The Anonymous Widower

Would A North-East And South West Sleeper Service Be A Good Idea?

I ask this question as in the October 2021, there is an article entitled A New Sleeper, which has this explanatory sub-title.

Des Bradley describes his concept for a North-East to South-West Overnight Service

Paraphrasing his resume from the article, Des Bradley is probably best described as a rail enthusiast, who has travelled all over Europe by train, especially on sleeper trains. He has also worked recently with ScotRail, where he led their integrated travel activities.

I regularly use the Caledonian Sleeper on my trips to Scotland,  often taking a sleeper one way and a day time train the other. Towards the end of next month, I have tickets booked for a low-cost Lumo train to Edinburgh and a sleeper back to London in the evening.

In this blog, I have regularly written about the sleeper trains being introduced across Europe and this summer I had intended to go via Eurostar and NightJet to Vienna. But the pandemic has kept me in England for two years.

An Edinburgh And Plymouth Sleeper

Des Bradley is proposing a sleeper train between Edinburgh and Plymouth.

  • A typical daytime trip on this route takes eight hours and forty-five minutes.
  • Intermediate stops would be Berwick-upon-Tweed, Newcastle, Durham, Darlington, York, Leeds, Sheffield, Derby, Birmingham New Street, Cheltenham Spa, Bristol Parkway, Bristol Temple Meads, Taunton, Exeter St. David’s and Newton Abbot.
  • Journey time would be just over twelve hours.
  • By comparison a sleeper between London and Edinburgh takes about seven hours and thirty minutes.

He calls the service the NESW Sleeper.

I have some thoughts on the proposal.

A Spine Route Between Edinburgh And Penzance

The route is effectively a spine between Edinburgh and Plymouth on which other services can be built.

Unlike the Caledonian Sleeper, Des Bradley doesn’t feel the train should split and join as it travels up and down the country.

But I do think that the NESW Sleeper can be timed to fit in with high-quality connecting services to extend the coverage.

An Innovative Timetable

Des Bradley’s timetable is innovative.

  • Trains leave Edinburgh and Plymouth around 21:00.
  • Trains arrive at their destination around 09:00.
  • Trains stop for about two hours at Derby.
  • After resting at Derby, the trains are effectively early morning trains.

Note.

  1. The wait at Derby, adds extra time, that can be used to make up for engineering diversions, which often happen at night!
  2. The trains could be used by non-sleeper passengers to get to Plymouth or Edinburgh early.

The consequence of the second point, is that the trains will have to offer some Standard Class seats.

Should The Train Serve Penzance?

The Great Western Railway’s Night Riviera sleeper train calls at Liskeard, Bodmin Parkway, Lostwithiel, St.Austell, Truro, Redruth, Cambourne, Hoyle and St. Erth between Plymouth and Penzance.

According to a proposed NESW timetable, the Night Riviera has long gone, before the NESW Sleeper arrives in Plymouth at 08:58.

But I’m sure Great Western Railway could arrange for a convenient service between Plymouth and Penzance to pick up passengers in the morning and deliver them in the evening. This picture taken at Plymouth, indicates that cross-platform interchange may be possible.

This picture shows a pair of GWR Castles, which regularly work additional services between Plymouth and Penzance.

What About Wales?

I suspect that Cardiff, Swansea and other towns and cities in South Wales, can be served in a similar way, by connecting with GWR services at Bristol Parkway station.

Other Connecting Services

Birmingham New Street, Derby, Leeds and Newcastle are important interchange stations and I can see services being timed to bring passengers to and from the NESW Sleeper.

Rolling Stock

The author offers choices for the trains, based on what is used currently in the UK and adding multiple units. But he is definitely tending towards fixed formations.

I feel that the trains should meet the following criteria.

They should be of similar standard as the Caledonian Sleeper.

They would need an independently-powered capability for sections without electrification.

They should be zero-carbon.

They should offer a range of accommodation including Standard Class seats to cater the early birds and budget travellers.

The possibility to run at 100 mph or faster might be useful to catch up time on some sections of the route.

I think that two trains could be possible.

  • A rake of coaches hauled by a hydrogen-electric locomotive.
  • A battery-electric Sleeper Multiple-Unit with a range of perhaps eighty miles on batteries.

This is a sentence from the article.

The concept of ‘Sleeper Multiple-Units’ has also emerged in recent years, and this idea could be attractive; although it has some inherent inflexibility, it could in the future allow multi-portion or experimental new routes to be tagged onto the core service.

Sleeper Multiple Units might enable a South Wales and Edinburgh service, that used the same train path between Edinburgh and Bristol Parkway, where the two trains would split and join.

Conclusion

I like this proposal and definitely think it is a good idea.

 

 

 

September 26, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

These New Sleeper Trains Are Basically Luxury Hotels On Wheels

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Time Out.

French startup; Midnight Trains, aims to update sleeper trains for the twenty-first century.

What Routes Are Being Offered?

The Time Out article says this.

Centred around Paris’s Gare du Nord train station, routes will stretch as far as 800km in a star shape across Europe, encompassing major destinations such as Madrid, Lisbon, Porto, Milan, Venice, Florence, Rome, Vienna, Prague, Budapest, Berlin, Hamburg, Copenhagen and even Edinburgh.

A map on the Midnight Trains web site, shows these individual routes.

  • Paris and Barcelona
  • Paris and Edinburgh
  • Paris and Madrid
  • Paris and Porto
  • Paris, Brussels, Hamburg and Copenhagen
  • Paris, Brussels, Hamburg and Berlin
  • Paris, Milan and Venice
  • Paris, Florence and Rome

I’m sure this list will grow.

Some Detailed Looks At Routes

I shall give a few notes about some of the proposed routes.

Paris And Barcelona

Crows would fly 831 kilometres or 516 miles.

I have gone by train between Barcelona and Paris twice. One trip is described in From Barcelona To Paris.

It looks like it takes 06:40 in a TGV without a change.

The service leaves from Barcelona Sants and arrives at Paris Lyon.

Time Out says journeys are centred on Gare Nord, so could the train access that terminal from the South?

An eight or nine hour sleeper journey would probably be convenient for train operators and passengers.

But I suspect that this route may need trains that can take advantage of the high speed nature of much of the route.

Paris And Edinburgh

Crows would fly 873 kilometres or 543 miles.

  • I have gone by train between London and Edinburgh many times and four-and-a half hours would not be an unreasonable time.
  • I have also used  Eurostar between London and Paris many times and two-and-a-quarter-hours would not be an unreasonable time.

An eight or nine hour sleeper journey would probably be convenient for train operators and passengers.

The most efficient way could be for the Paris and Edinburgh service to operate would be with a reverse at St. Pancras.

  • It could be at between one and three in the morning, as sleeper trains run slower than high speed services.
  • It would take about ten-fifteen minutes for the driver to change ends.

Would they be allowed to pick up passengers on the way through London?

  • I doubt they would be able to do this universally, but there must be a market for passengers needing to get to Edinburgh or Paris early in the morning from London.
  • During the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, on one day, I used the Caledonian Sleeper to return to London. It was packed and a sleeper train leaving for Paris and Edinburgh might pick up a substantial number of passengers after sporting or cultural events or business that finished late in the evening.
  • Timings could be arranged, so that both the Edinburgh and Paris legs were sufficient for say four or five hours sleep.

Caledonian Sleeper would probably object. But competition of this nature is often mutually beneficial.

There is also an alternative fully-electrified route that avoids the reverse at St. Pancras.

It winds its way through East London between Barking and Holloway using the North London Line.

It is feasible, but wouldn’t have the commercial advantages of a reverse in St. Pancras.

Would the Paris and Edinburgh services call at other stations?

The Lowland Caledonian Sleeper to Edinburgh and Glasgow calls at the following other stations.

  • Watford Junction – Pick up Northbound – Set down Southbound
  • Carlisle – Pick up Southbound – Set down Northbound
  • Carstairs – Pick up Southbound – Set down Northbound
  • Motherwell – Pick up Southbound – Set down Northbound

Would the Midnight Trains do something similar. Perhaps they would call at the following stations.

  • Stevenage – Pick up Northbound – Set down Southbound
  • York – Pick up Southbound – Set down Northbound
  • Newcastle – Pick up Southbound – Set down Northbound

This would create three extra sleeper services.

  • Paris and Newcastle
  • Paris and York
  • Stevenage and Edinburgh

Commercially this must be attractive, as it would require no extra rolling stock.

I also suspect providing Customs and Immigration for outgoing passengers at York and Newcastle would not be an expense, that made the stops unviable.

Paris And Madrid

Crows would fly 1057 kilometres or 657 miles.

In 2014, I used trains from Madrid to Paris and on to London, which I wrote about in From Madrid To London.

That was a trip that I planned on the move, so it could have been done faster.

Looking at the timetables, I find the following.

  • Paris and Barcelona – 6:41
  • Barcelona and Madrid – 2:45

Note

  1. All times are given in hours:minutes.
  2. A direct service without a change at Barcelona must be possible.
  3. Would this service pick up and set down at Girona, Barcelona, Camp de Tarragona and Zaragoza?

A ten or eleven hour sleeper journey would probably be feasible and convenient for train operators and passengers.

But when I look at the route map on the Midnight Trains web site, their route between Paris and Madrid appears to go further to the West.

I have a strong feeling that they are proposing to use the currently closed route via the iconic Canfranc station.

But then Wikipedia says this about plans for the future of the route and the station.

The government of Aragon has long held various ambitions for the rehabilitation of the station. Plans have been mooted to redevelop the main station building into a hotel, which would involve the construction of a new station beside it to replace it. There have been explorations of options to reopen the through line as the “western trans-Pyrenean line”; this initiative would reportedly involve the assistance of the government of Aquitaine, the adjacent French region. In February 2020, it was announced that funding from the European Union had been made available for the purpose of reopening the through line and relaunching international services.

Note.

  1. A regular rail service between Pau in France and Zaragoza in Spain would tick a lot of boxes.
  2. On the French side the Pau-Canfranc railway is a fifty-eight mile electrified single-track, standard-gauge railway.
  3. On the Spanish side, the railway is Iberian gauge.
  4. It would probably be a useful freight route.
  5. If it could take a TGV, it would enable faster TGV links between France and the Iberian nations.

It looks to me, that if it was properly rebuilt, it could be a useful standard gauge line between the high speed networks of France and Spain.

Looking at the timetables, I find the following.

  • Paris and Pau – 4:24
  • Zaragoza and Madrid – 1:35

If Pau and Zaragoza could be achieved in three hours, times would be as good or better, than the Barcelona route.

Paris And Porto

Crows would fly 1213 kilometres or 753 miles.

This is a challenging one to find the route, but I did find a current time of just over fourteen hours with lots of changes.

But from Zaragoza, there does appear to be a route via Burgos and Vigo.

It could be up to sixteen hours, so would probably be the better part of a day.

Could the Madrid and Porto services, provide a service to and from Canfranc?

Consider.

  • Canfranc station is a spectacular station in the Pyrenees.
  • It has been blessed by St. Michael.
  • I suspect many people would like to visit.
  • The station might be converted into a hotel.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see innovative arrangements in the Madrid and Porto services, so that passengers could have a visit to Canfranc.

Paris, Brussels, Hamburg And Copenhagen

Crows would fly 1027 kilometres or 638 miles.

Looking at the timetables, I find the following.

  • Paris and Brussels – 1:32
  • Brussels and Hamburg- 6:49
  • Hamburg and Copenhagen- 5:06

Note

  1. All times are given in hours:minutes.
  2. When I went between Hamburg and Copenhagen by train, I used the Bird Flight Line which involved a train ferry, where passengers had to get on the ship for the crossing. I described that trip in From Copenhagen To Hamburg By Train.
  3. The ferry is being replaced by a tunnel by 2028.
  4. It looks like it might be possible to go between Hamburg and Copenhagen by a longer route further to the North.

An eleven or twelve hour sleeper journey would probably be feasible and convenient for train operators and passengers.

I was initially surprised that the service didn’t call at Amsterdam.

  • But then there are a lot of big cities between Brussels and Amsterdam; Antwerp, Rotterdam, Schipol Airport and The Hague.
  • There is generally one train per hour (tph) between Brussels and Amsterdam.
  • Paris and Amsterdam are only 3:20 apart by Thalys, so perhaps there wouldn’t be many takers for a sleeper train.
  • It would appear that the best route between Paris and Hamburg is via Brussels and Cologne.

From friends in the area, I also get the impression, that it would take forever for the Belgians and the Dutch to decide on the calling pattern.

Paris, Brussels, Hamburg And Berlin

Crows would fly 876 kilometres or 545 miles.

Looking at the timetables, I find the following.

  • Paris and Brussels – 1:32
  • Brussels and Hamburg- 6:49
  • Hamburg and Berlin – 1:36

Note that all times are given in hours:minutes.

A ten or eleven hour sleeper journey would probably be feasible and convenient for train operators and passengers.

I was initially surprised that the service didn’t call at Cologne.

  • Thalys runs a high speed service between Paris and Cologne.
  • DB runs a high speed service between Cologne and Hamburg.
  • NightJet runs a sleeper service from Brussels and Cologne to Austria.

It could be that the demand isn’t thought to be there.

Paris, Milan And Venice

Crows would fly 845 kilometres or 525 miles.

I have done much of this route before and wrote about it in From Novara To Paris.

Looking at the timetables, I find the following.

  • Paris and Milan – 7:22
  • Milan and Venice – 2:29

Note

  1. All times are given in hours:minutes.
  2. Would this service pick up and set down at Turin and Verona?

A ten or eleven hour sleeper journey would probably be feasible and convenient for train operators and passengers.

Paris, Florence And Rome

Crows would fly 1106 kilometres or 687 miles.

Looking at the timetables, I find the following.

  • Paris and Turin – 5:42
  • Turin and Florence – 3:00
  • Florence and Rome – 1:36

Note

  1. All times are given in hours:minutes.
  2. Would this service pick up and set down at Turin and Verona?

A ten or eleven hour sleeper journey would probably be feasible and convenient for train operators and passengers.

What Rolling Stock Will Be Used?

In recent years sleeper train sets have been ordered as follows.

  • Austrian Railways from Siemens.
  • Caledonian Sleepers from CAF of Spain.

But as Midnight Trains is a French Company, I suspect the train order could go to Alstom.

On the other hand because of European procurement rules and quality, the order could go to CAF.

The CAF Mark 5 Coaches are capable of running at 100 mph and there are pictures in On The Caledonian Sleeper To Glasgow.

I do wonder, though if we’ll see a radical design, which is different to current locomotive-hauled sleeper trains.

  • Electrical multiple unit rather than locomotive hauled.
  • 125 mph capability, which could be useful on some routes.
  • A fleet of identical train sets.
  • Ability to use all the voltages on the routes.
  • Ability to work in pairs or singly dependent on the needs of the route.
  • Ability to split and join automatically in a station.
  • Ability to use the signalling on all routes, including high speed ones.
  • The trains would be built to be suitable for all loading gauges on the routes served.

Note.

  1. Given that French-designed Class 373 trains used by Eurostar, could trundle all over South London into Waterloo, I don’t think it will be difficult to design a train, that fitted the Edinburgh service.
  2. Get the design right and there could be other customers.

They would be true Pan-European trains.

When Will The Trains Start Running?

2024 is the date given by Time Out and the Midnight Trains web site.

Conclusion

I like the proposed service.

These are reasons why.

The Proposed Level Of Service

When travelling for between eight and twelve hours, you need a quality train.

Over the years, I must have used sleeper trains run by Caledonian Sleeper at least twenty times,

When they have been good, they have been very good.

The new trains from CAF don’t need for anything more.

If Midnight Trains can match Caledonian Sleeper for quality on trains, service and food, they’ll attract passengers.

The Service Is Easy To Expand And Extend

Consider, these extra services could surely be added to the  proposed network.

  • Paris and Munich
  • Paris and Switzerland.
  • Paris, Nice and Genoa

If some of the plans to connect the UK and Irish railways come to fruition, there could even be a Paris and Dublin service in the distant future.

Consider, these extensions to the proposed services.

  • Edinburgh and Glasgow 1:12
  • Rome and Naples – 1:10
  • Barcelona and Valencia – 2:40

Note that all times are given in hours:minutes.

The Service Is Very UK-Friendly

Because of Eurostar, with its two-and-a-quarter hour journey between two of Europe’s largest cities, London and Paris can almost be considered twin cities with respect to long-distance transport.

Suppose a resident of Paris wants to go for a weeks holiday birdwatching in the North of Scotland, a late afternoon Eurostar to London and the Caledonian sleeper to Inverness is a very-feasible way to travel.

Suppose, I wanted to go from London to Berlin, in the future, I will be able to get a Eurostar to Paris and a Midnight Train to Berlin.

A Good Food Offering

I would hope that the food is of a quality nature.

I am coeliac and must have gluten-free food, like probably up to one percent of people.

I have found that the higher the quality of the food, the more likely it is, that the chef knows their allergies.

Before the pandemic, the best train food in Europe on a regular service was Great Western Railway’s Pullman Dining. But because of the restrictions, I’ve not tried it lately.

 

 

June 30, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Councillors Approve Train Station For Inverness Airport

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Rail Technology Magazine.

These are the first two paragraphs.

Planning permission has finally been granted for a two-platform train station at Inverness Airport.

The plans were “reluctantly” granted by the Highland Council, as much debate over the Petty Level crossing which is to be removed as a consequence.

Ir certainly looks like there were strong arguments over the level crossing.

This Network Rail visualisation shows the station from a virtual helicopter hovering over the Airport.

And this Google Map shows the Airport from the South-West

Note.

  1. The link road to the A96 crossing the railway in both images. But from opposite directions.
  2. In the Network Rail visualisation you can see the roundabout, where the link road joins the A96 in the top left corner.
  3. The current railway is only single track, but Network Rail will be doubling it.
  4. From these images and this document on the Network Rail web site, I can deduce this about the station.
  5. The station will have two platforms that will be capable of handling six-car trains.
  6. The footbridge is shown with lifts.
  7. The station will be able to be used as a Park-and-Ride for Inverness.

I suspect there will be a shuttle bus to the Airport terminal.

Travel Between London And Inverness

I’ve been to Inverness twice and and in both cases, I’ve gone by train.

  • The first time, I went by a  day train from Edinburgh. And I was in the cab courtesy of East Coast. I wrote about it in Edinburgh to Inverness in the Cab of an HST.
  • The other occasion, I took the Caledonian Sleeper to Inverness and that is a civilised way to go.

I feel that on this route very keen competition could develop.

Advantages Of Flying

Flying to Inverness Airport has these advantages.

  • A shorter journey time.
  • A greater choice of destinations.
  • Destinations in the sun.
  • After the new station is built it will be rail connected all the way to Aberdeen.

This Google map shows Inverness and Inverness Airport.

Note.

  1. The city of Inverness is at the Southern end of the Moray Firth.
  2. With all the water, I suspect the airport can be a good neighbour as far as noise and pollution are concerned.
  3. The Airport would have good access to green hydrogen and electricity from renewable sources.
  4. Even the Airport train and all the ground-handling equipment could run on hydrogen.

I feel that the Airport could sell itself as an environmentally-friendly way to the Highlands, when sufficient numbers of zero-carbon aircraft are available.

  • You should be able to fly in from Amsterdam, Birmingham, Brussels, Geneva, London, Manchester etc. and not feel any environmental guilt.
  • Airbus’s proposed hydrogen-powered ZEROe Turbofan is quoted as having a range of 2,000+ nautical miles,
  • That distance would put a lot of the sun in range of Inverness Airport.
  • Smaller feeder airliners could connect to other airports in the North of Scotland and the islands.

Inverness Airport will not be beaten without a fight.

Advantages Of Trains

Taking the train to Inverness has the following advantages.

  • Luxury
  • Zero Carbon-Footprint
  • The possibility of an overnight trip on a sleeper train.
  • The scenery through the Highlands.

I also believe that it would be possible  to design a hydrogen-powered luxury train. I laid out my ideas in LNER Seeks 10 More Bi-Modes.

I believe a train could have this specification.

  • 140 mph operation on 25 KVAC overhead electrification. This was done by British Rail almost forty years ago.
  • Ability to use full digital in-cab signalling. This is on its way and already working in some applications.
  • 110 mph operation on hydrogen. Hitachi are planning 100 mph battery trains, so it should be possible.
  • 400 mile range on one filling of hydrogen. This is working in Germany.
  • Ability to be upgraded to higher speeds on electric power, should the East Coast Main Line be upgraded for higher speeds in the future. The train manufacturers are probably ahead of track designers with this one.

I believe a sub-seven hour time would be possible between London and Inverness.

Conclusion

This is the sort of route, where rail and air will have a hard fight for supremacy.

 

 

May 6, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Could Trains From The North Connect To High Speed One At St. Pancras?

I was casually flying my virtual helicopter over the throat of St. Pancras International station, when I took a few pictures.

This Google Map shows the Northern ends of the platforms and the tracks leading in.

Note.

  1. Platforms 1-4 to the West with darker tracks handle the East Midlands Railway services.
  2. Platforms 5-10 in the centre with lighter tracks formed of three shorter islands handle the Eurostar services.
  3. Platforms 11-13 to the East with longer platforms handle the Southeastern HighSpeed services.

This Google Map shows the East Midlands Railway platforms.

Note.

  1. There are two island platforms; 1-2 and 3-4.
  2. The four platforms are served by two tracks, that connect to the fast lines of the Midland Main Line.
  3. The platforms will be able to handle a pair of Class 810 trains, which will be 240 metres long.
  4. Will the two trains per hour (tph) using Class 360 trains between London and Corby always use the same platform at St. Prancras station?

This Google Map shows the Eurostar platforms.

Note.

There are three island platforms; 5-6, 7-8 and 9-10.

The two island platforms in the West are for East Midlands Railway services.

The two longer island platforms in the East are for Southeastern HighSpeed services.

The six platforms connect to two fast lines, that are shared with the Southeastern services.

This Google Map shows the lines proceeding to the North.

Note.

  1. There are four sets of tracks.
  2. The two light-coloured tracks on the left are for Thameslink or sidings.
  3. The next two dark-coloured tracks are the two tracks of the Midland Main Line.
  4. The next set of tracks are those connecting to the six Eurostar platforms.
  5. The two tracks on the right are those connecting to the Southeastern Highspeed platforms.
  6. There are crossovers between the Eurostar and Southeastern Highspeed tracks to allow efficient operation of the trains going to and from the twin tracks of High Speed One.

This Google Map shows where the Midland Main Line and High Speed One divide.

Note.

The two dark-coloured tracks of the Midland Main Line running North.

There appear to be four  tracks running North East towards High Speed One.

Between the two sets of tracks two further tracks lead to the North.

The track closest to the Midland Main Line joins to the slow lines of the Midland Main Line.

The other one connects to the North London Line.

This Google Map shows the connecting lines to the High Speed One tunnel.

Note the tunnel portal is in the North-East corner of the map.

  1. It looks to me that the following connections are possible.
  2. St. Pancras station Eurostar platforms and Midland Main Line.
  3. St. Pancras station Eurostar platforms and North London Line to the West.
  4. High Speed One and North London Line to the West.

These connections are in addition to those connections needed to run scheduled services.

They would enable trains to take the following routes.

  • St. Pancras station Eurostar platforms and Midland Main Line.
  • St. Pancras station Eurostar platforms and the West Coast Main Line via North London Line
  • High Speed One and the West Coast Main Line via North London Line
  • St. Pancras station Eurostar platforms and the Great Western Main Line via North London Line
  • High Speed One and the Great Western Main Line via North London Line

I suspect most of the times, that these routes are used it is for engineering purposes or behaps dragging a failed train out of St. Pancras.

But the track layout would seem to allow the following.

Direct electric freight and passenger services between High Speed One and Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow, Liverpool and Manchester.

Direct electric passenger services between High Speed One and Sheffield and Leeds, with a reverse at St. Pancras, after the Midland Main Line were to be fully electrified.

Was this by design for Eurostar or was it just what Network Rail ended up with?

A Modern Regional Eurostar Service

These are my thoughts on a modern Regional Eurostar service.

Rolling Stock

High Speed Two is coming and this year, the company will order some of the rolling stock.

There will be fifty-four trains

The trains will be Classic-Compatible for running on the West Coast Main Line.

They will be 200 metres long and be able to run in pairs.

They will be able to operate at 225 mph.

The operating speed of High Speed One is 186 mph.

I can see no reason why trains of this type, couldn’t run between St. Pancras and many destinations in Europe.

North Of England And The Continent

Could this be the service pattern?

  • One train could start in the North West and another in the North East.
  • Both trains would proceed to St. Pancras picking up passengers en route.
  • At St. Pancras the two trains would join together.
  • The driver could then position themselves in the front cab and take High Speed One, through the Channel Tunnel.

The train could even split at Calais to serve two different Continental destinations.

Going North, the spitting and joining would be reversed.

What Infrastructure Would Be Needed?

I suspect the following will be needed.

  • The West Coast Main Line and the Midland Main Line would need in-cab digital ERTMS signalling.
  • Full electrification of the Midland Main Line would probably be necessary, as I don’t think the tunnel allows diesel trains to pass through.
  • Some platform lengthening might be needed.

It would not be an expensive scheme.

What Timings Would Be Possible?

Using current timings you get the following times.

  • Leeds and Paris – Five hours
  • Leeds and Brussels – Four hours forty minutes
  • Manchester and Paris – Five hours
  • Manchester and Brussels – For hours forty minutes
  • Newcastle and Paris – Six hours
  • Newcastle and Brussels – Five hours thirty minutes

Note, that the times are best estimates and include a long stop of several minutes at St. Pancras.

Could Sleeper Service Be Run?

I don’t see why not!

Conclusion

It looks like it may be possible to run regional services to Europe, where pairs of train split and join at St. Pancras.

 

 

 

St

April 20, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

‘Sleeper Trains’ London To Berlin And Prague A New Possibility

The title of this post, is the same as the title of this article on Rail Technology Magazine.

This is the introductory paragraph.

For those who have grown a travel bug during lockdown, the truth is that flying looks like it won’t be a viable option as a global pandemic persists. However, for those who dream to travel again, there might be some hope. With growing new interest, there are ambitious plans to take overnight ‘Sleeper trains’ services through the channel tunnel from London to cities around Europe .

I regularly use sleeper trains to Scotland, as they deliver me North of the Border for an early start or are ideal for coming back ;ate after a busy day.

As I can sleep with no trouble on a train and generally book a few days in advance, it generally works out that the cost of the sleeper one way is good value, as it avoids paying for a hotel.

Certainly, in the UK, if you use sleeper trains properly and have a rail-card, I find them convenient and good value. A couple of times, there’s also been a party in the lounge car.

It appears that the first sleeper trains will start from Brussels.

  • NightJet already run a service between Brussels and Vienna.
  • A route of Brussels and Prague via Amsterdam, Berlin and Dresden is suggested.
  • These routes could be extended to London, at some time in the future.

But if they were timed appropriately, you could take an afternoon or evening Eurostar to Brussels and have supper before you get the sleeper, either on Eurostar or in Brussels.

With sleeper trains popping up in several places in Europe and becoming more fashionable with better rolling stock, I’m sure that this sleeper train would work.

Brussels and Berlin is currently seven hours with a change, so a sleeper train without a change could probably take you to Berlin for eight in the morning, if it left Brussels at about yen at night.

April 19, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 8 Comments

New Fleet To Make Nightjet ‘The Best Option For Travelling Between Major European Cities’

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Railway Gazette International.

This is the first paragraph.

The exterior design and first painted carbody for the fleet of coaches which Siemens Mobility is to supply for Nightjet night train services has been unveiled by Austrian Federal Railways.

This is a €500m project involving.

  • New trains
  • Additional destinations
  • New services

ÖBB intends to buy 33 Nightjet trains, which will be introduced into services from 2022.

This is the last paragraph.

Meanwhile, ÖBB intends to introduce its planned Wien/Innsbruck – Amsterdam Nightjet service from April 2021, with Wien – München – Paris and Zürich – Amsterdam services following in December.

It looks like ÖBB are moving closer to the UK.

I’m looking forward to taking a sleeper between London and Vienna.

 

 

March 15, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

Nightjet Depot Investment To Support Sleeper Train Network Expansion

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Austrian Federal Railways held a groundbreaking ceremony on August 21 to launch the construction of a €40m facility at its Wien Simmering depot for the maintenance of its Nightjet overnight train fleet.

The article then goes on to give more details of Nightjet‘s expansion.

  • A service between Vienna and Brussels was introduced earlier this year.
  • The Nightjet  network currently has nineteen routes.
  • A service from Amsterdam to München, Innsbruck and Vienna, will be introduced in December.
  • Vienna is the EU city with the most night train services.
  • In August 2018, Nightjet ordered thirteen new seven-car trains from Siemens.
  • Another twenty seven-car trains were ordered this month.

It does look like Nightjet is linking up with Eurostar to take people far into Europe.

August 24, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

GWR and DfT’s Commitment To The Night Riviera

The May 2020 Edition of Modern Railways has an article, which is entitled West Of England Improvements In GWR Deal.

Under a heading of Sleeper Planning, this is said about plans for the Night Riviera.

Whilst GWR is already developing plans for the short term future of the ‘Night Riviera’ sleeper service, including the provision of additional capacity at times of high demand using Mk. 3 vehicles withdrawn from the Caledonian Sleeper fleet, it is understood the company has been asked to develop a long-term plan for the replacement of the current Mk. 3 fleet of coaches, constructed between 1981 and 1984, as well as the Class 57/6 locomotives, which were rebuilt in 2002-03 from Class 47 locomotives constructed in the early 1960s.

This must show commitment from both GWR and the Department for Transport, that the Night Riviera has a future.

These are a few of my thoughts on the future of the service.

The Coaches

I would suspect that GWR will opt for the same Mark 5 coaches, built by CAF, as are used on the Caledonian Sleeper.

I took these pictures on a trip from Euston to Glasgow.

The coaches don’t seem to have any problems and appear to be performing well.

The facilities are comprehensive and include full en-suite plumbing, a selection of beds including doubles and a lounge car. There are also berths for disabled passengers.

The Locomotives

The Class 57 locomotives have a power output around 2 MW and I would suspect a similar-sized locomotive would be used.

Possible locomotives could include.

  • Class 67 – Used by Chiltern on passenger services – 2.4 kW
  • Class 68 – Used by Chiltern, TransPennine Express and others on passenger services – 2.8 MW
  • Class 88 – A dual-mode locomotive might be powerful enough on diesel – 700 kW

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Stadler come up with a customised version of their Euro Dual dual-mode locomotives.

 

April 23, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Will COVID-19 Create A Boom In Sleeper Train Services?

I have regularly used the Caledonian Sleeper to go to Scotland, as it gets you there at an early hour in the morning and if you book the train, at the right time, the cost of a single First Class cabin can be about the same cost as a day First Class ticket and a night in a Premier Inn.

Look at this picture, that taken a few months ago, as I was leaving Euston on a Caledonian Sleeper to Edinburgh. It would be very easy to board the train without breaking the two-metre rule.

I believe sleeper trains will see an increase in passengers.

We may also see in increase in services. These posts detail various planned or possible services.

Note that the Caledonian Sleeper, the Swedes and the Austrians are investing in new rolling stock, so that won’t be a problem.

But perhaps the most interesting story, is described in Nightjet Plans Mini-Capsules For Private Travellers.

I can see a series of sleeper trains criss-crossing Europe, where everybody has their own mini-capsule. Perhaps, it will be called Ryantrain or easyTrain.

 

April 19, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 2 Comments

Nightjet Plans Mini-Capsules For Private Travellers

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Railway Gazette International.

I think they look rather good and they will surely appeal to Japanese tourists.

December 10, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 1 Comment