The Anonymous Widower

Travelling From Edinburgh To London Next Wednesday

I am going to Scotland for a couple of days and will be returning on Wednesday.

I have just booked a First Class Advance Ticket for £69.30

  • I used my Senior Railcard.
  • The train leaves at 19:36 and s the last direct train South.
  • The train arrives in London at 01:05, which isn’t too late for me, as I can get a taxi home, for a reasonable fare.
  • I can even get an all-night bus to the stop round the corner.
  • I will be served complimentary snacks on the train.

Out of curiosity, I looked up easyJet

These were possible flights and prices, between Edinburgh and Gatwick Airports.

  • 06:05 – 07:35 – 65.55
  • 13:40 – 15:20 – £82.72
  • 15:35 – 17:15 – £88.78
  • 21:15 – 22:45 – £125.14

In addition, I would have to add about a tenner for getting to the Airports and perhaps ninety minutes before and after the flight.

So it looks to me, that my train ticket is better value, quicker and may get me home only an hour or so, later than the last flight, which will be twice the price.

 

August 17, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rail Passengers Can Now Get From Farnworth To London In Two And A Half Hours

The title of this post is the same as that on this article on  This Is Lancashire.

It may seem to be a bit of a parochial story for those near Farnworth station in Greater Manchester, but it is a problem that sffects many rail passengers all over the UK.

From Farnworth, the quickest way to London, is not the obvious one to go to Manchester Piccadilly.

This may involve changes of trains and busy trains in the Manchester Rush Hour.

Locals find a better way, is to take a train the other way and catch a train from Wigan North Western., where the hardest thing is to decide, whether you want a coffee, as you walk across the platform to catch the London train.

The on-line timetable now has been fixed to offer this route in addition.

These computer-knows-best routes crop up everywhere.

If I want to get to Victoria station from the bus stop around the corner, the best way is to catch a 30 bus to Highbury & Isligton station. There is a walk through the everlasting road-works at the station and a long walk in a tunnel to get to the platform, but it works.

However, the recommended route is to take a 38 bus to Essex Road station and then go out of London, by one stop to Highbury & Islington station.

This route has three problems.

  • There is a double-crossing of busy roads at Essex Road station.
  • Essex Road station was last cleaned and given a makeover, when King George was on the throne.
  • The interchange at Highbury & Islington station is not for the unfit or anybody with a baggagge, bike or buggy

Only a computer working without human help, could design such a bad route.

As at Farnworth and with me in London, local knowledge is everything.

Sorting Out Manchester’s Routes

Northern Trains may have been thinking about passengers getting to the less busy stations.

They have introduced three new services that connect the West Coast Main Line and Greater Manchester.

  • Wigan North Western and Alderly Edge
  • Wigan North Western and Stalybridge
  • Chester and Leeds via Warrington Bank Quay, Manchester Victoria, Rochdale, Hebden Bridge, Halifax and Bradford.

The latter route is an interesting one, as not only does it offer some good journey possibilities, but it is a scenic route through the Pennines.

 

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

£100m Train Test Complex Plans For Neath Valley Backed

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

This much-needed project, which some wag has called Project Hornby, seems to be moving on..

This brief description is from the article.

The complex would allow trains to be tested on special tracks – laid out on 4.5 mile (7.3km) and two mile (3.1km) ovals – at speeds of up to 100mph (160kph).

It will certainly test their ability to go round corners.

Hopefully, the test track will shorten the time, it takes new and updated trains into service.

May 10, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Newquay Link With Heathrow Takes Off Courtesy Of Taxpayer

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in today’s copy of The Times.

This is the first paragraph.

From next weekend air travellers will be given the equivalent of a £5 bung, courtesy of the taxpayer, to use Newquay airport in Cornwall for four flights a day both ways to Heathrow.

The article describes how the service is run under a Public Aervice Obligation or PSO.

Other air services in the UK run on this basis include.

  • Stansted to Derry
  • Stansted to Dundee

Similar subsidies are used in the EU and the United States.

This Google Map shows Newquay (indicated by a red marker,and the airport.

The town and the airport are about 4.3 miles apart.

This Google Map shows the centre of Newquay.

Note Newquay station in the middle of the town close to the beach.

  • How rare to see a coastal town with a well-placed station.
  • It does seem that in the Summer, there are more than just a rudimentary local service to the town.
  • In the Summer, there are also long distance services, to London, Manchester and Scotland.

I also think, that GWR might run one of their shortened HSTs to the town from perhaps Exeter with upmarket service on board.

So I have to ask, the question, if the a subsidy for the air service is really necessary?

March 25, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Finland – Estonia Tunnel Secures €15bn In Funding

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

This is the first paragraph.

FINEST Bay Area Development has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Touchstone Capital Partners, China, to secure €15bn in financing for construction of a 100km railway tunnel under the Gulf of Finland between Helsinki, Finland, and Tallinn, Estonia.

Linked to the planned Rail Baltica, it will mean that passengers and freight will be able to use railways between the UK and Finland.

March 12, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Irish Rail Seeks Second-Hand DMUs To Boost Fleet Capacity

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

Ireland needs more capacity on its railways and the preferred solution appears to be some second-hand DMUs.

It is likely, they will come from Great Britain.

  • We are replacing some DMUs with new fleets.
  • The Irish have a similar restricted loading gauge.
  • The trains will need to be converted from standard to Irish gauge.

The article mentions that Class 185 trains are likely candidates.

Yet again, the stupid decision of the British Government in the Railway Regulation (Gauge) Act 1846, is costing the Irish good money.

February 15, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | 2 Comments

DfT Urged To Make Operators Reveal If Trains Are Electric Or Diesel Due To Carbon Concerns

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

This is the first paragraph.

Nearly half of rail passengers would like to know how their trains are powered according to a new poll of 1,025 regular rail users from train ticket retailer Loco2.

I think that loco2 are on the right track.

London And Birmingham

For instance take the route between London and Birmingham, where you have three different train operators.

  • Virgin Trains – 125 mph electric trains between London Euston and Birmingham New Street stations – Fast, cramped and the most expensive
  • West Midland Trains – 110 mph electric trains between London Euston and Birmingham New Street stations – Slower, more space and reasonably priced
  • Chiltern Railways – 100 mph diesel trains between London Marylebone and Birmingham Moor Street stations – Slower, most comfortable and reasonable priced

If I need to get to Birmingham in a hurry, a use Virgin, but if I want a comfortable journe at a lower pricey, where I can spread my paper on a large table, I take Chiltern.

Those that pay the money make their choice.

Knowing the carbon footprint might persuade some passengers to take a particular train operating company, but I think it would have an effect on train operating companies, if they were perceived to have a low carbon rating.

In my example, the only diesel operator of the three; Chiltern Railways, probably can’t switch to electric traction, as electrifying the route would be prohibitively expensive.

  • They can offset their carbon footprint, by perhaps planting trees.
  • There will also be technology that will cut their diesel consumption.

After that it’s down to the strength of their marketing.

London And Scotland

The competition for trains between London and Scotland is the airlines.

Publishing carbon footprints would favour the trains, as there is a lot of electrification on Scottish routes.

The Man In Seat 61 gives his view on this page of his web site.

 

February 11, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

DfT Consulting On Plans To Expand Pay-As-You-Go Rail Travel Nationwide

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

I can’t see what the problem is.

  • My bank card would be linked to my Freedom Pass and Senior Railcard on either a ticketing web site or even better on my on-line bank account.
  • If it were the latter, then when I checked my bank account, as I do regularly, I could also check my travel.
  • I would then just touch in and touch out for each journey.
  • The central computer would then give me the best price for my journey.

As an example, if I went to say Oxford, I would only be charged between the Zone 6 boundary, which is my Freedom Pass limit and Oxford station.

I would not need to buy an extra ticket.

This is all well and good for those with UK bank accounts, but how would it handle other eventualities?

Overseas Visitors

If say one of my overseas friends was in the UK, they would just use a contactless bank card.

If they had a Railcard, as several do, they would register the link on a ticketing web site.

Advance Tickets

These could still be bought on-line or at a booking office as now.

Buses, Taxis and Trams

The system should be extended to buses, taxis, traims and any other future transport systems like cable-cars and pod systems.

Conclusion

It would be a very complicated computer system to program, but most of the work has already been done for London and is working successfully.

It would make the UK’s public transport system one of the most passenger-fruendly in the world.

What would that do for ridership? And tourism?

 

February 8, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rail Operations Seeks New Sites To Extend Storage Space

The title of this post, as the same as that of this article in Issue 869 of Rail Magazine.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Rail operations (UK) Limited is looking to lease more sites for storing off-lease trains.

Via ita Traxion business, the company has already leased Crewe South Yard and the Marks & Sencer Logistics site at Castle Donington.

Much of the rest of the article is an interview with Karl Watts, who is Chief Executive of Rail Operations (UK) Limited, where he outlines the train storage market. He appears to be a man, who builds a strategy around facts and then pounces.

To do this he would need to have.

  • Good advisers, with excellent knowledge of and contacts in the UK Rail and European rail industry.
  • Reliable financial backing.
  • The ability to give a good story to the media.

It appears, Karl could have used similar tactics, when he commissioned ten Class 93 locomotives from Stadler, that I wrote about in Stadler’s New Tri-Mode Class 93 Locomotive.

He puts forward some firm views and facts.

  • 4,000 vehicles are coming off-lease.
  • 46-47 miles of track will be needed.
  • 313s, 314s and 315s will be scrapped.
  • 317s, 319s, 321s and 442s will be re-engineered.

The customer gets what they want with appropriate servicing and maintenance.

 

 

January 4, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

An Analysis Of Waterloo Suburban Services Proposed To Move To Crossrail 2

I wrote this post in January 2017, when I decided to cut this out of my original post of A Hard Look At Crossrail 2.

Nearly two years later, I decided to update the post after the new platforms have reopened at Waterloo station.

I wrote Is This One Of The Best Platform Access Routes In Europe?, after the access to the new platforms was substantially completed in May 2019.

This has meant a further upgrade has been incorporated.

The Waterloo Suburban Services Proposed To Move To Crossrail 2

These suburban termini and their routes into Waterloo station are proposed  to be connected to Crossrail 2.

  1. Chessington South – 34 minutes – 9 stops
  2. Epsom – 37 minutes – 9 stops
  3. Hampton Court – 36 minutes – 9 stops
  4. Shepperton – 51 minutes – 14 stops

The times are for a typical one-way journey from Waterloo, which usually has a frequency of two trains per hour (tph).

I suspect that the timings are designed, so that they can be achieved by a 75 mph Class 455 train.

An Upgraded Waterloo Station

Waterloo station is getting a massive upgrade in August 2017, which I describe in detail in What Is Happening At Waterloo In August?.

That upgrade has now opened and is now substantiallycomplete in May 2019.

After the upgrade, Waterloo station will handle the suburban services better than it does today.

  • There will be five extra platforms, with the reopening of the platforms 20 to 24 in Waterloo International.
  • Together these platforms should be able to handle another twenty tph.
  • There will be longer platforms, which will all be able to take twelve-car trains.
  • There will be an improved track layout, both in Waterloo and on the approach.
  • There will be related improvements to improve access to the Underground and the Waterloo and City Line at Waterloo station.

All this should mean Waterloo station, will be capable of handling a substantial increase in trains and passengers, with an improvement in efficiency and comfort.

As I said in Rail Engineer On New Platforms At London Waterloo, the number of passengers handled in a year will increase by twenty-five percent.

Improvements On The Branches

Each branch has its own problems, but the following would help in various places.

  • More step-free access.
  • Some level crossings on the branches can probably be removed..
  • Improved access to onward services like buses, cycling and walking at some stations.
  • Some trackwork to allow Crossrail 2’s proposed frequency of 4 tph.

These improvements will generally be needed, whether the services terminate in Waterloo or are a part of Crossrail 2.

New Trains

Currently, suburban services out of Waterloo are run by a large mixed fleet of generally excellent trains.

This gives 264 four-car trains and 60 five-car trains with a total of 1137 carriages.

South Western Railway are purchasing 30 five-car and sixty ten-car new Aventras with a total of 750 carriages.

The Class 707 trains and the Aventras could offer serious performance improvements, as they are probably designed to be able to have a short as possible time, for a stop at a station.

In an ideal world, all trains running these branches would be identical and all platforms would be designed to fit them perfectly, just as many Overground platforms, fit the Class 378 trains.

Crossrail 2 would do this, with possibly the same Class 345 trains, that have been developed for Crossrail.

But why shouldn’t the routes be worked by a homogeneous fleet, serving platforms and stations designed for the trains?

I believe that Crossrail 2 could make no extra difference to the passenger going between these branches and Central London, except for the route from Wimbledon, which will be in tunnel.

But the new Aventra trains will have three very big effects.

  • They will be walk-through ten-car trains.
  • They will have much better capacity for bags, cases and all the other paraphernalia passengers bring.

But most importantly, if they live up to the claims of train manufacturers, the high performance, well-designed trains with a consistent train-platform interface will save as much as three minutes a station.

  • Trains will stop from line speed faster.
  • Trains will accelerate back to line speed faster.
  • Bigger lobbies, will enable passengers to load and unload faster.
  • Wheelchair passengers and buggy pushers would roll across on the flat.
  • Regenerative braking and light weight will save the train operating company in electricity and train access costs.

Until we get actual figures, even one minute a stop, would reduce times on the branches as follows. Figures in brackets are for two minutes a station.

  1. Chessington South – 25 minutes (16)
  2. Epsom -28 minutes (19)
  3. Hampton Court – 27 minutes (18)
  4. Shepperton -37 minutes (23)

Note that the first three services are now under half-an-hour, without making any allowance that the timings will be for a 100 mph train with better performance, than the 75 mph Class 455 trains.

Is Four Trains Per Hour Possible?

If the round trip from Waterloo can be done in an hour, that means that just two ten-car trains can provide a 2 tph service, as opposed to the four trains now needed.

I suspect that South Western Railway will be experimenting to see if they can get a Shepperton round trip in under the hour.

It may seem difficult, but there are certain factors in their favour.

  • The Shepperton Branch Line is self-contained after it leaves the Kingston Loop Line.
  • It is double-track, so there is no passing loop problems.
  • There are no level crossings.
  • The stations on the branch are fairly evenly-spaced at just over a mile apart.

If a total out-and-back time from Waterloo could be under an hour for each branch, this would mean that a 4 tph service on a branch, would need just four trains.

So for each branch to have 4 tph would need just 16 ten-car trains, with similar performance and characteristics to Class 707 trains or the Aventras.

Currently, to provide a 2 tph service, needs sixteen trains, because it takes over an hour to do a complete round trip.

Would it be possible for trains to shuttle up and down these branches?

Look at the example of the East London Line, where four tph shuttle between dedicated platforms at Highbury and Islington and Dalston Junction stations in the North of London to various destinations in the South.

In Increased Frequencies On The East London Line, I reported on Transport for London’s plans to up the frequency on this line to 20 tph.

So could we be seeing something similar at Waterloo, where trains to Chessington South, Epsom, Hampton Court and Shepperton stations, each have their own dedicated platforms?

The four platforms could even be adjacent, so if you want Wimbledon or a station common to more than one branch, displays would lead you to the first train.

Put simply to provide 4 tph for all branches would need 16 modern ten-car trains and four dedicated platforms at Waterloo. How efficient is that for passengers and train operating companies?

Crossrail 2’s Proposals For Services On The Branches

Wikipedia says this about Crossrail 2 services to these suburban branches, after surfacing from the tunnel South of Wimbledon station.

I think that Wimbledon will have to handle perhaps another 8 tph from other places on the fast lines. But they do that now!

Between Wimbledon And Waterloo

South Western Railway have not disclosed their hand yet, but I suspect that they are doing the maths.

I think that it will be possible for a 4 tph Crossrail 2 service and all the other slow services between Wimbledon and Waterloo to use a single pair of tracks carrying 20 tph.

Surely, if 20 tph can be handled on the East London Line with ten year old signalling technology and Class 378 trains, then this frequency can be handled with modern signalling and new Aventras.

It should be noted that Crossrail and Thameslink can both handle 24 tph under Automatic Train Operation (ATO) in a tunnel, so surely the slow lines can handle 20 tph on the surface under ATO or just using plain good driving.

There could even be capacity for some extra services.

Wimbledon Station

Wimbledon station would only need two platforms for these services, but I do feel that work would need to be done to accommodate the passengers.

But the station would probably not need the massive modifications until it was decided to build the Crossrail 2 tunnel.

Clapham Junction Station

If all these trains can be accommodated on just two tracks between Waterloo and Wimbledon, then these services could call at two dedicated platforms at Clapham Junction station.

  • All trains would stop.
  • Staff and passengers would see a succession of identical trains stopping every three minutes.
  • Passengers would have a maximum wait for fifteen minutes for a direct train, to their specific destination.
  • All trains to stations on the branches would use the same platform, making it easy for passengers.
  • As on the East London Line, trains for any station on the branches would be to a clock-face pattern.

The two platforms could be opposite faces of an island platform, with a waiting room, cafe and toilets in the middle.

Vauxhall Station

If it can be done at Clapham Junction station, why not have a dedicated pair of platforms at Vauxhall station, giving access to the Victoria Line?

I use the link at Vauxhall, between the Victoria Line and Waterloo suburban services occasionally and every time I do, it seems to have been improved.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines at Vauxhall station.

Lines At Vauxhall

Lines At Vauxhall

I think it is true to say, that if the Victoria Line had been built in the last decade or so, the Victoria Line station could have been placed underneath the main line station.

But even so, I suspect Network Rail and Transport for London have ideas to improve the interchange.

Only Sixteen Ten-Car Aventras Will Be Needed

My calculations show that modern 100 mph trains, like the Aventras that South Western Railway have ordered could provide 4 tph on the Crossrail 2 routes with just sixteen ten-car trains.

All the calculations I’ve done show that replacing trains with faster modern ones, increases the frequency and results in more efficient use of trains.

South Western Railway have bought sixty of these trains.

So they must have some impressive plans!

Conclusion

Crossrail 2’s proposals for the suburban branch lines from Waterloo to the four destinations of Chessington South, Epsom, Hampton Court and Shepperton stations, can be fulfilled using the following.

  • More platform capacity in Waterloo.
  • Modern high-performance 100 mph trains like Class 707 trains or Aventras.
  • Some improvements to track and signals between Waterloo and Wimbledon stations.
  • Wimbledon station would only need minor modifications.
  • A measure of ATO between Waterloo and Wimbledon stations.

What effect will this have on the design of Crossrail 2?

 

December 12, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments