The Anonymous Widower

Southeastern Signs Deal To Lease Unwanted Class 707s

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

New trains made redundant before they even entered traffic are set for a new home, with Southeastern signing a deal to lease the 30 five-car Class 707s.

These pictures show Class 707 trains.

Having ridden in the trains many times, the trains don’t seem to have a major problem, except for the high step, which isn’t very wheel-chair friendly.

I can summarise the Class 707 fleet as follows.

  • Thirty trains of five cars.
  • 100 mph operating speed.
  • Metro interior with lots of space, as I wrote about in The Space In A Class 707 Train.
  • Air-conditioing
  • 275 seats
  • Built in 2014.
  • Wi-fi

Looking at Southeastern fleet, they have a fleet of Class 376 trains.

  • Thirty-six trains of five cars.
  • 75 mph operating speed.
  • Metro interior.
  • 228 seats
  • Built in 2004

Could it be that the Class 707 trains will replace these?

  • They are ten years younger
  • They have more seats.
  • They are 25 mph faster and probably have better acceleration.

The Class 707 have better passenger features like air-conditioning, power sockets and wi-fi. They may also have shorter dwell times in stations, just because they are newer trains.

On the other hand, the fleet is six trains smaller.

I do wonder though, if the Class 707 trains are faster over a metro route, than the Class 376 trains, because of better performance, does this mean that fewer trains can work Southeastern’s metro routes?

Kent On The Cusp Of Change

The Kent On The Cusp Of Change article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways discusses the improvements that may be made by the new franchisee of the Southeastern franchise.

In Kent On The Cusp Of Change – Elimination Of Slow Trains, I outlined the reasons for replacing the 75 mph trains in Southeastern’s fleet.

There are three sub-fleets of 75 mph trains.

Note.

  1. The Class 465 and 466 trains generally work in ten-car formations of 2 x Class 465 and 1 x Class 466 trains.
  2. The Class 465 and 466 trains have toilets, but the Class 376 trains don’t.
  3. The Class 465 and 466 trains work both Main Line and Metro services.
  4. Surely, 75 mph trains will slow up Main Line services.
  5. I doubt that Class 707 trains can run Main Line services, unless they were updated with toilets.

It should also be noted that the trailer cars of Class 465 trains may be needed to lengthen Class 165 and 166 trains, as I wrote about in Shuffling The Class 165 Trains, where I estimated that sixty trailer cars would be needed from the Class 465 fleet.

I can see an intricate strategy being developed with the following objectives.

  • Introduce the Class 707 trains on Southeastern’s Metro services.
  • Withdraw sixty Class 465 trains so they can donate trailer cars to lengthen Class 165/166 trains.
  • Reorganise some services, so Main Line services can be all 100 mph trains.

Southeastern may need to acquire some additional rolling stock.

The first two fleets are 75 mph trains, but the Class 379 trains are 100 mph units, that could be ideal to support Southeastern’s Main Line services.

Conclusion

The Class 707 trains look like a good replacement for the Class 376 trains.

But because there appears to be a need for trailer cars to strengthen GWR’s Class 165 and Cass 166 trains, there also appears to be a need to withdraw some Class 465 trains, which creates the need for some detailed planning.

April 20, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Charging Battery Trains

In Sparking A Revolution, I talked about Hitachi’s plans to develop battery versions of their Class 800 trains.

The article also gives the specification of a Hitachi battery train.

  • Range – 55-65 miles
  • Performance – 90-100 mph
  • Recharge – 10 minutes when static
  • Routes – Suburban near electrified lines
  • Battery Life – 8-10 years

These figures are credited to Hitachi.

Methods Of Charging

I can envisage two main methods of changing battery trains.

  • Static charging in a station, depot or siding.
  • Dynamic charging, whilst the train is on the move.

I am not covering other possible methods like battery swapping in this post.

Static Charging

Hitachi only mention static charging in their specification and they give a charge time of ten minutes.

This is a very convenient time, when you consider quite a few trains take around 10-15 minutes to turn round at a terminus.

Two companies have stated that they have products that can charge battery trains in around this time.

  • Vivarail offers a system based on well-proven third-rail electrification technology.
  • Furrer and Frey offers a system based on overhead electrification technology.

I suspect that other companies are developing systems.

Dynamic Charging

With dynamic charging, the batteries are charged as the trains run along standard electrified routes.

In the UK, this means one of two systems.

  • 750 VDC third rail electrification
  • 25 KVAC overhead electrification

Both systems can be used to charge the batteries.

Note that in the BEMU Trial in 2015, the Class 379 train used for the trial charged the batteries from the 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

A Mixture Of Dynamic And Static Charging

Many routes will be handled by a mixture of both methods.

As an example London Paddington and Cheltenham is electrified except for the 42 miles between Swindon and Cheltenham.

A round trip between London Paddington and Cheltenham could be handled as follows.

  • London Paddington to Swindon using electrification – Dynamic charging battery at the same time!
  • Swindon to Cheltenham using battery power
  • Turnround at Cheltenham – Static charging battery at the same time!
  • Cheltenham to Swindon using battery power
  • Swindon to London Paddington using electrification

Note the following.

  1. Two legs of the round-trip are run using electrification power.
  2. Two legs of the round-trip are run using battery power.
  3. There is one dynamic charge and one static charge of the batteries.

No diesel power would be used on the journey and I suspect journey times would be identical to the current timetable.

I suspect that many routes run by battery electric trains will employ a mixture of both dynamic and static charging.

Here’s a few examples.

  • London Kings Cross and Lincoln
  • London Kings Cross and Harrogate
  • London St Pancras and Melton Mowbray
  • London Euston and Chester
  • London Paddington and Bedwyn

There are probably many more.

Intermediate Charging On A Long Route

South Western Railway has a fleet that is nearly all-electric.

But they do have forty diesel trains, which are mainly used for services between London Waterloo and Exeter.

These don’t fit with any decarbonising strategy.

There is also the problem that the route between London Waterloo and Exeter, is only electrified as far as Basingstoke, leaving a long 124 miles of route without electrification.

This means that a battery train needs to charge the batteries at least twice en route.

Charging At A Longer Stop

The obvious approach to providing en route charging would be to perform a ten minute stop, where the batteries are fast charged.

Looking at Real Time Trains, the stop at Salisbury is often five minutes or more, as trains can join and split and change crews at the station.

But two stops like this could slow the train by fifteen minutes or so.

Charging At A An Electrification Island

On the section of the route, West of Salisbury, there are a series of fairly close-together stations.

  • Tisbury – 7 miles
  • Gillingham – 16 miles
  • Templecombe – 18 miles
  • Sherborne – 23 miles
  • Yeovil Junction – 39 miles
  • Crewkerne – 48 miles
  • Axminster – 61 miles

Note,

The distances are from Salisbury.

  1. Much of this nearly ninety mile section of the West of England Line between Salisbury and Exeter is single track.
  2. The Heart of Wessex Line between Westbury and Weymouth crosses at Yeovil Junction.
  3. There are three sections of double track and four passing loops.
  4. There is a passing loop at Axminster.

It strikes me that the optimal way of charging battery trains on this secondary route might be to electrify both the West of England and Heart of Wessex Lines around Yeovil Junction station.

The power for the electrification island, could come from local renewable sources, as proposed by Riding Sunbeams.

Distances from Yeovil Junction station are.

  • Bath Spa – 50 miles
  • Castle Cary – 12 miles
  • Exeter St. Davids – 49 miles
  • Salisbury – 39 miles
  • Weymouth – 30 miles

With a battery-electric train with a 55-65 mile range, as proposed in Hitachi’s draft specification, SWR’s London Waterloo and Exeter service would certainly be possible. Charging would be at Salisbury and in the Yeovil area.

On Summer Saturdays, SWR also run a London Waterloo and Weymouth service via Salisbury and Yeovil Junction. This would appear to be within the range of a battery-electric train.

As Weymouth is electrified with third-rail, I suspect that arranging charging of a battery-electric train at the station, will not be an impossible task.

The other service through the area is Great Western Railway‘s service between Gloucester and Weymouth, that runs every two hours.

It would appear that in some point in the future, it will be possible to run this service using a Hitachi battery-electric train.

Third-Rail Or Overhead?

The previous example of an electrification island would probably use 750 VDC third-rail electrification, but there is no reason, why 25 KVAC overhead electrification couldn’t be used.

Note that these trains have been talked about as possibilities for running under battery power.

  • Greater Anglia’s Class 379 trains, built by Bombardier
  • Greater Anglia’s Class 755 trains, built by Stadler.
  • Merseyrail’s Class 777 trains, built by Stadler.
  • Scotrail’s Class 385 trains, built my Hitachi
  • Several companies’ Class 800 trains, built by Hitachi
  • Suthern’s Class 377 trains, built by Bombardier

All the manufacturers named have experience of both dual-voltage trains and battery operation.

I would suspect that any future battery-electric trains in the UK will be built to work on both of our electrification systems.

When talking about battery-electric trains, 750 VDC third-rail electrification may have advantages.

  • It can be easily powered by local renewable sources, as Riding Sunbeams are proposing.
  • It is compatible with Vivarail’s Fast-Charging system.
  • Connection and disconnection is totally automatic and has been since Southern Railway started using third-rail electrification.
  • Is is more affordable and less disruptive to install?
  • Third-rail electrification can be installed in visually-sensitive areas with less objections.

Developments in third-rail technology will improve safety, by only switching the power on, when a train is connected.

More Electrification Islands

These are a few examples of where an electrification island could enable a battery-electric train to decarbonise a service.

London Euston and Holyhead

In Are Hitachi Designing the Ultimate Battery Train?, I looked at running Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric trains between London Euston and Holyhead.

I proposed electrifying the fourteen miles between Rhyl and Llandudno Junction stations, which would leave two sections of the route between London Euston and Holyhead without electrification.

  • Rhyl and Crewe is fifty-one miles.
  • Llandudno Junction and Holyhead is forty-one miles.

Both sections should be within the battery range of Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric trains, with their 55-65 mile range.

The following should be noted.

  • The time between arriving at Rhyl station and leaving Llandudno Junction station is nineteen minutes. This should be time enough to charge the batteries.
  • Either 25 KVAC overhead or 750 VDC third-rail electrification could be used.
  • There could be arguments for third-rail, as the weather can be severe.
  • The railway is squeezed between the sea and the M55 Expressway and large numbers of caravans.

The performance of the new trains will be such, that they should be able to run between London Euston and Holyhead in a similar time. Using High Speed Two could reduce this to just under three hours.

Edinburgh And Aberdeen

I’m sure Scotland would like to electrify between Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

But it would be a difficult project due to the number of bridges on the route.

Distances from Edinburgh are as follows.

  • Leuchars – 50 miles
  • Dundee – 59 miles
  • Arbroath – 76 miles
  • Montrose – 90 miles
  • Stonehaven – 114 miles
  • Aberdeen – 130 miles

A quick look at these distances indicate that Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric trains with a 55-65 mile range could cover the following sections.

  • Edinburgh and Dundee – 59 miles
  • Arbroath and Aberdeen – 56 miles

Would it be possible to electrify  the seventeen miles between Dundee and Arbroath?

I have just flown my helicopter along the route and observed the following.

  • Dundee station is new and appears to be cleared for overhead wires.
  • Many of the bridges in Dundee are new and likely to be cleared for overhead wires.
  • There is a level crossing at Broughty Ferry station.
  • Much of the route between Broughty Ferry and Arbroath stations is on the landward side of golf links, with numerous level crossings.
  • Between Arbroath and Montrose stations, the route appears to be running through farmland using gentle curves.
  • There is a single track bridge across the River South Esk to the South of Montrose station.
  • According to Wikipedia, the operating speed is 100 mph.

Montrose might be a better Northern end to the electrification.

  • It has a North-facing bay platform, that could be used for service recovery and for charging trains turning back to Aberdeen.
  • Montrose and Aberdeen is only forty miles.
  • It might be possible to run the service between Montrose and Inverurie, which is just 57 miles on battery power.

The problem would be electrifying the bridge.

Operationally, I can see trains running like this between Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

  • Trains would leave the electrification, just to the North of Edinburgh with a full battery.
  • Battery power would be used over the Forth Bridge and through Fife and over the Tay Bridge to Dundee.
  • Electrification would take the train to Arbroath and possibly on to Montrose. The battery would also be charged on this section.
  • Battery power would take trains all the way to Aberdeen.

Trains would change between battery and electrification in Dundee and Arbroath or Montrose stations.

My one question, is would it be a good idea to electrify through Aberdeen, so that trains returning South could be charged?

I believe that four or five-car versions of Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric trains would be able to run the route.

Glasgow And Aberdeen

This builds on the work that would be done to enable battery-electric trains go between Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

The route between Glasgow and Dundee is partially-electrified with only a forty-nine mile section between Dundee and Dunblane without wires.

I believe that four or five-car versions of Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric trains would be able to run the route.

 

To Be Continued…

 

Conclusion

I don’t think it will be a problem to provide an affordable charging infrastructure for battery trains.

I also think, that innovation is the key, as Vivarail have already shown.

February 20, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Akiem Acquires Macquarie European Rail Fleet

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Leasing company Akiem Group has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Macquarie European Rail’s rolling stock leasing business, subject to regulatory approval.

Included in the deal are thirty Class 379 trains, currently used on the Stansted Express and soon to be replaced by new Class 745 trains.

Because of the lack of any published plans about where the Class 379 trains will be cascaded, I have been wondering if there is something wrong with the trains or perhaps their owner.

As the latter looks now to be changing from Macquarie to Akiem, perhaps we’ll hear some news on what is happening to the Class 379 trains.

I still feel the Class 379 trains would make excellent battery-electric trains, possibly for an airport service.

But which train operating company would need a fleet of thirty four-car electric trains?

Most have now sorted their fleet requirements and when Bombardier get their production working smoothly, perhaps with Alstom’s backing, there will be more trains being delivered to train operating companies.

But there is one fleet replacement, where battery-electric Class 379 trains may be ideal; the replacement of South Western Railway (SWR)‘s fleet of Class 158 and Class 159 trains.

Consider.

  • 10 x two-car Class 158 trains and 30 x three-car Class 159 trains could be replaced by 30 x four-car Class 379 trains, which would be a near ten percent increase in carriages.
  • 90 mph diesel trains, that were built in the 1990s, will be replaced by 100 mph battery-electric trains, that are not yet ten years old.
  • The Class 379 trains are Electrostars and fitting third-rail shoes, will be straight out of Bombardier’s parts bins.
  • Waterloo station will become another diesel-free London terminus.
  • Fellow French company; Alstom could step in to the picture with their battery knowledge from other products like the iLint hydrogen train and convert the trains at Widnes or one of their other maintenance depots.
  • South Western Railway and Akiem would need to procure a charging system and could probably do worse than see what Vivarail or Furrer and Frei can supply!

How would the Class 379 battery-electric trains handle various services?

London Waterloo To Salisbury And Exeter St. Davids

The most difficult service to run, would be the London Waterloo and Exeter St. Davids service via Salisbury.

Note that when SWR bid for the franchise, they promised to knock ten minutes off the time to Exeter and they will need 100 mph trains for that!

With climate change in the news, only a hardline climate-change denier would buy 100 mph diesel trains.

In Are Hitachi Designing the Ultimate Battery Train?, I suggested how Waterloo and Exeter could be run with a battery-electric train, with a range of around sixty miles on battery power.

  • Use existing electrification, as far as Basingstoke – 48 miles
  • Use battery power to Salisbury – 83 miles
  • Trains can take several minutes at Salisbury as they often split and join and change train crew, so the train could be fast-charged, at the same time.
  • Use battery power to the Tisbury/Gillingham/Yeovil/Crewkerne area, where trains would be charged – 130 miles
  • Use battery power to Exeter- 172 miles

Note.

  1. The miles are the distance from London.
  2. The charging at Salisbury could be based on Vivarail’s Fast-Charging or traditional third-rail technology.
  3. The charging around Yeovil could be based on perhaps twenty miles of third-rail electrification, that would only be switched on, when a train is present.
  4. Charging would also be needed at Exeter for the return journey.

I estimate that there could be time savings of up to fifteen minutes on the route.

London Waterloo To Salisbury And Bristol Temple Meads

This service in run in conjunction with the Exeter St. Davids service, with the two trains joining and splitting at Salisbury.

As Salisbury and Bristol Temple Meads is 53 miles, it looks like this service is possible, providing the following conditions are met.

  • The Class 379 train has a sixty mile range on battery power.
  • The train can charge at Bristol Temple Meads, perhaps by using the 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • The Class 379 trains can join and split with the with amount of alacrity.

Note that there may be other places, where a tri-mode capability might be useful.

Exeter And Axminster

This shorter trip is thirty miles and if the battery range is sufficient, it could probably be run by a Class 379 train, charged at Exeter.

If necessary, a method of charging could be provided at Axminster.

Romsey And Salisbury Via Southampton Central

This route is partially electrified and it looks like a battery-electric train with a sixty mile range could run the service without any extra infrastructure.

If Salisbury, gets a charging system, then this service might be used to ensure a reliable or extended service.

Portsmouth Harbour And Basingstoke And Portsmouth Harbour and Southampton Central

These two services could be run by Class 379 trains running using the electrification.

London Or Wareham and Corfe Castle

This Summer Saturday-only service is an ideal one for a battery-electric train.

New Services

There are also other branches that could be reopened, like those to Ringwood and Hythe, that could be worked by battery-electric trains.

Conclusion

It will be very interesting to see where the Class 379 trains end up.

But my money’s on them replacing South Western Railways, diesel trains, after conversion to battery-electric trains.

  • Only limited infrastructure works will need to be done.
  • South Western Railway will have more capacity.
  • Passengers will get a faster service in a modern train.
  • Waterloo will become a diesel-free station.

But most importantly, South Western Railway will have an all-electric fleet.

 

 

 

February 19, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Space In A Class 707 Train

This morning I got into an empty Class 707 train at Waterloo station and took these pictures.

They do show the wide aisle and the spacious lobbies by the wide double doors.

I think all suburban trains should be given lots of space like this.

  • It allows for a lot of standees.
  • A high proportion of passengers get a seat.
  • Passengers can circulate from car-to-car to find a seat or perhaps people they know.
  • The space helps quick exit and entry to the train.

Unfortunately, not all suburban trains have such spacious interiors.

These are a selection.

Note these pictures show London Overground’s Class 710 and Class 378 trains and Crossrail’s Class 345 trains.

Seating along the side may not be to everybody’s taste, but it does get a large number of passengers into a train.

Siemans and Bomnardier use very different philosophies, but achieve the same result.

 

October 28, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | 2 Comments

Were South Western Railway’s Class 707 Trains Designed By An Accountant With A Red Pen?

I’ve just travelled between Syon Lane and Dalston Junction stations.

For the first part of the journey, I was in a South Western Railway Class 707 train, until I changed to the Overground and a Class 378 train.

The Class 707 train is better noted for what it doesn’t have.

  • Air-conditioning
  • Two door opening buttons
  • Toilets
  • Padding in the seats

But it does have wi-fi!

Was it designed by an accountant with a red pen?

As they were lumbered with these uncomfortable trains by the previous franchise holders; Stagecoach, I can understand why they are being replaced with Class 701 trains.

I am actually typing this in one of London Overground’s Class 378 trains, which have air-conditioning, better seats and more door buttons!

Conclusion

I can’t say I’m sorry to see Stagecoach abandon train operating!

August 2, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 5 Comments

Is There A Need For A Waterloo To Gatwick Service?

Whilst writing Are Network Rail And Heathrow Southern Railway Moving Towards A Joint Project On Western And Southern Access To Heathrow Airport?, I got to thinking about connectivity to London’s two main airports; Heathrow and Gatwick.

If both the Western Approach To Heathrow (WRAtH) and Heathrow Southern Railway (HSR) schemes are completed, Heathrow will have direct connections to the following major stations and areas.

  • Canary Wharf using Crossrail
  • City of London using Crossrail
  • Clapham Junction using HSR
  • HS1 using a future Crossrail to Ebbsfleet
  • HS2 using Crossrail
  • Liverpool Street using Crossrail
  • Reading using WRAtH
  • Waterloo using HSR
  • West End using Crossrail

Many more places will need a single change at Clapham Junction, Farringdon, Reading, Stratford, Waterloo or Woking.

Awkward stations to get to and from Heathrow include Kings Cross, London Bridge, St. Pancras and Victoria.

Admittedly, Kings Cross, London Bridge and St. Pancras can be reached using Crossrail and Thameslink or the Underground, but Victoria is not easy as Crossrail doesn’t have an interchange with the Victoria Line.

Gatwick will have direct connections to the following major stations and areas.

  • City of London using Thameslink
  • HS1 using Thameslink
  • Reading using GWR
  • Victoria using Southern or Gatwick Express
  • West End using Thameslink

Many more places will need a single change at Clapham Junction, Farringdon, Reading, or Victoria.

Awkward stations to and from Gatwick include Canary Wharf, Euston, Liverpool Street, Paddington and Waterloo.

Consider these points about Waterloo station.

Waterloo Has The Connectivity

Waterloo is on four Underground lines.

  • Bakerloo Line for North West London, Paddington, West End,, South East London and North East London in collaboration with Dear Old Vicky!
  • Charing Cross Branch of the Northern Line for North London, Euston and the West End.
  • Jubilee Line for North West London, West End, Canary Wharf and Stratford.
  • Waterloo & City Line for Bank and the City of London.

Waterloo also has its own network of frequent and comprehensive services to South West London and further afield.

Waterloo Could Be Getting Crossrail 2

In Sadiq Khan’s dreams!

The Bakerloo Line Extension and the West London Orbital Railway are much more urgent to be built, but they don’t serve Surrey, where posh commuters live!

Waterloo Is Almost A Tourist Destination

I say almost, as it is just a short walk from Westminster, several important museums and galleries, and the Thames.

Waterloo Station Is A Place To Meet Friends And Business Associates

I regularly meet friends as they pass through Waterloo station, as it has several restaurants, where you can sit, eat, drink and chat.

Waterloo Station Is Going To Be Developed

Plans are being developed to build above Waterloo station.

Could this include more hotels, in addition to offices and housing?

Why Has There Been Talk Of A Service Between Waterloo and Heathrow For Years, But Nothing About A Link To Gatwick?

Heathrow AirTrack was proposed by BAA some years ago and now Heathrow Southern Railway are putting in a privately-funded proposal.

But search for a proposal for a direct service between Waterloo and Gatwick and you find nothing sensible.

  • Could it be that the route is too difficult or there is not enough capacity at Gatwick and/or Waterloo?
  • Is it that a route to Heathrow would be much more profitable, as it is so much bigger?
  • Is it tradition? Waterloo serves the South West and London Bridge and Victoria serves the South.

But time is moving on, a larger Waterloo and Gatwick stations are coming and Network Rail are getting some of their best brains around digital signalling.

A Waterloo And Gatwick Airport Service

As Gatwick expands, I believe that a direct service between Waterloo and Gatwick Airport will become more necessary.

The Route Of The Service

I’m not sure of this, but I believe that there is a route between Waterloo and Streatham Common or East Croydon stations, which could be used for a Waterloo to Gatwick service.

  • It may need to use the flyover at Waterloo, that used to be used by Eurostar.
  • I wrote about using the flyover in Waterloo Upgrade August 2017 – Waterloo To Sevenoaks.
  • Could it use a route like Brixton, Herne Hill, Tulse Hill, West Norwood, Gipsy Hill, Crystal Palace, Norwood Junction and East Croydon?
  • Once on the Brighton Main Line it would be plain sailing.
  • Of the stations on the route I mentioned, only Norwood Junction has a direct service to Gatwick.
  • A rebuilt Brixton station with its Victoria Line connection could be a valuable interchange.
  • Crystal Palace will have a six trains per hour (tph) service on the Overground to Highbury & Islington.
  • The route is fully electrified using third-rail.

I’m sure a practical and useful route can be found.

The Frequency Of The Service

Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted Express services have a frequency of four tph.

So I wouldn’t think it unreasonable for a service between Waterloo and Gatwick Airport stations to have the same frquency.

Express Or Typical Suburban Service

Airport trains around London fall into two styles.

  • Express – Gatwick Express, Heatrow Express and Stansted Express.
  • Typical Standard Suburban Train – Crossrail and Thameslink.

As I am happy to use Thameslink to Gatwick, I have no particular preference. Except that if getting an early flight out of Gatwick, I take a night bus to Victoria and then use Gatwick Express, as it runs all night.

Passenger demand would decide, the level of service.

Trains For The Service

An appropriate train would be chosen to match the service style.

Both would do a very capable job.

Platforms At Waterloo

If I assume that Heathrow Southern Railway’s four tph service between Waterloo and Heathrow uses a single platform at Waterloo, I would expect it will be one of the higher-numbered platforms.

So could a Gatwick service with the same frequency use the next door platform?

This would surely be very convenient.

Conclusion

I think it is quite likely that a service between Waterloo and Gatwick Airport could be run.

But whether it is worthwhile is another matter.

 

 

 

April 29, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Will Heathrow Southern Railway Use Trains Capable Of 125 mph?

If the Heathrow Southern Railway is built, by the time it opens, there will have been significant developments.

  • Digital signalling based on ERTMS, with the possibilities of a degree of automatic control will be commonplace.
  • Train manufacturers will offer 125 mph trains, that with the right interiors will be able to perform well on 100 mph routes with frequent stops.
  • 125 mph bi-mode trains will have arrived.
  • Great Western Railway services into Paddington, with the exception of local services will be run by 125 mph Class 800 trains.
  • The opening of Old Oak Common station with its connections to High Speed Two, may mean that some Great Western Railway services stop at that station.

These developments may mean that on the Western end of the Great Western Main Line, there will be a need for a train with a lot of acceleration, to avoid inducing delays in the complex schedule of trains serving Paddington and Old Oak Common stations.

The easy way to achieve the required acceleration, may be to use more powerful trains, which will probably be capable of 125 mph.

But would they offer advantages over other parts of the routes Heathrow Southern Railway will serve?

The following must be considered.

The Top Speed Of Third-Rail Trains

Currently, the Class 395 train, is the fastest train fitted with third rail shoes.

But the train only has a top speed of 100 mph, when on lines electrified using third-rail electrification.

The world record for a train powered by third-rail electrification was set by a Class 442 train at 108 mph.

As several trains in the UK can cruise at 125 mph, could it be that the dynamics of third-rail electrification impose a limit to top speed?

This article in Rail Magazine, is entitled Bombardier Bi-Mode Aventra To Feature Battery Power.

A few points from the article.

  • Development has already started.
  • The bi-mode would have a maximum speed of 125 mph under both electric and diesel power.
  • The trains will be built at Derby.

In Mathematics Of A Bi-Mode Aventra With Batteries, I analyse the train in detail.

This was my conclusion.

I am rapidly coming to the conclusion, that a 125 mph bi-mode train is a practical proposition.

  • It would need a controllable hydrogen or diesel power-pack, that could deliver up to 200 kW
  • Only one power-pack would be needed for a five-car train.
  • For a five-car train, a battery capacity of 300 kWh would probably be sufficient.

From my past professional experience, I know that a computer model can be built, that would show the best onboard generator and battery sizes, and possibly a better operating strategy, for both individual routes and train operating companies.

Obviously, Bombardier have better data and more sophisticated calculations than I do.

My calculation might be wrong, but it’s in the right area.

Using batteries with third-rail electric trains, may be an alternative way to overcome any problems with the dynamics of that method of electrification.

But I do suspect that if train manufacturers were asked to produce an electric train capable of running at 125 mph using third-rail electrification, they would take the money and build the trains.

Upgrading Track To 125 mph

Virtually all of Heathrow Southern Railway’s proposed or possible routes to the South and West of Heathrow are third-rail electrified

South Western Railway know that speed on these routes sells tickets, so much so that they are refurbishing the Class 442 trains for the Portsmouth route because of their higher performance.

Network Rail may get a lot of criticism for their performance with electrification, which work on new track layouts and improvements,seems not to attract.

They have also been very successful in designing and executing 125 mph track upgrades to the Midland Main Line.

So would it be possible to upgrade some of the routes to allow faster running?

Consider.

  • Fifty miles of line upgraded from 100 mph to 125 mph running saves six minutes.
  • Waterloo to Weymouth is 143 miles.
  • More powerful trains might save time on station stops.
  • The routes are four tracks to Basingstoke.
  • As modern digital signalling is applied to this route there will be further time savings.

At the moment there is no point, as South Western Railway only has trains with an operating speed of 100 mph.

But these trains will probably be replaced in the next few years or so and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them replaced with trains that are capable of 125 mph, which would make updating sections to the West of Woking possible.

South Western Railway

Surely faster services to Bournemouth, Poole, Portsmouth, Southampton and Weymouth will be of interest to South Western Railway, even if it means new trains.

The New Route Between Heathrow And Woking

Heathrow Southern Railway intends to build a new route between Heathrow Terminal 5 and Working stations.

  • A tunnel will connect  the Western end of Heathrow Terminal 5 station to new tracks running alongside the M25 to connect to the Chertsey Branch Line to the West of Chertsey station.
  • Trains would pass through Chertsey and Addlestone stations, before joining the South Western Main Line at Byfleet Junction.
  • Trains would pass through West Byfleet and Byfleet & New Haw stations to reach Woking station.

It is a well-designed route, that uses the M25 to minimise environmental damage.

From what I have said earlier about 125 mph third-rail trains, upgrading of routes to 125 mph and South Western Railways desire for faster services, I can see no reason, why this route shouldn’t be built for 125 mph operation.

125 mph trains would mean.

  • Removing level crossings at Chertsey and Addlestone stations.
  • Upgrading West Byfleet and Byfleet & New Haw stations.
  • Probably upgrading between Byfleet Junction and Woking station for 125 mph running.

But there would be about fifteen miles of high speed rail line, which for ease of operation would probably be electrified with third-rail.

Trains would switch electrification systems in Heathrow Terminal 5 station.

Conclusions

I am led to the following conclusions.

  • 125 mph third-rail trains will become a reality.
  • South Western Railway and Heathrow Southern Railway will look at them seriously.

I also feel that Heathrow Southern Railway will be a 125 mph railway.

 

August 19, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | 1 Comment

A Visit To The Swanage Railway

Yesterday, I noticed this article on Railnews which was entitled National Rail Trains To Score Heritage First.

This was the first two paragraphs.

Scheduled National Rail trains will run on a heritage railway tomorrow for the first time.

South Western Railway is launching Saturday services to Corfe Castle on the Swanage Railway, and Corfe Castle has been restored to the national stations database.

So I thought, I’d be on the first South Western Railway train on a scheduled service into Corfe Castle station on the Swanage Railway.

I caught the 08:25 train from London Waterloo to Weymouth and I alighted at Wareham station to catch the 11:12 train to Corfe Castle.

These pictures illustrate my trip.

I have various observations.

Costs

I came down from London, so I had to pay for that ticket, but train tickets to Swanage from Wareham cost me five pounds for the South Western Railway leg and ten pounds for steam haulage.

Operations

Everything was very professional and there seamed to be a high-level of communication and good humour between the staff of South Western Railway and the volunteers of the Swanage Railway.

Swanage Railway were operating a stem-hauled shuttle along their line between Norden and Swanage stations and as the pictures show, both companies were able to run their own services, without interrupting the other.

Does Swanage Need A Year Round Train Service?

After my father retired, my parents went to live in Felixstowe.

It certainly didn’t work for me, as it was not the sort of place, a late teenager, could amuse himself, especially as all my friends were in London. As we hadn’t sold the house in London, I was usually to be found there.

I don’t know Swanage and I don’t know what it is like to live there!

But I do remember a short film on the BBC program Tonight in the early 1960s.

They were talking about long-distance commuting and they used as an example, a guy, who had moved his family to Swanage and was leaving home very early in the morning to go back to London for his work.

He was very happy with the arrangement, but the last shot of the film was after the reporter had asked his two teenage daughters what they thought of it all. Their faces said it all and I can remember by mother made an acerbic comment.

I wonder what a year round hourly service would do for Swanage?

Felixstowe has an hourly rail service to Ipswich, but then Felixstowe is over twice as large as Swanage.

On the other hand, Felixstowe has a fast dual-carriageway road connecting it to the rest of East Anglia.

Providing An Hourly Service To Swanage

Unlike many rail schemes aiming to create a new branch line, a lot of infrastructure is already in place.

Track

Yesterday, the following services were running.

  • A roughly hourly steam service between Norden and Swanage stations, run by the Swanage Railway.
  • A two-hourly service diesel service between Wareham and Corfe Castle stations, run by South Western Railway.

The track, which is a mixture of single and double track, seemed to cope well.

Interestingly, there is a mothballed oil terminal at Furzebrook, which was used to export oil from the large field at Wytch Farm. It is connected to the Swanage Railway between Norden station and the South Western Main Line.

As development and exploitation of oil fields is a very unpredictable process, I suspect that the Northern section of the Swanage railway is kept in very good condition by Network Rail, just in case Furzebrook has to reopen.

Norden Station

Norden station is the Northernmost station on the Swanage Railway.

This Google Map shows the station.

The map clearly shows the single platform, the Purbreck Mineral and Mining Museum and the Swanage Railway Park & Ride.

The Wikipedia entry for Norden station, says this about the car park.

A large car park, provided by Purbeck District Council, allows the station to function as a park & ride facility for the tourist centres of Corfe Castle and Swanage

Could this car park, also be used by local residents wanting to commute to or go shopping in Poole or Bournemouth?

Corfe Castle Station

Corfe Castle station is a well-built station with two platforms and a footbridge, that is as good if not better than many rural stations.

Harman’s Cross Station

Harman’s Cross station is a two platform station, without a footbridge.

It appears from the Google Map of the area, that new houses are being built in Harman’s Cross.

Swanage Station

Swanage station is the terminus station with two platforms.

As the pictures show, the platform used by the steam train is long and would certaining take an eighty metre long train.

Operating As A Single-Track Branch Line

I suspect that on days, when the heritage railway is not in operation, that the Swanage Railway could be used as a single-track branch line.

So perhaps, a diesel multiple unit could run a passenger shuttle along the branch. Operation would be little different to any of several diesel-operated branch lines in the UK.

Surely, if the CAA can allow Loganair to use Barra Airport, which is a beach on the island of the same name, then the ORR must be able to write a sensible rule book, to allow an hourly passenger service between Wareham and Swanage.

This picture shows Zwickau Zentrum station in the centre of the German town of Zwickau.

It is the simplest station, I’ve ever seen in a town centre. The diesel multiple unit appears to come into the city under the following rules.

  • A sensible speed.
  • Orange lights flashing.
  • Two crew operation.

Effectively, the train service in Zwickau is run like a tram and even has a three-rail track, that it shares with metre-gauge trams.

Note that as the Swanage Railway is a heritage railway, the speed limit is only 25 mph anyway.

As yesterday showed, South Western Railway and the Swanage Railway are able to operate a practical shared service on days, when the heritage railway is in operation.

Connecting To South Western Main Line Services

As was demonstrated yesterday by South Western Railway’s Class 159 train, operation between Corfe Castle and Wareham stations, is not the most difficult of operations.

Two things help.

  • The South Western Main Line is not the busiest of routes through Wareham station.
  • There is a cross-over to the West of the station.

These allowed the Class 159 train to use one of the through platforms to turnback.

Would this continue, if say the Swanage Railway wee to run an hourly shuttle between Corfe Castle and Wareham stations?

Look at this Google Map of Wareham station.

Is there space on the Northern side of the station to add a bat platform, to allow the shuttle to terminate in its own platform?

When I returned from Wareham to Waterloo, I just missed a train and I had to wait thirty minutes for the next train.

Looking at the Google Map of Poole station, there would appear to be a large amount of space around the station,

The Wikipedia entry for Poole station, also says this.

In 2004 proposals were drawn up for the current station buildings and footbridge to be replaced as part of redevelopment plans for the old goods yard. A hotel was to be built on the site of the current station building, however as of 2010 these plans have not progressed.

So would it be feasible at some time in the future to terminate a Swanage service in a bay platform in the much larger town of Poole?

There are certainly possibilities to use Poole or even Bournemouth stations as a terminus of a service to Swanage station, that would also increase the frequency on the South Western Main Line between Bournemouth and Weymouth.

How Long Would A Train Take To Go From Wareham To Corfe Castle And Back?

Looking at yesterday’s figures on Real Time Trains, the following times were achieved yesterday.

  • Wareham to Corfe Castle – 21 minutes
  • Corfe Castle to Wareham – 26 minutes

Yesterday, the trains were waiting for a long time at Corfe Castle station, to fit with their two-hourly timetable and that of the steam trains on the other track.

If you add in sensible turnback times at Wareham and Corfe Castle, I doubt that a round trip could be done in an hour, making it difficult to run an hourly shuttle between the two stations.

How Long Would A Train Take To Go From Wareham To Swanage And Back?

Using yesterday’s figures and the quoted times for steam trains between Corfe Castle and Swanage stations, we get the following times.

  • Wareham to Corfe Castle – 21 minutes
  • Corfe Castle to Swanage – 22 minutes
  • Swanage to Corge Castle – 20 minutes
  • Corfe Castle to Wareham – 26 minutes

Or a total of 89 minutes plus how long the turnround will be at Swanage station.

I have a feeling that timetabling an hourly service could be difficult.

What Rolling Stock Can Be Used?

If the trains travel for more than a few miles on the South Western Main Line, being able to use the third-rail electrification would be useful.

But they would also need to be self-powered on the Swanage Railway.

So perhaps, a bi-mode would be ideal.

As they have rather a heritage flavour, perhaps a Class 769 train would be ideal?

Conclusion

There is a lot of potential to improve services on the Swanage Railway.

I suspect that if South Western Railway and the Swanage Railway got into serious discussion, there will be a solution, that would be beneficial to both parties and all those who live and work in or visit Swanage and the Isle of Purbeck.

 

May 27, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Disabled Access On South Western Railway’s Class 707 Trains

This article on Rail Technology Magazine is entitled RMT Backs Disabled Passengers Protest In London.

I will not comment directly on the article, but relate an incident, that I observed on Saturday, as I was travelling to Brentford station, to see Ipswich Town at nearby Brentford.

  • I was travelling in the fourth car of a ten-car formation of two five-car Class 707 trains, when we stopped at a station and seemed to be waiting a long time to depart.
  • I then noticed a guy in a motorised wheel-chair moving along the platform, who stopped at the door at the front of my car.
  • The guard then appeared on the platform, said something to the guy in the wheelchair and entered the train.
  • He returned a couple of minutes later holding the folding ramp, which he used professionally to load the guy and his wheelchair into the train.
  • A couple of minutes later after stowing the ramp, the guard closed the doors and gave the signal to start.

This picture shows the height difference at Brentford station.

This is not as bad as some train-plarform gaps, but why isn’t it flat?

A station-man on the London Overground once told me, that loading disabled passengers on to trains using a ramp,  is a major source of delay.

Saturday’s incident illustrated the problem beautifully.

It also showed the professionalism of one of their staff

South Western Railways use a very inefficient system.

  • The guard had to walk some way to load the passenger, as he happened to be at the back of the train.
  • He was actually in the second train, so had to walk on the platform.
  • The ramp had to be removed from and replaced in its cupboard.
  • How many times, do guards and station staff catch their fingers in the ramp?

If level access were to be provided between train and platform, the guard would just have acted as a guide to get the guy in the wheelchair on the train.

South Western Railways are getting a new fleet of Class 701 trains.

  • These trains will be walk-through, meaning the guard can get to where assistance is needed easily. And in the dry, if it’s raining hard.
  • Will the trains floors, be level with those of the platforms?
  • If not, will a Harrington Hump be provided?

Surely, this will mean many disabled in a wheelchair, like an acquaintance of mine, will be able to push or drive themselves into and out of the train.

It will of course help others like those with an infant in a buggy or dragging a heavy case.

Let’s hope the new fleet of trains, will be designed to access the trains in a much better way than the current Class 707 trains, and the older Class 455 trains.

Conclusion

Could this incident illustrate the problems, that prompted South Western Railway to decide to return the Class 707 trains to the leasing company?

Does what I saw , have any relevance to the role of guards on trains?

The incident I saw, would have required assistance from a second person, even if the access had been totally level.

Note.

  • London Underground and Overground try to always have somebody on the platform, when a train is in the station.
  • The Docklands Light Railway always have someone on the train.

South Western Railway could use either method.

 

April 10, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

MTR Vying To Join Heathrow Southern Rail Bid

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article in New Civil Engineer.

The title gives you all you need, but consider these facts about MTR.

  • MTR is a Hong Kong company with a revene of about £4 billion per year, which is about the same size as the Stagecoach Group.
  • MTR will be running Crossrail for Transport for London.
  • MTR in partnership with First Group, are running South Western Railway.

In addition, FirstGroup are running Great Western Railway.

So it could seem logical for MTR to be included in the consortium behind Heathrow Southern Railway, as they could have a lot of influence on the consortium’s policies.

In an argument about train paths or stations, MTR or their partner; First Group, will be involved on both sides.

The problem is Heathrow Airport and their ownership of Heathrow Express, especially if it is extended deep into South Western Railway territory at Basingstoke, Guildford or Working.

This is said on the Heathrow Southern Railway web site.

Whether or not a third runway is built, many more passengers and airport workers need to be accessing Heathrow by train. The Government’s recent M25 South West Quadrant Study ruled out widening the motorway. HSR provides the alternative, switching traffic from the roads and contributing to improving local air quality. We estimate that HSR will reduce use of this section of the M25 by over three million car trips a year.

Heathrow might be a greedy bully, but they probably need a superb rail service more, than they need to own Heathrow Express.

MTR and AECOM, who is a large partner in Heathrow Southern Railway partner, are big enough to stand up to anybody.

 

March 21, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments