalators.

Note.

  1. The two wide highest level tunnels are the Central Line.
  2. The infamous curved Central Line platforms,create a large gap to mind.
  3. The two mid-level crossed tunnels are the existing Bank and Monument Escalator Connection and the Waterloo & City Tunnel.
  4. The four narrower lowest level tunnels are from bottom to top; the Southbound Northern Line, a new tunnel with a travelator; the old Southbound Northern Line tunnel and the Northbound Northern Line tunnel.
  5. The old Southbound Northern Line tunnel will become a passenger walkway.

Poking through all this spaghetti are the three escalators connecting the Central Line level with the Northern Line level.

Verdict – This connection will become much better.

Bank – Waterloo & City Inclined Travelator

The inclined travelators that link the Waterloo & City Line platforms and the main station entrances around Bank junction, are unique on the London Underground.

There are other travelators, but no others are inclined.

Verdict – I wonder why there are no others, as this pair seem to work very well.

Bank – Waterloo & City Tunnel

This tunnel connects the Waterloo & City Line platforms at Bank station to the central tunnel at Bank station.

Verdict – It is a linear oasis in an otherwise dingy and cramped station.

Bond Street – Northern Entrance Tunnel

This new tunnel connects the new Northern entrance at Bond Street station to the platforms.

Incidentally, I’d arrived at Bond Street station through the main entrance and it was an awfully overcrowded scrum. The Northern entrance was quiet, as the pictures show.

The entrance is steps or a lift between the street and its own gate line and then a well-lit wide passage to the escalators.

In future, it will link to a wide tunnel to the Western end of the Crossrail platforms at the station.

It is much better way to enter Bond Street station.

Verdict – London and other cities with underground railways, need more new station entrances like this.

Green Park – Interchange Tunnel

This tunnel connects the Jubilee, Piccadilly and Victoria Lines at Green Park station.

The opening dates of the three lines, through the station were.

  • Piccadilly Line – 1906 – Modernised in the 1930s with escalators.
  • Victoria Line – 1969
  • Jubilee Line – 1979

Since 1979 the station has been continually improved and is step-free.

This map from carto.metre.free.fr shows the lines at Green Park station.

Note that the Jubilee Line is below the other lines and when the extension was built, it was a radical change to what was originally planned. The lines to the right lead to Charing Cross station and those going South to Westminster station.

The interchange tunnel is long and usually very crowded. I had an incident recently, where I was walking slowly to the Victoria Line and a group of tourists all with four-wheeled cases, were nudging me to go faster. When we all got to the steps at the end, there was an enforced slow down.

Verdict – I avoid interchanging at Green Park like the plague.

Kings Cross – Eastern Tunnel

This tunnel runs which used to be part of the access to the old Kings Cross Thameslink station, runs from East of Kings Cross station and then has access to the main tunnel connecting the Northern, Piccadilly and Victoria Lines.

It has partial escalator access at the Eastern end, where the buses from Islington and the East stop outside the old station entrance. Although getting buses to the East mens crossing the busy Pentonville Road.

Verdict – Needs improvement

Kings Cross – Interchange Tunnel

This tunnel connects the Eastern Tunnel at Kings Cross to the escalators and lifts that lead to the Northern ticket hall Kings Cross St. Pancras tube station. On the way is connects to the Victoria, Piccadilly and Northern Lines.

It is a long walk, especially, if you have accessed it, as I often do, from the Eastern Tunnel which is convenient for buses from Islington and Dalston.

Verdict – Too long and boring

Kings Cross – St. Pancras Tunnel

This tunnel connects St. Pancras station to the Northern ticket hall at Kings Cross St. Pancras tube station.

It is a wide, comfortable tunnel with a double handrail down the middle.

Note that the middle picture shows the connection to the next tunnel.

Verdict – Useful and a better walk than the surface alternative in cold or wet weather.

Kings Cross – Pancras Square Tunnel

This tunnel connects St. Pancras Square to the underground tunnel, that links St. Pancras station to the Northern ticket hall of Kings Cross St. Pancras tube station.

It is a good example of how to create a tunnel.

It has up and down escalators at the St. Pancras Square entrance.

Verdict – Good design and a pleasant walk.

Knightsbridge – Northern Exit Tunnel

This tunnel at Knightsbridge station was built in 2010 to connect the new entrance on the North side of Knightsbridge.

It looks to me that Transport for London had to make do with less space than they needed.

Verdict – Rather narrow and utilitarian.

Paddington – Bakerloo Line Link

This project to create a pedestrian link between the Bakerloo Line and Crossrail at Paddington is currently being built.

  • It will be one hundred and thirty metres long.
  • It will be twenty-five metres below the Paddington station concourse.
  • The design uses a route to avoid existing station facilities.
  • The tunnel is being built without major disruption to Bakerloo Line passengers.
  • It will have lifts and escalators at both ends.
  • The tunnel will handle five thousand passengers per hour in the Peak.

In August 2016, I wrote Paddington Is Operational Again, which describes the tunnel in detail.

Verdict – I have a feeling that this could be one of the most impressive parts of Crossrail.

I can’t wait for this tunnel to open.

South Kensington – Exhibition Road Pedestrian Tunnel

The Exhibition Road Pedestrian Tunnel at South Kensington station is unique in London, as it was built in 1885 and it is Grade II Listed.

As the pictures show, it can get very busy.

Verdict – A Victorian idea, that hasn’t been copied much.

Tottenham Court Road – Interchange Tunnel

This tunnel connect the Central and Northern Lines at Tottenham Court Road station.

It is a bit lacking in colour to my liking. But at least there is some of Eduardo palotzi’s tiles at one end.

Verdict – Bland and too long.

Victoria – New Tunnels

Victoria station has had a new entrance at Cardinal Place and a lot of new tunnels to sort out the poor connectivity, added in the last couple of years.

As the pictures show, not all the tunnels are finished.

Verdict – Victoria is no longer a station yo avoid

Waterloo – Interchange Travelator

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the Underground lines at Waterloo station.

Note the large separation of the platforms of the Jubilee Line and those of the Bakerloo and Northern Lines.

The solution was to install a travelator, when the Jubilee Line Extension was built.

Although expense wasn’t spared on the project, I think we would give it a more decorative lining today.

Verdict – It works.

Whitechapel – Refurbished Overground Staircases

There are two staircases between the District/Hammersmith & City Lines and the East London Line, that are being refurbished for Crossrail.

It looks like the work is of a high quality and that the old rails have not been replaced.

Verdict – These were scruffy tunnels a couple of years ago.

Summing Up

Some tunnels are obviously better than others, but what surprised me, was how well the Exhibition Rpad Tunnel to the museums coped with large numbers of passengers.

Perhaps, the Victorians got it right, as some of the best tunnels in my examples are the wider ones.

Comparing the Northern Exit Tunnel at Knightsbridge with the Northern Entrance Tunnel at Bond Street, shows how a wide tunnel and entrance, built with a lift, is a much better solution, than a narrow tunnel and entrance, without a lift.

The only narrow tunnel, that seems to work well is the tunnel connecting the Waterloo & City Line to the main Bank station complex.

But this tunnel is well-lit and I suspect tends to have passengers going the same way most of the time.

It also appears that recent tunnels like those at Bond Street and Victoria, are much better than those built about ten years ago, like the tunnel at Knightsbridge.

The Future

After Crossrail, London has a number of large station projects in the pipeline, some of which will require new connecting tunnels for passengers.

  • The upgrading of Bank station is underway, where tunnels are being dug and escalators, travelators and lifts and being installed.
  • The upgrading of Knightsbridge station is underway, but this will be simpler and I don’t think the upgrade includes more tunnels.
  • The upgrading of Camden Town, Holborn and Walthamstow stations are in the planning stage. All will probably involve creating a new entrance connected to the existing platforms with lifts and escalators, but no long tunnels.
  • Oxford Circus station is likely to be the subject of a major upgrade.
  • Euston and Euston Square stations are being upgraded for the arrival of High Speed Two and there will be new tunnels to dig, between the two stations.

There are also possible new lines to consider, which may or may not be built.

  • Bakerloo Line Extension
  • Crossrail 2
  • Docklands Light Railway to Thamesmead
  • Docklands Light Railway to Euston, St. Pancras and Victoria.

All will be built with lots of entrances and exits, and interchanges with existing lines, so it is likely, there will be quite a few connecting tunnels.

Conclusion

I think that three tunnel projects will define a lot of the thinking about pedestrian access in the future.

  • The Northern Entrance Tunnel at Bond Street, which surfaces in a commercial development.
  • The Paddington Bakerloo Line Link, which appears to be setting new standards of design and construction.
  • The narrow well-lit tunnel at Bank.

Could we see lessons learned with these newly-built tunnels applied to projects like Oxford Circus and Euston stations?

 

 

November 23, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Paddington Fiasco

Everybody is looking for a scapegoat for the problems at Paddington station, that is reported in this article on the BBC, which is entitled Paddington Station: Passengers Face Major Disruption.

Tony Miles of Modern Railways was on BBC Breakfast this morning and he explained what happened.

The Class 802 train was accumulating the 2,000 miles it needs before it can be accepted by Great Western Railway.

The trains are designed to be able to change from diesel to electric power and vice-versa at line speed.

This train was raising the pantograph to access the pverhead wires on a section of British Rail-era overhead wires at Ealing.

The pantograph is thought to have bounced and the overhead wires have broken and become entangled in the pantograph.

Modern electrification with its heavyweight gantries has each line wired separately, but according to Tony Miles, the British Rail lightweight system, means if one comes down, they all fail.

I should add, that several times in the last ten years on the East Coast Main and Great Eastern Main Lines, I have been on trains that have been stranded by failed overhead wires.

In addition, over the last few years, it has been a nightmare travelling to Ipswich, as Network Rail have been renewing the overhead wires to a modern standard.

There are still many miles of this sub-standard British Rail-era overhead wiring all over the country.

It should all be replaced with new modern systems.

There is a problem though with the new modern electrification systems. They are ugly and many believe they are totally out-of-place in the countryside.

There is also the problem caused by the disruption, when the old systems are removed.

Conclusion

This sub-standard overhead electrification should have been removed years ago.

 

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

A New Country End Concourse At Paddington

Paddington is an annoying station. I’d come in to Paddington, on the Parliamentary service from South Ruislip station, that I wrote about in A Train Of My Own and I had to walk from platform 14 at the far end of the station to the front concourse and then go back again to get the Circle/Metropolitan Line trains to Moorgate for coming home.

There is a back stairs, but it is difficult to find and it would not be idea for passengers with heavy cases wanting the Circle/Metropolitan or a taxi.

When Crossrail opens, it will be easier, as I’ll just change at Reading and come straight through to Moorgate.

Or will it?

Reading will only have four trains per hour (tph) in the Peak and half that in the Off Peak.

It surely needs at least six tph all day and preferably all night as well!

This document on the Network Rail web site is entitled Open For Business and subtitled with this.

Opportunities for third parties to fund, finance or deliver improvements on Britain’s railways September 2018

One of the projects mentioned is entitled Paddington Station Country End Concourse. This is all that is said.

Provision of country-end concourse and platform extensions to reduce station congestion.

It should have these features.

  • Escalators and lifts to each pair of platforms at the station, including Crossrail and the Circle and Metropolitan Lines.
  • A short level walk to the taxis.
  • It should be wider than the bridge across all platforms at Reading station.
  • A massive Premier Inn or similar on top

And I want it now!

Not 2030, if I’m lucky.

The hotel will never happen, as high development will block the view of the Brunel’s station and the Nimbys will stop it.

But it should!

October 2, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

The Massive Taxi Queues At Paddington

I took this picture at Paddington in the late morning.

There were masses of passengers with heavy cases queuing for the taxis.

I suspect all had been conned into coming into London on the overpriced Heathrow Express.

Roll on, Crossrail!

October 2, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 6 Comments

A First Ride In A Nine-Car Class 345 Train

This morning, I had a first ride in a nine-car or full length Class 345 train.

I just took it between Paddington and Hayes & Harlington stations and back again.

The overall impression, is how much longer they seem, than the seven-car version currently working between Liverpool Street and Shenfield.

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

Transport for London’s New Rail Line

Today, Transport for London have taken over Heathrow Connect, in preparation for the full Crossrail.

The service is now run by TfL Rail, just like the Liverpool Street to Shenfield service in the East of London.

It’s even shown on some of the new Underground maps.

I photographed this map at Kings Cross St. Pancras.

Note the double blue line, which indicates the new route of the former Heathrow Connect, running from Paddington in the top-right corner of the map to Heathrow Terminal 4 towards the bottom-left.

The intermediate stations shown are.

Note that TfL use Heathrow Terminal 2 & 3 for the main railway station at Heathrow and Wikipedia uses Heathrow Central.

A Trip To Heathrow From Paddington

This morning, I checked into the new TfL Rail service at Paddington, using my Freedom Pass and took the 09:11 service to Heathrow Airport.

I got out at Heathrow Terminal 2 & 3 station before returning later on another TfL Rail service to Paddington.

I took these pictures on the route.

Note that the Class 360 trains are still running on the route, as there are operational issues with Crossrail’s new Class 345 trains in the tunnel to Heathrow.

Contactless Card/Oyster To Heathrow

TfL Rail also accepts contactless card or Oyster on this route.

According to TfL’s Single Fare Finder, the single fare is £10.20 in the Peak and £10.10 in the Off-Peak.

But,I’m not sure about railcards, the affect of capping or the price if you buy the ticket on line.

Freedom Passes To Heathrow

As I’d used my Freedom Pass, the two journeys cost me a big fat nothing!

It won’t be long before the many Freedom Pass holders, will realise, that Heathrow will be in their free travel area by a comfortable train and they will possibly use it more often, than the Piccadilly Line.

TfL Rail Service Frequency

Currently, the frequency between Paddington and Heathrow is two trains per hour (tph).

Provisional service details are shown under Services in the Wikipedia entry for Crossrail, when the line opens fully in December 2019.

  • Four tph between Abbey Wood and Heathrow Terminal 4 stations
  • Two tph between Abbey Wood and Heathrow Terminal 5 stations

All services will call at the following stations.

  • All stations between Abbey Wood and Paddington stations.
  • Ealing Broadway station
  • Heathrow Terminal 2 & 3 station.

Plans for stopping at Acton Main Line, West Ealing, Hanwell, Southall and Hayes & Harlington stations are yet to be decided.

I suspect that TfL would like all Heathrow trains to stop at all intermediate stations, just as services do between Liverpool Street and Shenfield, in the East of London.

But Great Western Railway may have other ideas!

Speaking for myself, I’d like to see four tph on the TfL Rail route between Paddington and Heathrow, as soon as possible.

The Future Of The Class 360 Trains

When Crossrail sort out the Class 345 trains, the five sets of five-car Class 360 trains will be surplus to requirements.

They will also be joined in the sidings in a couple of years, by twenty-one similar four car trains, that are being replaced with new Class 720 trains, by Greater Anglia.

As they are modern 100 mph trains, they should find a home somewhere!

They could even be exported to Thailand, where a similar fleet operates.

 

 

 

May 20, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hitachi Battery Trains On The Great Western Railway

The slow pace of the electrification on the Great Western Main Line has become a big stick with which to beat Network Rail.

But are rolling stock engineers going to pull Network Rail out of their hole?

On page 79 of the January 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, Nick Hughes, who is the Sales Director of Hitachi Rail Europe outlines how the manufacturer is embracing the development of battery technology.

He is remarkably open.

I discuss what he says in detail in Hitachi’s Thoughts On Battery Trains.

But here’s an extract.

Nick Hughes follows his description of the DENCHA; a Japanese battery train, with this prediction.

I can picture a future when these sorts of trains are carrying out similar types of journeys in the UK, perhaps by installing battery technology in our Class 395s to connect to Hastings via the non-electrified Marshlink Line from Ashford for example.

This would massively slice the journey time and heklp overcome the issue of electrification and infrastructure cases not stacking up. There are a large number of similar routes like this all across the country.

It is a prediction, with which I could agree.

I conclude the post with this conclusion.

It is the most positive article about battery trains, that I have read so far!

As it comes direct from one of the train manufacturers in a respected journal, I would rate it high on quality reporting.

Hitachi Battery Train Technology And Their UK-Built Trains

The section without electrification on the Marshlink Line between Ashford International and Ore stations has the following characteristics.

  • It is under twenty-five miles long.
  • It is a mixture of double and single-track railway.
  • It has nine stations.
  • It has a sixty mph operating speed.

As the line is across the flat terrain of Romney Marsh, I don’t think that the power requirements would be excessive.

In the Modern Railway article, Nick Hughes suggests that battery technology could be installed in Class 395 trains.

The Class 395 train is part of a family of trains, Hitachi calls A-trains. The family includes.

In Japan, another member of the family is the BEC819, which is the DENCHA, that is mentioned in the Modern Railways article.

As a time-expired electrical engineer, I would think, that if Hitachi’s engineers have done their jobs to a reasonable standard, that it would not be impossible to fit batteries to all of the A-train family of trains, which would include all train types, built at Newton Aycliffe for the UK.

In Japan the DENCHAs run on the Chikuhō Main Line, which has three sections.

  • Wakamatsu Line – Wakamatsu–Orio, 10.8 km
  • Fukuhoku Yutaka Line – Orio–Keisen, 34.5 km
  • Haruda Line – Keisen–Haruda, 20.8 km

Only the middle section is electrified.

It looks to me, that the Japanese have chosen a very simple route, where they can run on electrification for a lot of the way and just use batteries at each end.

Bombardier used a similar low-risk test in their BEMU Trial with a Class 379 train in 2015.

So How Will Battery Trains Be used On the Great Western?

On the Great Western Main Line, all long distance trains and some shorter-distance ones will be Class 80x trains.

The size of battery in the DENCHA can be estimated using a rule, given by Ian Walmsley.

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.

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

So the energy needed to power the DENCHA, which is a two-car battery train on the just under twenty miles without electrification of  the Chikuhō Main Line in a one way trip would be between 112 and 187 kWh.

A Battery-Powered Class 801 Train

The Class 801 train is Hitachi’s all-electric train, of which Great Western Railway have ordered thirty-six of the closely-related five-car Class 800 train and twenty-one of the nine-car units.

The difference between the two classes of train, is only the number of generator units fitted.

  • Trains can be converted from Class 800 to Class 801 by removing generator units.
  • Bi-mode Class 800 trains have a generator unit for each powered car.
  • The all-electric Class 801 train has a single generator unit, in case of electrical power failure.
  • When trains couple and uncouple, the train’s computer system determines the formation of the new train and drives and manages the train accordingly.

If I was designing the train, I would design a battery module, that replaced a generator unit

This leads me to think, that a five-car Class 801 train, could have one generator unit and up to four battery modules.

  • The computer would decide what it’s got and control the train accordingly.
  • The generator unit and battery power could be used together to accelerate the train or at other times where high power is needed.
  • If the batteries failed, the generator unit would limp the train to a safe place.
  • The number of battery units would depend on the needs of the route.

It would be a true tri-mode train; electric, diesel and battery.

I will now look at some routes, that could see possible applications of a battery version of Class 80x trains.

Cardiff To Swansea

I’ll start with the most controversial and political of the cutbacks in electrification.

At present plans exist to take the electrification on the Great Western as far as Cardiff Central station, by the end of 2018.

The distance between Cardiff Central and Swansea stations is forty-six miles, so applying the Ian Walmsley formula and assuming the train is five-cars, we have an energy usage for a one-way trip between the two cities of between 690 and 1150 kWh.

As the Class 80x trains are a modern efficient design, I suspect that a figure towards the lower end of the range will apply.

But various techniques can be used to stretch the range of the train on battery power.

  • From London to Cardiff, the line will be fully-electrified, so on arrival in the Welsh capital, the batteries could be fully charged.
  • The electrification can be continued for a few miles past Cardiff Central station, so that acceleration to line speed can be achieved using overhead wires.
  • Electrification could also be installed on the short stretch of track between Swansea station and the South Wales Main Line.
  • There are three stops between Cardiff and Swansea and regenerative braking can be used to charge the batteries.
  • The single generator unit could be used to help accelerate the train if necessary.
  • There are only two tph on the route, so efficient driving and signalling could probably smooth the path and save energy.
  • Less necessary equipment can be switched off, when running on batteries.

Note. that the power/weight and power/size ratios of batteries will also increase, as engineers find better ways to build batteries.

The trains would need to be charged at Swansea, but Hitachi are building a depot in the city, which is shown in these pictures.

It looks like they are electrifying the depot.

Surely, enough electrification can be put up at Swansea to charge the trains and help them back to the South Wales Main Line..

The mathematics show what is possible.

Suppose the following.

  • Hitachi can reduce the train’s average energy consumption to 2 kWh per carriage-mile, when running on battery power.
  • Electrification at Cardiff and Swansea reduces the length of battery use to forty miles.

This would reduce the battery size needed to 400 kWh, which could mean that on a five-car train with four battery modules, each battery module would be just 100 kWh. This compares well with the 75 kWh battery in a New Routemaster bus.

Will it happen?

We are probably not talking about any serious risk to passengers, as the worst that can happen to any train, is that it breaks down or runs out of power in the middle of nowhere. But then using the single generator unit, the train will limp to the nearest station.

But think of all the wonderful publicity for Hitachi and everybody involved, if the world’s first battery high speed train, runs twice an hour between Paddington and Swansea.

Surely, that is an example of the Can-Do attitude of Isambard Kingdom Brunel?

Paddington To Oxford

The route between Paddington and Oxford stations is electrified as far as Didcot Parkway station.

The distance between Didcot Parkway and Oxford stations is about ten miles, so applying the Ian Walmsley formula and assuming the train is five-cars, we have an energy usage for the return trip to Oxford from Didcot of between 300 and 500 kWh.

If the five-car train has one generator unit,four battery modules and has an energy usage to the low end, then each battery module would need to handle under 100 kWh.

There are plans to develop a  South-facing bay platform at Oxford station and to save wasting energy reversing the train by running up and down to sidings North of the station, I suspect that this platform must be built before battery trains can be introduced to Oxford.

If it’s not, the train could use the diesel generator to change platforms.

The platform could also be fitted with a system to charge the battery during turnround.

Paddington To Bedwyn

The route between Paddington and Bedwyn is electrified as far as Reading station, but there are plans to electrify as far as Newbury station.

The distance between Newbury and Bedwyn stations is about thirteen miles, so applying the Ian Walmsley formula and assuming the train is five-cars, we have an energy usage for the return trip to Bedwyn from Newbury of between 390 and 520 kWh.

As with Paddington to Oxford, the required battery size wouldn’t be excessive.

Paddington To Henley-on-Thames

The route between Paddington and Henley-on-Thames station is probably one of those routes, where electric trains must be run for political reasons.

The Henley Branch Line is only four miles long.

It would probably only require one battery module and would be a superb test route for the new train.

Paddington To Weston-super-Mare

Some Paddington to Bristol trains extend to Weston-super-Mare station.

Weston-super-Mare to the soon-to-be-electrified Bristol Temple Meads station is less than twenty miles, so if  Swansea can be reached on battery power, then I’m certain that Weston can be reached in a similar way.

Other Routes

Most of the other routes don’t have enough electrification to benefit from trains with a battery capability.

One possibility though is Paddington to Cheltenham and Gloucester along the Golden Valley Line. The length of the section without electrification is forty-two  miles, but unless a means to charge the train quickly at Cheltenham station is found, it is probably not feasible.

It could be possible though to create a real tri-mode train with a mix of diesel generator units and battery modules.

This train might have the following characteristics.

  • Five cars.
  • A mix of  generator units and battery modules.
  • Enough generator units to power the train on the stiffest lines without electrification.
  • Ability to collect power from 25 KVAC overhead electrification
  • Ability to collect power from 750 VDC third-rail electrification.

Note.

  1. The battery modules would be used for regenerative braking in all power modes.
  2. The ability to use third rail electrification would be useful when running to Brighton, Exeter, Portsmouth and Weymouth.

The train could also have a sophisticated computer system, that would choose power source according to route,timetable,  train loading, traffic conditions and battery energy level.

The objective would be to run routes like Paddington to Cheltenham, Gloucester to Weymouth and Cardiff to Portsmouth Harbour, as efficiently as possible.

Collateral Advantages

Several of the routes out of Paddington could easily be worked using bi-mode Class 800 trains.

  1. But using battery trains to places like Bedwyn, Henley, Oxford and Weston-super-Mare is obviously better for the environment and probably for ticket sales too!
  2. If places like Bedwyn, Henley and Oxford are served by Class 801 trains with a battery option, it could mean that they could just join the throng of 125 mph trains going in and out of London.
  3. Battery trains would save money on electrification.

I also suspect, that the running costs of a battery train are less than those of using a bi-mode or diesel trains.

Conclusion

Hitachi seem to have the technology, whereby their A-train family can be fitted with batteries, as they have done it in Japan and their Sales Director  in the UK, has said it can be done on a Class 395 train to use the Marshlink Line.

We may not see Hitachi trains using batteries for a couple of years, but it certainly isn’t fantasy.

Great Western Railway certainly need them!

 

 

 

December 25, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Crossrail Gets A Convenient Hotel

This article on The Urban Developer is entitled London’s Newest Skyscraper Gets Green Light.

This is the first two paragraphs.

London’s Paddington will soon be home to a new 20-storey hotel tower, dubbed The Gateway Building, after planning permission was granted by Westminster council planners.

The Sheldon Square site will house the 113-metre-high hotel designed by architects Carmody Groarke for developer British Land. The hotel will provide access to the area’s new Crossrail station, with the third basement level expected to provide access to the Elizabeth Line — connecting Reading with London and Heathrow.

As they say, location is everything!

  • Crossrail will whisk you to and from Heathrow.
  • There’s not many hotels with direct access to the station underneath.
  • For the businessman who has everything, Bond Street is only one stop away for the trophy wife to spend your hard-earned money.
  • The City and Canary Wharf are just a few stops further.

I doubt the hotel will be a Premier Inn.

How many other skyscraper hotels will sprout up along Crossrail?

Each one will be another nail in the coffin of Heathrow Express.

November 6, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Paddington Is Operational Again

Paddington Underground station on the Bakerloo Line has now got its escalators back and getting to the station for me, is now so much easier.

As the pictures show there seem to be quite a few new blue hoardings at platform level.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the layout of the Bakerloo Line and Crossrail at Paddington.

Bakerloo Line And Crossrail At Paddington Station

Bakerloo Line And Crossrail At Paddington Station

Note.

  • The Bakerloo Line runs roughly South-East to North-West through Paddington.
  • The platform labelled 4 is the Southbound Bakerloo Line platform.
  • The platform labelled 3 is the Nouthbound Bakerloo Line platform.
  • The escalators run down to the platforms from the South-East
  • Crossrail would appear to have an island platform between the two tracks.

There would appear to be two places on the platforms where blue hoarding have been put up to protect the works behind.

  • The most obvious is the big blue wall that greets you as you come down the escalator, where some artistic tiling used to be.
  • There are also blue hoardings at the London (South East) end of the platforms.

There is a pedestrian tunnel to Crossrail called the Bakerloo Line Link (BLL). A memeber of staff also told me that lifts will be installed to the Bakerloo Line.

This document on the TFL web site gives a bit more information.

Engineers will also carefully dig a new 165m tunnel underneath the station to enable passengers to interchange between the Bakerloo line and new Crossrail platforms, which will become operational from 2018. The new pedestrian link will incorporate escalators, lifts, stairs and new passageways in order to make interchanging between the Tube and Crossrail as easy as possible for passengers.

So it looks like the tunnel will go under the lines and come up between the two Bakerloo tracks. The length of one hundred and sixty-five metres would easily reach the Crossrail platforms.

I found this image on the web.

The Bakerloo Line Link At Paddington

The Bakerloo Line Link At Paddington

It looks to be a very well thought out link.

 

  • It is connected to the Crossrail station by escalators and lifts in the middle of the island platform at that station.
  • The connection at the Bakerloo Line end, would appear to have lifts, stairs and escalators.
  • Wll the lifts go direct to the surface as well?
  • All routes seem to be direct to the central landing in the Bakerloo Line platforms.
  • It may be a hundred and sixty five metres, but the design probably means most passengers will do it fairly fast.But I’m only speculating.

It will certainly be a very powerful interchange, as it will give a much needed connection to London’s least-developed Underground Line.

One good thing from the TFL document, is that it says this.

TfL will re-open the platforms in time for the Notting Hill Carnival on Sunday 28 and Monday 29 August.

So they beat their deadline by four weeks.

It certainly looks like a job well done!

Certainly, it makes my journey to the station easier.

The next thing needed is to get the Marks and Spencer reopened at the station.

 

 

August 2, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 4 Comments