The Anonymous Widower

Beeching Reversal – Sheaf Valley Stations

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

Stations To Be Rebuilt

As you approach Sheffield station, you pass four station sites, three of which are demolished and the fourth is just a shadow of its former self.

Dore & Totley

Dean & Totley station used to have four platforms and this Google Map, shows what is left after British Rail’s vandalism in the mid-1980s.

Note.

  1. The station has only one platform.
  2. The single track in the platform handles all trains to and from the Hope Valley Line.
  3. At present it appears to be two trains per hour (tph) in both directions.
  4. The two tracks at the right are the Midland Main Line.

Transport for the North wants to run four tph between Manchester Piccadilly and Sheffield through here, that will take forty minutes between the two cities.

Updates planned for the station include.

  • A second platform for Manchester-bound trains.
  • A new bridge with lifts.
  • Platforms long enough to take a pair of Class 185 trains or a five-car Class 802 train.
  • A full hourly service.

There certainly seems to be enough space for another platform and track through the middle of the station.

At some point in the near future, the two Midland Main Line tracks will be electrified, as part of the upgrade for High Speed Two.

Between Dore & Totley And Beauchief

This Google Map shows a typical section of the line between Dore & Totley and Beauchief stations.

Note the two Midland Main Line tracks on the right and single-track to the Hope Valley Line on the left.

It would appear that the fourth track can be squeezed in between the single track and the Midland Main Line.

Beauchief

Beauchief station used to have four platforms before it was demolished.

This Google Map shows the station’s former location.

Note.

  1. The building with the red dot is the former Beauchief Hotel. which was by the station.
  2. On a larger screen you can see three tracks going into Sheffield.

I’m fairly certain that four tracks and two platforms for a station can be fitted into this narrow trackbed.

Millhouses & Eccleshall

Millhouses and Eccleshall station used to have four platforms before it was demolished.

This Google Map shows the station’s former location.

Note.

  1. Wikipedia says the station was accessed from the Archer Road bridge, which is in the South East corner of the map.
  2. It looks like there are three tracks with space for four.
  3. The road to the North-West of the railway is called Old Station Road.

As at Beauchief, it will be tight.

Heeley

Heeley station used to have four platforms before it was demolished.

This Google Map shows the station’s former location.

Note.

  1. The red arrow indicates Heeley Bridge, which Wikipedia says is near the station site.
  2. There appears to be only two tracks through here.

It is easy to follow the tracks from here to Sheffield station.

Could A Four Track Railway Be Rebuilt Between Dore & Totley And Sheffield Stations?

I’ve not seen anything that says that building a four-track railway through here is not possible.

In a few years, there could be the following tracks and platforms, on this section.

  • Two fast tracks for High Speed Two, Midland Main Line and CrossCountry trains, that will be electrified with 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • The High Speed Two trains will be classic-compatible and up to 200 metres long.
  • The two fast tracks will not have any platforms.
  • Two slow tracks for local services, that will be appropriately electrified.
  • The slow tracks will have step-free platforms, that will be long enough to take a five-car Class 802 train or a pair of Class 185 trains.

I can’t for the life of me understand, why this stretch of four-track main line between Dore & Totley and Sheffield stations was ever simplified, as at other places on the UK network, extra tracks were being added to the main lines, at the same time.

Future Services On The Fast Lines

Currently, the following services take the fast lines between Sheffield and Chesterfield stations via Dore & Totley station.

  • East Midlands Railway – Sheffield and London St. Pancras – 2 tph
  • East Midlands Railway – Sheffield and Norwich via Nottingham – 1 tph
  • CrossCountry – Edinburgh/Newcastle and Derby/Birmingham and the South – 2 tph
  • Northern – Sheffield and Nottingham – 1 tph

That is a very modest six tph.

High Speed Two are currently planning to run two tph between Sheffield and London Euston.

There may or may not be other changes.

  • As Birmingham Curzon Street and Sheffield will be just forty-seven minutes by High Speed Two all the way, will these destinations have a direct high speed classic-compatible service? There’s plenty of space capacity on High Speed Two.
  • I don’t think the Sheffield and St. Pancras services will be dropped, but they might be.
  • CrossCountry will probably be running intelligent multi-mode trains capable of 125 mph running and up to 140 mph in places.
  • Northern’s service between Sheffield and Nottingham might go via a reopened Barrow Hill Line.

But the biggest change will be that these two fast lines will be to High Speed Two standards.

  • Sheffield and Chesterfield will be electrified.
  • There will in-cab digital signalling, which theoretically could probably allow eighteen tph on the route.
  • High Speed Two Trains between Sheffield and Chesterfield will take twelve minutes.
  • Sheffield station will have been modified as required, to be able to handle all trains very efficiently.

But it would still be carrying a modest eight tph.

If required Sheffield would have the capacity to accept more trains from the South.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see, the following trains added.

  • An extra tph to and from London Euston via High Speed Two.
  • Two tph to and from Birmingham Curzon Street via High Speed Two.

I also wouldn’t be surprised to see CrossCountry using classic-compatible High Speed Two trains and switching to High Speed Two between Birmingham New Street and Sheffield. But these trains would still use the same tracks to access Sheffield station.

But I am led to the conclusion, that Sheffield will have more than enough capacity linking the City to Chesterfield and the South.

Future Services On The Slow Lines

Or should I use lines connecting to the Hope Valley Line rather than slow lines?

Currently, the following services take the slow lines between Sheffield and  Dore & Totley stations.

  • East Midlands Railway – Liverpool Lime Street and Sheffield – via Manchester Piccadilly – 1 tph
  • TransPennine Express – Manchester Airport and Cleethorpes via Manchester Piccadilly – 1 tph
  • Northern – Sheffield and Manchester Piccadilly – 1 tph

 

Transport for the North aims to run a four tph service with a forty minute journey time between Manchester Piccadilly and Sheffield.

Consider.

  • 100 mph TransPennine Express trains take fifty-three minutes between Sheffield and Manchester Piccadilly without a stop.
  • Classic-compatible trains with a battery capability could easily handle the route.
  • Northern’s services on the Hope Valley Line are timed for 75 mph trains.
  • Dore & Totley and Hazel Grove stations are twenty-nine miles apart.

If between Dore & Totley and Sheffield stations were to be electrified and track improvements like passing loops were to be made to the Hope Valley Line, I believe that to achieve a forty minute all-stops timing between Sheffield and Manchester Piccadilly, would need a train with the following specification.

  • Electric train with batteries.
  • Four cars
  • 100 mph or faster operating speed.
  • Step-free access between platform and train.
  • Sparkling acceleration and deceleration.
  • Ability to run under in-cab digital signalling to keep out of the way of freight services.

Looking at Crossrail between London Paddington and Maidenhead stations, the London route is probably as difficult as the Hope Valley Line and it has been designed as a forty minute service with ten stops, using a modern electric train.

If TransPennine fitted batteries to their Class 802 trains, these trains would fit the Northern Powerhouse Rail requirements.

East Midlands Railway and Northern would find that the following trains could be used.

  • Bombardier – Aventra with batteries
  • Bombardier – Class 377 train with batteries
  • Bombardier – Class 379 train with batteries
  • CAF – Class 331 train with batteries
  • Hitachi – Class 385 train with batteries
  • Porterbrook – Battery/FLEX train based on Class 350 train
  • Stadler – Flirt with batteries

All would need that between Dore & Totley and Sheffield stations be electrified.

After the upgrades and the new or refurbished trains are running, this would mean that between Dean & Totley and Sheffield would be handling four tph, which would be semi-fast trains between Sheffield and Manchester Piccadilly. Although to current passengers on the line, they would seem to be fast services of a much higher standard.

It would not be very different to how the slow lines into Paddington also handle about four tph of other services, including GWR services and freight.

I believe that to provide an adequate service to the reopened and rebuilt stations of Dore & Totley, Beauchief, Millhouses & Eccleshall and Heeley, that a Turn-Up-And-Go service of at least four tph should be run between Dore & Totley and Sheffield stations.

A Turnback At Dore & Totley

This Google Map shows Dore & Totley station and the area to the South.

Note.

  1. There would appear to be a lot of space between the Midland Main Line and the single track, that leads between Dore & Totley station and the Hope Valley Line.
  2. Flying my helicopter, as low as I dare, it looks like the area is either a rubbish dump or very low grade businesses.
  3. Crossrail has designed turnbacks at Abbey Wood and Paddington stations, that will handle twelve tph.

I believe that it would be possible to design a turnback at Dore & Totley station, that would handle eight trains per hour, if not twelve tph.

It might even be possible to squeeze in some overnight stabling.

Trains Or Tram-Trains Between Dore & Totley And Sheffield Stations

In my view, it doesn’t matter.

Crossrail’s 12 tph turnbacks can handle a 205 metre long Class 345 train, so I’m sure a well-designed turnback at Dore & Totley could handle a mixture of any trams or tram-trains below a defined maximum length of say 140 metres, which would be defined by a pair of Class 185 trains, which might have to be turned back during service disruption.

Where Would The Services Terminate in The East?

It is my view that cross-city services like Birmingham’s Cross-City Line, Liverpool’s Northern Line, London’s Crossrail and Thameslink, Newcastle’s Metro and Paris’s RER are efficient for both passengers and train operators.

So Dore & Totley station could be one end of a Sheffield cross-city line, with a frequency of at least eight tph through Beauchief, Millhouses & Eccleshall, Heeley and Sheffield stations.

So where would services go on the other side of Sheffield? Wikipedia gives these as services to the East of Sheffield.

  • Leeds via Barnsley and Wakefield (fast) – 2 tph
  • Leeds via Meadowhall, Barnsley, Wakefield and Castleford (stopping). – 1 tph
  • Leeds via Meadowhall, Moorthorpe and Wakefield. – 1 tph
  • Scarborough via Meadowhall, Doncaster, Hull and Bridlington. – 1 tph
  • Lincoln Central via Worksop and Retford – 1 tph
  • Gainsborough Central via Worksop, three trains per week continue to Cleethorpes via Brigg. – 1 tph
  • Huddersfield via Meadowhall, Barnsley and Penistone – 1 tph
  • Doncaster via Meadowhall and Rotherham, with one train per hour continuing to Adwick – 2 tph
  • York via Moorthorpe and Sherburn-in-Elmet. – 3 trains per day (tpd)

For much of the day, that is a frequency of 10 tph, with 5 tph calling at Meadowhall, 2 tph calling at Worksop and two fast tph passing Meadowhall without stopping.

But there are other rail projects under development.

I can see classic-compatible High Speed Two trains serving the following places to the East of Sheffield.

  • Leeds
  • Hull via Doncaster
  • Scarborough via York
  • Cleethorpes via Doncaster, Scunthorpe and Grimsby.

A train like a five-car Class 802 train would probably be enough for most routes except Leeds.

I can see the following terminals for tram-trains to the East of Sheffield.

  • Doncaster and Doncaster-Sheffield Airport
  • Waverley station, which could be on a loop from the Sheffield and Lincoln Line.
  • Barnsley Dearne Valley

There may well be others.

If Sheffield were Karlsruhe in Germany, the tram-trains would probably serve the following routes.

  • Huddersfield via Penistone.
  • Lincoln via Worksop and Gainsborough.
  • Manchester via the Hope Valley Line.

But the Germans have a much larger electrified core, than Sheffield will have, even if High Speed Two electrifies between Dore & Totley and Thurnscoe stations via Sheffield.

I can make a table of destinations and distances and how they could be served.

  • Barnsley – 16 miles – Possible return trip from Sheffield for a battery electric train.
  • Barnsley Dearne Valley – 8 miles from Rotherham Parkgate – Possible return trip from Sheffield via Rotherham Parkgate for a battery electric tram-train.
  • Doncaster – 11 miles from Rotherham Parkgate – Possible return trip from Sheffield via Rotherham Parkgate for a battery electric tram-train.
  • Chesterfield via Barrow Hill – 17 miles – Possible return trip from Sheffield for a battery electric tram-train.
  • Doncaster Sheffield Airport – 10 miles from Doncaster – Possible return trip from Sheffield via Rotherham Parkgate and Doncaster for a battery electric tram-train.
  • Gainsborough Lea Road. – 32 miles – See Lincoln Central.
  • Huddersfield – 36 miles – Possible battery electric train with charging at Huddersfield.
  • Hull – 59 miles – Possible battery electric train with charging at Doncaster and Hull.
  • Lincoln Central – 48 miles – Possible battery electric train with charging at Lincoln and/or Gainsborough Lea Road. Otherwise diesel.
  • Penistone – 23 miles – Possible return trip from Sheffield for a battery electric train, using Newton’s friend on the way back.
  • Retford – 23 miles – Possible return trip from Sheffield for a battery electric train.
  • Waverley – About 6 miles – Possible return trip from Sheffield for a battery electric tram-train.
  • Worksop – 16 miles – Possible return trip from Sheffield for a battery electric train.

It looks to me like a mix of battery electric trains and tram-trains could run most of the services from Sheffield, if services that used new High Speed Two infrastructure used classic-compatible trains or trains like the existing Class 802 trains, that have been converted to battery electric operation.

Note.

  1. I am assuming, that a battery electric train has  a range of 56 miles on a single charge.
  2. Rotherham Parkgate station is changed to a through station.
  3. Tram-trains passing through Doncaster can recharge on the station’s 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  4. Charging can be provided as required at other stations.

There are lots of possibilities.

Consider, this for tram-train extensions to Barnsley Dearne Valley, Doncaster and Doncaster Sheffield Airport.

  • Extend the tram-train service at Rotherham Parkgate to either Doncaster and Doncaster Airport or Barnsley Dearne Valley stations.
  • Run tram-trains between Dore & Totley and Rotherham Parkgate via Sheffield, Meadowhall and Rotherham Central.

This would give a double-ended route across Sheffield and Rotherham between Dore & Totley and the existing Supertram network in the West and Barnsley Dearne Valley, Doncaster and Doncaster Sheffield Airport in the East.

Consider how to connect the branch to Waverley station to the Supertram network.

  • Waverley station will be either on or on a loop from the Sheffield and Lincoln Line.
  • The Sheffield and Lincoln Line has no obvious connection with the Supertram network.
  • The Sheffield and Lincoln Line goes straight in to Sheffield station.
  • Trains to Lincoln always appear to use Platform 4 in Sheffield station.
  • Sheffield station has four through platforms.

This Google Map shows where the Sheffield and Lincoln Line passes behind the Supertram Depot at Nunnery.

Note.

  1. The Nunnery Square Park and Ride is in the South West corner of the map.
  2. The Supertram depot is to the East of the Park-and-Ride, with the Nunnery Square tram stop to the South.
  3. The Woodbourn Road tram stop is in the North East corner of the map.

This second Google Map shows the lines around the Park-and-Ride.

I suspect that a connection between the Supertram system and the Sheffield and Lincoln Line, could be built to the North of the Nunnery Depot.

But would it be easier to continue to Sheffield station or pass through the station and terminate at Dore & Totley station?

I can’t be sure looking at the maps, but it could be logical that trains to and from Lincoln use the Southern pair of tracks past the Nunnery Depot, as they would be on the right side of the tracks for Lincoln.

This would make it easier to do the following.

  • Create a connection between the Nunnery Depot and the Sheffield and Lincoln Line, which would surely be needed for efficient maintenance and operation of tram-trains running to and from Waverley.
  • Allow tram-trains used to serve the proposed Waverley station to return to the Depot every night.
  • Allow tram-trains working between Sheffield and Meadowhall to use the Lincoln and Sheffield Line to enter the Nunnery Depot.
  • Build a tram stop/station by the Park-and-Ride.

There would also be less need to build another depot.

Looking at the maps, could there be space to extend the Nunnery Depot?

Conclusion

This could be a very good project.

  • It fits in well with the plans and needs of High Speed Two.
  • It connects the new Waverley station to Sheffield station.
  • It fits well with the Sheffield Region Transport Plan 2019.
  • It connects Sheffield, Rotherham and Doncaster to Doncaster Sheffield Airport.
  • It opens up the Hope Valley Line to improve services between Manchester and Sheffield.

I also don’t think, there’s any great risk!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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July 12, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Beeching Reversal – A New Station At Waverley In Sheffield

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

In July 2019, I covered this new station in Sheffield Region Transport Plan 2019 – A New Tram-Train Route To A New Station At Waverley.

Note that to avoid confusion, I now refer to this station as Sheffield Waverley station.

This was my conclusion in the July 2019 post.

Why shouldn’t Sheffield have an advanced tram-train system to serve the Advanced Manufacturing Park?

I feel the service should be as follows.

    • It should be terminated in a loop around the Waverley area and the Advanced Manufacturing Park.
    • In the West it could terminate in Sheffield station or perhaps pass through and terminate in the West of the City.
    • The service could be run using battery electric tram-trains, similar to the Class 398 tram-trains, that will be used on the South Wales Metro.

I don’t think that the engineering will be very challenging.

I shall be adding to this post.

July 11, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Beeching Reversal – South Yorkshire Joint Railway

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

This railway seems to have been forgotten, as even Wikipedia only has a rather thin entry for the South Yorkshire Joint Railway.

The best description of the railway, that I’ve found is from this article in the Doncaster Free Press, which is entitled South Yorkshire Railway Line, Which Last Carried Passengers 100 Years Ago Could Be Reopened.

This is said.

The line remains intact, and recently maintained, runs from Worksop through to Doncaster, via North and South Anston, Laughton Common/Dinnington and Maltby.

I jave got my helicopter out and navigating with the help of Wikipedia, I have traced the route of the South Yorkshire Joint Railway (SYJR) between Worksop and Doncaster.

Shireoaks Station

This Google Map shows the Southern end of the SYJR on the Sheffield and Gainsborough Central Line between Shireoaks and Kiveton Park stations.

Note.

  1. Shireoaks station is in the East.
  2. Kiveton Park station is in the West.
  3. The SYJR starts at the triangular junction in the middle of the map.
  4. Lindrick Golf Club, where GB & NI, won the Ryder Cup in 1957 is shown by a green arrow to the North of Shireoaks station.
  5. The original passenger service on the SYJR, which closed in the 1920s, appears to have terminated at Shireoaks station.

The line immediately turns West and then appears to run between the villages of North and South Anston.

Anston Station

This Google Map shows the location of Anston station.

Note that the SYJR goes between the two villages and runs along the North side of the wood, that is to the North of Worksop Road.

Dinnington & Laughton Station

This Google Map shows the location of the former Dinnington & Laughton station.

Note that the SYJR goes to the west side of both villages, so it would have been quite a walk to the train.

Maltby Station

This Google Map shows the location of the former Maltby station.

Note.

  1. The SYJR goes around the South side of the village.
  2. The remains of the massive Maltby Main Colliery, which closed several years ago.

I wonder if they fill the shafts of old mines like this. if they don’t and just cap them, they could be used by Gravitricity to store energy. In Explaining Gravitricity, I do a rough calculation of the energy storage with a practical thousand tonne weight. Maltby Main’s two shafts were 984 and 991 metres deep. They would store 2.68 and 2.70 MWh respectively.

It should be noted that Gravitricity are serious about 5.000 tonnes weights.

Tickhill & Wadworth Station

This Google Map shows the location of the former Tickhill & Wadworth station.

Note.

  1. Tickhill is in the South and Wadworth is in the North.
  2. Both villages are to the West of the A1 (M)
  3. The SYJR runs in a North-Easterly direction between the villages.

The station appears to have been, where the minor road and the railway cross.

Doncaster iPort

The SYJR then passes through Doncaster iPort.

Note.

  1. The iPort seems to be doing a lot of work for Amazon.
  2. The motorway junction is Junction 3 on the M18.
  3. The SYJR runs North-South on the Western side of the centre block of warehouses.

This is Wikipedia’s introductory description of the iPort.

Doncaster iPort or Doncaster Inland Port is an intermodal rail terminal; a Strategic Rail Freight Interchange, under construction in Rossington, Doncaster at junction 3 of the M18 motorway in England. It is to be connected to the rail network via the line of the former South Yorkshire Joint Railway, and from an extension of the former Rossington Colliery branch from the East Coast Main Line.

The development includes a 171-hectare (420-acre) intermodal rail terminal to be built on green belt land, of which over 50 hectares (120 acres) was to be developed into warehousing, making it the largest rail terminal in Yorkshire; the development also included over 150 hectares (370 acres) of countryside, the majority of which was to remain in agricultural use, with other parts used for landscaping, and habitat creation as part of environment mitigation measures.

It ;looks like the SYJR will be integrated with the warehouses, so goods can be handled by rail.

Onward To Doncaster

After the iPort, the trains can take a variety of routes, some of which go through Doncaster station.

I have some thoughts on the South Yorkshire Joint Railway (SYJR).

Should The Line Be Electrified?

This is always a tricky one, but as there could be a string of freight trains running between Doncaster iPort and Felixstowe, something should be done to cut the carbon emissions and pollution of large diesel locomotives.

Obviously, one way to sort out Felixstowe’s problem, would be to fill in the gaps of East Anglian electrification and to electrify the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Line between Peterborough and Doncaster via Lincoln. But I suspect Lincolnshire might object to up to fifteen freight trains per hour rushing through. Even, if they were electric!

I am coming round to the believe that Steamology Motion may have a technology, that could haul a freight  train for a couple of hours.

These proposed locomotives, which are fuelled by hydrogen and oxygen, will have an electric transmission and could benefit from sections of electrification, which could power the locomotives directly.

So sections of electrification along the route, might enable the freight trains to go between Felixstowe and Doncaster iPort without using diesel.

It should be said, that Steamology Motion is the only technology, that I’ve seen, that has a chance of converting a 3-4 MW diesel locomotive to zero carbon emissions.

Many think it is so far-fetched, that they’ll never make it work!

Electrification of the line would also enable the service between Doncaster and Worksop to be run by Class 399 tram-trains, which are pencilled in to be used to the nearby Doncaster Sheffield Airport.

What Rolling Stock Should Be Used?

As I said in the previous section, I feel that Class 399 tram-trains would be ideal, if the line were to be electrified.

Also, if the line between Shireoaks and Kiveton Park stations were to be electrified to Sheffield, this would connect the South Yorkshire Joint Line to Sheffield’s Supertram network.

Surely, one compatible tram-train type across South Yorkshire, would speed up development of a quality public transport system.

A service could also be run using Vivarail’s Pop-up Metro concept, with fast charging at one or two, of any number of the stations.

Conclusion

This seems to be a worthwhile scheme, but I would like to see more thought on electrification of the important routes from Felixstowe and a unified and very extensive tram-train network around Sheffield.

 

July 5, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

HS2 Railway To Be Delayed By Up To Five Years

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the BBC.

These first few paragraphs indicate the current situation.

The first phase of the HS2 high-speed railway between London and Birmingham will be delayed by up to five years, Transport Minister Grant Shapps says.

That section of the line was due to open at the end of 2026, but it could now be between 2028 and 2031 before the first trains run on the route.

HS2’s total cost has also risen from £62bn to between £81bn and £88bn, but Mr Shapps said he was keeping an “open mind” about the project’s future.

The second phase has also been delayed.

What are the short term consequences of this delay in the building of High Speed Two?

  • No Capacity Increase Between London And Birmingham., until three or five years later.
  • Capacity increases to Glasgow, Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham and Preston will probably be five years or more later.

Are there any other things we can do to in the meantime to make the shortfall less damaging to the economy?

East Coast Main Line

Much of the East Coast Main Line (ECML) has been designed for 140 mph running. Wikipedia puts it like this..

Most of the length of the ECML is capable of 140 mph subject to certain infrastructure upgrades.

Wikipedia also says that Greengauge 21 believe that Newcastle and London timings using the shorter route could be comparable to those using HS2.

Track And Signalling Improvements

There are a number of improvements that can be applied to the ECML, with those at the Southern end summed up by this paragraph from Wikipedia.

Increasing maximum speeds on the fast lines between Woolmer Green and Dalton-on-Tees up to 140 mph (225 km/h) in conjunction with the introduction of the Intercity Express Programme, level crossing closures, ETRMS fitments, OLE rewiring and the OLE PSU – est. to cost £1.3 billion (2014). This project is referred to as “L2E4” or London to Edinburgh (in) 4 Hours. L2E4 examined the operation of the IEP at 140 mph on the ECML and the sections of track which can be upgraded to permit this, together with the engineering and operational costs.

Currently, services between London and Edinburgh take between twenty and forty minutes over four hours.

Who would complain if some or even all services took four hours?

To help the four hour target to be achieved Network Rail are also doing the following.

  • Building the Werrington Dive-under.
  • Remodelling the station throat at Kings Cross.
  • Adding extra tracks between Huntingdon and Woodwalton.
  • Devising a solution for the flat junction at Newark.

Every little helps and all these improvements will allow faster and extra services along the ECML.

Obviously, running between London and Edinburgh in four hours has implications for other services.

In Changes Signalled For HS2 Route In North, I said this.

Currently, the fastest non-stop trains between London and Doncaster take a few minutes over ninety minutes. With 140 mph trains, I think the following times are easily possible.

  • London and Doncaster – 80 minutes
  • London and Hull  – A few minutes over two hours, running via Selby.
  • London and Leeds – A few minutes less than two hours, running on the Classic route.

For comparison High Speed Two is quoting 81 minutes for London Euston and Leeds, via Birmingham and East Midlands Hub.

I suspect that North of Doncaster, improving timings will be more difficult, due to the slower nature of the route, but as services will go between Edinburgh and London in four hours, there must be some improvements to be made.

  • Newcastle – Current time is 170 minutes, with High Speed Two predicting 137 minutes. My best estimate shows that on an improved ECML, times of under 150 minutes should be possible.
  • York – Current time is 111 minutes, with High Speed Two predicting 84 minutes. Based on the Newcastle time, something around 100 minutes should be possible.

In Wikipedia,  Greengauge 21 are quoted as saying.

Upgrading the East Coast Main Line to 140 mph operation as a high priority alongside HS2 and to be delivered without delay. Newcastle London timings across a shorter route could closely match those achievable by HS2.

My estimate shows a gap of thirteen minutes, but they have better data than I can find on the Internet.

Filling Electrification Gaps East Of Leeds And Between Doncaster And Sheffield

In Changes Signalled For HS2 Route In North, I said this.

These are the lines East of Leeds.

  • A connection to the East Coast Main Line for York, Newcastle and Edinburgh.
  • An extension Eastwards to Hull.

These would not be the most expensive sub-project, but they would give the following benefits, when they are upgraded.

  • Electric trains between Hull and Leeds.
  • Electric trains between Hull and London.
  • Electric access to Neville Hill Depot from York and the North.
  • An electric diversion route for the East Coast Main Line between York and Doncaster.
  • The ability to run electric trains between London and Newcastle/Edinburgh via Leeds.

Hull and Humberside will be big beneficiaries.

In addition, the direct route between Doncaster and Sheffield should be electrified.

This would allow the following.

  • LNER expresses to run on electricity between London and Sheffield, if they were allowed to run the route.
  • Sheffield’s tram-trains could reach Doncaster and Doncaster Sheffield Airport.

A collateral benefit would be that it would bring 25 KVAC power to Sheffield station.

Better Use Of Trains

LNER are working the trains harder and will be splitting and joining trains, so that only full length trains run into Kings Cross, which will improve capacity..

Capacity might also be increased, if Cambridge, Kings Lynn and Peterborough services were run with 125 mph or even 140 mph trains. GWR is already doing this, to improve efficiency between Paddington and Reading.

Faster Freight Trains

Rail Operations Group has ordered Class 93 locomotives, which are hybrid and capable of hauling some freight trains at 110 mph.

Used creatively, these might create more capacity on the ECML.

Could the East Coast Main Line be the line that keeps on giving?

Especially in the area of providing faster services to Lincoln, Hull, Leeds, Huddersfield,Bradford Newcastle and Edinburgh.

Conclusion On East Coast Main Line

There is a lot of scope to create a high capacity, 140 mph line between London and Edinburgh.

An Upgraded Midland Main Line

Plans already exist to run 125 mph bi-mode Hitachi trains on the Midland Main Line between London and Leicester, Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield.

But could more be done in the short term on this line.

Electrification Between Clay Cross North Junction And Sheffield

This 15.5 mile section of the Midland Main Line will be shared with High Speed Two.

It should be upgraded to High Speed Two standard as soon as possible.

This would surely save a few minutes between London and Sheffield.

140 mph Running

The Hitachi bi-modes are capable of 140 mph,  if the signalling is digital and in-cab.

Digital signalling is used by the Class 700 trains running on Thameslink, so would there be time savings to be made by installing digital signalling on the Midland Main Line, especially as it would allow 140 mph running, if the track was fast enough.

Extension From Sheffield To Leeds Via New Stations At Rotherham And Barnsley

Sheffield and Transport for the North are both keen on this project and it would have the following benefits.

  • Rotherham and Barnsley get direct trains to and from London.
  • A fast service with a frequency of four trains per hour (tph) could run between Leeds and Sheffield in a time of twenty-eight minutes.

This extension will probably go ahead in all circumstances.

Use Of The Erewash Valley Line

The Erewash Valley Line is a route, that connects the Midland Main Line to Chesterfield and Sheffield, by bypassing Derby.

It has recently been upgraded and from my helicopter, it looks that it could be faster than the normal route through Derby and the World Heritage Site of the Derwent Valley Mills.

The World Heritage Site would probably make electrification of the Derby route difficult, but could some Sheffield services use the relatively straight Erewash Valley Line to save time?

Faster Services Between London And Sheffield

When East Midlands Railway receive their new Hitachi bi-mode trains, will the company do what their sister company; Greater Anglia is doing on the London and Norwich route and increase the number of hourly services from two to three?

If that is done, would the third service be a faster one going at speed, along the Erewash Valley Line?

I suspect that it could have a timing of several minutes under two hours.

Conclusion On An Upgraded Midland Main Line

There are various improvements and strategies, that can be employed to turn the Midland Main Line into a High Speed Line serving Leicester, Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield.

West Coast Main Line

The West Coast Main Line is not such a fruitful line for improvement, as is the East Coast Main Line.

Digital signalling, 140 mph running and faster freight trains, may allow a few more trains to be squeezed into the busy main line.

Increasing Capacity Between London and Birmingham New Street

I’ve seen increased capacity between London and Birmingham quoted as one of the reasons for the building of High Speed Two.

Currently, both Virgin Trains and West Midlands Trains, have three tph between London and Birmingham New Street.

  • This is probably not enough capacity.
  • The line between Birmingham New Street and Coventry stations is probably at capacity.

These points probably mean more paths between London and Birmingham are needed.

High Speed Two is planned to provide the following services between London and Birmingham after Phase 2 opens.

  • Three tph – London and Birmingham Curzon Street stations via Old Oak Common and Birmingham Interchange (2 tph)
  • Fourteen tph – London and Birmingham Interchange via Old Oak Common.

That is a massive amount of extra capacity between London and Birmingham.

  • It might be possible to squeeze another train into each hour.
  • Trains could be lengthened.
  • Does Birmingham New Street station have the capacity?

But it doesn’t look like the West Coast Main Line can provide much extra capacity between London and Birmingham.

Increasing Capacity Between London and Liverpool Lime Street

Over the last couple of years, Liverpool Lime Street station has been remodelled and the station will now be able to handle two tph from London, when the timetable is updated in a year or so.

Digital signalling of the West Coast Main Line would help.

Increasing Capacity Between London and Manchester Piccadilly

Manchester Piccadilly station uses two platforms for three Virgin Trains services per hour to and from London.

These platforms could both handle two tph, so the station itself is no barrier to four tph between London and Manchester.

Paths South to London could be a problem, but installing digital signalling on the West Coast Main Line would help.

Conclusion On The West Coast Main Line

Other improvements may be needed, but the major update of the West Coast Main Line, that would help, would be to use digital signalling to squeeze more capacity out of the route.

The Chiltern Main Line

Could the Chiltern Main Line be used to increase capacity between London and Birmingham?

Currently, there are hourly trains between Birmingham Moor Street and Snow Hill stations and London.

As each train has about 420 seats, compared to the proposed 1,100 of the High Speed Two trains, the capacity is fairly small.

Increasing capacity on the route is probably fairly difficult.

Digital Signalling

This could be used to create more paths and allow more trains to run between London and Bitmingham.

Electrification

The route is not electrified, but electrifying the 112 mile route would cause massive disruption.

Capacity At Marylebone Station

Marylebone station probably doesn’t have the capacity for more rains.

Conclusion On The Chiltern Main Line

I don’t think that there is much extra capacity available on the Chiltern Main Line between London and Birmingham.

Conclusion

I have looked at the four main routes that could help make up the shortfall caused by the delay to High Speed Two.

  • Planned improvements to the East Coast Main Line could provide valuable extra capacity to Leeds and East Yorkshire.
  • The Midland Main Line will increase capacity to the East Midlands and South Yorkshire, when it gets new trains in a couple of years.
  • Planned improvements to the West Coast Main Line could provide valuable extra capacity to North West England.
  • The Chiltern Main Line probably has little place to play.

As Birmingham has been planning for High Speed Two to open in 2026, some drastic rethinking must be done to ensure that London and Birmingham have enough rail capacity from that date.

 

 

 

September 4, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sheffield Region Transport Plan 2019 – Renewal Of Supertram Network

Sheffield’s plan has renewal of the Supertram network as a short term priority.

The Sheffield Supertram is twenty-five years old and when you consider, many UK urban railway and tram systems of the same vintage have been substantially updated with new rolling stock and new routes.

The plan lists three things that must be done.

Network Rerailing

This has already been done over part of the network to allow the Class 399 tram-trains to operate on the Supertram network.

So I suspect that the rest of the network needs to be re-railed.

Certainly, the Class 399 tram-trains, which are cousins of the tram-trains working in Karlsruhe don’t seem to have had any serious problems, that have surfaced in the media.

New Vehicles

New trams are needed, mainly because the original trains are twenty-five years old.

But will these new trams, be trams or tram-trains?

That question has already been answered, as Sheffield uses some Class 399 tram-trains as capacity enhancers on some normal tram routes.

The Class 399 tram-trains that have been ordered for the South Wales Metro are being delivered with a battery capability.

So if Class 399 tram-trains or something similar, should they have a battery capability?

Undoubtedly, as Birmingham are showing, the ability to extend a route without wires is extremely useful amd cost-saving.

I also suspect that Cardiff, Karlsruhe and Sheffield will share similar vehicles, as the latter two cities do now.

The only differences are the German version runs on 15 KVAC as opposed to the UK’s 25 KVAC, some changed body panels, boarding heights, door number and position, colour schemes and couplers.

Sheffield and Cardiff will be using a standard European tram-train, adapted to our working practices and track standards.

Extending The Network

Suppose Sheffield choose as the tram replacement, a vehicle with the following characteristics.

  • Tram-train.
  • Able to use 25 VAC and 750 VDC overhead wires.
  • Able to use battery power.
  • Regeerative braking to battery.
  • Enhanced performance, as the original vehicles struggle on the hills, according to drivers to whom I’ve spoken. But the 399s are much better!
  • Extra capacity.
  • 75 mph operating speed

Sheffield would be able to develop several new routes.

I am particularly curious, as to whether a tram-train with a battery capability delivered in say 2025, will have the capability of handling a route like the Penistone Line.

It should be noted, that if Sheffield were Karlsruhe, there would be tram-trains to Doncaster, Doncaster-Sheffield Airport, Huddersfield, Retford and Worksop.

But the German city is at the centre of a network of electrified lines.

Conclusion

Sheffield will be the next city in the UK, after Cardiff, that will have a wide-spresad battery-electric tram-train network.

July 21, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 4 Comments

Sheffield Region Transport Plan 2019 – A New Tram-Train Route To A New Station At Waverley

Sheffield’s plans state that a medium to long term priority is to have a new station on the Sheffield-Lincoln Line.

This Google Map shows the location of Waverley between Darnall and stations.

 

Note.

  1. Darnall station is in the North-West corner of the map.
  2. Woodhouse station is in the South-East corner of the map.
  3. Waverley is a new housing area and is highlighted in red towards the North-East corner of the map.

The plans also propose that the service will be run by tram-trains and they will also serve the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP)

This Google Map shows AMP and Waverley in a larger scale.

Note.

  1. Waverley in the South-East corner of the map.
  2. The AMP in the North-West corner of the map.
  3. The Sheffield-Lincoln Line curving through to the South.

Most rail and tram systems are straight out-and-back layouts, but there are two very important loops  that serve a wider area under Liverpool City Centre and Heathrow Airport.

Could Waverley and the AMP be served by a surface loop from the Sheffield-Lincoln Line?

  • The loop could be single- or double-track.
  • Stops would be in appropriate places.
  • The loop could be electrified as needed with 750 VDC to the Sheffield Supertram standard.

As Sheffield is less than three miles from Waverley, the battery-electric version of Class 399 tram-trains could be used.

  • These have been ordered for the South Wales Metro,
  • They are now numbered Class 398 tram-trains.
  • They should be able to run to and from Sheffield on battery power.
  • If the loop was fully electrified, this could charge the tram-trains.

The Sheffield-Lincoln Line passes to the back of the Sheffield Supertram Depot, so I suspect, if required the tram-trains could sneak through the depot to join the main tram route through Sheffield City Centre.

But as the Sheffield Supertram expands, there must surely come a point, where a second route across the City is needed to handle increasing numbers of trams. Manchester found this a few years ago and have since built the Second City Crossing.

Sheffield already has a second route across the City and it is the rail line through Sheffield station, which will be electrified in the next few years, to allow High Speed Two trains to reach the City.

So I can see no reason, why tram-trains from Waverley and the AMP can’t terminate in Sheffield station or go across the City.

To show what the Germans get up to, here’s one of Karlruhe’s tram-trains in a platform in Karlsruhe HBf, with a double-deck TGV in an adjacent platform.

This is one of Karlsruhe’s older train trains, that are being replaced by tram-trains, which are cousins of those in Sheffield.

If the Waverley loop is built, it can be considered as a separate tram system, that connects to Sheffield station, by running as a battery-electric train.

Conclusion

Why shouldn’t Sheffield have an advanced tram-train system to serve the Advanced Manufacturing Park?

I feel the service should be as follows.

  • It should be terminated in a loop around the Waverley area and the Advanced Manufacturing Park.
  • In the West it could terminate in Sheffield station or perhaps pass through and terminate in the West of the City.
  • The service could be run using battery electric tram-trains, similar to the Class 398 tram-trains, that will be used on the South Wales Metro.

I don’t think that the engineering will be very challenging.

 

July 20, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Comparing Trams And Tram-Trains In Manchester And Sheffield

In Could A Class 399 Tram-Train With Batteries Go Between Manchester Victoria And Rochdale/Bury Bolton Street/Rawtenstall Stations?, I discussed how Class 399 tram-trains might be used on a route in the Manchester area.

This was my conclusion.

Could we see tram-trains running from Bury Bolton Street, Hebden Bridge, Rawtenstall and Rochdale into Manchester Victoria and then taking to the existing tram network?

If you’ve ever been to Karlsruhe, as I have to see the Class 399 tram-trains German cousins, you wouldn’t rule out anything.

That would include tram-train services to Blackburn, Buxton, Chester, Glossop, Hebden Bridge, Sheffield, Southport and Wigan.

So how do Manchester’s M5000 trams, Sheffield’s Supertrams compare to the Class 399 tram-train?

Body Construction

  • M5000 – Aluminium
  • Supertram – Steel
  • Class 399 – Lightweight Stainless Steel

Does the Class 399 use lightweight stainless steel to give enhanced crash protection and better corrosion resistance?

Sections, Doors and Length

  • M5000 – 2, 4 and 38.4 metres
  • Supertram – 3, 4 and 34.8 metres
  • Class 399 – 3, 4 and 37.2 metres

Capacity

  • M5000 – 60 or 66 seats, 149 standing, 209/215 maximum
  • Supertram – 86 seats, 155 standing, 241 maximum
  • Class 399 – 88 seats and 150 standing, 238 maximum

The M5000 is a bit less because it is a shorter vehicle with less standing space.

Entrance Height

  • M5000 – 0.98 metres
  • Supertram – 0.42 metres
  • Class 399 – .425 metres

The Supertram and the Class 399 have obviously been built to be able to use the same tram platforms in Sheffield.

Wikipedia says this about standard UK platform height.

The standard height for platforms is 915 mm with a margin of +0,-25 mm

But it would appear that the M5000 is not far from the UK standard height, but the Class 399 is 0.465 metres too low.

Consider.

  • The entrance height of a Greater Anglia Class 755 train, which is a bi-mode FLIRT is 0.96 metres.
  • On the South Wales Metro, variants of Class 399 tram/trains and Class 755 trains will share platforms.

So Stadler must have a nifty solution to overcome the platform height difference for these two trains, which is similar to that in Manchester between a Class 399 tram-train and an M5000.

If it’s on the tram-train, then Stadler have a solution, that will allow Class 399 tram-trains to run on the Manchester Metrolink.

The datasheet for the Class 399 tram-train says this about the suspension of the tram-train.

Smooth and silent operation with secondary air suspension and resilient wheels.

Secondary air suspension is not new on trains, as it certainly featured on British Rail Mark 3 coaches from the 1970s, which have a legendary smooth ride. It can still be seen between the bogie and the coach on many Bombardier trains, which trace their ancestry to British Rail designs.

The picture shows the bogie on a Class 378 train.

Note the air-suspension above the frame of the bogie.

Some cars use secondary air suspension with computers to control the amount of air in each rubber bag to improve the ride and road-holding.

Transport for London measure the pressure in the suspension and use this to calculate train loading. I described this application in Is This The Hippest Train Status Displays?

Could the air bags be pumped up to raise the train and and reduced in pressure to drop it a few centimetres?

There are certainly suspension engineers, in the automotive and motor-sport industries, who have relevant experience and could suggest a solution.

All this speculation is a bit like Lew Grasde’s quote on the film Raise the Titanic on which he lost a lot of money.

Raise The Titanic?  It would have been cheaper to lower the Atlantic!

Here it’s a bit of the reverse as if the tram-trains can be adjusted to the platform height, then hundreds of platforms don’t need to be rebuilt.

Suppose the platforms were built to fit an existing tram or train.

  • On the Manchester Metrolink the platforms would fit the M5000 trams.
  • On the Sheffield Supertram, the platforms would fit the Supertrams.
  • On the South Wales Metro, the platforms would fit the Welsh variant of the Class 755 train.

The Class 399 tram-trains running in Sheffield have their suspension adjusted on mnufacture and in the depot, so that there is level access between tram-train and platform.

Could the same tram-trains be adjusted so that they fit the Manchester Metrolink platforms, which are higher?

If they can, then Manchester has got a source of off-the-shelf tram-trains.

The picture shows a Class 399 tram-train at Rotherham Parkgate. Note the level access at the orange door in the foreground.

Manchester would need a different colour as Chelsea Blue wouldn’t be appropriate.

The intriguing idea, is can the same Class 399 tram-trains run in both Manchester and Sheffield, with the tram-train’s computer adjusting the ride height to suit the different height of platforms?

At present the answer is probably no, as if they could then there wouldn’t be dual-height platforms at Rotherham Central station.

Note the slopes down on both sides of the tracks from the high-level train platforms in the background, to the low-level tram platforms in the foreground.

It all depends on whether the suspension design is possible.

If it is, which I doubt, it would get round the bit problem of platforms on tram-train systems.

Weight

  • M5000 – 30.7 tonnes
  • Supertram – 46.5 tonnes
  • Class 399 – .66.1 tonnes

The Class 399 tram-train is a heavy beast so raising it by much might be difficult, as you changed from Sheffield to Manchester heights.

Operating Speed

  • M5000 – 80 kph
  • Supertram – 80 kph
  • Class 399 – .100 kph

Power And Power/Weight Ratio

  • M5000 – 480 kW – 15.6 kW/tonne
  • Supertram – 1108kW –  23.8 kW/tonne
  • Class 399 – 870 kW – 13.2 kW/tonne

Noye.

  1. By comparison the power/weight ratio of a Class 321 train is just 7.9 kW/tonne
  2. I have talked to Sheffield tram-drivers and their view is that the Class 399 tram-trains handle Sheffield’s hills better with a full load of passengers.
  3. The Class 399 has six traction motors, whereas the others have four.

So perhaps, the way that the Class 399 tram-train puts its power to the rail with more driven axles,  is important.

Conclusion

I am convinced that just as Sheffield’s Supertram can work happily with Class 399 tram-trains, Stadler have ways and means of making Manchester Metrolink’s M5000 trams work with the tram-trains.

If the Class 399 tram-train is compatible with both tram networks, this will be a great advantage in designing new tram-train routes.

It would also mean that one day, a tram-train service could run from Cathedral in Sheffield to Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester via the Hope Valley Line.

I suspect that a lot of local services from the two cities will be run by tram-train services, that cross the cities.

 

 

 

 

March 10, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

What Would Tram-Trains With A Battery Capability Do For The Sheffield Supertram?

I asked this question in a slightly different form in Is The Sheffield Rotherham Tram-Train Showing Signs Of London Overground Syndrome?, where I said this.

Sheffield could do a lot worse, than replace the Siemens-Duewag trams with Class 399 tram-trains. Especially, as the South Wales Metro, will be buying thirty-six similar vehicles with batteries.

What would tram-trains with a battery capability do for Sheffield, Rotherham and the neighbouring towns?

We don’t know much about Stadler’s proposed tram-trains for the South Wales Metro.

  • They look to be very similar externally to the Class 399 tram-trains.
  • They will be able to work using 25 KVAC electrification on the South Wales Main Line.
  • They will be able to work the two-mile long Butetown Branch Line on battery power.
  • Whether they will have a 750 VDC capability has not been said.

A tram-train with batteries would certainly offer other possibilities.

On my trip to Rotherham, I met a guy of about my age, who was a resident of Sheffield. He  was proud of the city’s trams and was trying out the tram-train for the first time.

He also suggested two possible extensions.

  • Royal Hallamshire Hospital
  • A tram-train to Doncaster.

There have also been plans at times to run tram-trains to Dore & Totley and Penistone stations.

So how would tram-trains with batteries help for these routes?

Royal Hallamshire Hospital

On this page of the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals web site, this is said about getting to the hospital by tram.

Supertram does not serve the Northern General Hospital. It can be used to reach the Royal Hallamshire, Jessop Wing, Charles Clifford and Weston Park Hospitals, although please be aware that there is still a 10-15 minute uphill walk from the nearest stop (University). We would recommend that anyone who experiences difficulty walking long distances choose some alternative means of travelling to hospital.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note.

  1. The University tram stop is in the North-East corner of the map and is marked by a blue dot, marked with University of Sheffield.
  2. The Royal Hallamshire Hospital is in the South-West corner of the map.

This Google Map shows the University of Sheffield tram stop and how the tram route turns East to go to and from the city centre.

If the terrain allows it, a short extension might be possible to be built to the West along Glossop Road.

  • As in Birmingham City Centre, the tram-trains could run on batteries, without any overhead wires.
  • Charging could be provided at the terminal station which could be a few minutes walk to the hospital.
  • The hospital and the university could be a good terminus for tram-trains from Rotherham and the East.

This is a typical extension, that is made easier and more affordable by the use of trams with a battery capability.

Connecting The Supertram To Heavy Rail

The Sheffield Supertram was designed before tram-trains existed, but even so there would seem to be several places, where the two systems could be connected.

The design of the Class 399 train-trams also makes the connections easier to design and build.

  • The tram-trains can take tight turns.
  • There are various innovative solutions, that allow the pantograph to ride from one electrification system to the other.
  • If the tram-trains have batteries, this helps the electrification system changeover.

As more tram-train systems are installed, the library of solutions will get larger.

Tram-Train To Doncaster

There is a two trains per hour (tph) Northern service that goes between Sheffield and Doncaster, stopping at Meadowhall, Rotherham Central, Swinton, Mexborough and Conisbrough.

  • One train continues to Hull and the other to Adwick.
  • The service takes forty minutes from Doncaster to Sheffield.
  • The service goes past the Rotherham Parkgate tram-train stop.
  • The service takes about twenty minutes to go from Rotherham Parkgate to Doncaster, which is a distance of around 11.5 miles.

There is surely scope to extend the tram-train service to Doncaster to improve links between Sheffield, Rotherham and Doncaster.

This Google Map shows the Rotherham Parkgate tram-train stop.

Note how the tram-train stop is effectively a siding alongside the double-track Dearne Valley Line, that links Rotherham Central with Leeds and York. It also has a link to Doncaster via the short Swinton-Doncaster Line.

Space would appear to have been left to convert the line through the tram-train stop to a loop. With an additional cross-over at the Eastern end of the stop, it would be possible to extend the tram-train service beyond its current terminal.

I have a map, which shows that the routes to Doncaster and along the Dearne Valley Line to where it crosses the Leeds-Doncaster Line could be electrified in the early 2020s.

If this electrification is carried out, then the tram-train service could easily be extended to Doncaster.

On the other hand, as Rochester Parkgate to Doncaster is around 11.5 miles and the route will have 25 KVAC overhead electrification at both ends, would it be possible for a tram-train with batteries to bridge the gap in the electrification?

Comparing a three-section Class 399 tram-train with a two-car battery/electric Class 230 train shows that the two vehicles have similar lengths, weight and passenger capacities.

As Vivarail have managed to fit 400 kWh of batteries under a Class 230 train, I wouldn’t be surprised to see at least 200 kWh of batteries squeezed under a Class 399 tram-train.

So would 200 kWh of battery power be sufficient to take a Class 399 tram-train between Rotherham Parkgate and Doncaster?

It should be noted that the total power of a Class 399 tram-train is 870 kW, so it wouldn’t be possible if the tram-train was on full power all the time.

But.

  • The route is along the River Don and appears to be not very challenging.
  • Regenerative braking can be used at the three stops and any other stops due to red signals.
  • The initial acceleration at both ends could be accomplished under a short length of electrification.
  • The tram-trains will probably have been designed to use the lowest level of energy possible.
  • The tram-train could run in a low energy mode, when under battery power.

Stadler also know that handling a route like this on battery power would be an important sales feature all round the world.

Tram-Train To Dore & Totley

Running a tram-train service to Dore & Totley station in the South West of Sheffield seems to keep being mentioned.

When it was planned that HS2 was going to Meadowhall, this document was published. This was said about connecting Dore & Totley station to HS2.

Improved rail access to Meadowhall from south-west Sheffield could also be considered – for
example, a frequent service between Dore & Totley and Meadowhall could be included.

Proposed future transport schemes include the tram-train project; if successful, this could be extended to allow further interchange possibilities at the HS2 station.

But HS2 is now going to the main Sheffield station.

This will probably mean.

  • The route between Sheffield and Chesterfield will be upgraded and electrified, with I suspect extra tracks.
  • The electrified lines will pass through Dore & Totley station.
  • HS2 will need frequent connecting services from all over South Yorkshire into Sheffield station.

Dore & Totley and the stations on the Hope Valley service have a truly inadequate erratic hourly service to both Sheffield and Manchester.

There are two compatible solutions.

  • A four tph regional solution of a train between perhaps Hull and Manchester stopping at Doncaster, Rotherham Central, Sheffield and a few stations on the Hope Valley Line.
  • A higher frequency Sheffield solution of a train between perhaps Doncaster and the stations near to Sheffield on the Hope Valley Line.

The first service would be an advanced bi-mode train, whilst a tram-train with batteries could be ideal for the second

.Consider using a tram-train with batteries  on the second service.

  • It could use batteries on the Hope Valley Line to avoid electrification.
  • It would serve Sheffield and Meadowhall stations.
  • It could use heavy rail or tram routes in between the two major stations.
  • It could provide a high frequency service between the two major stations.

There are a lot of possibilities and the transport planners will know the best things to do, with respect to traffic.

Tram-Train To Penistone

In Riding The Penistone Line, I described a trip on the Penistone Line.

This was my conclusion.

Tram-trains like the Class 399 tram-train could easily climb the hill to Penistone to provide a perhaps two trains per hour service to Sheffield.

But the line would need to be electrified or hybrid diesel tram-trains, as in Chemnitz will need to be used.

So perhaps Northern‘s plan for the Northern Connect service, which would use more powerful Class 195 diesel multiple units, might be better suited to the Penistone Line.

I think the heavy rail solution will be used.

Conclusion

I think that tram-trains with batteries will find a few worthwhile uses in the wider Sheffield area.

 

October 31, 2018 Posted by | Energy Storage, Transport | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Reason Why The UK Is Fertile Territory For Tram Trains

The UK has several modern tram systems. If you look at the cross section of trams you get the following figures.

I wonder why Nottingham is twenty-five centimetres narrower!

If you look at the Class 399 tram-train, it has a width of 2.65 metres and a height of 3.67 metres.

So no wonder, there has been no problems with Class 399 tram-trains running on the Sheffield Supertram as trams!

Various trains that run local rail networks include.

  • Class 142 – Width 2..8 metres – Height 3.86 metres
  • Class 150 – Width 2.8 metres – Height 3.8 metres
  • Class 222 – Width 2.73 metres
  • Class 319 – Width 2.82 metres – Height – 3.58 metres
  • Class 345 – Width 2.78 metres – Height N/A
  • Class 378 – Width 2.80 metres – Height 3.78 metres
  • Class 700 – Width 2.80 metres – Height N/A
  • Class 769 – Width 2.82 metres – Height 3.58 metres
  • Mark 4 Coach – Width 2.73 metres – Height 2.79 metres

These are some figures from German trains.

  • DBAG 641 – Width 2.90 metres – Height 3.7 metres
  • BD Class 420 – With 3.08 metres
  • ICE 3 – Width 2.95 metres – Height 3.89 metres

I’ll look at various issues.

Tram And Train Height

I think this is not a big issue.

If a tram or electric train can run on a particular track, then there should be no height problems running a tram-train over the route, providing overhead wires can be erected.

UK Tram And Train Width

It would appear that the maximum width of UK trains is 2.82 metres. In some stations, where there is only one class of train, level access is possible.

The picture shows a Class 378 train on the London Overground.

This is not one of the best I’ve seen, but there is no reason, why someone in a wheelchair shouldn’t be able to wheel themselves into every train at every station.

This is in the train operating company’s interest, as one of the things that delays trains, is getting someone in a wheelchair on and off the train with a portable ramp.

If we take the UK train width of 2.82 metres and compare that to the width of a Class 399 tram-train, which is 2.65 metres, that means that there is seventeen  centimetres difference or eight and a half centimetres on each side of the train.

If the platform can be arranged to be level, that is not a large gap. It’s probably about the same size as this gap in this picture.

Shown is a Class 399 tram-train at a tram stop on the Sheffield Supertram.

Continental Tram And Train Width

But on the Continent, where the trains are wider and the loading gauge is bigger, the gap will be larger.

Trains on the Continent also often have a significant step up as this picture shows.

Shown is an Italian High Speed train.

If the EU wanted to improve train travel for the disabled, those in wheelchairs, those with buggies and the elderly, they should make it compulsory for all trains to have level access from the platform.

It’s very rare to find level access on the Continent and not that easy in parts of the UK.

Gap Fillers

But things are getting better, as this picture shows.

Shown is a Stadler Flirt with a rather nifty automatic gap filler.

Merseyrail’s New Class 777 Trains

Gap fillers will be fitted to Merseyrail‘s new Class 777 trains, which are being built by Stadler.

The Class 777 trains and the current Class 507 trains have the same width of 2.82 metres, but the new Stadler trains have an eighteen centimetre lower floor.

The picture shows a Class 507 train at one of Liverpool’s underground stations.

Eighteen centimetres wouldn’t be far away from the height of the step in the picture.

The design must also allow both classes of trains to be in service at the same time, to ease introduction of the new Class 777 trains.

Talk about Swiss precision!

South Wales Metro

This document on the KeolisAmey web site details their plans for the new Wales and Borders Franchise.

For services around Cardiff and on the Cardiff Valley Lines, KeolisAmey Wales intend to acquire the following fleet.

  • 11 – four-car Stadler Flirt DEMU
  • 7 – three-car Stadler Flirt Tri-mode MU
  • 17 – four-car Stadler Flirt Tri-mode MU
  • 36 – three-car Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles

Note.

  1. The Stadler Flirts look very similar to Greater Anglia‘s Class 755 trains, that by the time of delivery of these trains for Wales, will have proven themselves on the mountains of East Anglia.
  2. The tri-mode multiple units will be able to run on electric, diesel or battery power.
  3. The Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles look very similar to Sheffield Supertram‘s Class 399 tram-trains, that are providing a tram service in Sheffield and will soon be running on the rail network to Rotherham.
  4. It is an all-Stadler fleet.

This is a clip from the KeolisAmey document.

This looks like a visualisation of one of the Flirts, as the Citylink tram-trains have flat sides.

I will be very surprised if Stadler don’t provide the Cardiff area, with one of the best step-free networks in the world.

Conclusion

The UK’s standard tram width of 2.65 metres and our small loading gauge must make it easier to design tram-train systems for the UK.

 

 

 

 

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

The Penistone Line And Rotherham Tram-Train Trials

The Penistone Line Tram-Train Trial

The Penistone Line from Sheffield to Barnsley, Penistone and Huddersfield was the line originally selected for the tram-train trial.

In the Wikipedia entry for the line, this is said about the tram-train trial.

On 18 March 2008, the Department for Transport released details of a proposal to trial tram-trains on the Penistone Line, the first use of such vehicles in the UK. The trial was to start in 2010 and last for two years. Northern Rail, the operator of passenger services on the line, asked potential manufacturers to tender for the design and construction of five new vehicles, which Northern Rail would subsequently lease. In addition, Network Rail planned to spend £15m modifying track and stations to make them compatible with the new vehicles.

However, it was announced on 15 September 2009 that a city tram-train trial between Rotherham and Sheffield would replace the Penistone Line scheme.

More about the trial is said in this article on Rail News, which is entitled Penistone Line Is Chosen For £24m Tram Trains Trial. In particular, this is said.

One of the biggest initial tasks is to set a specification for the building of the five diesel-electro hybrid tram trains at a cost of £9 million. The trains will have to be equipped with braking systems suitable for on-street running and a Train Protection Warning System which is required for running on lines with ‘heavy’ rail passenger and freight trains.

The article was written in 2008 and Chemnitz hybrid Citylink tram-trains didn’t enter service until 2016.

So was the trial on the Penistone Line a disaster before it even started?

It had the following problems.

  • It was expecting a diesel-electric hybrid tram to be designed and built before 2010.
  • A long distance was involved.
  • The track-work needed to connect to the Sheffield Supertram could have been incredibly complicated.
  • The first all-electric Citylink tram-trains weren’t delivered to Karlsruhe until May 2014, which was seven months late.

For these and other reasons, I think that the decision of the trial to be delayed and to use Rotherham, was a prudent decision.

The Rotherham Tram-Train Trial

Consider these characteristics of the current trial, between Cathedral and Rotherham Psrkgate.

  • The tram-trains are virtually standard Karlsruhe Citylink tram-trains, adapted for UK 25 KVAC and painted blue!
  • A simple chord connecting the two systems.
  • A few miles of electrification, that could be powered by either 750 VDC or 25 KVAC.
  • Modification of the recently-built Rotherham Central station.
  • Building of a new terminal tram stop at Rotherham Parkgate.

It’s a simple plan, but one that covers a lot of design possibilities and has few, if any, risky elements, that haven’t been done in the UK or Karlsruhe.

The following can be tested.

  • The Class 399 tram-trains on the Sheffield Supertram network and an electrified main line.
  • Passenger entry and exit at Rotherham Central station and all over the Supertram network.
  • Operation under both 750 VDC or 25 KVAC.
  • Signalling systems on both tram and main line networks.

The one thing that can’t be tested is a diesel hybrid tram-train as they have in Chemnitz, as they haven’t ordered any!

But if they did want to order some, they could easily be tested between Cathedral and Rotherham Parkgate.

Conclusion

The original plan to use the Penistone Line and diesel-electric tram-trains was impossible.

Network Rail might have got this one right at the second attempt.

They could even run a UK version of the Chemnitz hybrid tram-train on the test route between Sheffield and Rotherham.

 

October 18, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment