The Anonymous Widower

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

Class 399 Tram-Trains In Service

On my two day trip to Sheffield, I reckon that I saw six of the seven Class 399 tram-trains in service on the Supertram.

These pictures were taken on a quiet Saturday morning trip from the station to Herdings Park.


Current Service

Currently, the Class 399 tram-trams are running on the Purple Route from Cathedral to Herdings Park, which is generally tun at a frequency of  two trams per hour.

If you arrive in Sheffield station and don’t feel like walking up the hill, you take any of the trams from the  stop on the station side of the tracks.

But take a tram going to Cathedral and over the two and a bit days I was in Sheffield, it was always a Class 399 tram-train.


Comparison With Current Fleet

The Class 399 tram-trains and the existing Siemend-Duewag Supertram are surprisingly similar in several ways.

  • Both have three sections and four doors on either side.
  • The Siemens tram is 34.8 metres long, whereas the Class 399 is 37.2 metres long.
  • The Siemens tram weights 46.5 tonnes, whereas the Class 399 is a lot heavier at 66.1 tonnes.
  • The Siemens tram has installed power of 1108 kW, whereas the Class 399 has just 870 kW.
  • The Siemens tram has room for 86 sitting and 155 standing passengers, whereas the Class 399 has room for 88 and 150 respectively.
  • The seats and their arrangement are vaguely similar.
  • Neither tram has wi-fi.

The big  difference other than the tram-train capability and what that entails, is that the Class 399 tram-train is faster with a 100 kph top speed, as against the 80 kph of the Siemens tram.

Other differences are detailed in the next sub-sections.

Step-Free Access

Getting on and off both trams is step-free and I saw people in wheel-chairs on both vehicles. One was easily pushed into a Class 399.

These pictures show the steps inside the two trams.

There is only a single-step on the Class 399 tram-train, whereas the Siemens tram has more.

Neither tram is a hundred percent step-free.

Weight

Note that the weight of the Class 399 tram-train is more than that of the Siemens tram.

As the two vehicles are of a similar size, could this mean that any of the following causes the weight increase.

  • The electrical equipment needed to handle 15/25 KVAC power.
  • The weight of the two extra traction motors.
  • Strengthening for main line operation.

As someone, who has ridden for a few hours in both the Karlsruhe and Sheffield variants of the Citylink tram-train, they certainly don’t ride badly.

Performance

The current Siemens tram has 1108 kW of power and a weight of 46.5 tonnes, which gives an installed power/weight ratio of 23.8 kW/tonne.

The Class 399 tram-train has 870 kW of power and a weight of 66.1 tonnes, which gives an installed power/weight ratio of 13.1 kW/tonne.

So it would appear that the Class 399 tram-trains may not have the acceleration and hill-climbing capability of the Siemens trams.

However look at this data sheet on the Stadler Rail Espana web site for the Class 399 tram-train.

It clearly shows that the tram has four bogies and the text says that three are motored and one is a trailer. So this means that the central car is not a trailer and that power must be distributed along the tram, which probably puts the power to the rail in a more efficient way.

I did speak to a driver and he told me that on some of the hills the Siemens trams will strruggle with a full load, but the Class 399s can go up the hills at 40 mph.

The Class 399 tram-trains are very similar to the Stadler tram-trains in Karlsruhe, where the hills are much stiffer than Sheffield.

So it would appear that the layout of six smaller motors in a more modern vehicle probably does the trick.

Energy Efficiency

The question has to be asked if, as the Class 399 tram-trains have twenty-one percent less installed power, does this result in a saving of electricity use?


Comparison With Karlsruhe’s Tram-Trains

The Karlsruhe and Sheffield tram-trains are both variants of the Vossloh Citylink tram-train, that is now built by Stadler at Valencia in Spain.

The tram-trains in Karlruhe would appear to be very similar to the Class 399 tram-train, with a few small technical differences.

  • They work on 750 VDC and 15 KVAC overhead wires, whereas the Class 399 can work on 750 VDC and 25 KVAC.
  • As an electrical engineer, I wonder if the electrical systems are the same in both tram-trains and both can work 750 VDC and 15-25 KVAC, so they could work cross-border routes between say Germany and France.
  • They have couplers to work in multiple.
  • They have different passenger door arrangements.
  • The driver’s cab windows have different arrangement.

These pictures show Karlsruhe’s tram-trains.

Imagine these trams in Supertram colours on the streets of Sheffield.

Take a close look at picture 4.

You will notice that the Karlsruhe tram-trains have an obvious coupling and it can be assumed that they can work in ,multiple, although I don’t seem to have seen it happening.

Picture 4, also shows passengers apparently sitting in the back cab of the tram-train.

The fifth picture was taken from sitting inside the tram-train looking backwards, over the folded-down driver’s desk.

This feature wasn’t being used in Sheffield and this could be for one the following reasons.

  • The Class 399 tram-trains don’t have the feature installed.
  • There has been a Health and Safety decision.
  • It takes perhaps ten minutes to fold up the driver’s desk and this would slow the timetable.

It’s a pity , as this feature of German trams is very common and popular.


Comparison With Class 144 Train

The Class 399 tram-trains and Northern’s Class 144 train will share routes and on some routes the tram-trains may even take over from the Pacers.

So how do the two trains compare?

  • The Class 399 has room for 88 sitting and 150 standing passengers, whereas the Pacer has 99 seats in a two-car and 157 in a three-car train.
  • The Class 399 weighs 66.1 tonnes, whereas a two-car Pacer weighs 49.2 tonnes and a three-car weighs 72 .7 tonnes.
  • The Pacer has a toilet.
  • The Class 399 is air-conditioned, whereas the Pacer relioes on waste heat from the engine.
  • The Pacer is a 75 mph train, but seems to operate most of the time at 60 mph
  • The Class 399 has installed power of 870 kW, whereas the Pacer has just 336 kW.
  • The Pacer is thirty-year-old crap, that should have been strangled at birth, whereas the Clas 399 is a modern unit.

You could argue, that I’m being biased, as the tram-train can’t operate without electrification.

But it can!

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.

In this article on Rail News, which is entitled Penistone Line Is Chosen For £24m Tram Trains Trial, the original trial is described and 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 article was written in 2008 and hybrid Citylink tram-trains didn’t run in Chemnitz until 2016.

So the original proposal envisaged using hydrid diesel tram-trains.

Why not use them in Sheffield?


Operational Details

The Class 399 tram-trains have other features that became apparent on my observations.

Battery Use

Passing a Class 399 tram-train, I took this picture.

The Battery Point On A Class 399 Tram-Train

I hadn’t thought about it before, but batteries on a tram must have similar uses to those in any vehicle.

  • Starting up the vehicle.
  • Raising the pantograph, on an electric tram, train or locomotive.
  • Opening the powered doors.
  • Providing lighting and other important services in a power failure.
  • Being able to move the vehicle a short distance in case of a complete overhead power failure.
  • With a dual-voltage vehicle, it must be there in case the changeover isn’t successful.

But with a tram-train, battery operation surely opens up the possibility of changing between the tram and heavy rail lines using very simple track without electrification, points and cross-overs.

The driver would do the following.

  • Pan down on one network.
  • Use battery power to move perhaps fifty or a hundred metres to the other system.
  • Raise the pantograph on the other network.

Provided the driver obeys the rules and the signals, it should be a safe transfer.

Regenerative Braking

This article on the Railway Gazette is entitled Karlsruhe orders Vossloh tram-trains.

These tram-trains were the first of the Citylink family of tram-trains, of which the Class 399 tram-trains are a member.

This is said.

The three-section steel-bodied tram-trains will incorporate extensive crashworthiness design elements and provision for regenerative braking. Top speed will be 80 km/h, with the four bogies having pneumatic secondary suspension. The air-conditioned interior will have 104 seats cantilevered from the sides for easy cleaning.

How do the Citylink tram-trains handle the regenerative braking?

Two methods are possible.

  • They return the braking energy to the overhead wires.
  • They store it in their battery for reuse.

In the Wikipedia entry for the Supertram, there is a section called Overhead Wiring. This is said.

The contact wires are twin cadmium copper ones, twin wires being necessary because of the high installed power rating of the trams (1 megawatt). The regenerative braking on the tram feeds current back into the wires.

So any braking energy can be returned to the wires.

But as the Railway Gazette article dates from 2011, I wonder if the trams have been developed to use battery storage?

How Far Could The Tram-Train Go On Battery Power?

I’ll assume the following.

  • A New Routemaster bus battery of 75 kWh can be fitted to the Class 399.
  • Running on an easy track, the Class 399 could need  5 kWh for each car-mile.

This would give a range of five miles.

Note.

  1. The stiffer the route the smaller the range.
  2. Battery capacity should increase through the years.
  3. Battery cost should decrease through the years.
  4. Charging stations can be fitted at station stops.

The only certainties are that practical battery range will increase and battery cost will decrease.

Conclusions

These tram-trains have been well worth waiting for.

If I was in charge of the Sheffield Supertram and a decision was made to replace the original Siemens trams, I would think seriously about going to Stadler for a replacement fleet.

If the fleet was all Class 399 tram-trains, this could offer other savings.

  • The lower-power of the Class 399 tram-trains might cut electricity use.
  • Regenerative braking using onboard batteries saves electrification costs.
  • Would expensive twin cadmium copper contact wires still be needed?
  • One tram type would save costs in maintenance and staff training.

New must-have features like wi-fi and 4G boosters could be added, as the technology has now been developed, since the Siemens trams were built.

 

October 15, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 6 Comments

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

Progress On The Sheffield-Rotherham Tram-Train

I took these pictures in Sheffield and Rotherham, whilst trying to take pictures of Class 399 tram-trains.

Note.

  1. The heavy-weight gantries for the electrification, which I suspect would support 25 KVAC electrification.
  2. It appears simple bi-level platforms are being built at Rotherham Central station.
  3. Could a stop being put at the New York stadium?

It certainly doesn’t seem to be an expensive system.

Single Or Double Track Electrified At 25 KVAC

The heavy rail route which is both single and double-track is electrified using standard 25 KVAC electrification.

Simple Voltage Changeover

In Karlsruhe, a ceramic rod is used to connect the overhead wires of different voltages. The pantograph of the tram-train runs on this rod, as the vehicle passes between the two voltages.

The different voltages would be handled automatically on the tram-train.

Kinetic energy or a battery will take the tram-train over the very short dead section.

I didn’t see it, but I suspect a similar system is used on the Tinsley Chord in Sheffield, where the two voltage systems meet.

The advantage of this simple system, is that voltage changeover can be completely automatic, with the driver only monitoring the changeover.

 

Simple Bi-Level Platform Extensions

This technique is used in Karlsruhe, where they have myriad problems due to various classes of tram-trains and conventional trains.

Modern construction methods will certainly help here.

How Did Network Rail Manage To Spend So Much Money?

The only feasible positive explanation is that this tram-train trial is being very comprehensive and covers all possible UK operations.

  • The tram-trains are tested on 25 KVAC at Rotherham.
  • Single and double-track.
  • The tram-trains are tested on 750 VDC all over Sheffield.
  • The tram-trains are tested on sharp curves and climbing hills on the Sheffield Supertram network.
  • The voltage changeover is thoroughly tested on the Tinsley Chord.
  • Platform designs get a rigorous test.

If the tram-train passes these tests and the regulators and operators like it, it’ll be passed for the UK network.

Is The Rotherham Trial A Tram-Train Or A Train-Tram?

When going from Sheffield to Rotherham, the Class 399 train, starts as a tram and changes to a train on the Tinsley Chord.

But when going from Rotherham to Sheffield, the vehicle starts as a train and changes to a tram.

So I suppose it’s both and it changes over where the voltage changes on the Tinsley Chord.

But just as in the Rotherham trial, provided there is an overhead wire with an acceptable voltage, the Class 399 tram-trains can run on any track, be it for trams or trains.

On What Routes Could A Class 399 Train Run?

There are several possibilities.

Extending An Existing Tram Network On A Heavy Rail Line

The tram-train runs normally on a standard tram line and then the route is extended on a heavy rail line, which is electrified with 25 KVAC overhead wires.

This is what is being done at Rotherham.

More possibilities exist in Sheffield and probably on other systems like Birmingham, Blackpool, Edinburgh, Manchester and Nottingham.

Creating A Tram Link Across A Town Or City

Suppose a town or city has two electrified stations on opposite sides. Perhaps one handles trains from the West and the other handles trains from the East.

If a tram route can be created between the two stations, which is connected to the lines at the station, then tram-trains can run across the town or city.

This has been done in Karlsruhe and other European cities, but I doubt we’ll see a cross-city link like this in the UK for a decade or two.

Creating A Tram Link Between Two Electrified Lines

This is similar to the previous application, except that the tram route might be in a rural area.

One possibility might be from Cambridge to Marks Tey along a rebuilt Stour Valley Railway.

Running A Branch On A Heavy Rail Line As A Tram

Creating a branch line to tram standards should be cheaper than creating it to heavy rail standards.

The proposed Glasgow  Airport Tram-Train could be built this way, by building a tram track from the Inverclyde Line to the Airport.

The branch would have the following characteristics.

  • Segregated single-track from the Inverclyde Line
  • 750 VDC overhead electrification.
  • Low floor tram-trains.
  • Simple stations.

The tram-trains could run as normal electric trains from Glasgow Central station to West of Paisley St. James station, where they would take to the branch line and run as trams to the Airport.

As the performance of a Class 399 tram-train is not much slower than the current Class 314 trains that work some services on the Inverclyde Line, I feel that fitting the tram-train service into the service pattern on the line would be possible.

I estimate that a round trip from Glasgow Central to the Airport could be done within an hour, which would mean that to provide an adequate four tram-trains per hour, would require four vehicles.

Two other airports could be served in this way; Leeds and Liverpool

  • Leeds Airport would require electrifying as far as Horsforth station, where a tram track would lead to the Airport.
  • I suspect that the tram-trains could not only connect Leeds to the Airport, but Bradford as well.
  • Liverpool Airport from Liverpool Lime Street services would change to a tram at Liverpool South Parkway station.

I think we’ll be seeing tram-trains used for services like these.

Consider these points.

  • A suitable station on the electrified network is needed as a terminus.
  • A suitable junction must be possible between the branch and the electrified network.
  • Any number of stops could be built on the branch.
  • Simple tram-style 750 VDC overhead wires can be used, which would be less visually intrusive.

Some schemes will be simple like perhaps the Slough to Windsor and Eton Line and others would be more complicated.

Conclusion

In a year or so’s time, we’ll know if tram-trains are another method of expanding and improving the UK’s rail network.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

September 22, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

By Rail Between Derby And Manchester via Sheffield

In his article entitled Connecting The Powerhouses in the June 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, Colin Boocock, says that the one rail route between Derby and Manchester, is to go via Sheffield.

There is one train an hour that takes one hour 38 minutes with a change at Sheffield. The two legs appear to take 33 and 52 minutes respectively with a thirteen minute wait at Sheffield station, which is a well-equipped station.

Change the destination to Manchester Airport and it’s still one train an hour and the journey takes two minutes over two hours.

Incidentally, the fastest trains to Manchester and Manchester Airport via Sheffield seem to be the same trains.

Improving the times on this route will not be easy.

  • Stops are minimal at only Chesterfield, Stockport, Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport.
  • The service uses the 90 mph Hope Valley Line between Sheffield and Manchester.
  • The only electrification is between Stockport and Manchester Airport.
  • Electrification from Sheffield to Stockport on the Hope Valley Line will be difficult because of the terrain and the countryside lobby.
  • Electrification from Derby to Sheffield will be difficult, as the line goes through a World Heritage Site.

The closure of the electrified Woodhead Line to passenger traffic in 1970, with the benefit of hindsight, now looks to be a crass decision of the highest order. I assume that, the great friend of the railways; Harold Wilson was in charge!

Conclusions

Going between Derby and Manchester by rail is a practical proposition, but it is a route, which would be difficult to improve.

 

June 3, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Will High Speed 2 Have Go-Anywhere Trains?

I ask this question as after writing Plans For Toton Station For HS2 Are Beginning To Emerge, I started to think about the specification of the trains that will work on HS2.

Extending North |From Toton Or East Midlands Hub Station

Extending HS2 to Sheffield from Toton will eventually be via a dedicated High Speed Line, where the trains can run at their design speed of 225 mph.

But Toton HS2 to Sheffield via Chesterfield will be linked by the Erewash Valley Line, where trains will be able to travel at least as fast as 125 mph.

The Erewash Valley Line will probably be electrified before HS2 opens to Toton HS2 around 2030, to bring Sheffield consistently under two hours from London.

Extending North From Crewe

Similarly Crewe to Liverpool will not be getting a dedicated High Speed Line, but there is already a route where at least 125 mph is possible.

As passengers won’t want to change trains, Liverpool will get two trains per hour (tph)from London on HS2.

The only work needed North of Crewe would be to create extra and longer platforms at Liverpool Lime Street, provided that the new HS2 trains can work on classic high speed lines like the West Coast Main Line.

These improvements at Liverpool Lime Street are actually underway and knowing Scousers as I do, you could bet your house on it being ready in 2027, as they would want to have HS2 services at the same time as Manchester, if not a couple of years before.

Learning From The French

We should also look at how the French do things.

If you travel from Biarritz to Paris via a TGV, the service runs on both High Speed and classic lines.

From the Liverpool and Sheffield examples, I suspect that we will adopt a similar philosophy.

Consider when HS2 opens, the places that could be served directly from Crewe.

  • Runcorn and Liverpool
  • Manchester Piccadilly, if there is platform space.
  • Warrington, Preston, Carlisle, Glasgow and Edinburgh – Why not?
  • Chester and Holyhead – If the North Wales Coast Line is electrified, as has been threatened!

Note most of the West Coast Main Line routes are covered.

Can this explain the decision to combine the HS2 and West Coast Main Line franchises and the early extension of HS2 to Crewe?

The new franchise could even use the same 225 mph trains for HS2 at a slower speed on the West Coast Main Line to replace the Pendelinos.

The only disadvantage would be that the new trains couldn’t take advantage of the more generous HS2 loading gauge, unless of course the classic lines, where they are to run have their gauges enhanced. This may already be the case, as many of these routes have a loading gauge of W10 to take large freight containers.

The Trains For HS2 And West Coast Main Line

I think we’ll be seeing a very interesting specification for the HS2 trains.

  • 225 mph capability on High Speed Lines
  • 140 mph Pendolino performance on classic lines where possible.
  • Short and long trains. Class 800 trains and others seem to be ordered this way, as five and nine/ten car units.
  • Automatic coupling and uncoupling of units, just as Class 395 trains do now!

As the trains won’t be delivered for nearly ten years,  wouldn’t be surprised to see that they have a 100 mph independently-powered capability of perhaps 100 miles. This would enable the trains to reach places like Aberdeen, Barrow in Furness, Blackpool, Inverness and Lincoln from the West Coast Main Line or Phase 1 of HS2.

Expanding The High Speed Network

It may seem strange to use perhaps onboard energy storage to extend services away from HS2. But this capability would probably only be given to the shorter trains that can join and split at Crewe or Birmingham International for fast running to and from London. Generally, when operating on onboard energy storage, the trains will be travelling at slower speeds. so less energy is needed.

This would mean that places like Barrow-in-Furnace, Blackpool, Cleethorpes and Lincoln could be easily added to the high speed network.

The High Speed network could also be expanded by improving the current network with selective electrification and the capability for higher line speeds.

All of these improvements on the classic lines,  would mean that local and freight trains were able to provide a better service too!

Coupled with HS2, they would make a wonderful marketing opportunity.

I estimate the following using new trains and HS2 from Crewe, when Phase 2a of HS2 is complete.

  • Glasgow-London would take under four hours for the journey as opposed to just over four and a half hours now.
  • Liverpool-London would come down from two hours twelve minutes to one hour 33 minutes.
  • Preston-London would down from two hours fifteen minutes to under a hundred minutes.
  • Wigan-London would come down from just over two hours to just 87 minutes.

And some commentators and politicians doubt HS2 is needed.

Conclusion

Certainly, the decision to extend as fast as possible to Crewe was a very good idea.

Consider going from Euston to Glasgow in say 2028.

  • The train would run from Euston to Crewe at full speed of 225 mph stopping if required at Old Oak Common and Birmingham International in a time of 58 minutes.
  • From Crewe to Glasgow, the train would run at least at 125 mph stopping as appropriately.
  • Selective improvements and in-cab signalling would reduce journey times from those of today to the North of Crewe.

Ten years or so later, the journey time will be even faster as the High Speed line was extended past Crewe.

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

Plans For East Midlands Hub Station For HS2 Are Beginning To Emerge

East Midlands Hub (Toton) station depending on who’s writing the words is beginning to emerge from HS2’s plans. (I shall use Toton HS2 in this post, to emphasise I mean the HS2 station.) Wikipedia says this about the station.

It is intended to be located on the existing railway sidings in Toton, situated between Nottingham and Derby. A connection to the Nottingham tram system and new connections to existing rail services are proposed, to link the station to Nottingham, Derby and Leicester railway stations. The station would be located adjacent to the M1 motorway in Nottinghamshire, close to the border with Derbyshire.

This Google Map shows the location.

toton

The red arrow marks Toton Lane Tram Stop, which is a Psrk-and-Ride terminus of the Nottingham Express Transit. Between the tram stop and the M1, the Erewash Valley Line passes through in a North-South alignment. South of the East-West A52 is the site of Toton Sidings, which is proposed for the new Toton HS2 station.

I think that HS2 have made a good start in the planning of the connections at this station.

Link To Nottingham Express Transit

Extension of route 1 to serve HS2 at Toton and Derby is a section in the Wikipedia entry for the Nottingham Express Transit.

This is said.

News that a station for the proposed HS2 line (the East Midlands Hub) is likely to be built on the site of Toton sidings, only a short distance from the Toton Lane terminus has fuelled speculation that the line could be extended to the new station. In November 2015 there was a proposal for the tram network to be extended from Toton to Derby. Two routes were later proposed by the D2N2 local enterprise partnership for the route to Derby. The first route would be via the A52 while the second would be via Borrowash and Spondon.

This is not a cheapskate extension to connect Nottingham to HS2, but a proper solution, that creates a high-capacity link running from Nottingham to Derby via the new Toton HS2 station.

  • The A52 is the East-West road connecting Derby and Nottingham, which is clearly shown on the Google Map.
  • Borrowash is a village at the Western edge of the Google Map, with Spondon, which has a station on the Midland Main Line to Derby, just off the map to the West.

I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of extending the trams from Toton HS2 using tram-trains to go via Long Eaton and Spondon to Derby.

  • Tram-trains could use existing track between Toton HS2 and Derby, provided it was electrified.
  • Daul-voltage tram-trains would be needed to work on main line and tramway electrification.
  • Journey time from Derby to Toton HS2 could be around 20 minutes.
  • Network Rail’s plan to move Long Eaton station should make this easier.
  • A high frequency service could be run.
  • Extra stops could be introduced.
  • There are tram-train versions of the Alstom Citadis trams used in Nottingham.

Tram-trains would need 25 KVAC electrification along the route between Toton HS2 and Derby stations. But surely the Midland Main Line electrification will have got to these two stations by 2026 or so!

Nottingham To Derby Via Toton HS2

Nottingham and Derby are two very different cities, but both are successful in their own ways.

Currently, there are about three direct trains per hour (tph) between the two cities.

  • Birmingham-Coventry has 7 tph
  • Birmingham-Wolverhampton has 9 tph and the Midland Metro.
  • Manchester-Leeds has 8 tph
  • Leeds-Bradord has 6 tph

Nottingham and Derby get a very raw deal and working on the London Overground/Merseyrail principle of Turn-Up-And-Go , Derby and Nottingham need a four tph connecting service to give passengers something that is acceptable.

As with Birmingham-Woverhampton, a mix of heavy rail, tram and perhaps tram-train might give the two cities the service to Toton HS2 and between themselves, that they need.

Bssed on good practice in London, Birmingham and Liverpool, I would provide the following minimum service.

  • 4 tph – Express heavy rail stopping at Beeston, Toton HS2, Long Easton and Spondon.
  • 4 tph – Tram-train stopping everywhere between Hucknall and Derby via Beeston, Toton HS2, Long Eaton and Spondon.
  • 3 tph – Extra long distance trains calling at both, which would probably also stop at Toton HS2.

It would be a darn site better than what is currently provided.

A Notts/Derbys Crossrail

There might even be a case for a Newark to Burton-on-Trent service via Nottingham, Toton HS2, Long Eaton and Derby. It would be Notts/Derbys version of Crossrail, feeding passengers from all over the area to HS2.

Nottingham City Centre To London In Under 90 Minutes

Currently Nottingham to London takes one hour forty minutes by the fastest trains. But after HS2 opens, it would take 30 minutes from Nottingham to Toton HS and the 52 minutes by HS2 to London.

So even if the classic service to St. Pancras gets faster and more frequent, will passengers opt for the quicker HS2 from Toton HS2?

If say Toton HS2 to London was four tph and run on almost a Turn-Up-And-Go basis, and the connections to Derby and Nottingham were upwards of six tph, the classic trains will have to work hard to maintain market share.

Derby to London wouldn’t show the same improvement as Nottingham to London, but the service could be more frequent and probably well under ninety ,minutes.

The big winners would be the passengers from the Far West of Derby to the Far East of Nottingham.

Using The Erewash Valley Line

Network Rail is improving the Erewash Valley Line. Under Future  is a section in the Wikipedia entry for the line.

This is said.

Network Rail as part of a £250 million investment in the regions railways has proposed improvements to the junctions at each end, resignalling throughout, and a new East Midlands Control Centre.

As well as renewing the signalling, three junctions at Trowell, Ironville and Codnor Park will be redesigned and rebuilt. Since the existing Midland Main Line from Derby through the Derwent Valley has a number of tunnels and cuttings which are listed buildings and it is a World Heritage Area, it seems that the Erewash line is ripe for expansion.

It would seem that Network Rail are creating a 125 mph-plus line between East Midlands Parkway and Chesterfield stations. Is this part of a pragmatic philosophy to improve services from London to Chesterfield and Sheffield.

  • Derby to Chesterfield along the Derwent Valley will not be electrified because of heritage and engineering reasons.
  • Derby to Sheffield via Chesterfield will be served by bi-mode or other independently-powered trains.
  • The Erewash Valley Line will be electrified and could even be cleared to allow 140 mph running.
  • London to Sheffield trains would go via East Midlands Parkway, Long Eaton, Toton HS2 and Chesterfield.

Even if HS2 isn’t built, Chesterfield and Sheffield would get a vastly improved service to London.

When HS2 is built to Toton HS2,  HS2 can take advantage of the Erewash Valley Line to create faster services to the North.

Extending HS2 To Sheffield

If HS2 can get to Toton HS2 in 52 minutes, surely this could mean a London-Sheffield time of well under two hours once the Erewash Valley Line is electrified, even if passengers had to change trains.

But I think we know enough about the dynamics of High Speed Trains, that can run at 225 mph on High Speed Lines to get them to run at 125 or even 140 mph on high standard main lines, like the Midland Main Line.

After HS2 opens to Toton HS2, Chesterfield and Sheffield would get a better service from London in three ways.

  • Direct from London on the Midland Main Line.
  • By HS2 with a change at Toton HS2 to a classic service.
  • By HS2 direct.

All services would use the electrified Erewash Valley Line to get to Chesterfield.

It should be noted that from 2020, London-Norwich will be on a frequency of 3 tph. Surely, the much larger Sheffield needs 4 tph to and from London.

Using The Robin Hood Line

The Robin Hood Line goes between Nottingham in the South to Mansfield Woodhouse and Worksop in the North.

  • It is an underdeveloped line with diesel multiple units running to a frequency of 2 tph.
  • The Southern end of the line connects to the tracks through Toton HS2, so it wouldn’t be difficult to use the new station as an additional terminus for the Robin Hood Line.
  • At the Northern end, there is scope to develop new branches.

I can envisage Nottingham developing the Robin Hood Line into a suburban network feeding passengers to both the City Centre and Toton HS2.

Extending HS2 to North Nottinghamshire And Lincoln

In  After The Robin Hood Line Will Nottingham See The Maid Marian Line?, I wrote about an article in the Nottingham Post is entitled Hopes HS2 could see ‘Maid Marian Line’ opened to passengers.

There is a freight only line, that if reopened to passenger traffic would allow trains to connect from Toton HS2, through Ilkeston and Langley Mill to North Nottinghamshire and all the way across Lincolnshire to Lincoln, thus giving a large area direct access to HS2.

Lincoln to London would be under two hours with a change at Toton HS2.

Will All Sorts Of Towns And Cities Get The Benefit Of Direct HS2 Trains?

I have mentioned a lot of stations at various town and cities in this post.

To take Langley Mill station as an example, currently this gets at least one fast train a day to and from St. Pancras.

When the new HS2 trains are running between London, Chesterfield and Sheffield via Toton HS2, will they do the same thing?

If they do, then stations like Ilkeston, Langley Mill and Alfreton could get a direct HS2 service to and from Birmingham and London.

One of the things to note, is that the new trains will be much faster at stopping and getting on their way again, than the current generation of trains, so adding stops between Toton HS and Sheffield. won’t delay the service like it does today.

As I said earlier, I believe there could be a similar connecting service from Toton HS2 to Lincoln, calling at Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Mansfield, Gainsborough, Lincoln and Cleethorpes.

The train to Lincoln would probably be a short five can train and it would couple and uncouple with a similar train at Toton for the express journey South.

Other destinations from Toton HS, might include Doncaster, Doncaster Airport and Hull.

It’s one thing for a short train to trundle round Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire at 100 mph, but when on HS2, you probably need two trains coupled together to maximise the use of a limited number of train paths.

Connections could also be created using slower trains! But they wouldn’t be so sexy!

A New City At Toton

The Sunday Times has an article this week, which was entitled Next Arrival On The HS2 Line: A Brand New City.

It is an interesting proposition.

  • There’s certainly space between Derby and Nottingham.
  • Birmingham will be 19 minutes away by HS2.
  • London will be within the hour.
  • The M1 will pass right through the city.

But above all we need more housing.

Conclusion

The HS2 station at East Midlands Hub or Toton HS2, is a lot more than a HS2 station for Nottingham and Derby.

I would do the following.

  • Electrify to Sheffield on the Erewash Valley Line and between Derby and Nottingham.
  • Extend the Nottingham Express Transit to Derby via Toton HS2 using tram-train technology.
  • Run a 4 tph express local service between Derby and Nottingham via Toton HS2.
  • Make sure that HS2  reaches Toton HS2 as soon as possible.
  • Build the new city at Toton.

Surely because the Nottingham-Derby area has a lot to gain from HS2, it would probably be very beneficial for HS2’s revenue.

 

 

 

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

Does Sheffield Get The Public Transport It Needs?

I ask this question, as I spent a day in Sheffield yesterday, watching Ipswich play Sheffield Wednesday. These are some observations.

The London Sheffield Train Service

In the 1960s and before, Sheffield had a higher priority than it does now in the Government’s rail policy.

One of the flagship services was the Master Cutler going into Kings Cross.

I can remember this train with an iconic Class 55 locomotive on the front, speeding through Oakleigh Park station.

The service between London and Sheffield station isn’t bad, but to put it mildly, the First Class isn’t first class compared to say, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle.

Yesterday on my trips up and down, not as much as a cup of coffee was offered. Perhaps more importantly, tickets weren’t checked coming back to London. Wi-fi wasn’t working on the way up, but I didn’t check it, as I generally don’t use it, as logging in on some services generates spam.

The other big problem with all services out of St. Pancras, is that their are no late trains back to the capital, whichy must encourage people to drive.

Two developments should improve the service to London.

  • Electrification, which surely must see a time around two hours to London.
  • The new East Midland Franchise.

If the second has the same affect, as the new East Anglian Franchise did, we should see serious improvements.

Sheffield needs at least three trains-per-hour (tph) to and from London and the South. In my view this is the minimum frequency for a journey that could be two hours or under from London. Manchester and Norwich have or will have it, so why not all cities and major centres between these two sizes?

One of the problems of increasing the frequency from 2 tph or even lengthening trains, is my Aunt Sally or that Fur Coat And No Knickers Station of St. Pancras.

So something radical will have to be done by the new Franchise, as increasing services out of St. Pancras will need some clever train scheduling.

Sheffield’s Non-Standard Tram System

The Sheffield tram seems to work, but if they were being designed today, they would be very different, as would be the Manchester Metrolink.

  • The Siemens-Duewag Supertram are to a special design to cope with gradients.
  • The trams are only 40% low-floor.
  • The trams are long, to avoid running in multiple.
  • There is a lot more street running, than other systems.

This all means that expanding the system will be difficult and expensive.

On my trip yesterday, I encountered some problems.

  • The trams were very crowded.
  • There was a long delay because someone had parked on a double-yellow line blocking the tram tracks.
  • The frequency is not high enough.

Some problems would be solved in say Manchester and other tram systems in the UK, would be solved by just ordering more trams. I suspect that because of the non-standard nature of the system, and the obselete tram design, that this is not possible, at an affordable cost.

Sheffield’s solution is to add a new route to Rotherham using Class 399 tram-trains. They will also order some extra vehicles to improve frequencies on the existing network.

Progress has been slow to say the least, and I can’t help thinking that designers of CAF, who have produced the excellent Urbos 3 trams for Edinburgh and the Midland Metro, couldn’t have rearranged some of their solutions to provide extra trams to improve the current Sheffield network.

At some point the original trams will need to be replaced and the tram-train might provide a solution for this, but surely a 100% low-floor tram designed especially for Sheffield’s non-standard network, could be a more affordable solution.

Progress On The Tram-Train

I took a walk along the River Don and this must be the slowest railway project in the UK. That says something, considering we’ve got some real dogs out there.

Tram-train services to Rotherham are supposed to start in 2017.

There is still a lot to do.

Trams To Hillsborough Stadium

The Hillsborough Disaster happened on the fifteenth of April 1989 and the Sheffield Supertram opened on the 21st March 1994.

As one of the causes of the Hillsborough disaster was traffic problems on the M62 from Liverpool, surely you’d think that the design of the Supertram would have been arraqnged so that supporters could get to the stadium eaqsier.

 

But not a jot of it, as I suppose that the powers that be, decided that lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice.

This Google Map shows Hillsborough Stadium.

Hillsborough Stadium And The Supertram

Hillsborough Stadium And The Supertram

The Supertram has a stop at the top of Leppings Lane, which is ideal for the Visitors end.

The tram route runs on the North-South road at the West of the map.

This Google Map shows the area of the Leppings Lane tram stop.

Leppings Lane Tram Stop

Leppings Lane Tram Stop

It doesn’t seem to be the most difficult project to improve the access to the Supertram at this stop.

Given Sheffield Wednesday’s new owners, it is not inconceivable that the club ends up in the Premier League.

From my experience yesterdsy, the current arrangements would be difficult, so something creative needs to be done.

Getting between the station and Hillsborough is not easy, as a change of tram is needed.

Leppings Lane is only one stop from the end of the line at Middlewood. Surely, on match days, one simple solution would be to run trams direct to the station from Middlewood.

But the restricted number of trams probably makes this impossible.

Conclusion

Sheffield’s public transport network needs improvement.

 

 

 

November 6, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment