The Anonymous Widower

Bi-Modes Offered To Solve Waterloo-Exeter Constraints

The title of this post is the same as an article by Richard Clinnick in Issue 912 of Rail Magazine.

The article is in turn based on this Continuous Modular Strategic Planning document from Network Rail, which is entitled West of England Line Study 2020.

The document is probably best described, as a document, that will need a lot of digestion for a full reading, but it does provide the reasons for what is said by Richard Clinnick.

The Need For Bi-Mode Trains

This is the a slightly edited version of the start of the Rail Magazine article.

Bi-mode trains should be ordered as part of a scheme to improve the service offered on the West of England route between London Waterloo and Exeter St, Davids, according to Network Rail.

In their extensive study, NR explains that additional capacity could be achieved on the route not only through infrastructure improvements, but also through lengthening some services.

The Network Rail report says.

This cannot be achieved using the current rolling stock fleet currently in operation; which are coming to end of life. Therefore, in the medium term, the opportunity to introduce new,
potentially bi-mode, rolling stock capable of achieving faster journey times and providing more capacity should be considered.

The report also suggests that electric, battery and hydrogen are mentioned as possible power.

South Western Railway’s Short Term Solution

In the short term, South Western Railway (SWR) have reorganised the service to meet short term objectives, which are described fully in the Network Rail report, but can be summed up as follows.

  • There is a need for a capacity increase between London Waterloo and Basingstoke and Salisbury.
  • There is a need for a capacity increase between Axminster and Exeter St. Davids.

SWR’s solution has probably been strongly driven by the needs of COVID-19, which means that a greater amount of space must be provided for each occupied seat. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve made six journeys in SWR’s Class 159 trains and like most other travellers, I’ve had four seats to myself. The trains may be thirty years old, but like most British Rail trains of that era, they keep giving valuable service.

For most of the day, SWR seem to offer the following solution.

  • Nine-car formations of Class 159 trains work between London Waterloo and Salisbury stations at a frequency of two trains per hour (tph)
  • Six-car formations of Class 159 trains work between Salisbury and Exeter St. Davids stations, at a frequency of one train per two hours (tp2h)
  • Passengers use a one-way system at Salisbury to walk between the two trains.

Yesterday, I took SWR’s trains between Clapham Junction and Yeovil Junction stations to observe the working of the route and take a few pictures.

My Observations

These are my observations.

Salisbury Station

This Google Map shows Salisbury station and the nearby Salisbury Depot.

These are some pictures I took at the station.

Note that the train in the platform is a nine-car formation which is 207 metres long. I would estimate that the platforms are around 220-240 metres long.

Yeovil Junction Station

This Google Map shows Yeovil Junction station.

These are some pictures I took at the station.

Note that the two trains in the platforms are six-car formations which are 138 metres long. I would estimate that the platforms are around 140-50 metres long.

Replacement Of The Current Class 159 Trains With Bi-Mode Trains

Consider the following train lengths and capacities.

  • A nine-car formation of Class 159 trains – 207 metres – 588 seats
  • A six-car formation of Class 159 trains – 138 metres – 392 seats
  • A nine-car Class 802 train – 234 metres – 647 seats
  • A five-car Class 802 train – 130 metres – 326 seats
  • A pair of five-car Class 802 trains – 260 metres – 652 seats

The figures for Class 802 trains are taken from the trains that are in service for Great Western Railway (GWR).

The following timings should also be noted.

  • London Waterloo and Salisbury – One hour and thirty minutes
  • Turnback time at Salisbury – Up to thirty minutes
  • Salisbury and Exeter St. Davids – Two hours and six minutes
  • Turnback time at Exeter St. Davids – Trains appear to go to Exeter New Yard for refuelling.
  • Wait at Yeovil Junction – Fourteen minutes

Note.

  1. The wait at Yeovil Junction station is so that trains can fit in with the large lengths of single-track on the West of England Main Line.
  2. The need to refuel the diesel trains would appear to be a major constraint on running more services on the route.
  3. Both legs of the journey have convenient times of one-and-a-half and two hours respectively.

Overall, I think the timings are helpful.

Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train

Hitachi have recently released details of their new Battery Regional train, which are summarised in this Hitachi infographic.

They have also signed an agreement with Hyperdrive Innovation to develop battery packs for their Class 80x trains, as I wrote about in Hyperdrive Innovation And Hitachi Rail To Develop Battery Tech For Trains.

Looking at the length and capacity table, I displayed earlier, it would appear there are several ways to run the service between London Waterloo and Exeter St. Davids using Regional Battery Trains.

  • Run nine-car trains between London Waterloo and Exeter St. Davids
  • Run five-car trains between London Waterloo and Exeter St. Davids
  • Run nine-car trains between London Waterloo and Salisbury and five-car trains between Salisbury and Exeter St. Davids
  • Run a pair of five-car trains between London Waterloo and Salisbury and a single five-car train between Salisbury and Exeter St. Davids, with selective splitting and joining at Salisbury.

Alternatively, the route could be electrified. But that has a few obstacles and disadvantages.

  • Would the various jobsworths allow this substantial length of third-rail electrification?
  • Would there be serious objections to using overhead electrification?
  • Would the travellers on the route, be prepared for all the disruption?
  • There is also the excessive cost of electrification.

I also believe, that only limited small infrastructure improvements would be needed to replace the current diesel trains with battery electric bi-mode trains like the Regional Battery Trains.

Regional Battery Trains Between London Waterloo And Salisbury

Consider.

  • London Waterloo and Salisbury stations are 83.5 miles apart.
  • The fifty miles between London Waterloo and  Worting Junction is fully electrified.
  • Only the 33.5 miles between Salisbury and Worting Junction are not electrified.
  • In the infographic, Hitachi are claiming a 90 kilometre or 56 mile battery range and a static charging time of between 10-15 minutes.

It would certainly appear, that if a train from London passed Worting Junction with full batteries, it would reach Salisbury. Also a train leaving Salisbury with full batteries would certainly reach Worting Junction and the electrification.

There would be three ways of charging the Regional Battery Trains at Salisbury.

  1. Fit a number of charging stations on the platforms.
  2. Install 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  3. Install 750 VDC third-rail electrification.

I prefer Option 3 in a station like Salisbury.

  • It would be easy to install and British Rail probably drew up detailed plans several times, when full third-rail electrification was under consideration.
  • The trains will be fitted with third-rail shoes to access the third-rail electrification on the way to London.
  • Because of the depot, there’s probably a good power supply.
  • For increased safety, modern electrical design, could mean that power was only switched on when a train is connected.

As trains currently wait for some time in Salisbury, it would be likely, that trains would leave the station with a full battery.

Regional Battery Trains Between London Salisbury And Exeter St Davids

Consider.

  • Salisbury and Exeter St. Davids stations are 88.5 miles apart.
  • There is no electrification.
  • Yeovil Junction station is approximately half way and is 49.5 miles from Exeter St. Davids and 39 miles from Salisbury.
  • Typically, trains wait at Yeovil Junction station for up to fourteen minutes, to get through the single-track sections.

I believe that a similar method of charging to that at Salisbury could be used at Yeovil Junction.

There would also need to be charging at Exeter St. Davids station.

This Google Map shows Exeter St. Davids station.

Services from London Waterloo and Salisbury currently turnback at Exeter St. Davids station in the following manner.

  • They arrive from the track running to the station from the South East.
  • They unload passengers in Platform 1 which is the long platform on the East side of the station.
  • It seems that they then continue through the station to New Yard, where they refuel and do other things, that Class 159 trains do after a long journey.
  • At the appropriate time, they return to Platform 1, where they load up with passengers and leave by the way they arrived.

If a charging system or electrification, were to be added to Platform 1, the trains would be able to fill up in the station.

  • Currently, it appears that the Class 159 trains take over an our to do this complicated manoeuvre.
  • Hitachi are quoting a charging time of 10-15 minutes for their Regional Battery Train.

Could valuable minutes be saved, that would enable a more passenger-friendly timetable?

Charging Regional Battery Trains At Yeovil Junction Station

Currently, the timetable is arranged like this.

  • The Salisbury to Exeter St. Davids train and the Exeter St. Davids to Salisbury trains pass at Yeovil Junction station.
  • Both trains wait in the station for nearly fifteen minutes, which is an adequate time to fully-charge the batteries.

The picture shows the two trains in the platform together.

Currently, the timetable would seem to be ideal for battery electric train operation between Salisbury and Exeter St. Davids stations.

A Possible Timetable Between London Waterloo And Exeter St. Davids 

It did occur to me, that South Western Railway might be running a timetable, that could possibly be designed for Regional Battery Trains.

  1. A nine-car formation between London Waterloo and Salisbury could be replaced with a nine-car or a pair of five-car Regional Battery Trains.
  2. A six-car Salisbury and Exeter St. Davids could be replaced by a five-car Regional Battery Train.
  3. Trains could pass at Gillingham station between Salisbury and Yeovil Junction, as it is a two-platform station about half-way.
  4. Trains could pass at Honiton station between Yeovil Junction and Exeter St. Davids, as it is a two-platform station about half-way.

I think if it was needed, that two tph would be possible not only between London Waterloo and Salisbury, but also between London Waterloo and Exeter St. Davids.

I also think that the following detailed service pattern would be possible.

  • A pair of five-car Regional Battery Trains would leave London Waterloo at a frequency of two tph.
  • The front train would be for passengers for all stations between London Waterloo and Exeter St. Davids.
  • The rear train would only be for passengers for all stations between London Waterloo and Salisbury.
  • On arrival at Salisbury, both trains would charge their batteries.
  • When the batteries were fully-charged, the two trains would split.
  • The front train would continue on its journey to Exeter St. Davids, leaving the rear train in the platform.
  • The Exeter St. Davids to London Waterloo service would arrive at Salisbury and join to the train in the platform.
  • The pair of trains would then run to London Waterloo.

This service pattern has the big advantage that passengers travelling between a station East of Salisbury and one to the West of Salisbury, will not have to change trains

  • All stations on the line also get a two tph service.
  • Services would be the same or better on the whole route, to the pre-COVID-19 timetable.
  • There would be extra capacity between London and Basingstoke.

 

 

 

 

 

August 28, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Converting Class 456 Trains Into Two-Car Battery Electric Trains

Mark Hopwood is the interim Managing Director of South Western Railway and in Special Train Offers A Strong Case For Reopening Fawley Line, I quote him as saying the following about the trains for the Fawley Branch Line.

However, SWR’s Mark Hopwood favours a much bolder plan. “We’d have to take a decision, once we knew the line was going ahead. But my personal belief is that we should be looking for a modern environmentally-friendly train that can use third-rail electricity between Southampton and Totton and maybe operate on batteries down the branch line.”

Pressed on whether that would mean Vivarail-converted former-London Underground stock, Hopwood ads. “It could be. Or it could be a conversion of our own Class 456, which will be replaced by new rolling stock very shortly. But I don’t think this is the time to use old diesels.

Mark Hopwood is so right about using old diesels.

  • Where possible new and refurbished trains should be zero-carbon.
  • Fiesel is to be banned by 2035 in Scotland and 2040 in England and Wales.
  • Diesel trains and hydrogen trains for that matter need to refuelled.
  • Get the diagrams right and battery electric trains can be charged on existing electrification or automatic Fast Charging systems, when they turn back at terminal stations.
  • Electric trains attract passengers.
  • Battery electric trains are mouse-quiet!

Who would use anything else other than electric trains with a battery option for sections without electrification?

The Class 456 Train

These pictures show some of the twenty-four Class 456 trains, that are in South Western Railway’s fleet.

This is the specification of a Class 456 train.

  • Two cars
  • Operating speed – 75 mph.
  • Capacity – 152 seats – Although the plate on the train says 113!
  • Built 1990-1991
  • Ability to work in pairs.

Most trains seem to be used to lengthen trains from eight to ten cars, as some of the pictures shows. As these 4+4+2 formations will be replaced with new 10-car Class 701 trains or pairs of five-car Class 701 trains, the trains will be looking for a new role.

Does this explain Mark Hopwood’s statement?

It should be noted that the Class 456 trains are members of the Mark 3 family, and bare a strong resemblance to the Class 321 train, which are shown in these pictures.

Note that I have included the side view, as it shows the amount of space under these trains.

Some Class 321 trains are being converted to Class 600 hydrogen trains, by Alstom at Widnes. Others have been given a life-extending Renatus upgrade.

Are The Driver Cars Of Class 456 and Class 321 Trains Identical?

The trains may look similar, but does the similarity go deeper?

Could Alstom Use Class 600 Hydrogen Train Technology To Create A Class 456 Train With a Battery Capability?

Consider.

  • Alstom are positioning themselves as Train Upgrade Specialists in the UK. They have already signed a near billion pound deal to upgrade and maintain Avanti West Coast’s fleet of Class 390 trains.
  • Alstom are creating the Class 600 hydrogen train from withdrawn Class 321 trains.
  • A hydrogen-powered  train is basically a battery electric train with a hydrogen tank and fuel cell to charge the batteries.
  • The Class 600 train doesn’t appear to be making fast progress and is still without an order.
  • One possible hydrogen route must surely be London Waterloo and Exeter, so I suspect Alstom are talking to South Western Railway.
  • The Class 456 trains are owned by Porterbrook, who would probably like to extend the useful life of the trains.

Could it be that the battery core and AC traction package of Alstom’s hydrogen system for the Class 600 train can turn old British Rail-era electric multiple units into battery electric multiple units with a useful range?

It is certainly a possibility and one that is also within the capability of other companies in the UK.

Could The Class 456 Trains Receive a Class 321 Renatus Interior And Traction Package?

As Class 321 and Class 456 trains were built around the same time, the two trains must share components.

These pictures show the current interior of a Class 456 train.

This is excellent for a two-car electric multiple unit, built thirty years ago! Although, the refurbishment is more recent from 2014-15.

  • Note the wheel-chair space and the copious rubbish bins.
  • I also spotted a stowed wheel-chair ramp on the train. It can be seen if you look hard in the picture than shows the wheel-chair space.
  • Some might feel that toilets should be provided.

These pictures show the interior of a Class 321 train, that has been given the Renatus upgrade.

What is not shown is the more efficient AC traction package.

I have been told or read, that the Renatus interior will be used in the conversion of a Class 321 train to an Alstom Class 600 or Breeze hydrogen train.

On the other hand, the current Class 456 interior would probably be ideal for a branch line, where one of initial aims would be to attract passengers.

Could A Class 456 Train Have a Lightweight Traction Package?

Consider.

  • The Class 456 train will access electrification that is only 750 VDC third-rail.
  • Batteries work in DC.
  • The new traction motors will work in AC, if they follow the practice in the Class 321 Renatus and the Class 600 train.
  • Regenerative braking will charge the batteries in both trains.
  • Air-conditioning and other hotel services can work in DC.

Some components needed to run from 25 KVAC like a transformer could be left out to save weight and improve acceleration.

I would suspect that a Class 456 train with batteries could use a slimmed-down traction system from the Class 600 train.

On both Class 456 and 600 trains a core system, that would power the train, might contain.

  • The traction battery or batteries.
  • The traction motors that both drive and brake the train,
  • Third-rail electrification shoes, so that the batteries could be charged in a station, as required.
  • A clever computer system, that controls the acceleration, braking and charging as required.

On the Class 600 train, there would also be the following.

  • Hydrogen tanks and fuel cells to provide an independent power source to charge the batteries.
  • A pantograph to access 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • Extra electrical gear to access the electrification.

I think it would be possible to design the Class 456 train with batteries as the basic train and just add the extra  hydrogen and electrical gubbins to make it a Class 600 train.

Could A Class 456 Train Be Modified To Use 25 KVAC Overhead Electrification?

As I said, there are a lot of similarities between Class 456 trains and Class 321 trains.

As the Class 321 trains are equipped to use 25 KVAC Overhead Electrification, I suspect train modification specialists could create a Class 456 train, that could use overhead electrification.

What Battery Range And Size Would Be Needed In A Class 456 Train?

These are typical branch line lengths for South Western Railway.

  • Fawley Branch – 8 miles
  • Wareham and Swanage – 11 miles
  • Lymington Branch – 5.6 miles
  • Reading and Basingstoke – 15.5 miles

I would suspect that a range of thirty miles on battery power would be sufficient for a Class 456 train with batteries.

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

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

So applying that formula gives battery capacity of between 180 kWh and 300 kWh.

In Issue 864 of Rail Magazine, there is an article entitled Scotland High Among Vivarail’s Targets for Class 230 D-Trains, where this is said.

Vivarail’s two-car battery units contains four 100 kWh lithium-ion battery rafts, each weighing 1.2 tonnes.

If 200 kWh can be placed under the floor of each car of a rebuilt London Underground D78 Stock, then I think it is reasonable that up to 200 kWh can be placed under the floor of each car of the proposed train.

This picture of the Driver Car of a Class 321 train, shows that there is quite a bit of space under those trains.

Are the Class 456 trains similar? This is the best picture I have got so far.

It does appear that space is similar to that under a Class 321 train.

If we assume that the Class 456 train can have the following specification.

  • Battery capacity of 200 kWh in both cars.
  • Regenerative braking to battery.
  • Power consumption of 4 kWh per vehicle mile.

I think we could be approaching a range of fifty miles on a route without too many energy-consuming stops.

Charging The Batteries

I like the Vivarail’s Fast Charge concept of using third-rail equipment to charge battery trains.

This press release from the company describes how they charge their battery electric Class 230 trains.

  • The system is patented.
  • The system uses a trickle-charged battery pack, by the side of the track to supply the power.
  • The first system worked with the London Underground 3rd and 4th rail electrification standard.

As the length of rails needed to be added at charging points is about a metre, installing a charging facility in a station, will not be the largest of projects.

Under How Does It Work?, the press release says this.

The concept is simple – at the terminus 4 short sections of 3rd and 4th rail are installed and connected to the electronic control unit and the battery bank. Whilst the train is in service the battery bank trickle charges itself from the national grid – the benefit of this is that there is a continuous low-level draw such as an EMU would use rather than a one-off huge demand for power.

The train pulls into the station as normal and the shoe-gear connects with the sections of charging rail. The driver need do nothing other than stop in the correct place as per normal and the rail is not live until the train is in place.

That’s it!

As an electrical engineer, I’m certain the concept could be adapted to charge the batteries of a conventional third-rail train.

Vivarail’s press release says this about modification to the trains.

The train’s shoe-gear is made of ceramic carbon so it is able to withstand the heat generated during the fast charge process.

That wouldn’t be a major problem to solve.

Class 456 Train With Batteries And Class 600 Train Compared

The following sub-sections will compare the trains in various areas.

Lightweight Design

As I suspect that the basic structure of the Class 456 and Class 600 trains are similar, systems like toilets, air-conditioning, traction motors and seats will be chosen with saving weight in mind.

Every kilogram saved will mean faster acceleration.

Operating Speed

The current Class 321 train is a 100 mph train, whilst the current Class 456 train is only a 75 mph train.

I wonder if applying the modern traction package of the Class 321 Renatus to the Class 456 train could speed the shorter train up a bit?

Range Away From Electrification

Alstom have quoted ranges of hundreds of miles for the Class 600 train on one filling of hydrogen, but I can’t see the Class 456 train with batteries doing much more than fifty miles on a full charge.

But using a Fast Charge system, I can see the Class 456 train with batteries fully-charging in under ten minutes.

Fast Charge systems at Romsey and Salisbury stations would surely enable the Class 456 trains with batteries to run the hourly service over the thirty-eight mile route between the two stations.

Passenger Capacity

The current Class 456 trains have a capacity of 152 seats.

In Orders For Alstom Breeze Trains Still Expected, I said this.

The three-car Alstom Breeze is expected to have a similar capacity to a two-car diesel multiple unit.

But until I see one in the flesh, I won’t have a better figure.

If South Western Railway were wanting to replace a two-car diesel Class 158 train, they’d probably accept something like 180 seats.

Increasing Passenger Capacity

There are compatible trailer cars around from shortening Class 321 trains from four to three cars and their may be more from the creation of the Class 600 trains.

I suspect that these could be added to both Class 456 and Class 600 trains to increase capacity by fifty percent.

As a two-car train, the Class 456 train might be a bit small, but putting in a third car, which had perhaps slightly more dense seating and possibly a toilet and even more batteries could make the train anything the operator needed.

Suitability For London Waterloo and Exeter via Salisbury

This is South Western Railway’s big need for a zero emission train.

  1. It is around 170 miles
  2. Only 48 miles are electrified.
  3. It is currently worked by three-car Class 159 trains working in pairs.
  4. Class 159 trains are 90 mph trains.

I have believed for some time, that with fast charging, a battery electric train could handle this route.

But, I would feel that.

  • Class 456 trains would be too slow and too small for this route.
  • Class 600 trains would be too small for this route.

On the other hand, I believe that Hitachi’s Class 800 train with a battery electric capability or Regional Battery Train, which is described in this infographic from the company, could be ideal for the route.

The proposed 90 km or 56 mile range could even be sufficient take a train between Salisbury and Exeter with a single intermediate charge at Yeovil Junction station, where the trains wait up to ten minutes anyway.

There are other reasons for using Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train rather than Class 600 trains.

  • First Group have a lot of experience of running Hitachi Class 80x trains, through their various subsidiaries.
  • They could share depot facilities at Exeter.
  • No specialist facilities would be needed.
  • A five-car Class 801 with batteries would have a convenient 300 seats.
  • I suspect they could be delivered before Alstom’s Class 600 train.

As the only new infrastructure required would be Fast Charge facilities at Salisbury and Yeovil Junction stations, I feel that Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train, should be a shoe-in for this route.

First Delivery

The Wikipedia entry for the Class 600 train, says introduction into traffic could be in 2024. Given, the speed with which Greater Anglia’s Class 321 trains were updated to the Renatus specification, we could see Class 456 trains with a battery capability and new interiors running well before 2024.

A Few Questions

These questions have occurred to me.

Could The Technology Be Used To Create A Class 321 Battery Electric Train?

I don’t see why not!

I believe a Class 321 battery electric train could be created with this specification.

  • Three or four cars. Remember the Class 320 train is a three-car Class 321 train.
  • 100 mph operating speed.
  • Regenerative braking to the batteries.
  • Renatus or operator-specified interior.
  • Toilet as required.
  • Electrification as required.
  • Battery range of around sixty miles.
  • Ability to use a Fast Charge system, that can easily be installed in a terminal platform.

Trains could be tailored to suit a particular route and/or operator.

Any Other Questions?

If you have any other questions, send them in and I’ll add them to this section.

Conclusion

It does appear that if the Class 456 trains, were to be fitted with a battery capability, that they would make a very useful two-car battery electric train, with the following specification.

  • Two cars
  • Operating speed – 75 mph. This might be a bit higher.
  • Capacity – 152 seats
  • Ability to work in pairs.
  • Modern interior
  • Range of 45-50 miles on batteries.
  • Ability to charge batteries in ten minutes in a station.
  • Ability to charge batteries on any track with 750 VDC third-rail electrification.

This is the sort of train, that could attract other operators, who don’t have any electrification, but want to electrify short branch lines.

 

 

 

August 12, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage, Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

The Class 319 Flex Train And Third Rail Routes

In writing The Electrical System Of A Class 319 Flex, I came to the conclusion, that the designers of the Class 319 Flex had taken great care that the train would perform to a high standard on lines with third-rail electrification..

There are three routes that could be given an improved service using a third-rail bi-mode train.

Ashford to Brighton on the Marshlink Line.

Oxted to Uckfield on the Oxted Line.

Reading to Tonbridge via Gatwick Airport on the North Downs Line.

Note.

  1. From Ashford, trains on the Marshlink Line could go to London, but probably not on High Speed 1.
  2. The East Coastway Line between Hastings and Brighton can accept eight-car trains, and is a 90 mph line, that has recently been resignalled.
  3. From Oxted on the Oxted Line trains could go to London.
  4. The Uckfield Branch has been updated to accept twelve-car trains.
  5. Tonbridge to Gatwick Airport was electrified as a Eurostar diversion route.

For operational reasons on the Uckfield Branch and along the South Coast, it would probably be a good idea, if the ability to run as eight- and twelve car formations was developed for the Class 319 Flex.

The South Coast Express

The East Coastway Line could be connected to the West Coastway Line to Southampton Central station with a reverse at Brighton.

At present because the Marshlink Line is not electrified and the two Coastway Lines are run independently, you can’t travel between stations on the West Coastway Line to any station on the East Coastway Line without changing trains at Brighton.

Consider creating a South Coast Express between Ashford and Southampton using bi-mode trains.

  • The Class 800 train, which is the only current bi-mode train, comes as a five-car train, but doesn’t have a dual voltage version, although its cousin the Class 395 train can work on third rail networks.
  • The Class 319 Flex train could do the whole route and would only need to use diesel power for twenty-six miles.
  • The speed limit along the two Coastway Lines could probably be upgraded to 100 mph.
  • A new Eastbourne Parkway station could be created on a reopened direct line between Polegate and Pevensey & Westham stations, to avoid all trains reversing at the current Eastbourne station and hence save time.
  • It would be a feeder railway to Thameslink services at Brighton and Eurostar services at Ashford.
  • Eight-car or even twelve-car formations could work through Falmer station on match days at The Amex.
  • Southampton have plans to develop the railway to serve St. Mary’s Stadium and the Waterfront, which could be part of an upgraded West Coastway Line.

Currently, with a change at Brighton, Southampton to Ashford takes three hours forty-seven minutes. With a 100 mph train on an updated 100 mph line, the service could surely be a lot faster.

If an hourly service was required, then you get this table of trains required to run the service against  the journey time between Ashford and Southampton.

  • Three hours needs six trains.
  • Two and a half hours needs five trains.
  • Two hours needs four trains.

Southern use more trains than that now to provide a slower service, with a change at Brighton.

West Of Basingstoke

The West of England Main Line is only electrified as far as Basingstoke station, which is just under fifty miles from London.

Distances from Basingtoke are approximately.

Could a Class 319 Flex carry enough fuel to serve this route?

I have seen an early copy of the brochure for a Class 319 Flex and Porterbook say that the train is designed to handle ten round trips from Hazel Grove to Buxton, which is a seventeen mile trip, where the steep gradients up are probably balanced by the coming down.

This would indicate that the Class 319 Flex could do a round trip without refuelling.

The route is currently worked by eleven two-car Class 158 trains and thirty three-car Class 159 trains and they take three and a half-hours for each hourly service between London Waterloo and Exeter St. Davids.

The Class 319 Flex train has a comparable speed to the Class 158/159 trains on diesel and is ten mph faster, when running on electricity.

I don’t think that the trains would be used all the way to Exeter, as they are not really designed for a journey of that length, but there may be other places where they could be ideal.

  • Running between London Waterloo and Salisbury to increase the frequency, where they might save upwards of fifteen minutes between Basingstoke and Waterloo, as they are faster than the diesel Class 158/159s.
  • Running the hourly circular service from Salisbury to Chandlers Ford via Southampton, which has sections of electrified line, where they could replace Class 158/159s.
  • Existing lines like the Lymington Branch, where they could replace Class 158/159s
  •  Reopened lines like the Fawley Branch,  Ludgershall Branch and the Swanage Railway.
  • New services like Portsmouth Harbour to Salisbury via Southampton and Romsey.

It could be that some selective electrification like Southampton to Romsey could be very beneficial.

 

 

 

 

 

March 5, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Stonehenge Is Unique

Stonehenge is unique and at the age of ten, I was able to walk amongst the stones in a party from my Primary School.

That was much better than the limited access you get now.

But then in the mid-1950s, Stonehenge didn’t get the visitors it does now.

In The Times today, there are reports of an Almighty row about how traffic is hidden from the monument.

This article on the BBC, which is entitled Stonehenge tunnel ‘should be longer’, puts forward a shorter view of the arguments in The Times.

The real problem with the traffic around Stonehenge, is that something should have been done about it years ago. As with so many problems, successive governments have just ignored the unique site.

I think that any solution to the future of Stonehenge should do the following.

  • Remove all passing traffic as far away as is practical.
  • All visitors to the monument should probably come by electric bus from the a nearby railway station or Park-and-Ride.
  • Improve the rail service on the South Western Main Line, which is not electrified and needs more capacity.

I also feel that modern technology could be used to provide a better view of the stones.

Certainly, what we have at present is totally unacceptable to both road traffic passing the site and visitors.

There is even a proposal for a Wilton Parkway station, which would be on the Wessex Main Line and linked to Stonehenge by bus, that I wrote about in A Station For Stonehenge?

This would provide a Tourist Route from Bristol to Portsmouth via Bath Spa, Stomnehenge, Salisbury and Southampton.

 

January 21, 2017 Posted by | World | , , , | 2 Comments

Basingstoke To Exeter By Electric Train

In Where Are The Battery Trains? – Part 2, I suggested that short lengths of electrification could be used, so that trains with an IPEMU capability could work a longer route.

I suggested that the West of England Main Line might be handled this way between Basingstoke and Exeter.

The distances from London of the main stations in this part of the line are.

  • Basingstoke – 47.76
  • Salisbury – 83.48
  • Yeovil Junction – 122.60
  • Exeter St. Davids – 172.15

Each section would be capable of being run by an IPEMU with a more-or-less fully charged battery.

So if the train could be charged sufficiently at Salisbury, Yeovil Junction and Exeter St. Davids, the line could be worked by electric trains. Intriguingly, eight minutes is shown for the stop at Salisbury on the 07:10 train from Waterloo to Exeter.

It has been regularly said in the last few years, that there will be no new third-rail electrification, but as it looks like Network Rail have electrified some short sections and platforms like the bay platform at Oxted station. So I don’t think a few short lengths of third-rail electrification would be a problem.

To me, as an Electrical Engineer, creating a charging station is one of those problems, that should have an affordable and practical solution.

You have to remember that many of the stations on this line are simple ones with the two tracks, having a platform on either side. So to electrify a station to charge an IPEMUs batteries, there would just need to be two third-rail lines between the tracks at the station. Stations could probably be electrified very easily with little disruption.

Electrification At Kidbrooke Station

 

The picture shows some very typical third-rail electrification at Kidbrooke station. Note the gap in the third rail, which I assume is for staff or emergency services personnel to cross the track in emergencies. Third rail like this, could be put into all stopping stations.

The West of England Line has a 90 mph speed limit, so a train stopping at a station would charge the batteries with all the train’s kinetic energy as it stopped and the electrification would just be needed to top up the batteries and get the train moving again.

What would also help, is that later four-car Electrostars have eight contact shoes to give better electricity pick up when there are gaps in the third-rail, as you can see in the picture above. So the train would be able to draw electricity from the time the first shoe made contact to the time the last shoe lost contact.

The electrification would also be simple from the electrical point of view, as because the train would be handling the regenerative braking, all the rail would need to be able to do was supply sufficient 750 VDC, whilst the train required it.

If the West of England Line can be electrified, it has three further benefits.

  • Salisbury is also on the Wessex Main Line, that I wrote about in Cardiff to Southampton By Electric Train. So if IPEMUs were to work the Cardiff to Southampton route, they could top-up at Salisbury.
  • Yeovil Junction is on the Heart of Wessex Line and as the Weymouth end is electrified and the Bristol end will be in a few years, this line must be another that could be served by IPEMUs.
  • If Exeter had the ability to fast-charge IPEMUs, then the various branch lines in the area could be given electric trains.

Just when new third-rail electrification has been declared a blind alley, has it found an important niche market?

If the only electrification in the area was third-rail, then there wouldn’t even be a need to build new trains, as a few of the extremely numerous 100 mph-capable Class 377 trains, built in the last few years, could be refurbished and given an IPEMU capability. These could also be converted to dual-voltage, so they could serve Bristol, when that area is electrified.

In my view the second and third routes are the more interesting, as these lines are sold to passengers as a picturesque journey through beautiful countryside. So imagine it with quiet new electric trains instead of noisy and smelly 1980s diesels.

I can’t believe that someone isn’t looking seriously at a plan like this to bring electric trains to Wessex.

April 28, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

What Do We Do With Four-Four-Two?

I’m not referring to the formation used in football, but the Class 442 trains used on the Gatwick Express from Victoria.

At nearly twenty years old they are still comfortable trains in which to travel and I’ve used them a couple of times to get to or from Gatwick Airport and Brighton from London. As far as I’m concerned, they are not my preferred way to get to the airport, as they leave from Victoria, which is not as easy to get to as London Bridge from Dalston.

But there is nothing wrong with the Class 442 as trains, especially as they are based on the legendary Mark 3 coach and they hold the speed record of 174 kph for third rail electric trains.

The fact that they are third-rail only electric trains, is one of their two main problems. The other is that they weren’t designed as airport trains and are fairly unsuited for loading and unloading heavy cases.

It should be noted, that all of the third-rail electrics trains, built in the last few years are either dual voltage trains or they have a pantograph well, so they can be easily modified, so they can work with 25kV overhead electric lines.

The renewed franchise holder for Gatwick Express is reported as going to acquire a new specialist fleet of trains for the service, which will be delivered in 2016.

So we have the problem of a set of twenty-four five coach trains, with no service for which they are suitable.

They are fast trains, which means that only the suitable lines on which they could run are from Victoria to Brighton and Waterloo to Portsmouth, Southampton, Bournemouth and Weymouth. But they are unsuitable for the Victoria service, and they are not needed on the Hampshire services.

They are probably too old and too difficult to convert to overhead electric.  It would seem to me with my engineering hat on, that to convert trains from third rail to overhead, unless that was in mind in the original design, is not a job with a small budget.

So conversion is probably a complete no-no!

So does the scrapyard beckon?

I would think so, but then a new coach costs around £1.5million and there are 120 coaches.

On the other hand, rail engineers have been living off scraps from the government for so long, that they are not short of innovative and oddball ideas. As an example read this article about how the previous Gatwick Express trains, the Class 460, were split up and used to lengthen the Class 458.

There are only two places where the Class 442 could appear to find a home.

The first is the two Coastway lines; East and West, which run from Ashford in the East to Portsmouth and Southampton in the West, via Hastings and Brighton. It would release other trains for use elsewhere, but I doubt it would need many of the twenty-four trains.even if the frequency was increased significantly.

The only other place where they could be used is on an electrified West of England Main Line to Salisbury and Exeter. I found this letter from South West Trains on the Network Rail web site. It states a whole list of advantages of electrying fom Basingstoke to Exeter.

So could the Class 442 find a home here on a third-rail electrified railway to Exeter?

It would probably go against policy to electrify such a long line in the archaic and incompatible third-rail system, but the upgrading does come with a set of fast affordable second hand trains in good condition, with an increasing reputation for reliability.

Another factor is whether Network Rail build a new route to Plymouth, as is outlined here on the BBC. If they do, I would suspect they would electrify it with overhead wires, so to have third rail to Exeter from Basingstoke, wouldn’t be that sensible.

So I still think that the Class 442 will go to the scrapyard.

But I wouldn’t mind being shown to be wrong and that the trains find a good home on somewhere like the West of England Main Line or the Coastways.

 

 

June 26, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

I Doubt I’ll Go Back To Salisbury

My plan had been to find a restaurant that was highly recommended by TipAdvisoralled Greengages Cafe. But I had a problem in that I couldn’t find it, as Salisbury doesn’t have any maps.

When I did find a map, after I’d walked back to the station, I realised that I must have walked past Catherine Street, where the restaurant is located. I thought it had been that street at the time, but there were no road names. Do you have to be psychic to find anywhere in Salisbury.

If cities and towns want to attract visitors, they must put up proper maps and signage. Salisbury could also do with more pedestrianisation or at least the banning of cars and trucks fom the centre. As I walked back to the station some idiot driver went past me at about fifty, as I was struggling to stay on the narrow pavement as a lady with a double buggy passed the other way.

Salisbury won’t miss me, if I never go back to the city again.

So lunch was a bottle of water from the Pumpkin and an EatNakd bar.

June 24, 2014 Posted by | Food, World | | 1 Comment

A Trip Around Wiltshire

I went from Waterloo to Salisbury and then onto the to the TransWilts to Swindon before coming home on a High Speed Diesel Train.

The train rides were enjoyable, through the countryside bathed in sun.

They did show some of the best and worst that trains in the UK have to offer.

The trip down to Salisbury was in a spotless Class 159, which probably because of the late morning time was rather empty. It was a diesel train, as no-one ever got round to extending the electrification on from Basingstoke.

I found Salisbury difficult, as the maps and signage were terrible. I couldn’t even find anyone, who knew where the street I needed was located.

Salisbury station  was rather nice, even if the Pumpkin buffet was its usual self, with no bottles with proper caps and no change. There used to be jokes about British Rail catering and Pumpkin don’t seem to have improved over the years.

I found Salisbury difficult, as the maps and signage were terrible. I couldn’t even find anyone, who knew where the zstreet I needed was located.

On from Salisbury to Westbury it was in a very crowded Class 150. This seemed to be mainly due to Glastonbury travellers many of whom were carrying lots of luggage.

Westbury station was busy with lots of freight trains passing through and full trains taking travellers to Castle Cary for Glastonbury.

The station also had a non-Pumpkin buffet, where I bought a nice coffee and a banana with a curve as delicious as the fruit. We need more independent rail caterers like this. It is mentioned in this list from the Gusrdian.

On fom Westbury to Swindon it was a single coach Class 153, which was again spotless, but it had a hideous mainly green interior.

But after a couple of stops, it brought me to Swindon for a very crowded High Speed Train to London.

It had been a mixed day, with the undoubted low point of Salisbury, the station’s buffet and the train I took from there to Westbury.

It could have been a lot worse, as the driver at Westbury had trouble releasing the brake on the Class 153. I didn’t hear any signs of a large wrench being used as a hammer, so he must have persuaded the train to release her brake by kindness or some other acceptable method. Or it could be that the cheery conductor, used her undoubted good humour.

At least the day was sandwiched by two rides in diesel trains at high speed.

The Transwilts Community Rail Partnership, appear to be making a good fist of creating a frequent rail link across Wiltshire. I’ll go again in a couple of years, to see if they have found a cure for their nauseas train. But I won’t go anywhere near the area at the time of Glastonbury.

June 24, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 4 Comments