The Anonymous Widower

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, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 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 Shyeffield-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, as ordered for the South Wales Metro, should be able to run to and from Sheffield on battery power, if the loop was fully electrified, so 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?

 

July 20, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 3 Comments

Sheffield Region Transport Plan 2019 – A New Tram-Train Station At Magna

When i was last riding on a Class 399 tram-train, a rail enthusiast mentioned this.

He said his grand-daughter liked to visit Magna or the Magna Science Adventure Centre, to give it its full name, and a tram-stop would be very welcome.

This is a paragraph from the Wikipedia entry.

The site, often used for staging events, conferences and gigs, is over 1/3 of a mile long and won the Enjoy England Gold Award for Business Tourism in 2006[2] and has received other awards for the high quality of product.

That backs up my informant.

This Google Map shows the site.

Note that the tram-train line between Sheffield and Rotherham runs across the top of the map.

So when Sheffield’s plans include this wording.

New tram-train station and associated park and ride facilities at Magna.

I think it is likely, that a tram-stop and Park-and-Ride will be built at Magna.

July 19, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , | 1 Comment

A Tailpiece On The Sheffield To Rotherham Parkgate Tram-Train

I took this picture at the Rotherham Parkgate tram stop.

Note.

  1. The level step-free access between the Class 399 tram-train and the platform.
  2. The platform laid-out to help passengers and meet all regulations.
  3. The 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  4. The track continuing into a siding, which could be turned into a loop to extend the service to Doncaster.
  5. The well-placed safety fences.

It certainly appears that Network Rail have produced a professional design that works well and makes things easy for passengers.

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

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 | Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Is The Sheffield Rotherham Tram-Train Showing Signs Of London Overground Syndrome?

I went to Sheffield today and took a ride on a Class 399 tram-train on the Sheffield Supertram, between Sheffield and the new Rotherham Parkgate tram stop.

These are my observations.

Class 399 Tram-Trains And The Siemens-Duewag Supertram

On this brief excursion, I took three rides in Class 399 tram-trains and two in the original Siemens-Duewag Supertrams.

The existing supertrams are twenty-three years old and it shows.

Not in the state of the supertrams, which is very good, but in the design.

  • As an example, the tram-trains have a much flatter floor, than the super trams.
  • Drivers have also told me that they have more power and can get up Sheffield’s hills with a full load, easier than the supertrams.
  • The tram-trains are also faster at 120 kph, as against to 80 kph for the supertrams.

I have seen reports, that Sheffield are thinking of replacing the supertrams with new rolling stock.

This is understandable, as the Sheffield supertrams must be the oldest light rail vehicles in the UK, without a plan to replace them with modern rolling stock.

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?

After all geographically, South Yorkshire and South Wales aren’t that different with hills rising up from a flatter area.

Rotherham Central Tram Stop

This tram stop in a station is better than anything that I’ve seen in Germany, where tram-trains share platforms with ordinary trains.

The technique of a double-height platform, will be used in Karlsruhe to allow their versions of the Class 399 tram-trains to share platforms with their older tram-trains in the Karlsruhe tunnel, if it is ever finished.

The attention to detail at Rotherham Central station might go some way to explain the cost and time overrun on the project, but now there is a working example for other tram-train schemes to copy.

  • The platform to tram-train access is absolutely level.
  • There is a gentle slope, when changing between tram-trains and trains.
  • There is a barrier to stop passengers walking across.

The only thing needed is an entrance directly to the Sheffield-bound platform, so that passengers walking along the river and from the football can get directly to the tram-train platform.

Rotherham Parkgate Tram-Train Stop

This tram-train stop follows the best practice of single platform stanations and tram-stops everywhere.

  • The platform to tram-train access is absolutely level.
  • There is a zebra crossing and a gentle ramp to get to the path to the shopping.
  • There is a shelter and a few seats.

If it gets busier, it may need a few extra facilities.

Information

Information at stops and stations will need to be improved and some of the displays didn’t seem to be fully working.

There was also a lack of signage in Rotherham Parkgate, as to where the tram-train stop is located.

All of this will improve with time!

Ridership

What surprised me was that for a Tuesday morning, the tram-trains were busy with passengers going all the way between Sheffield and Rotherham Parkgate. The tram-trains were perhaps half-full.

But then several said to me, that they preferred Rotherham Parkgate to Meadowhall for shopping.

There also seemed to be a lot of older passengers with free passes.

In my view, it won’t be long before the route requires a service of four tram-trains per hour.

This would require an extra tram-train for the Cathedral to Rotherham Parkgate service.

Currently, about six-seven trains per hour go through Rotherham Central station in each direction, so squeezing in an extra train probably wouldn’t be a major job for the signalling.

Conclusion

I think it is a job well done, that has been well worth the wait.

I do have this feeling that the signs are already there for a break-out of London Overground Syndrome.

In the Supertram’s case, it could be cured by the purchase of an extra Class 399 tram-train.

October 30, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | 1 Comment

The Tram-Train Platforms At Rotherham Central Station

When I passed through Rotherham Central station, I took these pictures of the tram-train platform extensions.

I do wonder, if the design is right.

  • I was going to the New York stadium and if I’d arrived on a tram-train from Sheffield city centre, I would have walked a long way down the full platform to cross the line using the stairs or lift.
  • Going back to Sheffield, will I be able to avoid walking to the station entrance.
  • Passengers expect to be able to walk directly to a tram platform without any barriers.
  • Tram passengers also expect to be able to walk across the lines to get to the other platform.

I shall be interested to see how bad the design is when it’s finished.

 

August 13, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Sheffield Tram-Train Runs Onto Network Rail Infrastructure

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

This is the first paragraph.

One of Stagecoach Supertram’s Vossloh Class 399 Tramlink tram-train vehicles operated on the national railway network for the first time during the early hours of May 10.

It would appear that the tram-train is getting there.

 

 

May 15, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

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