The Anonymous Widower

My First Rides In A Class 755 Train

Today, I had my first rides in a Class 755 train. I use rides, as it was three separate timetabled journeys.

  • 12:36 – Norwich to Great Yarmouth
  • 13:17 – Great Yarmouth to Norwich
  • 14:05 – Norwich to Lowestoft

But it was only one train!

Although, I did see at least one other train in service.

These are my observations.

The Overall Style

These are a few pictures of the outside of the train.

The train certainly looks impressive from the front, but then it has a similar profile to a Bombardier Aventra or a member of Hitachi’s Class 800 family of trains.

The open nose is reminiscent of front-engined Formula One racing cars of the 1950s, with an added sloping front to apply downforce.

I would suspect that the similarity of the trains  is driven by good aerodynamic design.

If all the current Formula One cars were painted the same colour, could you tell the apart?

Trains seem to be going the same way. Only Siemens Class 700/707/717 design doesn’t seem to be rounded and smooth.

The PowerPack

The unique feature of these bi-mode trains is the diesel PowerPack in the middle of the train.

Stadler first used a PowerPack in the GTW, which I described in The Train Station At The Northern End Of The Netherlands.

  • GTWs date from 1998.
  • Over five hundred GTWs have been built.
  • You see GTWs in several countries in Europe.
  • GTWs have a maximum speed of between 115 and 140 kph.

The concept of the train with a PowerPack is certainly well-proven.

I have deliberately ridden for perhaps twenty seconds in the corridor through the PowerPack on both trains! Although I didn’t measure it with a sound meter, I’m fairly certain, that the more modern Class 755 train is better insulated against the noise of the engines.

But you would expect that with progress!

There could be another significant difference between the bi-mode Flirt and the GTW. This picture shows the connection between the PowerPack and the next car.

It looks like it could be a damper to improve the performance of the train on curves. It is not visible on this picture of a GTW PowerPack.

As an engineer, this says to me, that Stadler have taken tremendous care  to make the unusual concept of the PowerPack work perfectly.

Train Power On Diesel

Consider.

  • This four-car Class 755 train has installed diesel power of 1920 kW.
  • At 100 mph, the train will travel a mile in thirty-six seconds.
  • In that time, 19.2 kWh would be generated by the engines at full-power.

This means that a maximum power of 4.6 kWh per vehicle mile is available, when running on diesel power.

In How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 mph?, I answered the question in the title of the post.

This was my conclusion in that post.

I know this was a rather rough and ready calculation, but I can draw two conclusions.

  • Trains running at 125 mph seem to need between three and five kWh per vehicle mile.
  • The forty year old InterCity 125 has an efficient energy use, even if the engines are working flat out to maintain full speed.

The only explanation for the latter is that Terry Miller and his team, got the aerodynamics, dynamics and structures of the InterCity 125 almost perfect. And this was all before computer-aided-design became commonplace.

In future for the energy use of a train running at 125 mph, I shall use a figure of three kWh per vehicle mile.

These figures leave me convinced that the design of the Class 755 train can deliver enough power to sustain the train at 125 mph, when running on diesel power

Obviously, as the maximum speed in East Anglia, is only the 100 mph of the Great Eastern Main Line, they won’t be doing these speeds in the service of Greater Anglia.

I also  had a quick word with a driver and one of my questions, was could the train design be good for 125 mph? He didn’t say no!

This 125 mph capability  could be useful for Greater Anglia’s sister company; Abellio East Midlands Trains, where 125 mph running is possible, on some  routes with and without electrification.

With respect to the Greater Anglia application, I wonder how many engines will be used on various routes? Many of the routes without electrification are almost without gradients, so I can see for large sections of the routes, some engines will just be heavy passengers.

I’ve read somewhere, that the train’s computer evens out use between engines, so I suspect, it gives the driver the power he requires, in the most efficient way possible.

Remember that these Greater Anglia Class 755 trains, are the first bi-mode Stadler Flirts to go into service, so the most efficient operating philosophy has probably not been fully developed.

Train Weight

These pictures show the plates on the train giving the details of each car.

 

I only photographed one side of the train and I will assume that the other two cars are similar. They won’t be exactly the same, as this  intermediate car has a fully-accessible toilet.

The weight of each car is as follows.

  • PowerPack – PP – 27.9 tonnes
  • Intermediate Car – PTSW – 16.0 tonnes
  • Driving Car – DMS2 – 27.2 tonnes

Adding these up gives a train weight of 114.3 tonnes.

Note that the formation of the train is DMS+PTS+PP+PYSW+DMS2, which means that heavier and lighter cars alternate along the train.

Train Length

The previous pictures give the  length of each  car is as follows.

  • PowerPack – PP – 6.69 metres
  • Intermediate Car – PTSW – 15.22 metres
  • Driving Car – DMS2 – 20.81 metres

Adding these up gives a train length of 78.75 metres.

This is very convenient as it fits within British Rail’s traditional limit for a four-car multiple unit like a Class 319 train.

Train Width

The previous pictures give the width of each  car is as follows.

  • PowerPack – PP – 2.82 metres
  • Intermediate Car – PTSW – 2.72 metres
  • Driving Car – DMS2 – 2.72 metres

The PowerPack is wider than the other cars and it is actually wider than the 2.69 metres of the Class 170 train, that the Class 755 train will replace. However, Greater Anglia’s electric Class 321 trains also have a width of 2.82 metres.

It looks to me, that Stadler have designed the PowerPack to the largest size that the UK rail network can accept.

The other cars are narrower by ten centimetres, which is probably a compromise between fitting platforms, aerodynamics and the needs of articulation.

Seats

The previous pictures give the number of seats in each  car as follows.

  • PowerPack – PP – 0
  • Intermediate Car – PTSW – 32
  • Driving Car – DMS2 – 52

This gives a total of 168 seats. Wikipedia gives 229.

Perhaps the car without the toilet has more or Wikipedia’s figure includes standees.

Kinetic Energy Of The Train

I will use my standard calculation.

The basic train weight is 114.3 tonnes.

If each of the 229 passengers weighs 90 kg with Baggage, bikes and buggies, this gives a passenger weight of 20.34 tonnes.

This gives a total weight of 134.64 tonnes.

Using Omni’s Kinetic Energy Calculator gives these figures for the Kinetic energy.

  • 60 mph – 13.5 kWh
  • 100 mph – 37.4 kWh
  • 125 mph – 58.4 kWh

If we are talking about the Greater Anglia C;lass 755 train, which will be limited to 100 mph, this leads me to believe, that by replacing one diesel engine with a plug compatible battery of sufficient size, the following is possible.

  • On all routes, regenerative braking will be available under both diesel and electric power.
  • Some shorter routes could be run on battery power, with charging using existing electrification.
  • Depot and other short movements could be performed under battery power.

The South Wales Metro has already ordered tri-mode Flirts, that look like Class 755 trains.

InterCity Quality For Rural Routes

The title of this section is a quote from the Managing Director of Greater Anglia; Jamie Burles about the Class 755 trains in this article on Rail Magazine.

This is the complete paragraph.

Burles said of the Class 755s: “These will be the most reliable regional train in the UK by a country mile – they had better be. They will be InterCity quality for rural routes, and will exceed expectations.”

I shall bear that quote in mind in the next few sections.

Seats And Tables

The seats are better than some I could name.

The seats are actually on two levels, as some are over the bogies. However |Stadler seem to managed to keep the floor flat and you step-up into the seats, as you do in some seats on a London New Routemaster bus.

Seat-Back Tables

I particular liked the seat-back tables, which weren’t the usual flimsy plastic, but something a lot more solid.

They are possibly made out of aluminium or a high class engineering plastic. You’d certainly be able to put a coffee on them, without getting it dumped in your lap.

It is the sort of quality you might get on an airliner, flown by an airline with a reputation for good customer service.

Step-Free Access

Stadler are the experts, when it comes to getting between the train and the platform, without a step. As I travel around Europe, you see little gap fillers emerge from trains built by Stadler, which have now arrived in East Anglia.

There was a slight problem at Great Yarmouth with a wheelchair, but it was probably something that can be easily sorted.

Some platforms may need to be adjusted.

Big Windows

The train has been designed with large windows, that are generally aligned with the seats.

There is no excuse for windows not aligning with most of the seats, as you find on some fleets of trains.

Low Flat Floor

The train has been designed around a low, flat floor.

The floor also improves the step-free access and gives more usable height inside the train.

Litter Bins

The train has well-engineered litter bins in  between the seats and in the lobbies.

This bin is in the lobby, next to a comfortable tip-up seat.

Too many trains seem to be built without bins these days and the litter just gets thrown on the floor.

Conclusion

It is certainly a better class of rural train and I think it fulfils Jamie Burles’ ambition of InterCity Quality For Rural Routes.

But then services between Cambridge, Ipswich and Norwich are as important to East Anglia, as services between Hull, Leeds and Sheffield are to Yorkshire.

They are all services that can take a substantial part of an hour, so treating passengers well, might lure them out of their cars and off crowded roads.

In My First Ride In A Class 331 Train, I wrote about Northern’s new Class 331 trains.

If I was going to give the Greater Anglia train a score of eight out of ten, I’d give the Class 331 train, no more than two out of ten.

 

 

 

 

 

August 6, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Groningen Station

Groningen station sits at the centre of a rail network reaching to Delfzijl, Eemshaven, Harlingen,, Leer, Leeuwarden, Veendam and Zwolle.

These pictures show the station.

Note.

  1. The large numbers of Stadler GTW trains, which Arriva call Spurt.
  2. The decoration in the Booking Hall.
  3. The multiple bay platforms, some of which are electrified.

It is certainly a station worth a visit.

The Harlingen–Nieuweschans Railway

Groningen station is on the Harlingen–Nieuweschans Railway.

  • It stretches from Harlingen. on the Ijsselmeer in the West to Leer in Germany in the East.
  • The distance is around eighty miles.

The railway was originally built for trade between the port at Harlingen and Cerntral Europe.

Unfortunately, the Eastern section is cut-off as the  freighter; MV Emsmoon, destroyed a bridge. Wikipedia says this about the accident.

On 3 December 2015, Emsmoon collided with the Friesenbrücke [de], which carries the Ihrhove–Nieuweschans railway over the Ems. The cause of the accident was reported to be miscommunication between the bridge operator and pilot on board the ship. The bridge could not be raised as a train was due, but the ship failed to stop and collided with the bridge, blocking both railway and river.[4] The bridge was so severely damaged that it will have to be demolished. Replacement is expected to take five years.

Was für ein Haufen Wichser!

And we think, we have problems with level crossings!

Conclusion

Groningen would make a base from where to tour the area. But it will be even better, when the bridge over the River Ems has been rebuilt!

March 28, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

The Train Station At The Northern End Of The Netherlands

Eemshaven station is the northernmost station in the Netherlands.

One of the reasons I went, was that the station is only a year old and I wanted to see how the Dutch build new stations.

Note this about the station.

  • It is very basic, with few facilities.
  • The single platform is very long.
  • The station is surrounded by oil and gas installations on one side and the sea on the other.

It appears that for a lot of the day, the station gets two trains per hour.

This Google Map shows the station by the beach.

I would assume that most of the cars are those of workers at the oil and gas complex.

I returned on the train, I had arrived on, after a few minutes taking the pictures.

The Stadler GTW Train

Shown in the pictures is one of the Stadler GTW trains,which work the services in the North of the Netherlands.

  • They are electric trains, with their own diesel power pack in the middle.
  • This train had three passenger cars, but some only have two.
  • Noise from the engine was noticeable and probably about the same in a Class 170 train.
  • Ride quality wasn’t bad, considering the unusual configuration. But then the track looked very neat and tidy.
  • Arriva call the trains Spurt.

Stadler have not stood still, since they built these trains and Greater Anglia’s new Class 755 trains are built by Stadler to similar principles.

At the turnround at Eemshaven with the driver. He indicated that there had been speculation about battery and hydrogen trains in the North of The Netherlands.

Level Crossing Accidents

An interesting aside is to look at the Wikipedia entry for Spurt.

Three of the trains have been involved in serious level crossing accidents.

The Dutch Plan For Hydrogen

This now a separate post at The Dutch Plan For Hydrogen.

 

 

 

March 27, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 4 Comments

Is This Stadler’s Plan For A Multi-Mode Future?

We have not seen any of Stadler’s bi-mode Flirts in service yet although Greater Anglia’a Class 755 trains have been rumoured to be speeding between London and Norwich in ninety minutes from this May!

Today, I rode on one of Stadler’s diesel GTWs between Groningen and Eemshaven in the Netherlands, which I wrote about in The Train Station At The Northern End Of The Netherlands.

GTWs are a diesel electric train with a power-pack car in the middle of the three car train. The diesel electric Flirts are a later train with a similar layout to the GTW.

So are the diesel GTWs and Flirts just a bi-mode without a pantograph? Or more likely the bi-mode is a diesel electric train with the addition of a pantograph and extra electrical gubbins.

Looking at the visualisations on Wikipedia of the bi-mode Class 755 train and the all-electric Class 745 train, it appears that the next-to-end car has the pantograph.

Are these cars with the pantograph identical on both the bi-mode and the all-electric versions? It would certainly be sensible from a engine erring point of view.

 

So could it be that all that is needed to convert a diesel electric Flirt into a bi-mode Flirt is to add the pantograph car and swap the power pack car for a bi-mode one? The old power pack car could then be converted into another bi-mode power pack car to convert another train.

But the power pack cars are not as simple as they look. They have four slots for diesel engines. Three-car and four-car Class 755 trains have two and four engines respectively.

I believe that one or more of the slots can be filled with a battery to create Flirts like the tri-mode ones proposed for South Wales.

So could we see some of the Greater Anglia Flirts converted in this way? Surely, Colchester Town to Sudbury could be a service that could benefit from battery power West of Marks Tey?

Today, I had a chat with a GTW driver, who said that the train he’d been driving was diesel-electric and that he had heard that batteries or hydrogen power could be used on the eoute.

The lines around Groningen seem to employ quite a few GTWs and distances are not overly long. So could some be converted to 1500 VDC electric/diesel/battery tri-modes? There is electrification at Groningen station and some of the bay platforms used by GTWs already have wires.

If the conversion is successful, then Stadler could be on a Swiss roll, as there are a lot of GTWs and Flirts out there, many of which are diesel-electric, like the one I rode today.

Would a train operator prefer to upgrade a diesel electric train that works well or buy a new bi-mode from another train manufacturer?

Could also an electric Flirt be converted into a bi-mode, by splitting the train and sticking a power pack car in the middle. Engineering common sense says that the passenger cars must be very similar to those of diesel Flirts to simplify manufacture of the trains.

We already know, that four-car Flirts are only three-car trains with an extra passenger car. Stadler could mix-and-match passenger, pantograph and power pack cars to give operators what they need.

Intelligent computer software would choose which power option to be used and the driver would just monitor, that the train was behaving as needed.

Looking at my route yesterday between Groningen and Eemshaven, it is a route of just under forty kilometres or twenty-five miles. Adrian Shooter is talking of ranges of sixty miles with battery versions of Class 230 trains. So I don’t find it impossible to create a tri-mode GTW or Flirt for this lonely route at the very North of the Netherlands.

Conclusion

Stadler seem to have created a very imitative modular train concept.

As some Flirts can travel at 125 mph, could they be serious bidders to provide the new trains for the Midland Main Line?

March 27, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment