The Anonymous Widower

Could Class 800/801 Trains Work Southeastern Highspeed Services?

Southeastern Highspeed services are run by Class 395 trains.

These trains are capable of the following.

  1. 140 mph running on HS1.
  2. Running on third-rail lines.
  3. Joining and separating in under a couple of minutes.

As the electric Class 801 trains are also members of Hitachi’s A-train family, I’m sure that they could built to a similar specification.

  • The trains are capable of 140 mph on suitable lines.
  • Rhird-rail gear can probably be easily added.
  • The joining and separating is in the specification.

So I think the answer to my question must be in the afformative.

November 10, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts On Highspeed to Hastings

Since I wrote Kent On The Cusp Of Change – Highspeed To Hastings, a couple of months ago, several things have happened.

And Now There Are Three!

Trenitalia has pulled out of bidding for the new Southeastern franchise as reported in this article in the International Rail Journal.

This leaves just three bidders.

  • A joint venture of Abellio, East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui
  • Govia
  • Stagecoach

The same joint venture were recently awarded the West Midlands franchise.

The new franchise will be awarded in August 2018, with services starting in December 2018.

Electrification Has Been Abandoned

Major electrification schemes have been abandoned, so I suspect it will be even more unlikely that Ashford to Hastings will be electrified.

The Aventras Are Coming

Class 345 trains have started to appear on Crossrail and it is my opinion that they are a fine train.

In An Exciting New Aventra, I laid out the philosophy of the new trains and in How Long Will It Take Bombardier To Fulfil Their Aventra Orders?, I discussed how Bombardier will build the trains, at a rate of twenty-five carriages a month.

The rate comes from this article in The Guardian, which is entitled Full speed ahead for train builders as minister pulls plug on electrification, where I found this useful nugget of information, from the General Manager of Bombardier’s Derby plant.

Building trains in an “ergonomically correct” fashion, he says, means completing and testing the carriage’s constituent parts, then assembling them, rather than wiring them up afterwards – and also takes the risk away from a production line which boasts a rate of 25 carriages per week.

It sounds like Bombardier’s engineers have been drinking and swapping ideas, with Toyota’s production engineers a few miles down the road at Burnaston.

The New South Eastern Franchise

So do we have any clues as to what the new South Eastern franchise will be doing?

South Western Railway

South Western Railway‘s routes have a similar pattern to those of the South Eastern franchise, with an intense suburban network and longer distance services.

You could also argue that Greater Anglia isn’t much different.

Both these other franchises have are replacing their suburban trains with new 100 mph trains with all the trimming like wi-fi and toilets.

Both have chosen a mix of five and ten-car Aventras.

This would appear to give the following advantages.

  • The 100 mph trains with excellent acceleration and smooth regenerative braking help to make services faster and more frequent.
  • A near identical fleet will help maintenance and crew training.
  • It is easier to get the train-platform interface better, if only one class of train calls at a station.
  • Platform compatibility with Crossrail and Crossrail 2.

I suspect that the new South Eastern franchise will think on similar lines.

The Networkers Must Be Going

Southeastern currently has a total of 674 Networker carriages, most of which will surely be moved on by the new franchise holder.

I believe that these trains with their 75 mph speed and average performance, is not high enough for efficient timetabling of services and that consequently the new franchise holder will probably replace these trains with 100 mph units.

One choice would be to use a mix of new five and ten-car Aventras as chosen by Greater Anglia and South Western Railway. Replacing Networker carriages with the same number of Aventra carriages would take around six months of production at Bombardier.

The Aventras must be high on the list of new trains, as some of the new trains, may have to use the same platforms as Crossrail, if the line is extended from Abbey Wood station.

The Extra High Speed Trains

To serve Hastings and increase the number of Highspeed services, the new franchise holder, will have to obtain some more trains that can use High Speed 1.

Some of these trains will need the ability to travel on the Marshlink Line between Ashford and Hastings.

Consider.

  • It probably wouldn’t be a good idea to have two different types of trains working to Ashford on High Speed 1.
  • Class 800 trains, which are closely related to the Class 395 trains have onboard diesel power and might have energy storage to handle regenerative braking.
  • Class 395 trains are getting towards ten years old and are approaching the need for a refresh.
  • Hitachi have built trains with onboard energy storage in Japan.
  • Diesel fuel might not be allowed in the tunnels of High Speed 1.
  • Hitachi would probably be very disappointed to not get this order.

More Class 395 trains fitted with either onboard energy storage must be the favourite.

Conclusion

Kent will get Aventras to improve suburban services and more Class 395 trains with batteries for Highspeed services.

 

September 7, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Waterloo Upgrade August 2017 – Waterloo To Sevenoaks

During this week Network Rail are working on the OverJubilee or the lines between London Bridge, Waterloo East and Charing Cross, so capacity from places like Sevenoaks station is reduced.

To compensate Southeastern are running a two trains per hour (tph) service between Sevenoaks and Platform 22 at Waterloo station.

  • One train goes to Dover Priory station and the other goes to Ramsgate station.
  • The trains take the old Eurostar route into Waterloo station over the Waterloo Curve or the Nine Elms Flyover.

So I thought I’d have a look, hoping to perhaps have a lunch in Sevenoaks.

These are a few pictures I took.

There would have been more, but it was chucking it down and the ones I took were terrible.

The Linford Street Junction And The Waterloo Curve

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the Linford Street Junction and the Waterloo Curve.

The Junction and the Curve are used by trains to connect from Waterloo in the North East, to the lines from Victoria that go across South London via Denmark Hill and Peckham Rye stations.

Note how the train going into Waterloo and the train coming out passed on the flyover. I assume this was for safety so that trains could leave and join the lines to Victoria at Linford Street Junction.

These pictures of the flyover were taken on another journey to Clapham Junction station.

The flyover is recent and was built for Eurostar and completed in May 1993. There’s a page called Nine Elms Flyover on the Kent Rail website, which gives a detailed history of the flyover.

The Route Between Waterloo And Sevenoaks

The journey between Waterloo And Sevenoaks passed through the following stations without stopping.

  • Vauxhall
  • Wandsworth Road
  • Clapham High Street
  • Denmark Hill
  • Peckham Rye
  • Nunhead
  • Lewisham
  • Hither Green
  • Grove Park
  • Elmstead Woods
  • Chislehurst
  • Petts Wood
  • Orpington
  • Chelsfield
  • Knockholt
  • Dunton Green

From Lewisham station onwards the route is on the South Eastern Main Line.

Overall Impressions

The route seemed to work well, although between Waterloo and Lewisham, the train was rather slow, with a slight delay joining the lines out of Victoria.

The journey was timed at 47 minutes, with the fastest normal services between London and Sevenoaks being around ten minutes faster.

It certainly seems to be providing an extra two tph between London and Sevenoaks. In Eurostar days, it handled up to six tph.

I also suspect it could handle twelve-car trains, although my journey was in an eight-car train.

Future Developments Along The Route

There are going to be more developments to rail services along the route and also into Kent. Many will be driven, by the bidding for the new Southeastern Franchise.

Ashford International Station

In  Kent On The Cusp Of Change – Ashford Spurs, I talked about the completed upgrading of Ashford International station, so that more Eurostar and other Continental services can call.

As the station is going to get more Highspeed services, I can envisage some innovative ways to make more and better use of this station.

Bakerloo Line Extension To Lewisham

The Bakerloo Line Extension will provide passengers with the option of using the Underground from Lewisham to access Central and North London.

Brockley Lane Station

The Lewisham Line runs between Peckham Rye and Lewisham stations and is used by Southeastern trains from both Victoria and Waterloo.

There used to be a Brockley Lane station, where the route crosses the current London Overground’s East London Line, close to Brockley station.

This is said under Future in the Wikipedia entry for the station.

According to the Department for Transport and the Transport for London rail prospectus report released in 2016, it has been listed as one of the Southeastern franchise planned improvements in the document entitled “New interchange at Brockley”, suggesting that there might be a case to reopen the station.

Creating an interchange here would certainly open up lots of travel opportunities.

It should be noted that Brockley station will from 2020, have a ten tph service to Canada Water and Whitechapel stations, with all their Crossrail and Underground connections.

Charing Cross Station

Charing Cross station is bursting at the seams, with typically fourteen and more trains in each hour.

This extract comes from Network’s Kent Route Study.

Charing Cross has just six 12-car platforms and Platforms 4, 5 and 6 are very narrow, leading to operational restrictions.

Class 465 units cannot operate in 12-car into these platforms and selective door operation is used on Class 375 units.

A major rebuild of the station could allow it to be extended south over the river, like Blackfriars, providing compliant platforms and greater passenger circulation.

At concept level, a new link to Waterloo from a southern entrance to Charing Cross may supersede Waterloo East allowing the station area to be used for  additional track capacity, but there are likely to be many issues with a project on this scale.

One of the many issues would be how to keep services running during the rebuild of the station.

I suspect that Waterloo could have a role to play in handling some of the services.

Fawkham Junction Link

In Kent On The Cusp Of Change – Fawkham Junction Link, I talked about the proposal to reopen the Fawkham Junction Link,  which was originally used to allow Eurostar trains to get to Waterloo station.

If this link were to be reopened, coupled with what has been happening between Waterloo and Sevenoaks, this would enable extra Southeastern HighSpeed services to Thanet to be run to either Victoria or Waterloo.

Victoria Station

Victoria station will periodically need work and might even be subject to a major upgrade project.

As with Charing Cross, I’m sure Waterloo could be used as an alternative terminus for a few trains.

Could Southeastern Services Into Waterloo Become Permanent? 

I suspect that as has been successfully shown this week, that it is a feasible proposition.

But whether it actually happens would be up to the train operators.

Consider.

  • Eurostar used to run a 6 tph service on this route.
  • A single well-designed platform can handle 4 tph.
  • The new platforms can handle twelve-car trains.

But most importantly, the train operators will have all the passenger data!

Conclusion

Southeastern and Network Rail have certainly shown it is possible to run a two tph service successfully between Sevenoaks and Waterloo.

If nothing else, it could prove to be a useful alternative route during engineering works or other diversions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 30, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

What Is Happening At Platform 9 At London Bridge Station?

I regularly come home from Waterloo station, by walking to Waterloo East station and then getting a Southeastern train to London Bridge station, from where, I get a 141 bus to a zebra crossing on the corner opposite my house.

Location is important, when buying a house!

You might ask, why I don’t use the Jubilee Line between Waterloo and London Bridge. I prefer not to be in a dark tunnel in an small-diameter Underground train, when there is a full-size alternative on the surface.

When the new Southeastern Franchise is awarded, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a succession of large-windowed trains, like Aventras,  replacing the over twenty-years-old Class 466 trains. They could become a tourist attraction linking Greenwich and Westminster via The Shard, that would be so much more interesting than the Jubilee Line.

This diagram from Wikipedia shows the proposed platform layout for London Bridge station from 2018.

Note.

  • The island Platform 6 and 7 is flanked by two lines coming from Charing Cross station.
  • The island Platform 8 and 9 is flanked by two lines going io Charing Cross station.
  • The tracks through Platforms 6 and 9 appear to be on loops from the track going through the other paired platform.

I assume the layout is to get sufficient platform capacity for the ten-car trains going through the station.

Look at this Google Map of the station.

The Platforms are numbered from top-right to bottom-left.

  • Platform 1 doesn’t appear to be complete and will be a bi-directional platform into Cannon Street station.
  • Platforms 2 and 3 are the first through island platform and serve Cannon Street.
  • Platforms 4 and 5 are the second through island platform are are for Thameslink.
  • Platforms 6 and 7 are for trains coming from Charing Cross.
  • Platforms 8 and 9 are for trains going to Charing Cross.
  • Platform 10 upwards are bay platforms for terminating services.

Note.

  • The generous width of the through island platforms.
  • Ot appears it might be possible to put a second platform on the other side of the track through Platform 9. Let’s call it Platform 9a
  • This extra Platform 9a and the bay Platform 10 could be easily connected, with a walk-through.

These pictures were taken from outside the station and show the area to the West of Platform 9.

Some substantial construction work is going on.

These pictures were taken inside the station.

I wonder what the final outcome will be!

 

August 20, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 2 Comments

Kent On The Cusp Of Change – Abbey Wood Station

The Kent On The Cusp Of Change article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways talks about Kent and Crossrail.

This is said.

In December 2018, the Elizabeth Line is due to reach its south-eastern terminus at Abbey Wood, where there will be interchange with the North Kent line.

A wide range of new journey opportunities will open up, which over time will influence many choices over work and home locations. A train every five minutes from Abbey Wood to Canary Wharf and central London is expected to have a dramatic effect in North Kent.

The article goes on to say that a working group called Crossrail Gravesend is pushing to extend the Elizabeth Line to Ebbsfleet International station for High Speed One.

In this post, I will talk about issues at Abbey Wood station.

The Modern Railways article says that Abbey Wood station is a cross-platform interchange, as do other articles.

Track Layout At Abbey Wood Station

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the layout of lines at Abbey Wood station.

Compare this with this track layout, that I posted in Abbey Wood Station –  29th August 2016.

Note the following.

  • The older layout shows cross-platform interchange.
  • The current one has two pairs of platforms, with Platforms 3 and 4 for Crossrail and Platforms 1 and 2 for other services.
  • The current layout probably connects better to the existing lines to Dartford.

These pictures were taken on the 28th June 2017 and show pictures generally taken from the West of the station.

They show a similar layout, of two Northern platforms (3 & 4) for Crossrail and two Southern platforms (1 & 2) for all other services.

Note.

  • The two cross-overs to the West of Abbey Wood station to get the Crossrail trains to and from the right platforms.
  • The station building and the two footbridges over the lines.
  • The solid wooden fence between the two pairs of lines.
  • The robust nature of the overhead wiring.

I suspect, that if they had wanted to have Eastbound and Westbound lines each share an island platform, it would have required a flyover, which would have been a large expense.

These pictures were taken on the 10th July 2017 to the East of the station.

Note that the first seven pictures were taken from a public footbridge that crosses the tracks about five hundred metres to the East of Abbey Wood station and the last few pictures were taken from a train leaving Abbey Wood station for Dartford station.

This recent Google Map shoews from Abbey Wood station, to where the reversing siding ends close to where Aliske Road turns North

The pictures and the map show the following.

  • The two third-rail electrified tracks of the North Kent Line run between Platforms 1 and 2 at Abbey Wood station to Belvedere station.
  • The North Kent tracks are fully in use, by services between London and Kent.
  • The two Crossrail Platforms 3 and 4 at Abbey Wood station are electrified with overhead wires.
  • The two tracks in Platforms 3 and 4 would appear to join together into a single line mainly without electrification, that connects to the North Kent Line about a kilometre to the East of Abbey Wood station.
  • There is only a short length of electrification to the East of the station.

It is not what I expected, as it means that there is no cross-platform interchange between services going to North Kent and Crossrail, as various sources including the The Kent On The Cusp Of Change article have said.

Passengers changing between the North Kent Lines and Crossrail will have to go over through the station or use the bridge.

So how will the station handle the various train movements?

Comparison Between Abbey Wood and Shenfield Stations

Abbey Wood will after rebuilding be a station with two North Kent and two Crossrail platforms

Shenfield station has now been converted into a station with six platforms, three of which can be used as Crossrail platforms.

In the Peak, services to the two stations are as follows.

  •  Shenfield – 10 trains per hour (tph)
  • Abbey Wood – 12 tph

In addition 4 tph on the Shenfield Branch turn-back at Gidea Park station.

In the Off Peak, services to the two stations are as follows.

  •  Shenfield – 8 tph
  • Abbey Wood – 8 tph

So it would appear that Abbey Wood is the harder station to operate with more services in the Peak and one less platform.

Train Stabling At Abbey Wood Station

Train stabling needs to be provided on a busy branch line, as it makes it easier to adjust the number of trains running to the demand throughout the day.

At Shenfield, the stabling sidings are beyond the station, which must be easier operationally, than the position of the sidings at Abbey Wood, where they are back down the line at the Plumstead tunnel portal.

If you look at the second set of pictures taken to the East of the station, spaqce would appear to be very limited. So is this why stabling is not ast of Abbey Wood station.

Turning Back Crossrail Trains At Abbey Wood

At Shenfield, train operators have been turning back Class 315 trains at a rate of six tph since 1980, so with the addition of a new platform and modern trains and signalling, the handling of ten tph should be achievable.

But at Abbey Wood in the Peak, there is a need to turn trains round at a rate of twelve tph or a train every five minutes.

The operation could involve each of Platform 3 and 4 handling six tph, using the cross-overs to the West of the station to get the train between each platform and the right Crossrail track, but handling six tph on two platforms feeding a 12 tph double track railway is a tough ask.

From what I have seen, I think that Crossrail will turnback their trains like this.

  • All Crossrail trains from London arrive in Platform 4.
  • All Crossrail trains to London depart from Platform 3.
  • All trains arriving in Platform 4 use the unelectrified single track line as a reversing siding to get to Platform 3
  • As the pictures show, the single track line is probably long enough to store a failed train, for later recovery.

But the Class 345 trains have a system called Auto-Reverse.

When the train is ready to leave Platform 4,the driver initiates an Auto-Reverse and the train moves automatically into the reversing siding, whilst the driver starts to walk back through the train to the other cab.

  • By the time, the train is in the reversing siding, the driver is ready to drive the train into Platform 3.
  • The process will have to be done within five minutes.
  • The process could also involve the basic cleaning and removal of rubbish, with cleaners getting on at Platform 4 and getting off at Plstform 3.

Crossrail is not your bog-standard railway.

Trains Leaving Service At Abbey Wood

Suppose a train was leaving service at Abbey Wood.

Normally, it would probably perform the Auto-Reverse and go to the stabling sidings at the Plumstead tunnel portal.

It might even go the wrong way directly out of Platform 4, if the signalling was bi-directiomal.

Remember too, that Class 345 trains could be two independent half-trains, so if one half fails, the other could be designed to get the train to safety and out of the way.

Class 345 trains are not a bog-standard trains.

Running Crossrail Trains To And From Gravesend

From what I have seen, I’m convinced that the track layout at Abbey Wood station, means that Crossrail can be easily extended to and from Dartford, Gravesend, Rochester, Gillingham or Rainham.

Let’s assume the terminal for four tph is Gravesend.

Crossrail trains from London to Gravesend will do the following.

  • Stop in Platform 4 at Abbey Wood station.
  • Lower the pantograph
  • Take the single uon-electrified line alongside the North Kent Line.
  • Cross over to the Down North Kent Line.
  • Use the third-rail electrification to travel to Gravesend.

Crossrail trains from Gravesend to London will do the following.

  • Use the third-rail electrification to travel from Gravesend.
  • Cross over to the single non-electrified line alongside the North Kent Line before Abbey Wood station.
  • Stop in Platform 3 at Abbey Wood station.
  • Raise the pantograph.

The Crossrail trains would be needed to be fitted with third-rail shoes.

Interchange BetweenThe Extended Crossrail And Other Services.

Suppose you are going from Ramsgate to Paddington, you would get a Highspeed service to Gravesend and then wait for a Crossrail train to call at the same platform.

To repeat myself, Crossrail is not a bog-standard railway.

Crossrail’s Trump Card

When the trains turnback at Abbey Wood or extend to and from Gravesend, the Class 345 trains will have to use the non-electrified single track line shown in the pictures.

It may be electrified in the next year! But why bother?

The distances that need to be handled without power are not much more than a kilometre at slow speed.

The Class 345 trains could be fitted with batteries to bridge the gaps in the electrification.

These batteries will also do the following.

  • Handle regenerative braking.
  • Provide emergency power, in the event of complete tunnel power failure.

Conclusion

To repeat myself again, Crossrail is not a bog-standard railway.

See Also

These are related posts.

To know more read Kent On The Cusp Of Change in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.

 

July 10, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 19 Comments

Gibbs Report – Hoo Junction Depot

The Gibbs Report, looks in detail at GTR’s depot capacity and especially the stabling for Thameslink.

This is a paragraph, which suggests creating a new depot at Hoo Junction.

I recommend a different approach: I think a dedicated GTR Thameslink stabling facility should be built at Hoo Junction, near Gravesend. There is a large former freight yard there, on both sides of the railway, which now stables engineering trains for Network Rail. This should be rationalised and space created for stabling all the North Kent Thameslink Class 700s, in sidings with newly created servicing facilities.

The Wikipedia entry for Crossrail has a section entitled To Gravesend And Hoo Junction, where the following is said.

The route to Gravesend has been safeguarded by the Department for Transport, although it was made clear that as at February 2008 there was no plan to extend Crossrail beyond the then-current scheme. The following stations are on the protected route extension to Gravesend: Belvedere, Erith, Slade Green, Dartford, Stone Crossing, Greenhithe for Bluewater, Swanscombe, Northfleet, and Gravesend.

This area around Hoo Junction has also been suggested as a possible depot for Crossrail.

In addition, Southeastern are running short of space in Slade Green Depot.

This Google Map shows the Hoo Junction area, with the North Kent Line passing through from Gravesend station in the West to Higham station in the South East.

There looks to be space for multiple depots with a large number of sidings at Hoo Junction.

These pictures show the apace to the North of the North Kent Line.

And these show the space to the South.

There even used to be a Staff Halt at Hoo Junction.

But that’s just the railways.

This report on the BBC indicates that the new Lower Thames Crossing will cross North-South between Gravesend and Hoo Junction.

Perhaps the developments at Hoo Junction, should incorporate a Park-and-Ride station.

Conclusion

This is a good idea and I would go further than Chris Gibbs does in his report, which is mainly into the problems of GTR.

Crossrail, the Department of Transport, Kent County Council, Network Rail, Southeastern, Thameslink and all other stakeholders and residents should sit round a large table and agree a common long-term philosophy that is in all their best interests for the future.

July 9, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 3 Comments

Kent On The Cusp Of Change – Maidstone

The Kent On The Cusp Of Change article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways talks about Kent and not surprisingly, the county town;Maidatone is mentioned several times.

The Medway Valley Line

The Medway Valley Line runs as its name suggests down the Medway Valley, from Strood station in the North to Maidstone WestPaddock Wood, and Tonbridge  stations in the South.

I took these pictures on the line.

Note.

  1. Strood station is undergoing a major upgrade, which the hoardings claim will be finished this year.
  2. The Medway Valley Line has its own termial platform in Strood station.
  3. The line is double-track all the way.
  4. The line is run as a community rail service.
  5. There were several level crossings on the route.
  6. There were several new housing estates visible from the train.

The line would appear to be well run and I suspect that in the next few yeas, services could be increased.

Currently, the service is a two trains per hout (tph) shuttle with an Peak Hour service between St. Pancras International and Maidstone West.

Plans exist for an all day Highspeed service between St. Pancras International and Maidstone West and this would mean three tph along the Medway Valley Line.

I do feel though that if a way could be found to run four tph on the route, that this would be very beneficial.

Maidstone

I walked between Maidstone West and Maidstone East stations buying lunch on the way in a cafe.

These pictures sum up my walk.

If I do the trip again, which is likely, I’d go to Maidstone East station first, as the walk would be dowbhill. It would also mean, I could pick up my gluten-free lunch in Marks and Spencer and eat it by the River Medway.

Not that the liver, bacon and vegetables was at all bad!

Maidstone East Station

I’ve discussed Maidstone East station before in this post called Maidstone East Station.

The two visits have left me with the impression, thatr the service from Maidstone East station is crap.

It will improve when Thameslink starts its two tph service to Cambridge, which will give the station four tph to and from London.

Two developments would really improve Maidstone East station.

Development of the station is promised, with Wikipedia saying this.

In November 2012, initial plans for the regeneration of Maidstone East Station were submitted to Maidstone Borough Council to determine whether an Environmental Impact Assessment was required. MBC concluded in December 2012 that due to the additional road traffic, an assessment would be appropriate. Plans include a new railway station, new large foodstore, other retail units, bar, cafe, commuter and retail parking (approx 1100 spaces) and associated landscaping. The proposed plan involves the demolition of the existing station ticket office, a disused hotel/bar, retail units opposite County Hall and the adjacent Royal Mail sorting and enquiry office which is due to transfer operations to a new site in Park Wood, Maidstone late 2012

Kent’s county town certainly needs a better station.

The other development would be to get rid of the Class 465 trains.

The one I got home was unreliable and according to fellow passengers, this is not uncommon.

But the speed it was keeping on the line to London was a measily 30 mph at times.

It was definitely, one that could be named a Notworker.

Hopefully the new franchise holder will obtain a new fleet of trains to kick the problem off the White Cliffs.

Conclusion

I learned a lot of the good and bad points about Southeastern today.

See Also

These are related posts.

To know more read Kent On The Cusp Of Change in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.

 

July 6, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Kent On The Cusp Of Change – Longfield Station

The Kent On The Cusp Of Change article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways has made me ask  questions about how services to various stations in Kent will be affected.

Longfield station is probably best described as a typically busy commuter station with three trains per hour (tph) for most of the day.

These pictures show the station.

This Google Map shows the layout of the station.

I had lunch with a friend whilst I was there and a problem he flagged up was that parking can be difficult, especially if you want to travel later n the day.

Parking At longfield Station

He said sometimes the only alternative to driving, is to cut across toEbbsfleet International station and put up with the higher prices of the Highspeed sewrvice.

Note how the car parking at Longfield station is all over the place.

The Price Of The High Speed Service

I have heard several complaints about the cost of the service into St. Pancras and I do wonder that if Victoria could be used as a second terminal, as I examined in Victoria As A Highspeed Terminal, that this could have the affect of bringing prices down.

Trains Through Longfield

I travelled out to Longfield in a 100 mph Class 377 train, but I travelled back in a 75 mph Class 466 train.

The former are just about fast enough, but the latter are too slow for a journey between ictoria and Dover or Ramsgate.

As I indicated in Track Improvements, Network Rail believe that the key to faster services is better signalling and faster trains.

The signalling problem is being addressed by the East Kent Re-Signalling Project, but new trains are needed that can operate at a higher speed on the lines in Kent.

Using a version of the Class 395 train is a possibility, but so is an entirely new train from another manufacturer. Having ridden in an Aventra and read the armours that the train can have a 125 mph capability, I’m sure Bombardier can come up with a Kent Coast Express.

Surely, more Class 395 trains must be the most likely, as six-car trains, working on most routes as 12-car units, is something that appears to work well for the current operator.

I think that the most likely scenario in future will be.

  • The stopping service currently run by 75 mph Class 466 trains will be run by 100 mph Class 377 trains.
  • The two semi-fast services will be run by new faster trains.
  • All services would be twelve-car trains.

As each service would be run by a faster train, there would be journey time savings.

Will Longfield Lose Any Of Its Three Trains Per Hour?

I think this is unlikely, as when this is tried, there is usually  a bitter row, that train operating companies try to avoid.

Will There Be Any Victoria to Thanet Services via Bromley South And High Speed One?

These services would take the following route from Victoria to Ashford International station.

  • Bromley South station
  • Fawkham Junction Link
  • Ebbsfleet International station
  • High Speed One

After Ashford, they could go to Dover, Hastings or Ramsgate.

There are two capacity constraints.

  • Between Victoria and Bromley South.
  • Between Ebbsfleet International and Ashford International

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a fast service from Victoria to Thanet in the timetable.

It would be ideal, if a train to both Dover and Ramsgate were possible in an hour.

Conclusion

It is my view that Longfield station will not have an inferior service to the present time, when the new franchise is awarded.

But services will be different! And hopefully faster!

See Also

These are related posts.

To know more read Kent On The Cusp Of Change in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.

 

July 4, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 15 Comments

Kent On The Cusp Of Change – Track Improvements

The Kent On The Cusp Of Change article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways talks mentions a few track improvements.

Ashford Spurs

This enables more Continental trains to call at Ashford International station. I discussed it in Ashford Spurs.

The Link Between High Speed One And The Marshlink Line

This is needed to get the Highspeed trains from St. Pancras to Hastings, I I discussed in Highspeed to Hastings.

The Modern Railways article says this about the creation of the link.

It will be an uphill struggle to fund necessary layout changes at Ashford International during Control Period 6 (2019-2024). A realignment of the track would be needed to join the track serving the London end of platform 2 (which is accessible from the Marshlink route) to the Ashford spurs that link through to High Speed 1.

This diagram from Wikipedia shows the lines through Ashford International station.

Note how the two main tracks of High Speed One use a flyover to get out of the way of Ashford International station. The Ashford Spurs connect the lines through the two platforms to High Speed One.

This Google Map shows the London end of Ashford International stations.

There are three island platforms, which are as follows from the bottom.

  • Platform 1 and 2 for third-rail domestic services and the Marshlink Line
  • Platform 3 and 4 for Continental services
  • Platform 5 asnd 6 for Highspeed domestic services.

The two lines visible beyond platforms 5 and 6 are High Speed One on the flyover.

At the London end of the station, there is already the following links to High Speed One from the station.

  • Platform 3 to London for Continental services
  • Platform 4 from London for Continental services
  • Platform 5 to London for Highspeed services
  • Platform 6 from London for Highspeed services

It could be quite complicated connecting even one of Platform 1 and 2 to High Speed One.

But at least as these pictures show, there is plenty of space.

Note.

  1. The pictures were taken from a Highspeed train leaving Platform 5 for London.
  2. The first picture was taken just to the London side of the bridge shown in the Google Map.
  3. The domestic Platforms 1 and 2 are on the far side, in this first picture.
  4. The

I do feel that after some of the engineering on Crossrail and Thameslink, that an affordable solution is possible.

In addition to the space, I don’t think any trains thunder through here at high speed, as they use the flyover for that.

I also feel that Hitachi might be the key here.

As I said in Highspeed to Hastings, I believe that batteries not diesel will be used to power the trains on the Marshlink Line.

So if necessary, battery power could be used to power the trains between High Speed One and Platforms 1 and 2.

Hitachi could probably do the change between power sources under the wires of High Speed One, so this would mean that there would be no extra overhead electrification at Ashford International station.

As most of the train frequencies between High Speed One and Ashford International station are not by any means high, I wonder if there is a simple solution in there somewhere.

The most difficult connection would be to get trains from London across three tracks.

  • The Highspeed line from Platform 5 to London
  • The Continental line from London to Platform 4.
  • The Continental line from Platform 3 to London

A single track unelectrified dive-under or even a flat junction might be possible to connect High Speed One to Platforms 1 and/or 2.

Connecting Platforms 1 and/or 2 to High Speed One to London is much easier, as no other lines need to be crossed.

I also wonder if the funding problem and probable subsequent delay of building a link could lead to an interim solution to give Hasting the service it needs.

Network Rail’s Options For The Link Between High Speed One And The Marshlink Line

This document from Network Rail gives their options for the link.

  1. High Speed One To Platform 2
  2. High Speed One To Marshlink via Platform 3

As the second option would leave Continental services with just one bi-directional platform, I think it is unlikely to be used, as what happens if a train fails in the platform?

This diagram from the Network Rail document shows the traqck layout for the first option.

Note the only track work would appear to be two or three new cross-overs, which are shown as being electrified with both third-rail and overhead line.

Note the following.

  1. The trains that will be working the Marshlink Line and High Speed One will have either diesel or battery power for the Marshlink Line.
  2. Modern trains like Hitachi’s Class 800 trains can change from one mode to the other at linespeed, raising and lowering the pantograph as necessary.
  3. Automation can aid the driver in selecting the best power source.

So could we see the cross-overs built without electrification to save money and probably time as well?

I suspect this could be possible, although there may be operational reasons to add third-rail electrification.

Network Rail say this about their scheme with dual-power cross-overs.

Although this seems a fairly simple proposal, the technicalities of installing the crossovers, power supplies and signalling enhancements add significantly to the challenges of the scheme, which would cost in the region of £15-35M.

Surely, as the trains will have a dual-power capability for the Marshlink Line, this would reduce the challenges and cost of the scheme.

, The Fawkham Junction Link

The Fawkham Junction link will enable Highspeed services to use another terminal in London, which will probably be Victoria.

I discussed this link in Fawkham Junction Link.

General Track Improvements

This document from Network Rail is the Route Specification for the South East and it details two projects, that will improve times on the lines between Victoria and shford International station.

  • Journey Time Improvement – Reduce impact of Permanent Speed Restrictions
  • Maidstone signalling interlocking renewal – Renewal of interlocking and external equipment

The document indicates they could be completed in 2019.

The document also  uses this phrase in several places.

Increase speed to rolling stock and signalling capability

As the East Kent Re-Signalling Project seems to be improving the signalling, it does appear that one of the keys to better services in Kent may well be faster trains.

It should be noted, Network Rail have been particularly successful in upgrading the speed of the Midland Main Line in recent years, so with a faster third-rail train available, they might be able to speed up services on the East Kent Lines.

An Interim Solution For A Highspeed Service To Hastings

As I said earlier connecting the Marshlink Line to High Speed One might be delayed because of funding.

Network Rail’s planned improvements will deliver journey time improvements between Victoria and Ashford International stations and along the lines in East Kent, provided some faster trains are procured.

There is not much point in having tracks with a capability in excess of 110 mph, if the trains can’t make use of it.

But these trains, be they Ultimate Class 395 trains or a product from another manufacturer, will be needed to bridge the electrification gap of the marshlink line.

Once the modifications at Ashford are complete, these trains will be able to use High Speed One.

Conclusion

Track improvements are a key to making the new Southeastern franchise a lot better.

See Also

These are related posts.

To know more read Kent On The Cusp Of Change in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.

 

July 2, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 18 Comments

Kent On The Cusp Of Change – Ultimate Class 395 Train

The Kent On The Cusp Of Change article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways talks about the need for more Class 395 trains.

The Class 395 train has the following features.

  • 140 mph capability on 25 KVAC overhead electrification
  • 100 mph capability on 750 VDC third-rail electrification
  • Six-cars
  • The ability for trains to couple and uncouple automatically in a couple of minutes.
  • Modern interiors.

Upgrades, that I can see in a new batch of trains are discussed in the next three sections.

Batteries To Enable Working To Hastings For The New Southeastern Franchise

The Modern Railways article  says this about the Highspeed service to Hastings.

What form the new trains would take is asnother question; Kent County Council is keen on Class 800s, to give bi-mode capsability over the Romney mashes so that Hastings and Bexhill could be given a high-speed service to London via Ashford.

However, question marks continue to hang over any such service: there is some doubt as to whether diesel tanks would be allowed in the London tunnels of HS1 (so battery electric could be an option)

It should be noted that, Hitachi have experience in the field of battery electric trains and I think that their engineers will find a solution to bridge the twenty-six miles of the Marshlink Line, between Ashford International and Ore stations, that is not electrified.

The key could be that a passing loop is needed at Rye station for efficient operation of the trains. As Rye is under sixteen miles from Ashford and under eleven miles from Ore, it might be feasible to electrify the passing loop, so that trains could have a quick battery top-up, whilst stopping at Rye station.

Electrification around the station in a town like Rye would mean safety would be easier to ensure, than in some of the remoter parts of Romney Marsh.

Wi-Fi And 4G Capability

These facilities will probably be required of the bidders for the new franchise.

Up To 125 mph Capability On 750 VDC Third-Rail Electrification

The Class 395 trains can obviously go safely at a lot higher speed and Network Rail have the knowledge and engineering to turn 100 mph lines into ones with an operating speed of 125 mph, if  the topography of the line is suitable.

125 mph wouldn’t probably be needed but the ability to run at 110 mph might be particularly useful on various of the lines in Kent.

In a Network Rail document about the East Kent lines, Network rail says this.

Increase speed to rolling stock and signalling capability.

As the East Kent Re-Signalling Project seems to be improving the signalling, the faster Class 395 trains would set the desired operating speed.

Network Rail have been particularly successful in upgrading the speed of the Midland Main Line in recent years, so with a faster third-rail train available, they might be able to speed up services on the East Kent Lines.

I doubt all of this has not occurred to Hitachi and the other train manufacturers.

It should also be born in mind that High Speed One is not unique amongst dedicated high speed lines in the world and other countries and operators must want to mix high speed long distance and commuter services on the high speed lines.

So if Hitachi can demonstrate their skills between London and Kent on the way to the iconic Channel Tunnel, it can’t be at all bad for the company.

It also probably means, that the companies bidding to take over the Southeastern franchise will get a good deal for extra Class 395 trains.

Or would Bombardier come up with an Aventra with a 140 mph capability on High Speed One?

Other Applications Of Class 395 Trains

Most of the third-rail electric trains south of the Thames like the Class 377 trains are 100 mph trains.

But as there is a need for more and faster services South of the Thames, there will probably be a need for a faster train.

This probably explains why South Western Railway are bringing the Class 442 trains back into service on the Portsmouth Direct Line, as these trains are capable of more than 100 mph.

An alternative might have been to buy some Class 395 trains with a 110 mph or higher capability on third-rail lines.

Conclusion

The next versions of Class 395 trains and trains of similar performance from other manufacturers will not be limited to High Speed One and Kent.

Hitachi can easily create a third-rail train with a capability of running at over 110 mph and if Network Rail upgrade the tracks and signalling to accommodate higher speeds, we could see improved services all across the South of England.

Routes where they would bring improvement include.

  • Waterloo to Portsmouth
  • Waterloo to Southampton, Bournemouth, Poole and Weymouth
  • Ashford to Southampton via Brighton and Portsmouth.

As energy storage gets better will we be seeing Waterloo to Salisbury run by electric trains, using battery power to and from Basingstoke?

See Also

These are related posts.

To know more read Kent On The Cusp Of Change in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.

 

July 1, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 17 Comments