The Anonymous Widower

Freight Diesel Traction Realities

The title of this post is the same as that of a comprehensive article by Roger Ford in an article in the April 2019 Edition of Modern Railways.

In the article Roger talks about the problems of decarbonising the freight sector on the UK’s railways.

Future Traction

This section in the article begins with this paragraph

Since the laws of physics and chemistry rule out pure battery or hydrogen fuel cell 3 MegaWatt (4,000 hp) freight locomotives from around 2035 we are going to need to start replacing the diesel locomotives for routes yet to be electrified.

The following actions are suggested.

  • More electrification, through a rolling program.
  • Research into and production of low-CO2 locomotives.
  • 4000 hp locomotives to run faster, longer and heavier freight trains.

These actions will apply to many countries in Europe and the wider world.

Hybrid

This section in the article begins with these two paragraphs.

Extension of electrification will reduce the length of the last miles beyond the end of the wires, making increased use of electric traction viable. Here the challenge will be to provide sufficient diesel traction power and range.  Stadler’s Class 93 ‘tri-mode’ locotive provides an interesting preview.

It builds on the Class 88, which adds a 700kW diesel engine to a 4MW Bo-Bo electric locomotive.

The Class 93 locomotive has a larger 900 kW diesel engine and a lithium titanate oxide battery.

I estimated the battery size at 126 kWH in Stadler’s New Tri-Mode Class 93 Locomotive.

Roger reckons that the battery gives 6-7 ,minutes of power to boost output to 1,740 hp or 1300 kW.

  • The boost from the battery would appear to be 400 kW
  • For 6.5 minutes this would need 43.3 kWH

Either Roger’s 6-7 minutes or my deduced battery size of 126 kWH is wrong. So I will assume both figures are wrong.

Suppose though, you wanted to boost the power of a Class 93 locomotive to the 2,500 kW of a Class 66 locomotive for an hour, which would get a freight train into or out of the Port of Felixstowe.

  • 1600 kW will be needed to boost the diesel engine.
  • 1600 kWH will need to be stored in the battery.
  • I will assume 75 Wh/Kg for the LTO batteries.
  • I have made no allowance for the use of regenerative braking.

This gives a weight of 21.3 tonnes for the batteries.

Roger says this in the article.

If you need to fit diesel engines and batteries into an electric locomotive for freight the a Co-Co configuration gives you another 20 tonnes on a 17.5 tonne axle load.

This leads me to believe that a hybrid locomotive with the power of a Class 66 locomotive and a range of one hour is possible.

 

 

 

March 21, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Could There Be A Tram-Train Between Ipswich And Felixstowe?

I should declare an interest here of my teenage self, who spent some very boring summers in, what was then, the small coastal resort and dormitory town of Felixstowe.

There was only so many places you could cycle and as my school friends were all in London, I used to avoid going to Felixstowe if possible.

I can remember going from London to Felixstowe several times on the train.

I would cycle from our London house in Cockfosters to Liverpool Street station and put my bike in the guard’s van for the trip to Ipswich.

From Ipswich, I would ride the dozen or so miles along the A45 (now the A14) to Felixstowe.

I suspect, that I could have used, the two-car diesel shuttle from Ipswich to Felixstowe, but I never did.

Perhaps, it was because it was not the most frequent of services.

The frequency was certainly a lot less than the current hourly service.

A Tram-Train To Felixstowe

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

This is said in the report.

Introduction of a tram-train service on the Felixstowe branch, with doubling between Derby Road and Felixstowe and street running through
Ipswich.

It is also said, that there will be a frequency of four trains per hour (tph)  between Ipswich and Felixstowe.

So how feasible is this proposal?

The Proposed Frequency

People travel between Ipswich and Felixstowe for several reasons.

  • It is an important dormitory town for Ipswich and increasingly for London,
  • The Port of Felixstowe is an important employer.
  • There is a large amount of leisure traffic between the two towns.

Currently, much of the travelling between Ipswich and Felixstowe is by car on an increasingly crowded A14.

Four tph seems an eminently sensible frequency.

Why Propose A Tram-Train?

If a train, like a Class 170 train or one of the new Class 755 trains were used for the route,  it would mean the following.

  • Four tph in the single platform at Felixstowe.
  • Four tph in a dedicated platform at Ipwich.
  • Four trains would be needed for the service.
  • An extra six tph using the route between Westerfield and Ipswich stations.

The stations should be able to cope, but I doubt that the extra trains could be fitted into a busy route with the following services.

  • Ipswich and Norwich
  • Ipswich and Bury St. Edmunds, Cambridge and Peterborough
  • Ipswich and Lowestoft

If you add in the up to forty freight trains per day, that will use the route, something will have to give.

The Route Od The Tram-Train

It would appear that the plan is to replace the train, with a tram-train running on the streets of Ipswich.

This could be a possible route for street running.

  • Ipswich Station
  • Portman Road
  • Ipswich Town Centre
  • Ipswich Hospital

It would then join the Ipswich-Felixstowe rail line in the area of Derby Road station or the retail parks on the East of Ipswich.

This Google Map shows Derby Road station and Ipswich Hospital.

Note.

  1. Ipswich Hospital is in the top-right of the map.
  2. Derby Road station is at the left side of the map in the middle.
  3. The Ipswich-Felkixstowe Line can be seen going South-Easterly across the map to the well-known St. Augustine’s roundabout.

A tram-train would have the following benefits.

  • It would link the town centres of Ipswich and Felixstowe.
  • It would create a step-free link across Ipswich Town Centre to the all-important hospital.
  • Extra stations can be added where they are needed in Ipswich without decreasing capacity on the rail line.
  • It would surely encourage more people to use the trains from Ipswich station.

I suspect too, that Class 399 tram-trains could be used as they are in Sheffield and will be on the South Wales Metro.

Between Ipswich And Derby Road Stations

This extract is from the Wikipedia entry for the Felixstowe Branch Line.

The train now enters a section of double track through Derby Road station (6.10 miles (9.82 km) from Ipswich station by train, but only 1.5 miles on the map) where trains can pass.

It is very significant, that going through the houses between the two stations is a route that is shorter by eight-and-a-half miles.

Could it be that the time that would be saved by the shorter route is balanced by the slower progress of on-street running, which means that the current twenty-six minute journey time can be maintained?

Doubling Between Derby Road And Felixstowe

I’ll repeat what is said in the report.

Introduction of a tram-train service on the Felixstowe branch, with doubling between Derby Road and Felixstowe.

Doubling of about a mile of the Felixstowe Branch to the West of Trimley is ongoing and doubling further to the West looks to be fairly easy from my helicopter.

But there is one major problem.

This Google Map shows, where the rail line goes over the Ipswich by-pass.

Note that provision has been made for a second track.

So hopefully, it won’t be much more expensive to add a second bridge and track, than to add points either side of the existing bridge.

There would be some extra bridge works between the A14 and Derby Road station, but doubling all the way from Derby Road station to Felixstowe doesn’t look to be the world’s most difficult railway engineering.

Extra Tram-Train Stops Between Ipswich And Felixstowe

There used to be an extra stop at Orwell station. It was little-used and closed in 1959.

Looking at the station, it is now a large private residence and I suspect there is no point in reopening, as there isn’t much housing in the area.

But there could be a case for a station at Futura Park, which is shown in this Google Map.

Lots of the usual out-of-town stops are there including a Waitrose and a John Lewis.

The railway runs to the South of the A1156 Felixstowe Road and there is surely the possibility of a station in this area.

There is also the possibility, that the tram-train could join and leave the Felixstowe Branch Line at this point, after and before street running to Ipswich station.

Would The Tram-Trains Go Walkabout In Felixstowe?

Felixstowe used to have two other stations; Felixstowe Pier and Felixstowe Beach. Both are now closed.

  • I can remember Felxstowe Beach station, as occasionally in the 1950s, we stayed nearby at the Cavendish Hotel.
  • Felixstowe Pier station was towards Landguard Fort and even served steam vessels going to Germany.

Both stations were served by trains reversing at the main station, which is impossible now as the chord has been removed.

This Google Map shows the current rail lines in Felixstowe.

The line to/from Ipswich splits into two in the top-left corner of the map.

  • The branch going East goes to Felixstowe station.
  • The branch going South used to serve the two other Felixstowe stations and now serves the Port of Felixstowe.

The missing chord is visible to the West of the playing fields of Felixstowe International College.

I would rate reinstatement of the chord as highly unlikely.

  • The only reason, the chord would be reinstated, would be if the Port of Felixstowe wanted to have a four tph passenger service.
  • The Port wouldn’t want to have all those extra movements on what is a busy and exclusive freight line.

On the other hand, I wouldn’t rule out extension into Felixstowe Town Centre.

This Google Map shows the Town Centre.

Note.

  1. The one-platform station is at the top of the map, behind a small Co-op supermarket and the Listed station buildings, which are now a small shopping centre.
  2. The High Street, which is part -pedestrianised leads down from the station to the top of the cliffs, where Bent Hill leads down to the sea-front.
  3. Halfway along is a triangular garden, where a local road splits off toward the Southern part of the sea-front and the Port.
  4. The pattern of retail shopping is changing and Marks and Spencer in the town will be closing soon.

My plan would be as follows.

  • Rebuild the Co-op supermarket to allow a single-track tram line to squeeze through to the High Street.
  • Trams would then continue down the High Street to the triangular garden.
  • A second platform face could be added at Felixstowe station to allow trams to pass and give flexibility.

Done properly, it could improve Felixstowe’s appeal as a leisure destination.

I also think, that as the extension is only short, the current Ipswich to Felixstowe timing could be maintained.

Future Services At Ipswich Station

Listing all the services proposed at Ipswich station gives the following.

  • 3 tph – London Liverpool Street and Norwich – Greater Anglia
  • 1 tph – Colchester and Peterborough – Greater Anglia – Replaces current Ipswich and Peterborough service.
  • 1 tph – Manningtree and Oxford via Cambridge – East West Rail – Replaces current Ipswich and Cambridge service
  • 1 tph – Ipswich and Lowestoft – Greater Anglia – Some services extend to London
  • 4 tph – ipswich and Felixstowe – Greater Anglia – Proposed tram-train service.

If the Felixstowe tram-train service were to terminate outside the station, as trams tend to do, there would only be a need for one bay platform at Ipswich, that would handle hourly Lowestoft services, that didn’t go to/from London.

Ipswich station would become more of a through station with the following through trains.

  • Five tph going between Manningtree and Stowmarket
  • Two tph between Manningtree and the proposed A14 Parkway station via Bury St. Edmunds.

This would all save the expense of rebuilding large parts of Ipswich station.

Although, there would be a certain amount of remodelling of the station forecourt to accommodate the tram-trains.

Conclusion

It is a classic application of tram-train technology and I’m sure that a good route can be devised between the two towns.

 

 

February 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Rail Operations Group Gets Serious About Thunderbirds Etc.

The February 2019 Edition of Modern Railways has an article entitled Class 93 Tri-Oomph!, which has been written by Ian Walmsley.
This is the first paragraph.

Rail Operations Group has become known for the efficient haulage of EMUs around the country using very clever tranlation devices built into Europhenix converted Class 37 kicos. As I described in the March 2016 issue (“Lost in translation”) it looked at tens of millions of pounds worth of EMUs being dragged around unbraked, thought ‘this can’t be right’, and proceeded to make 50-year-old locomotives operate with state-of-the-art computer kit.

Rail Operations Group (ROG) had employed classicdisruptive innovation to create a new market, that was to everybody’s benefit.

As Ian reports, the company has grown a lot in the last few years and now does a lot more than just move new trains around.

  • Old trains are also moved.
  • Old trains are also stored safely.
  • Operations are all planned as a consultancy.

The company is already planning their next operational niche.

A Move Into Logistics

ROG is moving into logistics.

Ian talks about the inefficiency and polluting distribution system using trucks, that add to traffic congestion.
He talks about rail being a better way and then says this.

The difference with ROG is that the company is going to invest in two Class 769 (bi-mode 319s’) converted for parcel use, and while these are not my favourite trains, parcels are a lot less fussy than me about how long they take to get to top speed.
Using 769s’ means that your hubs can be almost anywhere; not necessarily on a 25 KVAC electrified siding, just close to a road system interchange area.

So what happens, if they don’t get a customer? The Class 769 trains will be delivered with seats, so they could be sub-leased for passenger use.

I wrote The Go-Anywhere Express Parcel And Pallet Carrier (HSPT) in May 2017, where I discussed the uses for this type of parcel carrier. This was my conclusion.

There is definitely a market for a HSPT.
If it does come about, it will be yet another tribute to the magnificent Mark 3 design!

As to the secondary use of these trains as passenger trains, there is nothing wrong with that. After all, we’ve all had our fill of the dreaded Rail Replacement Buses.

In Gospel Oak-Barking Fleet Plan Remains Unclear, I talked about the problems caused by late delivery of the new Class 710 trains.

The problem would have been eased, if two Class 769 trains in good condition could have been called up at a couple of days notice.

Surely, there are other applications.

  • I suspect that given the number of level-crossing accidents in the UK, they will find a lot of use.
  • I don’t think Porterbrook will mind, if ROG effectively offered a try-before-buy service to train operators.
  • There must also be a market for pop-up rail services to large sporting and cultural events.

Again, it appears ROG have found a niche and have invested in it.

Before leaving the subject of Class 769 trains, I must mention Brexit.

Could the trains find a use in a no-deal Brexit-world moving high-value freight from ports and airports to inland distribution centres?

Thoughts On The Class 93 Locomotive

These are some thoughts from the article.

Available Power

Ian starts by saying this about the operation of the Class 93 locomotive.

Apart from the obvious electric (4,000kW) and diesel (900kW), the third mode is a Lithium Titanate Oxide (LTO) battery (400kW), which can be used in conjunction with the diesel to give a power boost up to 1,300kW or 1,743hp in old money.
The extra oomph from the battery takes you from a Class 33 to a Class 37 in old locos but with minimal losses, and you don’t need full power for very long on most non-electrified routes.

I suspect there’s a clever control system, that optimises the use of the battery.

The Ultimate Thunderbird

The locomotive appears to have a unique feature of a variable height coupler, which enables it to haul rolling stock with all the five standard heights of coupler, that exist on UK railways.

How did this madness occur?

But as the locomotive can deal with them all, Ian argues that the Class 93 locomotive could be the ultimate Thunderbird or rescue locomotive.

Moving Trains In The Future

Ian argues that ROC’s collection of locomotives used for moving new and replaced trains is getting older and will soon be difficult to service.

The Class 93 locomotives would be ideal for this role.

But Ian sees this very much as a fallback position, if the locomotives do not find innovative new uses.

Ian finishes with this paragraph.

When we first saw Dr. Beeching’s new Freightliners(now ‘intermodal’) in the 1960s, they did 75 mph. They still do, but there are some really smart looking 100 mph flats available. Remember the path-ology. There are plenty of cross-country runs where a Class 37 equivalent is fine for the diesel bits, then pan up and 4,000kW is yours. Come on. Not excited by this? You must be in the wrong job.

As an example some freight trains go between Felixstowe and Birmingham, Liverpool or Manchester using the North London Line.

They are hauled all the way by a Class 66 diesel.

Put the containers on the smart looking 100 mph flats with a Class 93 locomotive on the front and the following happens.

  • The locomotive uses diesel between Felixstowe and Ipswich, with possibly some battery boost.
  • The locomotive uses electric power for most of the journey.
  • The locomotive might use diesel power at the destination for a short distance.
  • On the double-track 100 mph Great Eastern Main Line, the operating speed will not be far off the new Class 745 and Class 720 trains.
  • On the North London Line, the train will pass through some of the smartest parts of North London with lower levels of noise, vibration and pollution.
  • On the West Coast Main Line, the train will be able to mix it with the new Class 730 trains on the slow lines.

Greater Anglia have the trains to run more services between London and Ipswich.

How many more could they squeeze in, if all freight trains had a similar performance to their express services?

Consider now, freight trains taking the cross-country route from Felixstowe to the North and Midlands via Peterborough.

  • With track improvements at Haughley and doubling of the line between Kennett and Ely, I suspect that timings on the flat lands of East Anglia using hybrid power would be approaching those of Class 66 locomotive-hauled stock.
  • With a faster cruise on the East Coast Main Line, would the trains take the direct route on the slow lines, rather than the diversion through Lincoln?

The Class 93 locomotive could be the ultimate Felixstowe Flyer.

Could it also be the freight locomotive that passenger train operators want reight operators to use, as it keeps freight trains out of the way of passenger ones?

January 27, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Future Class 93 Locomotive And The Port Of Felixstowe

This is the first paragraph of the Wikipedia entry for the Port of Felixstowe.

The Port of Felixstowe, in Felixstowe, Suffolk is the United Kingdom’s busiest container port, dealing with 42% of Britain’s containerised trade. In 2011, it was ranked as the 35th busiest container port in the world and Europe’s sixth busiest. The port handled 3.74 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) of traffic in 2011.

The sleepy dock of my childhood has become a giant.

Many of the containers going through the port, travel by rail, with upwards of forty trains per day, travelling along the Felixstowe Branch Line, which is mainly single-track and not electrified.

Freight Routes From Felixstowe

There are three main routes for freight trains from Felixstowe to the rest of the country.

Trains from Felixstowe to London take the following route.

  • Felixstowe to Ipswich – No electrification – Around an hour.
  • Ipswich to London – Electrified and 100 mph line.

Freight trains from Felixstowe to Liverpool, Manchester or Glasgow usually take the following route.

  • Felixstowe to Ipswich – No electrification – Around an hour.
  • Ipswich to Haughley Junction – Electrified and 100 mph line.
  • Haughley Junction to Peterborough – No electrification – Around two hours.
  • Peterborough to Werrington Junction – Electrified and 125 mph line.
  • Werrington Junction to Nuneaton – No electrification – Just under two hours.
  • Nuneaton to Liverpool, Manchester or Glasgow – Electrified and 125 mph line.

Freight trains from Felixstowe to Doncaster, Leeds, Newcastle or Edinburgh usually take the following route.

  • Felixstowe to Ipswich – No electrification – Around an hour.
  • Ipswich to Haughley Junction – Electrified and 100 mph line.
  • Haughley Junction to Peterborough – No electrification – Around two hours.
  • Peterborough to Werrington Junction – Electrified and 125 mph line.
  • Werrington Junction to Doncaster via Lincoln – No electrification – Around two hours.
  • Doncaster to Leeds, Newcastle or Edinburgh – Electrified and 125 mph line.

In most cases they are hauled by a diesel locomotive all the way.

Although in some cases, London trains may change to electric haulage at Ipswich.

An Ideal Freight Locomotive

If you look at these routes, the following should be noted.

  • All the electrified sections have an operating speed of 100 mph or more.
  • No section without electrification is longer than two hours.
  • None of the routes from Felixstowe have any serious gradients.

An ideal locomotive should be able to pull the heaviest freight train in both the following ways.

  • Using electric power – At 100 mph on an electrified line, if the operating speed allows.
  • Using diesel or hybrid power – For two hours on a line without electrification.

It looks to me that the specification of the Class 93 locomotive fits this specification.

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

The New Trimley Freight Loop And Trimley Station

Felixstowe Port is the UK’s largest container port and it generates a lot of freight traffic on the Felixstowe Branch Line.

So a 1.4 km. loop is being added to the line at Trimley to enable more freight trains to enter and leave the port.

I took these pictures as I went to and from Trimley station.

This Google Map shows the section of line, that will effectively be doubled.

I do have a few thoughts on various issues.

How Many Extra Freight Trains Will Be Possible?

This page on the Network Rail web site, is entitled Felixstowe Branch Line Works To Unlock More Freight And More Reliable Passenger Services.

This is said.

The work on the branch line in this area will support up to 10 additional trains in each direction to move goods to and from the Port of Felixstowe.

I assume the frequency is in trains per day.

I would assume that with careful scheduling of the freight trains, one train per hour (tph) will be able to move reliably to and from each of the two rail freight terminals at the Port.

There are certainly upwards of thirty scheduled trains per day to and from the Port at the present time, so another ten will obviously need the ability to run two tph both ways for most of the day.

Is The Loop Long Enough?

Network Rail are working towards the UK network being able to handle freight trains up to a maximum length of 775 metres.

At a length of 1.4 km, the loop may not be long enough to accommodate two maximum length trains, if perhaps something goes wrong on the Great Eastern Main Line, like a track or signalling failure.

I would hope Network Rail have done their track planning!

Passenger Services

The Network Rail web page implies that passenger services will be more reliable.

So how would a freight loop improve passenger services?

I suspect that just as the number of freight paths each way will be a reliable two in every hour, the number of passenger paths will also be doubled.

The second path in the hour would be useful for two reasons.

  • If say there was a train or signalling failure, then the service can be recovered once the fault is fixed using the second path.
  • If demand on the branch were to increase substantially or a boost was needed for a special event, Greater Anglia could put on a second service.

Greater Anglia have ordered 38 Class 755 trains and they will be running direct routes to five destinations from Ipswich, so I suspect the operator could station a spare train at Ipswich to deal with disruptions, like the inevitable level crossing accidents that happen in East Anglia.

Will The Felixstowe Branch Line Ever Be Electrified?

This picture is from the Network Rail web page.

It illustrates why ports are not keen to electrify.

Containers do get dropped and a single mistake by a crane driver or the controlling automation could shut the rail terminal.

Class 66 locomotives may be an environmental disaster, but they are an affordable and reliable locomotive for ports and freight operators.

New locomotive types like the Class 88 locomotive are being ordered, which could work a port without electrification and change to and from electrification at a safe distance outside the port. The Class 88 locomotives can even do this at line speed.

There would also be no point in electrifying the Felixstowe branch line without electrifying the route all the way between Felixstowe and Nuneaton, which is the route a lot of freight trains take.

I think it is more likely, that innovative locomotive engineers will design a locomotive capable of pulling the longest trains on electricity or diesel, efficiently across the country. After all, using large environmentally unfriendly diesel locomotives is not a problem confined to the UK, so there are millions to be made, by designing the right locomotive for today.

 

July 10, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Charting An Electric Freight Future

The title of this post, is the same as the title of an informative article in the April 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, which was written by Julian Worth, who has many years experience of the rail freight industry.

This is a very comprehensive article looking at the future of motive power for freight trains.

These are points from the article, with some added comments of my own.

2040 And A Diesel-Free Rail System

Government ministers have said that by 2040, the UK will have a diesel-free railway, which will reduce emissions and especially particulates.

This page on the Government web site is entitled Let’s Raise Our Ambitions For A Cleaner, Greener Railway, which gives the text of a speech by the Rail Minister; Jo Johnson.

This is part of what he said.

And that’s why I am today announcing a new ambition.

I would like to see us take all diesel-only trains off the track by 2040.

If that seems like an ambitious goal – it should be and I make no apology for that.

After all, we’re committed to ending sales of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.

If we can achieve that, then why can’t the railway aspire to a similar objective?

Rail may be less carbon intensive than road transport.

That’s why modal shift’s so important.

As an engineer. I feel it is a challenge that is acceptable.

The Diesel Locomotives Are Getting Old!

The ubiquitous Class 66 locomotives, don’t meet the latest emission standards, but in addition, by the late 2020s, they will be getting to thirty years old.

Other locomotives like Class 59 locomotives will be even older.

Replacement locomotives will be needed, as maintenance costs will be getting too high.

The Last-Mile Electric Locomotive

Electric locomotives with a last-mile capability away from electrification like the Class 88 locomotive could be favoured.

  • They could be used for terminal work and short-distance movements.
  • They would have a 25 KVAC capability.
  • They could possibly have a 750 VDC capability, to work on the third-rail network.
  • They would meet all the emission standards, when running on diesel.

Julian Worth suggests that the last-mile capability could be provided by a battery.

Although, this would be environmentally-friendly and better in urban areas, I think that any onboard power, should be able to take a train into and out of the Port of Felixstowe, London Gateway and the other major ports.

I met a manager of the Port of Felixstowe a few years ago and they don’t like 25 KVAC wires in a dock, as containers do occasionally get dropped.

Most lines into ports and inland terminals, don’t appear to be too challenging and I’m sure that an uprated Class 88 locomotive could be built, that would handle entry and exit to all the ports and terminals in the UK.

Do We Need A Freight Electrification Strategy?

Julian Worth suggests we need one for the next couple of decades.

He makes some good points.

  • Electric traction current is cheaper than diesel fuel.
  • Availability of modern electric locomotives should be better than a diesel.
  • Diesels may be restricted in urban areas. It could be a vote winner in Mayoral elections in the large Metropolitan areas.

He finishes this with this statement.

Crucially, switching to electric locos from around 2030 would not entail premature replacement of the current fleet and would represent necessary asset renewal in modern equivalent form.

Just imagine the outcry from the Green Movement, if these ageing diesels were to be replaced with modern diesel locomotives..

Undoubtedly, we need a well-thought out freight strategy.

GB Railfreight

This article in Rail Magazine is entitled GB Railfreight In ‘Locomotive Acquisition’ Talks.

So at least one freight company is looking for new motive power. GB Railfreight has a fleet of seventy-eight Class 66 locomotives with other locomotives in the ageing category. Some of their work like hauling the Caledonian Sleeper needs well-presented reliable locomotives, so perhaps they need to update their image.

It will be interesting to see what type and class of locomotive they buy.

Rail Freight Has Changed

Coal to power stations used to be the dominant freight on UK railways.

But n0t any more! Thank goodness!

The major freight on UK railways is intermodal or trains of containers from port to inland terminal and vice versa.

There is also a large growth in construction materials, miuch of it going from quarries in the West Country and the Peak District to the South East of England. To send this any other way than by train, would surely be madness.

There also seems to be an increasing number of trains carrying new vehicles to and from the Continent. More will surely start to use the Channel Tunnel.

Julian Worth says this, after summarising the freight flows.

This suggests modest extensions of electrification might permit much of the construction and intermodal businesses, together with most automotive traffic, to be electrically hauled throughout.

He then goes on to say that the big gap is Felixstowe to Peterborough, Nuneaton and Birmingham.

The Port of Felixstowe

I partly grew up in the town and never thought the port would grow to the size, it is today.

I also remember in the 1980s, when only the odd intermodal train was to be seen on the Felixstowe Branch Line.

  • Now, a dozen trains in each direction on every day take the route between Felixstowe and the Midlands.
  • The Felixstowe Branch Line is being upgraded to raise the number of trains from the port from 33 to 48.
  • The Great Eastern Main Line and the routes through North London are close to capacity.
  • The direct route via Peterborough is a lot shorter than the London route.

Julian Worth states, that the number of trains between Felixstowe and the Midlands could rise to as high as fifty every day.

Routes That Should Be Electrified For Freight

Julian Worth suggests that the following routes should be electrified.

Route 1 – London Gateway to Thames Haven Junction

If you electrify Felixstowe to the Midlands, this will remove some diesel freight trains from London.

It would be stupid to replace them with diesel freight trains from London Gateway. So it would be fairly logical to electrify the connecting route to London Gateway.

This Google Map shows London Gateway and the rail connection to the electrified London, Tilbury and Southend Railway.

Note.

  1. The electrified London, Tilbury and Southend Railway, runs North-South at the extreme left of the map.
  2. The connecting spur curves East on what appears to be a new chord before accessing sidings on the North side of London Gateway.
  3. There would appear to be a lot of space to expand the port.
  4. The rail spur to the port is double track.
  5. It looks like their are sat least five sidings for handling freight trains.
  6. The sidings are double-ended, so last-mile capable electric locomotives could run round trains, without the need for electrification.

It would have appeared to have been designed for electrification.

Full details on London Gateway’s plans for rail access are given here in the Wikipedia entry for London Gateway, under Rail Terminal.

This is a quick summary.

In other places Wikipedia says the port is highly-automated.

I am led to the conclusion, that the Gospel Oak to Barking Line will see a high number of electric freight trains in the future.

I’m not surprised that Julian Worth says the spur currently handles sixteen trains per day and is set to grow significantly.

I certainly wouldn’t buy a house on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

Route 2 – Nuneaton To Birmingham Lawley Street

If Felixstowe to Nuneaton is electrified, then this extends the electrification to the massive Lawley Street Freightliner Terminal, which is in central Birmingham.

This diagram from Wikipedia shows the route.

Note.

  1. Lawley Street Freightliner Terminal, is on the short spur at the top of the diagram.
  2. iThis electrification would also complete a fully-electrified route between Birmingham New Street station and Sansted Airport, so CrossCountry could use electric trains on that route, instead of the current Class 170 train, which is often overcrowded.
  3. Would the electrification open up opportunities for more electrified local services in Birmingham?

Julian Worth says that this twenty miles carries thirty-two trains per day.

Would electrifying this route also have environmental benefits in terms of pollution?

Route 3 – Basingstoke To Southcote Junction and Oxford to Denbigh Hall Junction

This route, which connects the Port of Southampton with the West Coast Main Line, would require forty-two miles of electrification.

Consider.

  • It would create a fully-electrified route from Southampton to the West Coast Main Line.
  • Julian Worth says it carries forty-eight trains per day.
  • I also think, he is assuming that the Great Western Electrification extends to Oxford, which surely it will do in the next few years.
  • Dual voltage locomotives would be needed.
  • It would require electrification of part of the East West Railway.

The East West Railway is to be built as a privatised railway and I’m sure if the sums were right, they would electrify the route from Oxford to Denbigh Hall Junction.

If the Western end of the East West Railway were to be electrified, this must increase the options and operating speed for passenger trains on the route.

Route 4 – Merehead/Whatley to Newbury

Consider.

  • Merehead and Whatley are both Quarries of the Mendip Hills.
  • The line is double-track and seventy-two miles long.
  • Julian Worth says that this route carries twenty-eight stone trains per day.
  • Many trains are double-size.
  • In a four hour period, using Real Time Trains I found,three stone trains that weighed 4,800 tonnes and had a maximum speed of 45 mph and four stone trains that weighed 2,000 tonnes and had a maximum speed of 60 mph, using the route from the Mendips to London.

With all that heavy traffic, it strikes me that their are only two ways to power these trains on the route.

  • Very powerful diesel locomotives, possibly working in pairs.
  • Very powerful 25 KVAC electric locomotives, which would need electrification, able to supply lots of amps.

Mendip Rail currently run these services using Class 59 locomotives, which have the following characteristics.

  • Built in North America between 1985 and 1995.
  • They were the first privately-owned locomotives on the UK main line.
  • They have the ability to creep to shift heavy loads on gradients.
  • They have a maximim speed of 60-75 mph.
  • They are towered by a 2.5 MW diesel engine.

This extract from Wikipedia illustrates their power.

On 26 May 1991 Kenneth J Painter (59005) (with assistance from Yeoman Endeavour) set the European haulage record, with a stone train weighing 11,982 tonnes and 5,415 feet (1,650 m) long. However the so-called ‘mega train’ experiment was not very successful, as a coupling in the centre of the train broke.

It would appear, there was nothing wrong with the locomotives.

By the late 2020s, these locomotives will be over forty years old and although they could probably soldier on for another ten or even twenty years, the cost of maintenance will increase and reliability could decrease. You don’t want a 4,800 tonne stone train blocking the Reading to Taumton Line.

I suspect too, that it is unlikely that this important stone traffic will decrease. This is said in the Wikipedia entry for Mendip Rail.

Mendip Rail’s class 59s work services between various destinations which have changed over time according to demand and specific contracts. They have worked regularly over southern railway tracks, for example to the former Foster Yeoman terminals at Eastleigh and Botley, as well as delivery aggregates for construction work on the Thames Barrier, Second Severn Crossing, Channel Tunnel and most recently Heathrow Terminal 5, which required 3 million tonnes of stone.

Mendip Rail hauls about 4.5 million tonnes of stone from Torr Works each year, and about 2.5 million tonnes from Whatley Quarry.

I suspect that these stone flows will continue and there will come a time in the not-to-distant future, where new locomotives will be required.

  • The Class 59 locomotives were built for these stone trains and have a maximum tractive effort of 507 kN at just 7 mph.
  • A large electric Class 92 locomotive has a maximum tractive effort of only 400 kN.

But I suspect that engineers can design an electric locomotive, that can handle these trains either by themselves or working in a pair.

So there will be a choice between a very powerful diesel locomotive or a very powerful electric one.

  • Will those that live by the railway and environmentalists accept new diesel locomotives?
  • Electric locomotives would require the line to be electrified.
  • Electrification would allow Great Western Railway to run their Class 800 trains more efficiently using the wires.
  • Would those who live by the railway, accept the electrification of the line?

It’s a difficult choice.

Route 5 – Felixstowe to Ipswich. Haughley Junction to Peterborough and Helpston to Nuneaton

Consider

  • This would be a big project, as it would require 146 miles of new electrification.
  • But the return could be worthwhile, as currently the route handles twenty trains per day and once the Felixstowe Branch Line has more double track, this figure could rise to fifty-six trains per day.
  • At Ipswich, Peterborough and Nuneaton, the route connects to fully-electrified lines.

My project management knowledge tends to electrifying this line from East to West as almost three separate projects.

  1. Felixstowe to Ipswich
  2. Haughley Junction to Peterborough
  3. Helpston to Nuneaton

It could even be five, if Helpston to Nuneaton was split into two at either Leicester or the Midland Main Line.

I have three general questions.

  • When the gauge clearance was undertaken a few years ago, were bridges raised to accommodate wires as well?
  • Will the natives object to fifty trains per day?
  • Will the line be  resignalled to handle the greater number of trains?

Once the full route is electrified, the number of trains to and from Felixstowe , that used the Great Eastern Main Line and the routes through London would drop. Obviously, some trains like those between Felixstowe and Wales and the West Country would still need to use the London routes.

But overall, this would allow a mixture of the following.

  • Higher passenger train frequencies on the North London Line
  • Higher passenger train frequencies on the Gospel Oak To Barking Line
  • More freight trains to and from London Gateway could use the cross-London routes.

The last point would mean, that electric locomotives would need to have access to London Gateway.

I will detail my thoughts on Felixstowe to the Midlands electrification in the next three sub-sections.

Route 5A – Felixstowe to Ipswich

Electrifying between Felixstowe and Ipswich shouldn’t be the most challenging of projects.

  • The route is fairly flat.
  • The route is double track, except for part of the Felixstowe Branch Line.
  • The line was cleared for the largest containers a few years ago.
  • Doubling of the Felixstowe Branch Line around Trimley and the removal of some level crossings should start this year.
  • There should be an adequate 25 KVAC power supply at Ipswich.

I have two extra questions.

  • Will the partial doubling of the Felixstowe Branch, prepare the line for electrification?
  • Has a scheme been designed to take electrification to the port?

But there will be benefits.

  • Some freight trains that use the Great Eastern Main Line and the electrified routes through London, could be hauled all the way. by electric locomotives.
  • If Felixstowe station was to be electrified, Greater Anglia could run five-car Class 720 electric trains instead of Class 755 bi-mode trains on the branch, if required.
  • Class 755 bi-mode trains on the Ipswich to Lowestoft service, would be able to use the electrification between Westerfield and Ipswich stations.
  • Noise and vibration could be reduced.

It is just over a dozen miles of elwctrification, so isn’t the largest of projects.

Route 5B – Haughley Junction to Peterborough

Like the first section between Felixstowe and Ipswich, this section is also not very challenging.

  • The route is fairly flat.
  • The route is double track.
  • The line was cleared for the largest containers a few years ago.
  • Ely is being remodelled to remove a bottleneck.
  • Ely to Soham improvements seem to have been dropped, but will surely happen.
  • Haughley Junction needs to be remodelled.
  • Network Rail are already removing level crossings.
  • There should be an adequate 25 KVAC power supply at Haughley and Peterborough.

I have an extra question.

  • Will the route between Cambridge and Chippenham Junction be electrified?

But there will be benefits.

  • Electric freight between Felixstowe And The East Coast Main Line as far as Scotland.
  • Greater Anglia could run their service between Colchester and Peterborough with a Class 720 electric train.
  • Greater Anglia’s service between Ipswich and Cambridge would do more running under wires.

The electrification might even enable some useful electrified diversion routes.

Route 5C -Helpston to Nuneaton

I don’t know this section of the route, as well as I know the two other sections.

  • The route is double track.
  • There is a busy level crossing in the middle of Oakham.
  • There should be an adequate 25 KVAC power supply at both ends of the route.

It would appear that the route goes through Leicester station on the Midland Main Line.

As the electrification of the Midland Main Line has been postponed, how will this section of the route be handled?

But there will be benefits.

  • Electric freight between Felixstowe And The Midlands
  • Fewer freight trains would need to go via London
  • Some passenger services, like Birmingham-Stansted Airport, could be run using electric trains.

Completing all three sections will open up new possibilities for both freight and passenger services.

Route 6 – Hare Park Junction to Leeds Stourton

This is a freight route , which can be followed this way.

Electrification of this eighteen mile route, would allow freight trains with electric traction to reach the Stourton terminal.

The electrification could also be extended to Leeds station, so that passenger services on the Hallam Line, run by bi-mode trains would have an electrified route into Leeds.

Route 7 – Mountsorrel to Syston Junction and Manton Junction to Corby

Mountsorrel Quarry is one of the biggest granite quarries in Europe. It is not on the railway anymore, but is connected to the Midland Main Line at

Barton upon Soar, by a mineral conveyor.

These two short lengths of electrification connect Mountsorrel to the electrified portion of the Midland Main Line to London and by using the Felixstowe to Nuneaton route, there is access to the East and West Coast Main Lines.

Julian Worth says that thirty trains per day use the route.

Looking on Real Time Trains, they are not the mega-trains of the Mendips, but they seem to go all over England.

Route 8 – Whitacre Junction to Birch Coppice

Birch Coppice is a freight terminal and it is connected to the Birmingham Lawley Street to Nuneaton Line at Whitacre Junction, by a six mile rail link.

As in Julian Worth’s plan, the Birmingham Lawley Street to Nuneaton Line will have been electrified, it will be an logical section of wires to install.

Summarising The Routes

Summarising the routes, you get the following, once all the proposals are added to the UK’s electrified network.

  • There is a major East-West route from Felixstowe to Birmingham, that connects to the two major North-South routes; East and West Coast Main Lines and East Anglia’s Great Eastern Main Line.
  • The Reading to Taunton Line now provides an  route to the South-West for electric trains.
  • The massive quarries in the Mendips and at Mountsorrel are connected to the main electrified network.
  • The ports of Felixstowe, London Gateway and Southampton are connected to the main electrified network.
  • The inland depots of Birch Coppice, Birmingham Lawley Street and Leeds Stourton  are connected to the main electrified network.

Others may well be added.

For instance, an electrified connection to Liverpool2  along the Canada Dock Branch, which runs in places through densely-packing housing and has been looked at for a passenger service by Merseyrail.

Installing The Electrification

Traditionally, electrification schemes have been done using money directly from the Treasury.

To say, performance in recent years has been mixed would be an understatement!

With my experience of project management, I have my theories about the poor performance, but as I have no serious data to back them up, I will not put most of them in this post.

I will say however, that my observations of the electrification of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line have led me to the conclusion, that there are not enough competent engineers, surveyors and technicians to install the current low-level of new electrification.

However, recent statements and documents from Chris Grayling about how the Southern rail access to Heathrow is to be financed, might suggest a model for electrification.

This Press Release on the Department of Transport web site, starts with these two paragraphs.

Private companies have been asked to come forward with ideas to deliver a new southern rail link to Heathrow Airport.

The link will be one of the first projects under government plans to invite third parties – such as local authorities and private sector companies – to invest in the rail network, over and above the £47 billion the government is already planning for the next 5 years.

The idea is that a private consortium would do the following.

  • Design, build and finance a new line, station or other piece of railway infrastructure.
  • Maintain it for a number of years.
  • Charge train operators a charge for using the infrastructure, in much the same way as Network Rail charge every train for track access.

If the sums add up, I suspect it is model that will work for electrification.

I will take the Felixstowe Branch Line, that I know well as an example.

The benefits of electrification on this line could be as follows.

  • Freight trains from the Port of Felixstowe using electrified lines from Ipswich, could be able to use electric haulage, which might be more affordable.
  • Greater Anglia could run Ipswich to Felixstowe services using trains running solely on electricity.
  • There would be less pollution and possibly less noise and vibration.
  • Electrification might allow faster operating speeds on the branch, which in turn would allow more freight and passenger trains.
  • The hourly passenger service between Ipswich and Felixstowe might be able to be doubled in frequency.

Currently, after the dualling at Trimley has been finished, the branch is planned to handle an hourly passenger train and around fifty freight trains per day.

It strikes me that if the contracts and charges have the right balance, that a deal could be struck with a competent consortium.

It would have the following parts.

  • The consortium would design, finance and install the electrification.
  • Installing the electrification would be done, without disturbing the passenger and freight traffic.
  • The consortium would maintain the electrification for an agreed number of years.
  • Electrification access charges would be modelled on track access charges and agreed with a regulator, such as the Office of Road and Rail.
  • Failure to provide a working electrified railway, would incur penalty charges to operators.

I feel the model could work.

  • The consortium would use best practice from around the world.
  • The consortium might encourage innovative design and working.
  • The  consortium would make sure it had the best engineers, technicians and equipment to keep the electrification in tip-top condition, as that is the best way to maximise return on capital, against a fixed income.
  • The Office of Road and Rail would ensure safety, quality and reliability.

I also feel, that one of the ways to get the electrification installed in a professional manner and then operational at an agreed date, is to get the project management right.

Too much of what I’ve seen on electrification in the UK, reminds me of the phrase – It’ll be alright on the night!

A consortium, which has to raise and justify the money it needs, can’t rely on this mantra and must be sure that if a scheme is going to cost £100 million, then.

  • The initial budget must be correct.
  • The electrification can be installed for that sum.
  • Sufficient contingency is included.

Get the first project, seriously wrong and they won’t get another of the many electrification projects in the pipeline.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 25, 2018 Posted by | Finance, Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment