The Anonymous Widower

Beeching Reversal – Magor And Undy Walkway Station

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

I actually covered this proposal before in ‘Walkway’ Rail Station Plan For Magor As M4 Relief Road Scrapped,

I’ll repeat the start of that post.

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

These are the introductory paragraphs.

A village heavily affected by the decision to scrap the planned M4 relief road is bidding for help to build a £7m railway station there.

Residents of Magor in Monmouthshire have the mainline rail service to London running through the village, but no station.

They want to create a “walkway” station – one with no car parking that travellers will walk or cycle to.

The original Magor station was shut in the Beeching cuts in November 1964.

The Villages Of Magor And Undy

This Google Map shows the villages of Magor and Undy and their relationship to the roads and railway in the area.

Note.

  1. The Northern motorway is the M48, which leads to the original Severn Bridge.
  2. The Southern motorway is the M4, which leads to the newer Second Severn Crossing.
  3. Between the two lies the South Wales Main Line, with the two stations; Severn Tunnel Junction and Caldicot.
  4. At the Western end of the map, the railway runs between the two villages of Magor and Undy.

This second Google Map shows the villages.

Note.

  1. The M4 running East-West to the North of Magor.
  2. Magor services is in the North-West corner of the map.
  3. The South Wales Main Line running through the villages.

There certainly seems to be a lot of housing to provide passengers for the new station.

The Location Of Magor And Undy Station

On this web page on Rail Future, which is entitled Magor, this is said.

The station site is where the B4245 road passes closest to the railway line. The Monmouthshire County Council traffic survey shows that some 11 – 12,000 cars a day pass along this road through the middle of the villages. The shift from car to train use is primarily aimed at capturing those who at present are not prepared to drive the two and half miles to the east just to catch the train at Severn Tunnel Junction to travel the two and a half miles back passing their homes for the seven and a half mile journey into Newport, and hence at present use their car for the whole journey instead. The site also has the advantage of direct integration with the buses as the bus services pass the entrance to the site of the proposed Station and Community centre every half an hour.

This Google Map shows the B4245 road and the railway.

Note.

  1. The B4245 curving across the map.
  2. There are already two bus stops, which are marked by blue dots.
  3. There is a footbridge over the railway, which doesn’t appear to be step-free.

As Rail Future is probably correct, the position of the station is fairly obvious.

Various documents on the Internet talk about the station being built on the Three Field Site, which the local council bought for community purposes some years ago. Could the triangle of land between the B4245 and the railway, be this site?

Thoughts On The Station

Reading the web page on Rail Future, the following seems to be stated.

  • The platforms will be on the two outside tracks of the four through the station. These are the Relief Lines.
  • The two Fast Lines will be in the centre.
  • Existing crossovers will allow trains from the Fast Lines to call in the station.

Unlike at other proposed stations to the West of Newport, the tracks will not need major works to slew them to accommodate the new platforms.

I would also do the following.

Incorporate Wide Platforms

This picture was taken of the new platform at Stevenage station.

If the station gets busy, a wide platform will ease loading and unloading.

As Magor and Undy station, will be one that encourages passengers to cycle to the station, would a wide platform make it easier for passengers, who are travelling with bicycles?

Step-Free Between Train And Platform

Greater Anglia are using similar trains to South Wales and the Stadler Flirts in East Anglia offer step-free access between train and platform, as this picture shows.

South Wales should offer a similar standard of step-free access. as it eases access and cuts train delays.

A Step-Free Footbridge

In Winner Announced In The Network Rail Footbridge Design Ideas Competition, I wrote how the competition was won by this bridge.

So could a factory-built bridge like this be installed at Magor and Undy station?

  • The bridge can be sized to fit any gap.
  • If the platforms were wide enough, I think it would be possible.
  • It can have lifts that can take bicycles.
  • A bridge like this would also reduce the cost.

So the station can have a stylish, affordable, fully step-free footbridge.

A Walkway Along The Railway

It strikes me that a walkway on the Southern side of the railway to connect the communities South of the railway to the station could be very useful.

Electrification

The South Wales Main Line is electrified between London and Cardiff and Great Western Railway’s Class 802 trains between London and Swansea, change between electricity and diesel at Cardiff Central station.

All four lines at Severn Tunnel Junction appear to be electrified, so will all four lines at Magor and Undy station be electrified?

They certainly should be, to improve the reliability of electric services between London and South Wales.

Train Services

I suspect that the calling pattern of train will be similar to that at Severn Tunnel Junction, which is the next station to the East. The Wikipedia entry for Severn Tunnel Junction says this about services at that station.

The station is served by two main routes – Transport for Wales’ Cheltenham Spa to Cardiff Central and Maesteg via Chepstow local service and Great Western Railway’s Cardiff to Taunton via Bristol line. Both run hourly on weekdays & Saturdays, albeit with some two-hour gaps on the Chepstow line. In the weekday peaks, certain Cardiff to Portsmouth Harbour also stop here, whilst there is a daily train to Fishguard Harbour. CrossCountry also provides very limited services to/from Manchester Piccadilly via Bristol and to Nottingham via Gloucester and Birmingham New Street.

On Sundays, the Bristol to Cardiff service is once again hourly (and runs to/from Portsmouth) whist the Cheltenham service is two-hourly.

I think that this could result in these train frequencies in trains per hour (tph), from Magor station.

  • Caldicot – 2 tph
  • Cardiff Central – 4 tph
  • Cjeltenham – 1 tph
  • Chepstow – 2 tph
  • Gloucester – 1 tph
  • Newport – 4 tph
  • Severn Tunnel Junction – 4 tph

Note.

  1. I have assumed that the CrossCountry services don’t stop.
  2. As there seem to be proposals to add extra stations between Newport and Cardiff Central, these new stations could also get a service with a frequency of between two and four tph.

Working on rules that apply in Liverpool and London, and may apply to the South Wales Metro, I think that a Turn-Up-And-Go service of a train every fifteen minutes is needed between Magor and Undy station and the important Newport and Cardiff stations.

Battery Electric Trains Along The South Wales Main Line

The railways are being decarbonised and plans will have to be made to run all secondary services on the South Wales Main Line without diesel.

Hitachi have already played their cards, with the announcement of a Regional Battery Train, which will be created by replacing some of the numerous diesel engines on a Class 802 train with battery packs.

This is Hitachi’s infographic for the train.

The range of ninety kilometres or fifty-six miles is interesting.

  • Cardiff Central and Swansea are 46 miles apart, so with a charging facility at Swansea, Great Western Railway could run diesel-free between London Paddington and Swansea.
  • I suspect too, that destinations to the West of Swansea could also be served with intelligent placing of a second charging facility at perhaps Carmarthen.

But it’s not just Hitachi, who have made plans for battery electric trains.

  • Transport for Wales have ordered twenty-four Stadler Class 756 trains, which are tri-mode and can run on electrification, diesel or battery power.
  • Transport for Wales have also ordered eleven Stadler Class 231 trains, which are only bi-mode.
  • Both these fleets seem very similar to Greater Anglia’s Class 755 trains, which Stadler have said can be converted to 100 mph tri-mode operation, with perhaps a forty mile range on battery power.
  • I have ridden several times in Class 755 trains and without doubt, they are one of the best diesel-powered trains, I have used in the UK.

So I don’t think it is unreasonable to believe that Transport for Wales have the capability to run battery electric services with the fleet they have ordered given a few simple upgrades, that may already be planned for Greater Anglia.

But will the Welsh train builder; CAF, be happy with Hitachi and Stadler running their battery electric trains at high speed past their factory and onward to England and West Wales?

I doubt it and CAF have already made a response.

In Northern’s Battery Plans, I said this about CAF’s plans to create a battery electric Class 331 train for Northern.

It appears that CAF will convert some three-car Class 331 trains into four-car battery-electric trains.

  • A three-car Class 331 train has a formation of DMSOL+PTS+DMSO.
  • A fourth car with batteries will be inserted into the train.
  • Batteries will also be added to the PTS car.

I suspect that CAF  would be happy to convert some of Transport for Wales order for diesel Class 197 trains into one for suitable battery electric trains.

I believe some of the services that are planned to be run by these diesel trains into Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester, appear to be ideal routes for battery electric trains.

These diesel trains will still be serviceable in 2060, which will be long past the cut-off date for diesel trains in the UK.

So why not replace them before they are built?

  • The CAF Civity train is modular, so I doubt it would make much difference to CAF’s manufacturing process.
  • The diesel version of the Civity has a noisy transmission compared to the electric version.

It would surely, be better for CAF’s marketing.

Could the various routes through Magor be operated by battery electric trains?

These are my thoughts on the various routes.

Maesteg And Cheltenham Spa

This service is hourly and run by Transport for Wales.

  • Currently, the service seems to be running to Gloucester.
  • Maesteg and Cardiff Central is not electrified and 28.5 miles long.
  • Trains seem to take over 8-9 minutes to turn back at Maesteg.
  • Cardiff Central and Severn Tunnel Junction is electrified.
  • Severn Tunnel Junction and Gloucester is not electrified and is 35 miles long.
  • Trains seem to take over 25 minutes to turn back at Gloucester.

It certainly looks that with charging facilities at Maesteg and Gloucester, this service could be run by a battery electric train with a range of forty miles on battery power.

Fishguard And Gloucester

This service is occasional and run by Transport for Wales.

The problem with this service will be to the West of Swansea.

But if Great Western Railway and Transport for Wales put their heads and services together, I feel there is a cunning plan to run battery electric trains to Fishguard, with perhaps charging facilities at Fishguard, Carmarthen and Swansea.

Cardiff And Bristol Temple Meads

This service is two tph and run by Great Western Railway.

On the Welsh side of the Severn Tunnel, this could be an electric service.

On the English side, there is only ten miles of line without electrification between the South Wales Main Line and Bristol Temple Meads station.

This service in wales can be considered an electric service, as it is only onwards from Bristol Temple Meads to Taunton and Portsmouth Harbour, that charging facilities will be needed.

Conclusion

I like this scheme and as it looks like the trains will be running on electric power, through Magor and Undy station, it could be a very good one.

 

 

August 26, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

South Wales Metro Railway Works Imminent

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

Work starts on the third of August and is described in this sentence,

TfW is now starting to build the South Wales Metro which will see major infrastructure works including the electrification of over 170km of track mostly with overhead lines, station and signalling upgrades and the construction of at least five new stations.

It will be one of the most innovative electrification projects ever performed in the UK, as it uses discontinuous electrification.

I explained discontinuous electrification in More On Discontinuous Electrification In South Wales, where I said this.

In the July 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article entitled KeolisAmey Wins Welsh Franchise.

This is said about the electrification on the South Wales Metro.

KeolisAmey has opted to use continuous overhead line equipment but discontinuous power on the Core Valley Lnes (CVL), meaning isolated OLE will be installed under bridges. On reaching a permanently earthed section, trains will automatically switch from 25 KVAC overhead to on-board battery supply, but the pantograph will remain in contact with the overhead cable, ready to collect power after the section. The company believes this method of reducing costly and disruptive engineering works could revive the business cases of cancelled electrification schemes. Hopes of having money left over for other schemes rest partly on this choice of technology.

Other points made include.

    • A total of 172 km. of track will be electrified.
    • The system is used elsewhere, but not in the UK.
    • Disruptive engineering works will be avoided on fifty-five structures.
    • Between Radyr and Ninian Park stations is also proposed for electrification.

Nothing is said about only electrifying the uphill track, which surely could be a way of reducing costs.

I wrote the last sentence, as surely coming down the hills, the trains can be powered by Newton’s friend.

The New Stations

This article on Business Live, gives the list of new stations and their completion dates.

 

If the builders crack on as they did at Horden station, I wouldn’t be surprised to see those dates achieved, with time to spare.

July 10, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage, Transport | , , , , | 9 Comments

Solar Firm To Develop Novel Electronics For Rail Renewables

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Engineering and Technology.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Solar energy company Riding Sunbeams has won funding to develop power electronics technology that will enable it to feed renewable electricity directly into railway overhead wires.

Because solar panels and lithium-ion batteries work in DC and overhead electrification works in AC, this sentence describes the main objective of the project.

The Daybreak demonstrator will repurpose existing technology already being used on UK rail networks for other purposes to create a new device that will provide the required power conversion.

Existing technology and equipment will be used to save time and costs and because it is already rail-certified.

The rest of the article fleshes out a few details.

The test system will be installed at Quinton Rail Technology Centre at Long Marston.

This is the closing paragraph.

In particular, Riding Sunbeams hopes its technology will be able to play a part in delivering 70MW of direct-wire renewable generation to help power the soon-to-be-electrified Core Valley Lines in South Wales through a mixture of solar, wind and energy storage.

As electrification in the Core Valley Lines will be discontinuous, it could appear that the technology developed in this project could help connect and reduce costs.

June 20, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 3 Comments

Rail Solar Project Seen As Stepping Stone For Renewables

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Engineering & Technology.

This is the introductory paragraph.

A British solar power company is working on technology that could enable railways all over the world to be powered by renewable energy, with South Wales seen as a likely testbed for the equipment.

Riding Sunbeams is developing its technology to see if it can be part of the electrification of the South Wales Metro.

Some relevant points from the article.

  • Their test installation at Aldershot, which is rated at 37 kW, is quite small.
  • The Aldershot system is already delivering power to trains.
  • The Welsh Government are aiming for the South Wales Metro to be powered by renewable energy, of which 50 % is generated in Wales.
  • There could be export possibilities for the technology.

Note that the article gives an interesting insight into the various equipment needed to power railway electrification.

May 6, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

When The New Newport Railway Line To Cater For Major Events Is Set To Open

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

If you’ve ever been to a major event at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, as I have a couple of times, you’ll know that getting your train back to England can be a long wait.

So the Welsh have come up with a cunning plan to build a staging area, where they can hold trains near the former Llanwern steelworks site at Newport.

  • It will be 2.4 km. long.
  • I estimate that a nine-car Class 801 train is 234 metres long and holds 611 passengers, so the siding can hold ten trains which have a capacity of over six thusand passengers.
  • It is part of a £50million plan for a new Llanwern station, which is part of the South Wales Metro.
  • It will also be used for the testing of trains. It is very handy for CAF’s Newport factory.

This Google Map shows the site, with CAF’s factory highlighted.

Note the South Wales Main Line running along the North of the massive steelworks site. So if the staging area, is built between the main line and the steelworks site, which contains the CAF factory, it will be convenient for both uses.

This looks to be a good plan, that will solve more multiple problems and needs.

April 26, 2020 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

South Wales Metro: Lack Of Toilets Tram-Trains ‘Dehumanising’

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

he lack of toilets on new tram-trains that will serve the south Wales valleys has been branded “dehumanising”.

Trams proposed for the new £738m south Wales rail network upgrade, planned for 2022, will not have toilets on board.

This toilet issue was raised with Crossrail and I wrote about it in 2015, in Do Crossrail Trains Need Toilets?.

Now that the Crossrail trains have been running for some time, toilet issues don’t seem to be raised.

September 20, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , | 4 Comments

Steaming Up To Treforest In A Class 143 Train

On my trip to Treforest, I was in a Class 143 train or one of the dreaded Pacers.

It was performing well on the challenging route and I wondered how the power compared with that of the proposed tram-trains, that will be used in a couple of years.

Class 143 Train

  • Speed – 75 mph
  • Sections – 2
  • Weight – 48.5 tonnes
  • Length 31 metres
  • Power – 336 kW
  • Capacity – 122 seats
  • Gross Weight (90 Kg per passenger) – 49.6 tonnes
  • Kinetic Energy At Operating Speed – 7.7 kWh
  • Time to Operating Speed At Full Power – 1.5 minutes

The train I was on was pretty smooth! Or for a Pacer anyway!

Class 399 Tram-Train

  • Speed – 62 mph
  • Sections – 3
  • Weight -66.15 tonnes
  • Length – 37.2 metres
  • Power – 870 kW
  • Capacity – 88 seats and 150 standing.
  • Gross Weight (90 Kg per passenger) – 87.6 tonnes
  • Kinetic Energy At Operating Speed – 9.3 kWh
  • Time to Operating Speed At Full Power – 6 minutes

These figures are taken from details of the tram-trains in Sheffield.

The two trains are very similar in some respects, but the tram-train is heavier with a full load of passengers.

I certainly can see no reason, why the Class 399 tram-train won’t perform as well as the lass 143 train, but with a bigger and heavier load of passengers.

But one important factor should be born in mind.

The German cousins of the Class 399 tram-trains are used in Karlsruhe, where they easily climb out of the city into the surrounding hills.

A trip up the valleys to Aberdate, Merthyr Tydfil or Treherbert could be no more difficult, once the electrification is in place.

Conclusion

I can see other cities and tram networks around the UK, Europe and the wider world developing urban transport networks around these Stadler tram-trains.

UK cities for their deployment must include Manchester and Sheffield.

July 25, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | 4 Comments

Cadoxton Station Is Going Step-Free

This article on Rail Advent is rntitled MP Visits Cadoxton station to see upgrade work.

This is the first paragraph.

Vale of Glamorgan MP, Alun Cairns, met the Network Rail team upgrading Cadoxton station to see first-hand the work being delivered to make the station accessible for all passengers.

So as I was in South Wales, I had to go and have a look at Cadoxton station.

I took these pictures.

It appears to be a traditional step-free installation and will take about a year to complete.

July 24, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Barry Station To Go Step-Free

This document on the Government web site is entitled Access for All: 73 Stations Set To Benefit From Additional Funding.

Barry station is on the list.

These pictures show the station and the current bridge,

Note.

  1. The trains were very crowded.
  2. The bridge is approaching its rust-by date.
  3. I think it is true to say, that the station buildings need a thorough refurbishment.

I have been sent a map of the proposed works and facilities for the South Wales Metro. This snippet shows the lines around Barry station.

Note.

  1. The lines are not planned to be electrified.
  2. Barry station will get a new PRM-compliant bridge with step-free access between street and train.
  3. There will be an airport connection at the station.

I would assume that the station buildings will get the much-needed refurbishment.

Services To Barry, Barry Island, Bridgend and Penarth

The South Wales Metro services through Barry will be as follows.

  • Services will terminate in the South and West at Barry Island, Bridgend and Penarth
  • Services will terminate in the North at Coryton and Rhymney.
  • There will be increased train frequencies.

Trains will be tri-mode Stadler Flirts  with three or four cars, which will be similar to Greater Anglia’s Class 755 trains.

Judging by yesterday this capacity increase will be welcome.

Installing The Step-Free Access

It would appear there is plenty of space for a step-free footbridge with lifts.

In Winner Announced In The Network Rail Footbridge Design Ideas Competition, I wrote how the competition was won by this bridge.

A bridge like this could be built at the other end of the station.

It would also be able to built it, without disrupting the train services or the passengers.

Once complete, the old bridge could be demolished or left as required.

 

July 24, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Electrification West Of Cardiff Central Station

These pictures show erected gantries for the electrification to the West of Cardiff Central station.

I have been sent a map of the proposed works and facilities for the South Wales Metro. This snippet shows the lines to the West of Cardiff Central station.

Note.

  1. Electrified lines are shown in blue and unelectrified ones in black.
  2. The South Wales Main Line is shown as a feint line going East-West to the North of Ninian Park station.
  3. Trains for Barry Island, Bridgend, Cardiff Airport, Maesteg and Penarth go via Grangetown station.
  4. Tram-trains for Radyr will go via Ninian Park station.

It looks like tram-trains emerging out of Canton Depot will have immediate access to 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

July 24, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | 3 Comments