The Anonymous Widower

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

A Trip To Gainsborough

I wrote about Gainsborough in A Town With Two Stations And Infrequent Rail Services, so when I was in Sheffield, I had to go and have a look at the town.

From Sheffield To Gainsborough Central

I left Sheffield on the 08:09 train to Cleethorpes and arrived at Gainsborough Central on time at 09:01.

I took these pictures on the way.

Note.

  • The route is double-track.
  • The terrain is flat with no tunnel,
  • There are seven intermediate stations and several level crossings.
  • There is an interchange  at Worksop station with the Robin Hood Line to Nottingham.
  • There is an interchange at Retford station with the East Coast Main Line.

Our Class 144 train handled the route with ease at a steady sixty mph or so.

Gainsborough Central Station

Gainsborough Central station only has a train service on a Saturday.

As the pictures show, the facilities are basic. Although there is plenty of parking.

Gainsborough Central station illustrates the the problems of providing step-free access at some stations.

Consider.

  • With modern trains or trams, all the tools are there to enable anybody to board and leave the train easily.
  • At present, someone in a wheelchair or pushing a buggy would just use the crossing shown in picture four.
  • The three services a week, probably don’t attract many passengers.
  • How many passengers have used the bridge recently?

This is a station, that cries out for a well-designed solution to ensure safety.

Marshall’s Yard

Marshall’s Yard is a Shopping Centre by Gainsborough Central station.

The Shopping Centre is a comprehensive one, with a wide range of shops and a few cafes and restaurants.

  • I bought an excellent gluten-free breakfast at Root
  • I was surprised to see an M & S food store.
  • There were several middle-range specialist chain stores.

It was certainly busy.

It strikes me, that a more frequent train service to the station might be in the interest of everyone.

Walking Between Gainsborough Central And Lea Road Stations

It took me about half-an-hour and I took these pictures as I walked.

I would have taken more, but I was walking directly into the sun and couldn’t see much!

Gainsborough Lea Road Station

Gainsborough Lea Road station is an unusual station, as these pictures show.

I would assume British Rail asked the local agricultural building manufacturer to design and build the wooden disabled ramp on the Lincoln-bound platform.

A couple of years ago I was coming down from Edinburgh to London in an Inter-City 125, when because of engineering works, we were diverted through Gainsborough Lea Road station.

From Gainsborough Lea Road To Sheffield

The two routes from Gainsborough to Sheffield join between Gainsborough and Retford and these are pictures of the return journey.

I timed this journey, so that I would arrive in Sheffield, to get to Bramall Lane in good time, for the Ipswich match. There were a lot of football supporters on the train, as Rotherham were also at home and the poor old Pacer was creaking at the seams.

It certainly proved to me, that the trains working between Lincoln and Sheffield are totally inadequate for the task.


Improving The Service Between Sheffield And Lincolnshire

The service between Sheffield and Lincolnshire needs improvement.

New Trains

New trains on the services are desperately needed and I will be interested to see in a couple of years, what trains are running the services.

The football crowds on the Saturday, showed that a two-car train is sometimes inadequate.

I suspect that Northern will run new Class 195 trains on the Sheffield to Lincoln route.

  • These are 100 mph trains, as opposed to the 75 mph of the Class 144 trains.
  • I suspect the trains will have wi-fi and power sockets.
  • Three-car units are on order.

They should be a great improvement.

Improved Stations

The stations are rather variable, with some like Retford and Worksop of a high quality, but others a bit more suspect.

Is there also a need for extra stations to serve new developments?

Extra Services

The current times from Sheffield are as follows.

  • Worksop – 30 minutes
  • Retford – 41 minutes
  • Gainsborough Lea Road – 56 minutes

It is reasonable to assume that the Class 195 trains will better these times by a few minutes.

Consider.

  • The passenger demand will probably be higher, close to Sheffield.
  • Worksop station has a turnback facility.
  • It is likely, that a Class 1895 train could go from Sheffield to Worksop and back, within an hour.

I, therefore feel that an extra service from Sheffield to Worksop may well be possible.

Tram-Train To Worksop

In Class 399 Tram-Trains In Service, I discussed the Class 399 trains that are now running in Sheffield.

The performance of the Class 399 tram-trains is such, that they could be able to achieve the one hour time for a complete journey to Worksop.

If a suitable route from the Supertram at Sheffield to Worksop could be identified and electrified, I don’t see why Sheffield’s new Class 399 tram-train couldn’t run to Worksop.

This Google Map shows where the Sheffield to Workshop rtoute passes alongside the Supertram Depot.

Note.

  1. The Sheffield to Workshop route is the two tracks at the top of the map.
  2. The Meadowhall Branch of the Supertram is the two tracks at the bottom of the map.
  3. The Nunnery Depot is in between.

I believe it would be possible to arrange a connecting pair of track, so that tram trains could go between the two routes.

Use Of Hybrid Tram Trains

I have assumed that the tram-train route will need to be electrified, but this isn’t necessary.

Chemnitz or Karl Marz Stadt as the East Germans renamed it. also runs Stadler Citylink tram-trains, which are similar to the Class 399 tram-trains.

But the tram-trains in Chemnitz are different in that instead of being dual-voltage like Sheffield and Karlsruhe, they have a diesel-generator to power them away from the 750 VDC overhead wires.

This data sheet gives a few details of the Chemnitz Hybrid tram-train. The data sheet doesn’t specify the power of the diesel powerpack, but the much heavier Class 769 train uses two rail-proven MAN diesel engines of 390 kW each.

Conclusion

The service between Sheffield and Lincolnshire needs to be improved.

This could be done traditionally using Class 195 trains or creating a tram-train extension.

 

 

October 14, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

Riding The Penistone Line

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

I wrote about the tram-train trials in The Penistone Line And Rotherham Tram-Train Trials.

Sheffield To Penistone

I took these pictures between Sheffield and Penistone

Note.

  1. Barnsley Interchange is a combined train and bus station, that does the town proud.
  2. There are several level crossings, including one in the middle of Barnsley.
  3. Some stations are rather basic.
  4. The Class 144 train, I rode is totally inadequate for the line.

The line certainly needs improvement to stations and trains.

Penistone Station

Penistone station is an unusual station, in that it is a two-platform station without any form of bridge, subway or controlled level crossing.

Note that to cross the line, passengers just walk across on a uncontrolled pedestrian crossing.

This Google Map shows the layout of the station.

It certainly has a lot of space and possibilities.

Wikipedia says this about services to the station.

On Monday to Saturday, trains operate every hour in each direction towards Huddersfield and Sheffield via Barnsley. On Sundays, these run every two hours each way.

There are proposals by Alliance Rail to run a 4 trains-per-day service between Huddersfield and London Kings Cross, via Worksop, Sheffield and Penistone, giving Penistone a direct train to London 4 times a day.

So Alliance Rail, think the station has possibilities too!

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.

 

October 13, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Progress On The Sheffield-Rotherham Tram-Train – October 13th 2017

It is only a couple of weeks since I wrote Progress On The Sheffield-Rotherham Tram-Train and progress seems to have accelerated in that time.

The Class 399 tram-trains are now running between Cathedral and Herdings Park, as I reported in Class 399 Tram-Trains In Service.

Progress On The Tinsley Chord

I took these pictures at Tinsley Chord, where the track connects theMeadowhall branch of the Supertram to the freight line to Rotherham.

There isn’t really much to see, as trees obscure any good view from the road.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note.

  • The Tinsley Viaduct carrying the M1 cutting across the bottom-left corner of the map.
  • Blackburn Meadows, with the Water Treatment Plant and Biomass Power Station, at the North of the map.
  • The Blackburn Meadows Way linking into Meadowhall.
  • The freight line to Rotherham runs to the outh of this road.
  • The Supertram running along the West side of the motorway.

The Tinsley Chord, that links the tram and freight lines is hidden under the viaduct.

I did get some more pictures later.

The Tinsley Chord appears to be double-track, where it will join the existing tram line.

The Wires Are Going Up

These pictures show that the wires are going up between the freight line and Rotherham Central station.

The gantries seem much more main line than tram.

But the Class 399 tram-trains, won’t care if they contain 750 VDC or 25 KVAC. Changing the volts is a lot easier than changing the catenary.

Rotherham Station

These pictures show the current state of Rptherham Central station.

Note.

  • The wires are going up.
  • The low-level platform extensions need to be completed.
  • Trains will use the high end of the platforms and tram-trains the low end.

Karlsruhe have much worse platform height problems, as they have two generations of tram-trains and German trains that need low platforms to cope with.

Walking To The Parkgate Shopping

I thought about using a taxi, but in the end, I walked to the Parkgate Shopping, as the weather was sunny.

I did manage to get an idea of the distance in a thirty minute walk.

Parkgate Shopping

Parkgate Shopping is the sort of shopping centre I rarely visit.

I am a guerrilla shopper, who decides what he needs and then chooses where to go and buy it. Being a coeliac, food shopping usually requires a couple of shops. One of these must be a Marks and Spencer, as their gluten-free staples like bread, biscuits, beer and muesli are better than most.

These days, I don’t drive, but a couple of doctors have told me, they reckon I could get my licence back.It’s just that not having a car, removes a whole chunk of hassle from your life. I don’t want it back!

I also often create shopping with a visit to either a friend, a restaurant, a museum or perhaps even a dentist.

I’ll often plan my day, so I come home via somewhere like the Angel, Moorgate, Eastfield or King Cross, where I pick up my supper.

Parkgate might be a place to go if it fitted my target requirements and I lived locally.

But it would need decent public transport like Meadowhall down the riad.

The Tram Stop At Parkgate Shopping

These pictures show the railway that passes Parkgate Shopping and the tram-train stop being built.

The stop needs finishing and a route to the stops would need to be created.

But it looks like the designers have developed a simple one platform stop capable of handling the required three trains an hour.

Conclusion

The project appears to be coming towards the end.

There are several things that need to be completed.

  • The catenary.
  • The connection of the tracks at the Tinsley Chord.
  • Rotherham Central station pltforms
  • Parkgate Shopping tram stop.

Then it would need to be tested.

If I have a question about the project, I wonder how they managed to be so late and over budget, as IS reported in this article in the Guardian, which is entitled Sheffield to Rotherham Tram-Train Is Five Times Over Budget, Says NAO.

My gut instinct tells me, that there are a few problems with this project, that would have been avoided by a little bit more thought before it started.

But I think it’ll come out alright on the end.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 13, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Can’t A Train Be More Like A Tram?

This is the title of a two-part article by Ian Walmsley in the May 2017 edition of Modern Railways.

Part 1 – How Hard Can It Be?

In the First Part, which is entitled How Hard Can It Be?, he contrasts tram operation with typical heavy rail operation.

He starts the First Part with this paragraph.

After a career in trains, I wish they could be more like trams, at least for the short-distance commuting market. Big windows, low-back seats, super-cool looking front ends, terrific acceleration and braking, all at half the price. Meanwhile commuter trains are bogged down with legislation, defensive driving and restrictive practice.

He also compares trams and heavy rail with the London Underground, which has the frequency and speed of a tram to get the needed capacity. This is another quote.

Heavy-rail’s answer to capacity is to take a few seats out or declassify a First Class compartment, going faster is too difficult.

These points are also made.

  • A turn-up-and-go frequency is made possible by a continuous stream of trams doing the same thing, uninterrupted by inter-city or freight intruders.
  • Frequent stops on a tram mean rapid acceleration is essential, so a high proportion of axles must be motored.
  • In many heavy rail services, the culture of caution has removed any urgency from the process.
  • Separation of light from heavy rail is essential for safety reasons.
  • Trams can take tight corners which helps system designers.
  • Trams save money by driving on sight.
  • Lots of safety regulations apply to heavy rail,but not trams.

He also uses a lot of pictures from the Bordeaux trams, which I wrote about in Bordeaux’s Trams. These trams run catenary-free in the City Centre.

High-Cacapity Cross-City Heavy Rail Lines

It is interesting to note that cross-city heavy rail lines are getting to the following ideals.

  • High frequency of upwards of sixteen trains per hour (tph).
  • High-capacity trains
  • Heavy-rail standards of train and safety.
  • Slightly lower levels of passenger comfort.
  • Step-free access.
  • Several stops in the City Centre.
  • Interchange with trams, metros and other heavy rail services.
  • Separation from freight services.
  • Separation from most inter-city services.

Have the best features of a tram line been added to heavy rail?

Worldwide, these lines include.

There are obviously others.

Crossrail with up to 30 tph, platform edge doors, fast stopping and accelerating Class 345 trains, and links to several main lines from London could become the world standard for this type of heavy rail link.

30 tph would be considered average for the London Underground and modern signalling improvements and faster stopping trains, will raise frequencies on these cross-city lines.

All of these lines have central tunnels, but this isn’t a prerequisite.

Manchester is achieving the same objective of a high-capacity cross-city rail link with the Ordsall Chord.

Part 2 – Tram-Train, Are You Sure You Really Wnt |To Do This?,

In the Second Part, which is entitled  Tram-Train, Are You Sure You Really Wnt |To Do This?,

Ian starts the Second Part with this paragraph.

Anyone with a professional interest in public transport must have been to Karlsruhe in Germany, or at least heard of it.

He then wittily describes an encounter with the diesel tram-train in Nordhausen, which I shall be visiting within a week or so.

He was not impressed!

I like the concept of a tram-train, where the same rail vehicle starts out in the suburbs or the next town as a train, goes through the City Centre as a tram and then goes to a destination on the other side of the city.

But you could also argue that Merseyrail’s Northern Line and London Underground’s Piccadilly and Central Lines achieve the same purpose, by running at all times as a rail line, with the centre section in a tunnel under the City.

The Sheffield Tram-Train Project

Ian then goes on to talk about the Sheffield Tram-Train Project. He says this about the route extension from Meadowhall to Rotherham.

This route extension runs just over three miles and after a series of delays, it will not open until 2018, 10 years, after the first proposal, six after the scheme approval. The cost is £58million. That’s 21 million Rotherham – Meadowhall single fares, for which the existing journey time is six minutes. Bargain.

He also says that because Nick Clegg was a Sheffield MP, the project should stay in Sheffield.

I will add some observations of my own on the Sheffield -Rotherham tram-train.

  • The Class 399 tram-train is a variant of the tram-trains used in Karlsruhe – Good
  • The route, doesn’t connect to Sheffield station – Bad
  • The frequency is only a miserly three tph – Bad
  • The route is too short – Bad

Hopefully, the bad points don’t result in a system that nobody wants.

The Expert View Of Rotherham’s Problems

There is an article in the Yorkshire Post, which is entitled Rotherham could get new rail station, which gives detail from a consutant’s report of how to improve services in the town.

  • Rotherham Parkgate station should be developed as an inter-regional station, at a cost of up to £53.2 million
  • Rotherham Central station would be be more about local services.
  • Rotherham should have one tph to Leeds and Manchester, three tph  to Doncaster and six tph to Sheffield.

The consultant’s estimate was that this investment could benefit the area by up to £100million.

Ian’s Conclusion

Ian says this and I am coming to agree with him.

I, like many others, have been a fan of tram-train, but a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

The more I think about it, the more I think trams and trains have their place and mixing them up is fraught with problems.

As I said earlier, I’m off to Karlsruhe ad I’ll see how they’re getting on with the enormous hole in their budget; the new tunnel on the Karleruhe Stadtbahn.

Imagine building a cut-and-cover down Oxford Street in London.

Train Like A Tram

Ian finishes with two further sections, the first of which is Train Like A Tram.

He says this.

Heavy rail needs to recaspture a sense of urgency and realise that more speed = more trains = more capacity. Risk analysis should allow the use of low-back seats and plastics; based on the lower average speeds. All axles need to be motored for tram-like acceleration and lots of regenerative braking.

I agree with what he says, but I’m surprised that he doesn’t mention Zwickau.

In that German town, an extension was built from the Hauptbahnhof to a new station in the town centre. I wrote about Zwickau’s unique system in Riding The Vogtlandbahn 

Standard two-car diesel multiple units, run alongside Zwickau’s trams on a dedicated route according to similar operational rules on the three kilometre route.

Surely, there is scope to do this in the UK, on existing and new branch lines or spurs.

  • The route must be short.
  • All stops would be built like tram stops.
  • Trains would be independently-powered by diesel, battery or fuel cell.
  • Signalling would be heavy-rail.

In my view this sort of system would be ideal for serving Glasgow, Leeds-Bradford and Liverpool Airports, where off main line running would be done across open country that could be appropriately fenced.

Tram Like A Train

Ian finishes his final section, where he talks about the likelihood of more tram-train systems following Sheffield, with this.

I suspect that the number of follow-on vehicles in the foreseeable future will be about the same as the number of battery EMUs based on the last research trial. 

Don’t feel too bad though; do we really want the national rail system full of 50 mph-limited trams?

I feel that Ian and myself would have different views about battery EMUs.

What Do You Do With A Problem Like Rotherham?

I mentioned a consultant’s report earlier and the easiest way to get their recommended frequency of trains through Rotherham would be to expand the electrification network, by wiring the following lines.

  • Sheffield to Doncaster
  • Leeds to Colton Junction
  • Leeds to Selby
  • Fitzwilliam to Sheffield

As some of these lines were built or rebuilt recently for the Selby Coalfield, I suspect electrification would be starting from decent documentatyion.

Until the electrification is complete Class 319 Flex trains could work the routes.

 

 

 

April 28, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment