The Anonymous Widower

A First Ride On A Class 710 Train Between Upminster And Romford

This morning I went to Upminster and took the Class 710 train to Romford and back.

All went well and what a difference from yesterday, which I wrote about in A Last Ride On A Class 315 Train Between Upminster And Romford?

These are my thoughts.

Capacity Improvement

These pictures show the interiors of the Class 710 train and the Class 315 train.

It looks like many more passengers can be squeezed into the Class 710 train, than the Class 315 train.

According to Wikipedia the Class 710 train can hold 189 seated and 489 standing passengers, whilst the Class 315 train has 318 seats.

Ride Improvement

I travelled along the route with a Transport for London engineer, who worked on the Crossrail trains.

We both felt the ride was a large improvement and we both felt that it Network Rail worked a bit of magic on the track, it would be a very good train service.

Could Four Trains Per Hour Be Possible?

My travelling companion had worked on the Docklands Light Railway, and we both felt that with a degree of automation, an increased frequency would be possible.

Consider.

  • There is only one train on the line at any one time.
  • No other trains use the line.
  • The route is under 3.5 miles long.
  • The acceleration and deceleration of the new trains is superior to those of the Class 315 trains.
  • Do the Class 710 trains employ regenerative braking to battery technology?
  • The current operating speed is just 30 mph.
  • I’m sure Network Rail could improve the operating speed.
  • My travelling companion told me, that Crossrail had successfully tested the automated auto-reverse feature on the Class 345 trains

All these points convince me, that, track improvements and simple automation, much less sophisticated, than that of the Victoria Line or the Docklands Light Railway, could run the service at a frequency of four trains per hour (tph).

There is one problem though.

This article on Time 107.5, is entitled New Train To Begin Running Between Romford And Upminster.

This is an extract.

From today, the new Overground train which has changes to certain features, will be implemented.

The key changes include a different colour at the front which has changed from yellow to orange.

Different LED lights have also been fitted to the train.

The new trains are also quieter so may sound different to the older trains.

As a result, Network Rail and Transport for London are reminding pedestrians using level crossings along the route to stay safe.

Network Rail and Transport for London seem to be worried about pedestrians on the level crossings.

I would think, it prudent, that before line speeds and the frequency of the service are increased, there should be a thorough period of testing to see how pedestrians cope with the new trains, at the level crossings.

What methods of automation could be used?

Borrow From Dear Old Vicky

The Victoria Line (aka Dear Old Vicky!) opened in 1968 and runs using a fully-automated system, at frequencies of up to 36 tph.

Under Service And Rolling Stock, in the Wikipedia entry for the Victoria Line, there is this description of the original automation system.

On opening, the line was equipped with a fixed-block Automatic Train Operation system (ATO). The train operator closed the train doors and pressed a pair of “start” buttons and, if the way ahead was clear, the ATO drives the train at a safe speed to the next station. At any point, the driver could switch to manual control if the ATO failed. The system, which operated until 2012, made the Victoria line the world’s first full-scale automatic railway.

The Victoria line runs faster trains than other Underground lines because it has fewer stops, ATO running and modern design. Train speeds can reach up to 50 miles per hour (80 km/h).

Note.

  1. The original ATO system worked for over forty years.
  2. The method of operation seemed to be very safe,
  3. But most remarkably, the electronics that controlled the trains, were 1960s technology and contained a lot of thermionic valves and relays

What would 50 mph running do for timings between Romford and Upminster?

By training I am a Control Engineer, and although, I’ve never worked on large-scale automation systems, I have worked with lots of people who have and firmly believe that a simple system based on Dear Old Vicky’s original design would work.

What sort of times could be achieved between Romford and Upminster?

  • The route can be considered to be two legs; Romford and Emerson Park and Emerson Park and Upminster, both of which are about 1.75 miles long.
  • The fastest way in a train between too stations, is to accelerate to cruising speed, cruise at that speed and then time the deceleration, so you stop neatly in the station.
  • The Class 710 trains probably accelerate and decelerate at around 1 m/sec/sec.
  • The acceleration and deceleration section of each leg will take 22.2 seconds and during that time the train will travel 0.15 miles.
  • So that means the train will cruise at 50 mph for 1.45 miles, which will take 104 seconds.
  • The two legs of the journey will take around 150 second or 2.5 minutes.

The time for a round trip from Romford to Upminster can now be calculated,

  • Four legs between station 4 x 2.5 = 10 mins
  • Two stops Emerson Park 2 x 1 mins = 2 mins
  • One stop at Romford 2 mins = 2 mins
  • One stop at Upminster 2 mins = 2 mins

Note.

  1. This is a total of 16 minutes
  2. The longer stops at Romford and Upminster are needed for the driver to change ends.
  3. I have repeated the calculations for a 60 mph cruise and it saves just 40 seconds.

But I do feel that improving the method of operation could allow four tph.

The Driver Could Control The Train From One End

Consider.

  • Each cab could have a video screen showing the view from the other cab.
  • There could also be video screens on the platforms giving detailed views of the train in a station, as there are on many platforms now!

Would these and perhaps extra automation allow the driver to control the train from one cab, as it shuttled back and forth?

I suspect it would be cab at the Upminster end, as the platform is longer at Romford.

I believe that it would be possible and should allow stops of a minute at the two termini, as the driver wouldn’t be changing ends.

One minute stops would reduce the round-trip time to fourteen minutes and allow four tph.

Full Automation With The Driver In Control

The Docklands Light Railway is fully automated, so why not use a similar system on the Romford and Upminster Line?

But instead of having the system controlled by an operator in a remote signalling centre, the driver on the single train on the route is in control of it all.

The automation would enable fast stops and the driver would not have to change ends.

This would mean that four tph would be able to run at all times.

The System Would Self-Regulate

With public transport, things do go wrong.

Supposing someone turned up in a wheel-chair and it took five minutes to load them onto the train, so it left late.

This would mean that the train would be running late for the rest of the day, unless it was decided to wait for a few minutes, so it had the time of the following service.

After the wait, all trains would be on time.

Put Two Drivers On The Train

This would also be possible.

The train would have a driver in each cab.

  • The driver in the cab at the Romford end of the train would drive the train to Romford.
  • The driver in the cab at the Upminster end of the train would drive the train to Upminster.
  • At each terminus, they would swap over control, just as the two pilots do in an airliner.

There would probably need to be a simple interlock, so that only one driver could drive the train at the same time.

This should give the required four tph, as fast stops could be performed at all stations.

Using two drivers could be the ideal way to test out four tph and see whether it attracted more passengers.

Conclusion

The Romford and Upminster route has been markedly improved with the new Class 710 train.

I believe, that it is now possible to run four tph on this route, with some moderate extra expenditure or using two drivers.

 

 

October 5, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Last Ride On A Class 315 Train Between Upminster And Romford?

This morning I went to Upminster and took the Class 315 train to Romford.

I added the question mark, as when I passed East Ham depot, there were two new Class 710 trains sitting there, covered in graffiti.

Could The Romford And Upminster Line Be Improved?

I see two possible simple improvements

Four Trains Per Hour

London Overground likes to run four trains per hour (tph).

Could this frequency be run on the Romford and Upminster Line?

Three years ago I wrote Could The Romford To Upminster Line Handle Four Trains Per Hour?, and came to this conclusion.

A seven minute trip would mean the train could perform the required four trips per hour.

It would still be tight.

I also investigated an automated shuttle train on the route in An Automated Shuttle Train Between Romford And Upminster, which I felt would be possible, to run a four tph service.

Extension Of The Service

There are various reasons, why the service could be extended from Upminster station, in the Grays direction.

  • It would give travellers from South Essex much better access to Crossrail.
  • It could give a shuttle between Romford and Grays via the Lakeside Shopping Centre
  • Tilbury Riverside station could be a possibility.
  • It could open up possibilities for more housing in the area.
  • If the route were to be extended to a new station at London Gateway, it could make it easier for people to travel to work at the large port.

Obviously, it would have to be viable for the operator, but the big beasts of Crossrail, Lakeside Shopping Centre and London Gateway might make it possible.

Planning the route wouldn’t be that easy.

Consider.

  • The connections to Romford and Grays are on different sides of the District Line, so a flyover or dive-under might be needed.
  • Upminster and Grays is a single-track line with a passing loop at the two-platform Ockenden station.
  • Upminster and Grays used to be worked by a shuttle service.
  • The signalling appears to be able to handle four tph in both directions.
  • The current service between Grays and Upminster is two tph in both directions.
  • There is a bay platform 1A, at Upminster, which faces towards Grays.

It can certainly be said, that the extension of the service can’t be run at four tph.

I also think, that the current track layout at Upminster looks like one of British Rail efforts to stop any expansion of the railway.

This Google Map shows the layout of Upminster station.

Note.

  1. The  platforms are numbered 1 to 6 from South to North.
  2. Platform 1A is the Southernmost platform, which is slightly at an angle.
  3. The main station footbridge is at the Western ends of the platforms.
  4. The station isn’t fully step-free.

Is an alternative approach possible?

Suppose the following were to be arranged.

  • A four tph endless shuttle between Romford and Upminster stations.
  • Full step-free access at Romford station is currently being installed.
  • Full step-free access at Upminster station.
  • A two tph shuttle between Platform 1a and Grays, London Gateway or wherever most passengers want. This service would be arranged to give four tph between Upminster and Grays, when combined with the current services.
  • The two four tph services would be timed to give a convenient interchange at Upminster.

Could it be made to work?

It would only need improvements to Upminster station.

These pictures show Upminster station.

Note.

  1. Platform 1a is fully-electrified and long enough for a Class 710 train.
  2. The bridge at the Eastern end of the station is not step-free but could be updated.
  3. It might be possible to extend this bridge to Platform 6.

Platform 1a could certainly be used to operate a shuttle service to Grays to create a new service across South Essex.

 

 

October 4, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Romford Station – 14th September 2020

I took these pictures at Romford station, a couple of weeks ago.

Note.

  1. The rebuild isn’t as extensive as at Ilford station.
  2. It appears to be mainly cosmetic and adding step free access.
  3. There would appear to be an ambitious reconstruction next to the station.
  4. The station has a marble entrance hall, which is a bit small, by modern standards.

Romford station must have one of the least spectacular entrances on Crossrail.

September 29, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

An Automated Shuttle Train Between Romford And Upminster

The Romford-Upminster Line has the following features.

  • It is 3.5 miles long.
  • It is single-track.
  • It is electrified with 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • The maximum speed is only 30 mph.
  • There is a single platform station at either end with one intermediate station.
  • The service frequency is two tph.
  • Trains take nine minutes to go between the two terminals.
  • No other trains use the line.

To run the ideal four tph, trains would need to do the round trip between Romford and Upminster in fifteen minutes.

If we assume that the two end stops take one minutes and the two intermediate ones take thirty seconds, then that leaves just twelve minutes to cover the seven miles of the round trip.

This is an average speed of 35 mph.

As with the Greenford Branch, I think that an appropriate train would be able to run an automated shuttle, with a frequency of four tph.

The train (or tram-train) would have the following features.

  • It would be able to use the 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • It would have an operating speed of perhaps sixty mph.
  • It would have fast acceleration and deceleration.

The only infrastructure works that would also be needed, would be to improve the line to allow higher speeds.

February 19, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

How Are Crossrail’s Eastern Stations Progressing?

I took a train to Shenfield and back again, taking pictures on the way.

Before discussing the stations, it is worth reading this extract, from the Wikipedia entry for the Great Eastern Main Line.

The GER was grouped in 1923 into the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER). In 1931/32 the LNER quadrupled the tracks to Shenfield which became the terminus for inner-suburban operation.

In the 1930s a flyover was constructed just west of Ilford to switch the main and electric lines over, to enable main line trains to utilise Liverpool Street’s longer west side platforms without having to cross east side suburban traffic in the station throat. The new arrangement also facilitated cross-platform interchange with the Central line at Stratford, with services commencing in 1946. Either side of the Ilford flyover there are single-track connections between each pair of lines, with the westbound track extending to Manor Park and just beyond. The eastbound track extends as far as Ilford station. It was also envisaged that a flyover would be built at the country-end of the carriage sidings at Gidea Park to allow trains bound for the Southend line to change from the main line to the electric line, instead of at the London-end of Shenfield as they do now.

Plans were drawn up in the 1930s to electrify the suburban lines from Liverpool Street to Shenfield at 1500 V DC and work was started on implementing this. However, the outbreak of the Second World War brought the project to a temporary halt and it was not until 1949 that the scheme was completed with electrification being extended to Chelmsford in 1956.

So it could be said that the quadrupling of the tracks to Shenfield, was the legacy of Sir Nigel Gresley and his team, that has enabled Crossrail to be easily extended to the East.

I suspect that Crossrail’s engineers, regret that the flyover at Gidea Park, as proposed in the LNER plans, was never built. It would have helped one of Crossrail’s problems and that is how you fit two Southend trains per hour, that call at Stratford, Romford, Gidea Park, Harold Wood, Brentwood,  Shenfield and then all stations to Southend Victoria into Crossrail’s eight trains per hour schedule. I wouldn’t be surprised if Southend Victoria becomes an extra terminal for Crossrail, that receives four trains per hour.

On the other hand, the foresight of Gresley’s team would appear to have led to one of the most powerful features of Crossrail in the East, which will be the cross-platform interchange between the new line and the Central Line.

This 1930s rebuild also explains, why the stations have .a solid feel of the first half of the twentieth century, which means that some of the stations although needing a lot of work, are solid underneath and all seem to be capable of upgrading, rather than needing the substantial rebuilding of some of the stations in the West.

Summing up the stations, you would say the following.

Shenfield

Shenfield station is already fully step-free.

  • The station building probably just needs sprucing up.
  • The platforms all seem to be long enough, as Platforms 1, 2 and 3 take twelve-car Class 360 trains and Class 321 trains.
  • Platforms 4 and 5 aren’t much shorter, but may need to be lengthened, especially as trains will go through the station to new Eastern sidings.
  • The space for the new Platform 6 has been created, but work is continuing on the platform and track.
  • Work on the track is also continuing to update the electrification to a modern standard and the two western sidings that Crossrail trains will use.

Given that a proportion of passengers will probably want to interchange between Crossrail, services up and down the Great Eastern Main Line and to and from Southend Victoria, I do wonder, if there will be a reorganisation of stopping patterns for the longer distance services between Shenfield and London.

The works at Shenfield station, would appear to be taking a well-built mainly 1930s station and turning it into a terminus for Crossrail able to handle up to twelve trains per hour and an interchange with services to Colchester, Ipswich, Norwich, Southend and all points to the North and East of East Anglia.

Brentwood

Brentwood station has a lot of work completed or underway.

  • The station office seems to have been refurbished.
  • There are only lifts to the central Platforms 2 and 3.
  • Platform extensions to all four platforms are underway.
  • The bridge seems to be being refurbished rather than replaced.

I can find no references to lifts for Platform 1 and 4.

The works at Brentwood station would appear to be much simpler than Shenfield, but from the look of the new entrance and the visualisation in the Brentwood station web page on the Crossrail web site, they will create a very capable two platform station for Crossrail.

Harold Wood

Harold Wood station  has a lot of work completed or underway.

  • A new bridge has been installed, but not completed.
  • Lifts are to be installed.
  • Platform extensions to all four platforms are underway.
  • The platform buildings seem to have been refurbished.

I would also assume that the station office will be refurbished.

The works at Harold Wood station, show that it will be good station, with a good interchange between Crossrail and services on the fast lines.

But why is there such a good interchange between the two sets of lines? Is it just because Brentford is not a full interchange?

Or is it so that the services to and from Southend Victoria can still call??

Gidea Park

Gidea Park station is very much a work in progress.

  • A new bridge is being built with lifts under the largest plastic umbrella in London.
  • Platform extensions to all four platforms are underway.
  • The platform buildings seem to have been refurbished.

The works at Gidea Park station will create another good station, that has an excellent step-free interchange between Crossrail and the fast lines.

I must ask the same questions as I did for Harold Wood.

Romford

Romford station doesn’t appear to be seeing much work yet.

According to the Romford station page on the Crossrail web site, this is being done.

  • A substantially improved ticket hall with revised entrances
  • Three new lifts for step-free access to platforms
  • Platform extensions to accommodate the new 200 metre long Crossrail trains.

This is obviously in addition to revised and improved signage, help points and seating.

Romford station from the pictures looks to be a solid station with nice period features, with some excellent marble and quality ironwork.

Chadwell Heath

Chadwell Heath station is very much on the way to be ready.

  • A new footbridge has been built and commissioned.
  • Platform extension work is underway.
  • A turnback siding has been built east of the station.

 

I didn’t check out the actual station building, but this web page from Crossrail has a visualisation.

Goodmayes

Goodmayes station is in the process of being updated.

  • The current footbridge is being updated.
  • Three lifts will be added to provide step-free access to all platforms.
  • The station building is being rebuilt.
  • Platform extension work is underway.

The works at Goodmayes station will create a good suburban station, by building on the existing station office and footbridge.

Seven Kings

Seven Kings station is going through refurbishment.

  • Lifts will be added
  • The station building looks like it will be substantially rebuilt.
  • The area outside the station will be improved.

From the pictures, it does appear that the station is one of the few with a picnic table outside.

Ilford

Ilford station is scheduled to be completely rebuilt according to the Ilford station page on the Crossrail web site.

  • A new spacious, modern and bright station building on Cranbrook Road
  • A larger ticket hall with simplified ticket facilities and larger gate-line
  • A full refurbishment, by Transport for London, of the York Mews entrance
  • New lifts for platforms 1, 2/3, and 4
  • Platform extensions to accommodate the new 200 metre long Elizabeth line trains.

Only the platform extension seems to be starting.

At least the visualisation on the Crossrail web site seems promising, with a large pedestrianised area in front of the station.

Arriving At Ilford Station

Arriving At Ilford Station

This picture was taken from the right and shows the current traffic in the area.

In Front Of Ilford Station Now

In Front Of Ilford Station Now

As with Romford, the station is right in the middle of the shopping area.

Manor Park

Manor Park station is undergoing refurbishment. This is said about the station in Wikipedia.

Manor Park will be fully served by Crossrail from 2019 but part of the route is scheduled to open in 2017 and new Class 345 trains will enter service. Platforms 1 and 2 are only 168 metres (184 yd) and 185 metres (202 yd) long respectively and cannot physically be extended to accommodate the new trains, which will be over 200 metres (220 yd) in length, so selective door operation will be utilised. The freight loop around platform 1 is due to be removed and replaced by a new loop line further down-line, west of Chadwell Heath.

Due to the narrow platforms and the layout of the station, fitting lifts for disabled access would be difficult, requiring the walkways to be rebuilt and closing parts of the station for several months. The station will receive new ticket machines and gates, an accessible toilet and new retail space.

As the Manor Park web page on the Crossrail web site, says new lifts will be installed, I suspect this station will face several months of closures.

Given its location by the Southern end of Epping Forest, I do wonder, if it could be a Crossrail station with a walking and picnic area close by. This Google Map shows the station and the green space to the North.

North Of Manor Park Station

North Of Manor Park Station

As the area is mainly controlled by the City of London and there are also two large cemeteries, I suspect that any development will be totally appropriate. I suspect too that there are a lot of walks through the area to stations on the Central and Gospel Oak to Barking Lines.

 

 

 

July 2, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Before Crossrail – Romford

An Important Schizophrenic Station – Rating 6/10

Romford is an important station on this line and it is the middle of a fairly large High Street shopping centre.

Although it has some marble facings in the booking hall, it has terrible stairs and passages everywhere.

The station is crying out for lifts, especially as when Crossrail arrives some might transfer to Crossrail here from services that come from further afield.

 

 

October 9, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment