The Anonymous Widower

Stadler Presents Mock-Up Of Tram-Trains For German And Austrian Operators

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

This is the first paragraph.

A mock-up of the Citylink tram-trains that Stadler is to supply to operators in Karlsruhe, Saarbrücken, Neckar-Alb, Oberösterreich and Salzburg was unveiled at the Betriebshof West depot in Karlsruhe on December 13.

This is the most interesting paragraph.

‘Maximum standardisation and the fact that the order was shared between different operating companies reduces the costs by to up to €1m per vehicle’, said Karlsruhe Mayor Frank Mentrup at the unveiling ceremony.

It shows the value of standardisation and large orders.

December 29, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 7 Comments

Leading Transport Experts To Explore Innovative Options For The Watford To Croxley Link

The title of this post, is the same as that of this news item on the Watford Borough Council web site.

The news item starts with this sub-title.

A wide range of proposals to bring a long disused stretch of railway back to life as a key transport link between Watford and Croxley Green are to be explored…

These four paragraphs then outline what is to be done.

A wide range of proposals to bring a long disused stretch of railway back to life as a key transport link between Watford and Croxley Green are to be explored by three leading travel and transport consultancies.

Atkins, SYSTRA UK and Wood Group will work in partnership with Hertfordshire County Council, Watford Borough Council, Three Rivers District Council and Network Rail to provide innovative solutions to improve connectivity within the area.

The transport link will connect important areas of Watford like the town centre, hospital, Watford FC and Croxley Park with Croxley Green and Watford Junction and the travel network beyond.

Securing the right solution is an important part of the overall plans of the partnership and Network Rail for future cleaner, healthier and greener travel in the area for the benefit of residents, visitors and commuters.

Note.

SYSTRA UK and the Wood Group are respected consultancies.

The main railway station, town centre, football ground and the hospital should be connected together by decent public transport. In Watford, as in many towns, they currently are a long walk or a taxi.

Watford Junction and Croxley stations will be connected together.

These are my thoughts.

The Abbey Line

I believe that the Abbey Line, which links Watford Junction and St. Albans Abbey stations should be included in any proposals.

  • It has a rather unusual timetable with trains running every forty-five minutes.
  • Proposals exist for a passing loop, which would allow two trains per hour (tph)
  • All stations only have a single platform.

If it were updated to a modern railway, it would be a valuable asset with charm.

Connecting St. Albans Abbey And St. Albans City Stations

This map from OpenRailwayMap shows the two stations.

Note.

  1. The yellow line in the South-West corner  is the Abbey Line that terminates in St. Albans Abbey station.
  2. The orange line is the Midland Main Line passes through St. Albans City station.
  3. The dotted line crossing the Midland Main Line and linking to the Abbey Line is a disused railway that has been converted into the St, Albans Way.

Tram-trains with a tight turning circle might be able to use the Abbey Line and with selected use of street running be able visit the City Centre and terminate at St. Albans City station.

Connecting The Abbey Line And The London Overground

This map from OpenRailwayMap, shows the track layout at Watford Junction station.

Note.

  1. The orange tracks are the West Coast Main Line.
  2. The yellow track to the North of the West Coast Main Line is the Abbey Line.
  3. The yellow track to the South of the West Coast Main Line is the Watford DC Line of the London Overground.

If you were using tram-trains, like the Class 399 tram-trains on the Abbey Line, I suspect a single-track dive-under could connect the Abbey Line with the Overground tracks to Watford High Street station.

Why Tram-Trains?

Tram-Trains have advantages in a scheme like this.

  • They can run as trams on the streets.
  • They can run as trains on railway tracks.
  • They can use lightweight catenary, which is quicker and more affordable to erect.
  • They are narrower and lighter than trains.
  • They have a tighter turning circle than trains.

But most importantly, tram-trains have been running successfully in Sheffield for several years.

The Eastern Section Of The Croxley Rail Link

This map from OpenRailwayMap shows the Eastern section of the Croxley Rail Link.

Note.

  1. The yellow track is the Watford DC Line, which goes through Watford High Street station.
  2. A disused line runs via the Croxley Green Chord to the disused stations of Croxley Green, Watford Stadium and Watford West.
  3. Vicarage Road and Watford General Hospital are to the North of the disused line.

The original plan for the Croxley Rail Link would have seen a double-track along the line of the old railway with stations at Vicarage Road and Watford General Hospital.

I don’t see why tram-trains could join the Watford DC Line to the South of Watford Junction station, go through Watford High Street station and then continue along the reinstated track.

The Western Section Of The Croxley Rail Link

This map from OpenRailwayMap shows the Western section of the Croxley Rail Link.

Note.

  1. The blue track is the Metropolitan Line, which runs to  Watford station.
  2. The disused line runs West from the former Watford West station to the roundabout at Croxley Green on the A 412.

The original plan involved a large double-track viaduct, which is shown in this visualisation from the Watford Observer.

Note that the roundabout is the Croxley Green roundabout.

This Google Map shows the Croxley Green roundabout.

Note.

  1. The Metropolitan Line to Watford station runs across the North-West corner of the map.
  2. The Croxley Green roundabout is the roundabout in the West of the map.
  3. The disused railway runs from South of the roundabout to the South-East corner of the map.
  4. The proposed Cassiobridge station would be in the South-East corner of the map.

I wonder, if it would be possible to build a Croxley Green station to the South of the roundabout.

This would be an interim solution until it is worked out how to connect the Croxley Link to the Metropolitan Line.

Solutions could be.

  • The original solution of a massive flyover, which would be very expensive and disruptive to build.
  • Street-run the tram-train, which I feel are needed on the Croxley Link to Croxley station.
  • Build a Croxley Green station on the Metropolitan Line to the North of the roundabout.

I think that experienced transport planners can find an acceptable solution.

August 27, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Cardiff Northwest Corridor Tram-Train Report Published

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Proposals have been published for the development of a tram-train network to serve housing developments on the Northwest Corridor between Cardiff and Llantrisant.

And this paragraph describes the route.

The report looks at a route making use of the existing City Line railway from Cardiff and then following a safeguarded former railway alignment to M4 Junction 33 and Creigiau. Possible extensions could run from Creigiau to Cross Inn and Pontyclun and from Cross Inn to Miskin, Talbot Green, Llantrisant and Beddau.

This map shows the route from the City Line to Creigiau.

Note.

  1. The City Line to Radyr passing through Waun-Gron Park, Fairwater and Danescourt, which is shown in yellow.
  2. The South Wales Main Line running across the bottom of the map, which is shown in orange.
  3. The M4 running Westerly from the North-East corner of the map.
  4. The A4232 runs North-South and meets the M4 at Junction 33.
  5. Creigiau is in the North-West corner of the map.

The route of the tram-train would follow the route of the disused railway between the City Line and Creigiau, which is shown as a dotted line, identified with the code LTO.

This second map from OpenRailwayMap shows the area around Junction 33 of the M4.

Note.

  1. The M4 going across the map.
  2. The A4232 going South from Junction 33.
  3. The proposed tram-train line passing to the East of Junction 33.

I suspect that as there is a BP petrol station and a Travel Lodge at the junction, there is a lot of scope to create a comprehensive Park-and-Ride hub for Cardiff, that would be served by the new tram-train.

The third OpenRailwayMap shows the various routes from Creigiau.

Note.

  1. Creigiau is in the South-East corner of the map.
  2. Cross Inn is in the middle of the map.
  3. The South Wales Main Line, which is shown in orange, cuts across the the South-West corner of the map.

The ultimate destinations of Miskin, Pontyclun, Talbot Green, Llantrisant and Beddau all have disused railway tracks leading to Cross Inn.

Serving The Royal Mint

The Royal Mint moved to Llantrisant in the late 1960s and it could be served by the tram-train, as it is to the North of the town, close to a disused railway line.

I must admit, I am very surprised, that a company that employs 10,000 people doesn’t have a nearby railway station.

But then the move of the Royal Mail to Wales was planned by Harold Wilson’s government, which was led by a man, who believed that railways were irrelevant and everybody should have their own cars.

 

 

 

 

June 15, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Six Operators Award Joint Contract For Up To 504 Tram-Trains

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

These are the first three paragraphs.

A consortium of six German and Austrian transport bodies has awarded Stadler a framework contract for the supply and maintenance of up 504 tram-trains worth €4bn, the largest contract in the Swiss company’s history.

The VDV TramTrain framework contract was awarded on January 14 by Karlsruhe’s VBK and AVG, Saarbrücken’s Saarbahn Netz, Schiene Oberösterreich, the Land of Salzburg and Zweckverband Regional-Stadtbahn Neckar-Alb.

It includes a €1·7bn firm order for the supply of 246 Citylink tram-trains over 10 years from 2024, and the provision of 16 years of maintenance. There are options to order up to 258 more vehicles and to extend the maintenance to 32 years.

That will keep the factories running for a few years.

Note that all these Stadler Citylink tram-trains are similar to the Class 399 tram-trains, that run between Sheffield and Rotherham.

More Stadler Citylink tram-trains will start running in the next couple of years in Cardiff.

I can also envisage these tram-trains being used on the following projects in the UK, if they were to go ahead.

Note.

  1. Six are extensions to the Sheffield Supertram network.
  2. Three projects are extensions to the Manchester Metrolink.
  3. These are possible orders, that if the projects go ahead would likely have Stadler Citylink as the first choice of tram!
  4. All the tram-trains would be of a similar design.

How many other projects are under discussion in Europe?

Conclusion

Stadler have designed a tram-train that everybody likes and that generates orders.

I think Stadler will soon need to increase production of these Citylink tram-trains.

January 19, 2022 Posted by | Business, Transport/Travel | , , , | 3 Comments

Karlsruhe Kombilösung Tram Tunnels Inaugurated

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

I first came to Karlsruhe to see the tram-trains in 2015 and wrote about them in Exploring Karlsruhe And Its Trams And Tram/Trains.

I couldn’t help notice, that the good citizens of Karlsruhe were digging a tunnel for tram-trains, all the way along their equivalent of Oxford Street.

I said this.

It will certainly be worth returning to Karlsruhe, when the tunnel is complete and the network is expanded.

So now almost seven years after that first visit, the €1·5bn project has been completed and I had better think about returning.

January 10, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Szeged Tram-Train Service Inaugurated

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

This is the first paragraph.

The country’s first public tram-train service left Hódmezővásárhely for Szeged at 03.31 on November 29, with guests onboard including János Lázár, the government’s special commissioner for the project, and László Palkovics, Minister of Innovation & Technology.

They are obviously early starters in Hungary.

The Szeged-Hódmezővásárhely Tram-Train has its own Wikipedia entry.

From the Railway Gazette article and Wikipedia, I can ascertain the following.

  • It is a 32 km route.
  • Journey time will be 51 minutes, with an Off Peak frequency of two trains per hour (tph), with three tph in the Peak.
  • The main stations in Hódmezővásárhely and Szeged are served.
  • The route between the two cities is not electrified, but has been partially-upgraded to double-track and the speed has been upgraded to 100 kph.
  • In both central districts the vehicles run as tram-trains.

The rolling stock will be electro-diesel versions of Stadler Citylink tram-trains.

This pictures show  Sheffield Supertram’s Class 399 tram-trains, which are also members of the Stadler Citylink family.

The two tram-trains would appear to be very similar in terms of cab design, passenger compartment and an operating speed of 100 kph.

The question has to be asked, if Sheffield could expand their Supertram network with some electro-diesel tram-trains.

They could be ideal for the proposed service to Stocksbridge, that I wrote about in Reopening The Don Valley Section Of The Former Woodhead Line Between Stocksbridge and Sheffield Victoria To Passenger Services.

The route could be tested using diesel engines on sections without electrification and if the route attracted enough passengers, electrification could be erected.

 

December 6, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Liverpool’s Vision For Rail

This document on the Liverpool City Region web site is entitled Metro Mayor’s Vision Of A Merseyrail for All Takes Vital Step Forward With Successful Trial Of New Battery-Powered Trains.

It makes these points in the first part of the document.

  • Game-changing technology paves way for Merseyrail network expansion across the Liverpool City Region and beyond
  • Merseyrail services could reach as far as Wrexham and Preston
  • City Region is at the forefront of the introduction of pioneering energy efficient technology.

The new battery-powered trains would certainly go a long way to  enable, these objectives.

  • Battery-powered trains would need a range of 26.9 miles to go between Bidston and Wrexham stations.
  • Battery-powered trains would need a range of 15.3 miles to go between Ormskirk and Preston stations.

This link is to the North Cheshire Rail User Group’s Newsletter for Spring 2021.

This is said about battery range of the new Class 777 trains.

Later model Class 777’s have the ability to leave the 3rd rail and operate under battery power for 20 miles or more with a full load thus
permitting expansion of the Merseyrail network beyond its current limits.

I suspect they will also have regenerative braking to batteries, which will increase the range and allow Preston and Wrexham stations to be achieved without charge.

It certainly sounds like Preston and Wrexham and all the intermediate stations,  will be added to the Merseyrail network.

As to the third point above about the introduction of pioneering energy efficient technology, I suspect this is mainly regenerative braking to batteries and replacement of elderly worn-out power supply equipment.

There is more in the Liverpool City Region document.

Expanding Merseyrail

This is said.

The game-changing technology could allow the Merseyrail network to extend across all six city region boroughs to places like Rainhill in St Helens, Woodchurch on the Wirral and Widnes in Halton.

It could also allow the new fleet to operate as far afield as Skelmersdale, Wrexham, Warrington and Runcorn.

Note.

  1. A 25 KVAC capability could well be needed. But that is built into the Class 777 trains.
  2. Chargers could be needed at some of these stations. I suspect Stadler have a Swiss manufacturer in mind.

In the run-up to May’s elections, the Mayor pledged to deliver ‘Merseyrail for All, a commitment to connecting under-served communities to the Merseyrail network.

New Stations

Initially the battery-powered trains, which are considerably greener, using up to 30% less energy than the existing fleet, are set to run on services to a planned new station at Headbolt Lane, Kirkby.

The wider Merseyrail for All programme could ensure every community is well served by an integrated public transport network and new and refurbished train stations are also high on the agenda.

They could include:

  • The Baltic Triangle in Liverpool
  • Carr Mill in St Helens
  • Woodchurch on the Wirral

Note.

Tram-Trains And Trackless Trams

The document says this.

Tram-Train technology and trackless trams will also be looked at as potential means of extending the Merseyrail network into hard-to-reach places. The technology could benefit areas such as Liverpool John Lennon Airport and Speke, Kirkby Town Centre, Southport Town Centre, Wirral Waters and the Knowledge Quarter.

Tram-trains built by Stadler in Valencia are already running in Sheffield and in the next few years they should be deployed on the South Wales Metro.

TStadler are also building Merseyrail’s new Class 777 trains, so I suspect they’ll go together like peaches and cream.

The Belgian firm; Van Hool have a product called Exquicity. This video shows them working in Pau in France.

These tram buses run on rubber types and are powered by hydrogen.

Similar buses running in Belfast are diesel-electric.

Could these be what the document refers to as trackless trams?

Battery Train Trials

The article finishes with this summary of the battery train trials. This is said.

Under the battery trials, financed by the Transforming Cities Fund, one of the new class 777 trains fitted with the battery technology was tested on the Northern line.

The batteries exceeded expectations with the trains travelling up to 20 miles per run without the need for re-charging.

The battery trains would remove the need for the third ‘electric’ rail, enabling the trains to travel beyond the existing network without major track investment.

The units passed all tests during four weeks of trials on the City Region’s rail network in May and June.

The Combined Authority and partners are still assessing the full impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on the programme and will provide more information regarding the roll out as soon as it has been agreed.

It looks to me, if all these plans get implemented successfully, Liverpool City Region will have one of the best public transport systems of any similar-sized cities in the world.

The Full Plan As A Map

This article on the BBC is entitled Battery-Powered Trains Part Of Merseyrail Expansion Plan.

The article contains this map.

There is no key or explanation, but it appears that the pink lines are new routes, where Merseyrail will run trains.

Before I discuss each of the possible routes, I will discuss two big factors, that will affect a lot of my thinking.

The West Coast Main Line

Avanti West Coast have the following stops in trains per hour (tph)  at these stations on the West Coast Main Line as its trains pass the East of Merseyside to and from London Euston.

  • Crewe – At least 5 tph
  • Warrington Bank Quay – At least 2 tph
  • Preston – At least 1 tph

These frequencies are in addition to these direct trains from London Euston.

  • 1 tph to Liverpool Lime Street, which will rise to 2 tph in the December 2022, with a call at Liverpool South Parkway station.
  • Occasional services to Chester throughout the day.

Passengers do not have to go via Liverpool Lime Street to travel to London.

In addition. there are useful services run by TransPennine Express between Liverpool Lime Street and Scotland, that call at Preston.

In Future; High Speed Two

This will call at Crewe, Liverpool Lime Street, Liverpool South Parkway, Preston and Warrington.

Northern Trains

Northern Trains were in all sorts of troubles and the service is now run directly by the Government’s Operator of Last Resort. I suspect that any reasonable offer to takeover over a service will be looked at favourably.

I will now look at Merseyrail’s new routes.

Ormskirk And Southport Via The Burscough Curve

Consider.

  • This route has been a long term aspiration of Merseyrail.
  • A curve between Burscough Bridge and Burscough Junction will have to be rebuilt on a former alignment.
  • Southport and Ormskirk are about 13 miles apart.
  • Southport and Ormskirk have third-rail electrified lines to Liverpool and the South.

It would be an ideal route for battery-electric trains with a range of 20 miles.

What would it do for passengers?

  • It gives those living near five stations a direct link to Liverpool.
  • It gives Southport a town of over 91,000 people more capacity to the city of Liverpool for jobs, leisure and shopping.
  • Will it open up more opportunities for new housing in villages like Burscough?

It will certainly give Merseyrail operational advantages to Southport.

Ormskirk And Preston

Consider.

  • Takeover of this Northern Trains route has been a long term aspiration of Merseyrail.
  • Preston and Ormskirk are about 15.3 miles and 32 minutes apart.
  • Omskirk has 750 VDC third-rail electrification and Preston has 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • The Class 777 trains have been built so they can be updated to dual voltage.

It certainly looks to be a route that could be handled by a battery-electric Class 777 train.

What would it do for passengers?

  • It gives those living near the Ormskirk and Preston Line a direct link to Liverpool.
  • It creates a direct link in modern electric trains between North Liverpool and Preston, for onward travel on West Coast Main Line services and High Speed Two in the future.
  • The journey time could be reduced to under thirty minutes.

As football is so important to the Liverpool economy, would a time around forty-five minutes between Preston and Sandhills station tempt football supporters going to Anfield and Goodison Park to use the train and then perhaps a trackless tram to the stadium?

This Google map shows the location of Anfield, Goodison Park and Sandhills station.

Note.

  1. Anfield is in the bottom-right corner of the map and is marked by a red arrow.
  2. Goodison is in the top-right corner of the map, slightly to the West of Anfield.
  3. Sandhills station is in the bottom-left corner of the map.

Both stadia are around a mile and a half from the station.

Southport And Preston

Once the Ormskirk and Southport and Ormskirk and Preston services are up and running, it would surely be possible to run a Southport and Preston service.

  • There would be a reverse at Ormskirk.
  • The two sections of Ormskirk and Southport and Ormskirk and Preston would both need battery power.
  • Whilst the driver changed ends at Ormskirk, the train would be recharged using a fast and efficient charger.
  • Times between Southport and Preston would be under an hour.

It certainly looks to be a route that could be handled by a battery-electric Class 777 train.

What would it do for passengers?

  • It gives those living in Southport, a direct link to Preston.
  • It creates a direct link in modern electric trains between Southport and Preston, for onward travel on West Coast Main Line services and High Speed Two in the future.

This service could be very valuable for passengers, but I suspect the route could be implemented with minimal infrastructure changes at Ormskirk station.

Ormskirk Station

This picture shows Ormskirk’s single platform from the Merseyrail end.

Note.

  1. The Liverpool train in the foreground.
  2. The Preston train in the background.
  3. The solid barrier between the trains.

 

I wonder if the following would be possible with the barrier removed.

  • The long platform would be treated as one platform divided into two.
  • Perhaps they will be the Liverpool and Preston/Southport platform,
  • Trains that will leave the station for Liverpool will stop in the Liverpool platform.
  • Trains that will leave the station for Preston or Southport will stop in the Preston/Southport platform.
  • Through trains between Liverpool and Preston or Southport would be possible.
  • A train between Preston and Southport could reverse in the Preston/Southport platform, whilst trains for Liverpool used the Liverpool platform.

It looks like it’s an efficient layout borrowed from somewhere else. and Stadler have probably seen it before.

Headbolt Lane Station

In Headbolt Lane Station Fly-Through, I described the new Headbolt Lane station.

This screen capture is from the video in that post,

Note.

  1. Two platforms going away from the camera and one platform and what looks to be a siding going towards the camera.
  2. There appears to be no direct connection between the two different sets of tracks.

Until proven wrong, I believe that the camera is looking towards Liverpool, as it would mean that Liverpool services had two platforms. But they currently make do with one at Kirkby.

There is a walk through between the tracks, which

  • Enables passengers to access the second platform.
  • Allows passengers to enter the station from the other side.
  • Allows non-passengers to cross the tracks on the level.
  • Avoids the need to build a bridge.

It is certainly an innovative design.

If occasional trains need to go through, could there be a lift-out section of the walk-through?

But as there are buffer stops on the tracks in the three platforms, that are either side of the walk-through, I suspect it will never happen, as it’s too much hassle.

In the Wikipedia entry for Headbolt Lane station this is said.

The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority announced in July 2021 that a trial of a battery electric multiple unit (BEMU) version of the new Class 777 will serve the new station, when it opens. This will not require all of the line extension to Headbolt Lane to be electrified.

Merseyrail would appear to have neatly side-stepped, the Office of Road and Rail’s policy of no more third-rail electrification.

But I’m sure Merseyrail could put an approved train-charging system in the station.

  • They would need one if a Class 777 train arrived with a flat battery.
  • They would need one to charge trains on the Headbolt Lane and Skelmersdale service, if the service were to be run by battery-electric trains.
  • They would need one to charge trains on the Headbolt Lane and Wigan Wallgate service, if the service were to be run by battery-electric trains.

The system could be based on a short length of overhead wire and a slim pantograph or a system like Railbaar from Furrer + Frey.

But does it give any clues as to the orientation of the station in the video?

  • As there are three platforms and a siding, that meet at Headbolt Lane station, all could be fitted with chargers. to make sure the services are reliable.
  • Liverpool services could be handled at either end, as it only needs one platform.
  • Skelmersdale and Wigan services could probably share a platform, but they would be better surely using two platforms.
  • The siding could be created into a platform for extra services to be added to the Merseyrail network

So there is no pressing reason, why the station cannot be North or South of the railway.

I suspect road layout and land use issues will eventually decide, the orientation of the station.

Headbolt Lane And Skelmersdale

Consider.

  • This has been a long term aspiration of Merseyrail and Lancashire County Council.
  • Headbolt Lane and Skelmersdale are just a few miles apart.
  • Direct running between Liverpool and Skelmersdale will not be possible, but it will be a step-free change between trains.

The Wikipedia entry for Headbolt Lane station seems to indicate a proposed extension of the Northern Line with the next stop being the existing Rainford station. This would surely not add greatly to costs and bring Merseyrail to more fare-paying customers.

It certainly looks to be a route that could be handled by a battery-electric Class 777 train.

What would it do for passengers?

  • Skelmersdale is a town of nearly 39,000 and is said to be one of the largest towns in England without a rail connection.
  • At Headbolt Lane passengers will be able to change for Liverpool or Manchester.

A lot of passengers will have received a modern train service.

Headbolt Lane And Wigan

Consider.

  • This service is currently run by Northern trains.
  • Kirkby and Wigan Wallgate stations are just over twelve miles apart.
  • Someone, who should know told me that by the time High Speed Two starts running through Wigan at a frequency of two tph, the two Wigan stations will have been combined.
  • Headbolt Lane station could be the drop-off point for those needing to go to Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow and London on both the current West Coast Main Line and the future High Speed Two.

What better way to start that journey than on one of Merseyrail’s battery-electric Class 777 trains.

What would it do for passengers?

With modern battery-electric trains linking Headbolt Lane station to the combined Wigan station complex, this route could be the zero-carbon route between large parts of Liverpool and cantres of tourism and employment along and to the East of the M6 and the West Coast Main Line.

Liverpool South Parkway And Warrington Central

Consider.

  • This would be takeover of part of the current Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Oxford Road service.
  • The map shows the service going at least as far as Warrington Central station.
  • Stations between Hunts Cross and Warrington Central include Halewood, Hough Green, Widnes, Sankey and the new Warrington West stations.

Distances are as follows.

  • Liverpool South Parkway and Liverpool Lime Street – 5.5 miles
  • Liverpool South Parkway and Warrington Central – 12.7 miles
  • Liverpool South Parkway and Trafford Park – 25.4 miles
  • Liverpool South Parkway and Manchester Oxford Road – 28.7 miles

The following sections of the route have 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

  • Liverpool South Parkway and Liverpool Lime Street
  • East of Trafford Park.

With a bit more electrification at either end, the whole route should be in range of a battery-electric Class 777 train.

Or the Class 777 trains could be fitted with bigger batteries!

It certainly looks to be a route that could be handled by a battery-electric Class 777 train.

What would it do for passengers?

  • This is a route that has needed decent trains for years and has finally got new Class 195 trains.
  • But, in addition, the battery-electric Class 777 trains would decarbonise the route.

The major problem, though is not infrastructure or trains, but surely Andy Burnham, who is the outspoken Mayor of Greater Manchester and could object to Merseyrail invading his patch.

Merseyrail’s Cheshire Ambitions

This is a section of the map shown on the BBC article, showing Cheshire.

It looks like there could be as many as three routes.

  • Chester and Crewe
  • Chester and Runcorn East
  • Ellesmere Port and Runcorn East

I’ll now cover the routes in detail.

Chester And Crewe

Consider.

  • This would be a takeover by Merseyrail of the existing Trains for Wales service.
  • Chester And Crewe are about 21,2 miles and 25 minutes apart.
  • Chester has 750 VDC third-rail electrification and Crewe has 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • The Class 777 trains have been built so they can be updated to dual voltage.
  • There is a proposal, that Beeston Castle and Tarporley station be re-opened.

It certainly looks to be a route that could be handled by a battery-electric Class 777 train.

What would it do for passengers?

  • If trains will run between Crewe and Liverpool, this creates a second route between the two major stations.
  • It creates a direct link in modern electric trains between The Wirral and Crewe, for onward travel on West Coast Main Line services and High Speed Two in the future.
  • The journey time could be reduced by enough to increase service frequency on the route.

I This would be a very useful extension of the Merseyrail network.

Chester And Runcorn East

Consider.

  • This would be a takeover by Merseyrail of the existing Trains for Wales service.
  • Chester And Runcorn East are about 13.1 miles apart.
  • Two stations and five miles further on is Warrington Bank Quay station.
  • Chester has 750 VDC third-rail electrification and Warrington Bank Quay has 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • The Class 777 trains have been built so they can be updated to dual voltage.

It certainly looks to be a route that could be handled by a battery-electric Class 777 train.

What would it do for passengers?

  • It would enable a Merseyrail circular route from Liverpool Lime Street to Chester via Edge Hill, Wavertree Technology Park, Broad Green, Roby, Huyton, Whiston, Rainhill, Lea Green, St Helens Junction, Warrington Bank Quay, Frodsham, Runcorn East and Helsby.
  • After Chester, it could take the Wirral Line back to Liverpool to make it a true Mersey Circular service.

Would a Mersey Circular service be a good idea?

Ellesmere Port And Runcorn East

Consider.

  • This been a long term aspiration of Merseyrail.
  • This would be a takeover by Merseyrail of the infrequent Northern Rail service.
  • Ellesmere Port And Runcorn East are about 10.8 miles apart.
  • Two stations and five miles further on is Warrington Bank Quay station.
  • Ellesmere Port has 750 VDC third-rail electrification and Warrington Bank Quay has 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • The Class 777 trains have been built so they can be updated to dual voltage.

It certainly looks to be a route that could be handled by a battery-electric Class 777 train.

What would it do for passengers?

  • It would certainly improve rail transport along the South Bank of the Mersey from Ellesmere Port to Warrington Bank Quay or Runcorn East depending on the Eastern terminus.
  • If the terminal were to be Warrington Bank Quay that would sort out the charging.
  • It could create a direct link in modern electric trains between Ellesmere Port and Warrington Bank Quay, for onward travel on West Coast Main Line services and High Speed Two in the future.

I feel that an Ellesmere Port and Warrington Bank Quay service would be good for the area.

The Borderlands Line

I’ve left the Borderlands Line to last, as I feel it will be a lot more than commuter and leisure line between Liverpool and Wrexham.

  • It crosses the border between England and Wales
  • The line is 26.9 miles of double track, with a single-track extension of under two miles between the two Wrexham stations.
  • It has over twenty stations with more planned in both countries
  • It crosses a couple of rivers on long steel bridges.
  • It brings commuters to Liverpool and takes workers to the high-tech factories of companies like Airbus and Toyota on Deeside.
  • It connects to a lot of golf courses, one of which is the Open Championship course  at Royal Liverpool.
  • Once in Wales it has two connections to the North Wales Coast Line, which runs between Chester and holyhead.

It is no ordinary railway and is ripe for improvement to bridge passengers to employment sites and leisure areas along its route.

The line has one big problem in that passengers need to change trains at Bidston between Liverpool and Wrexham stations.

  • Between Bidston and Liverpool the Merseyrail electric trains to and from  Hoylake are used and they turn in the Liverpool Loop under Liverpool City Centre calling at four stations before returning.
  • Between Bidston and Wrexham, diesel multiple units are used.

It is a route design straight out of the 1970s of men with minds without imagination. Even British Rail were designing battery-electric trains in the 1950s, which I wrote about in Did The Queen Ever Ride In This Train?.

Merseyrail intend to right the wrongs of the past using battery-electric Class 777 trains.

  • As electric versions of these trains will be used on the Liverpool and Hoylake service, there would be no need to change trains at Bidston if the Liverpool and Wrexham trains were just a battery-electric version of the same train.
  • The Wrexham trains would drive round the Liverpool Loop tunnel as hundreds of trains do every day.
  • The trains would be charged on the existing third-rail electrification at the Liverpool end.
  • I’m fairly certain that a frequency of two tph would be possible on the route, if the Liverpool Loop tunnel signalling could cope,
  • Trains would need to be charged at the Wexham end of the route and I’m sure Stadler have a solution.

It would be an efficient and cost effective way to decarbonise a tricky but useful branch line.

Conclusion

Stadler are playing their full orchestra of ideas on Merseyrail.

When completed, it will be one of the best metros of any urban areas up to a million people in the world.

This metro could do for Liverpool, what the Beatles did for the city in the 1960s.

July 15, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 33 Comments

Electro-Diesel Tram-Train Order Expanded To Support Service Increase

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

National passenger operator MÁV-Start has exercised an option for Stadler’s Valencia plant to supply a further four Citylink electro-diesel tram-trains for the route being developed to link Hódmezővásárhely with Szeged.

The reason, I am posting this, is that I feel the use of diesel tram-trains may have applications in this country.

  • The Class 399 tram-trains in Sheffield and the Class 398 tram-trains ordered for the South Wales Metro are both members of the Citylink family, that were built or will be built in Stadler’s Valencia plant.
  • The Class 398 tram-trains will have batteries to extend the route on routes without electrification.

Perhaps, if they ran on bio-diesel, they may have applications, where electrification would be difficult or inappropriate and the distance is too long for a Citylink with batteries.

July 9, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage, Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Beeching Reversal – South Yorkshire Joint Railway

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

This railway seems to have been forgotten, as even Wikipedia only has a rather thin entry for the South Yorkshire Joint Railway.

The best description of the railway, that I’ve found is from this article in the Doncaster Free Press, which is entitled South Yorkshire Railway Line, Which Last Carried Passengers 100 Years Ago Could Be Reopened.

This is said.

The line remains intact, and recently maintained, runs from Worksop through to Doncaster, via North and South Anston, Laughton Common/Dinnington and Maltby.

I jave got my helicopter out and navigating with the help of Wikipedia, I have traced the route of the South Yorkshire Joint Railway (SYJR) between Worksop and Doncaster.

Shireoaks Station

This Google Map shows the Southern end of the SYJR on the Sheffield and Gainsborough Central Line between Shireoaks and Kiveton Park stations.

Note.

  1. Shireoaks station is in the East.
  2. Kiveton Park station is in the West.
  3. The SYJR starts at the triangular junction in the middle of the map.
  4. Lindrick Golf Club, where GB & NI, won the Ryder Cup in 1957 is shown by a green arrow to the North of Shireoaks station.
  5. The original passenger service on the SYJR, which closed in the 1920s, appears to have terminated at Shireoaks station.

The line immediately turns West and then appears to run between the villages of North and South Anston.

Anston Station

This Google Map shows the location of Anston station.

Note that the SYJR goes between the two villages and runs along the North side of the wood, that is to the North of Worksop Road.

Dinnington & Laughton Station

This Google Map shows the location of the former Dinnington & Laughton station.

Note that the SYJR goes to the west side of both villages, so it would have been quite a walk to the train.

Maltby Station

This Google Map shows the location of the former Maltby station.

Note.

  1. The SYJR goes around the South side of the village.
  2. The remains of the massive Maltby Main Colliery, which closed several years ago.

I wonder if they fill the shafts of old mines like this. if they don’t and just cap them, they could be used by Gravitricity to store energy. In Explaining Gravitricity, I do a rough calculation of the energy storage with a practical thousand tonne weight. Maltby Main’s two shafts were 984 and 991 metres deep. They would store 2.68 and 2.70 MWh respectively.

It should be noted that Gravitricity are serious about 5.000 tonnes weights.

Tickhill & Wadworth Station

This Google Map shows the location of the former Tickhill & Wadworth station.

Note.

  1. Tickhill is in the South and Wadworth is in the North.
  2. Both villages are to the West of the A1 (M)
  3. The SYJR runs in a North-Easterly direction between the villages.

The station appears to have been, where the minor road and the railway cross.

Doncaster iPort

The SYJR then passes through Doncaster iPort.

Note.

  1. The iPort seems to be doing a lot of work for Amazon.
  2. The motorway junction is Junction 3 on the M18.
  3. The SYJR runs North-South on the Western side of the centre block of warehouses.

This is Wikipedia’s introductory description of the iPort.

Doncaster iPort or Doncaster Inland Port is an intermodal rail terminal; a Strategic Rail Freight Interchange, under construction in Rossington, Doncaster at junction 3 of the M18 motorway in England. It is to be connected to the rail network via the line of the former South Yorkshire Joint Railway, and from an extension of the former Rossington Colliery branch from the East Coast Main Line.

The development includes a 171-hectare (420-acre) intermodal rail terminal to be built on green belt land, of which over 50 hectares (120 acres) was to be developed into warehousing, making it the largest rail terminal in Yorkshire; the development also included over 150 hectares (370 acres) of countryside, the majority of which was to remain in agricultural use, with other parts used for landscaping, and habitat creation as part of environment mitigation measures.

It ;looks like the SYJR will be integrated with the warehouses, so goods can be handled by rail.

Onward To Doncaster

After the iPort, the trains can take a variety of routes, some of which go through Doncaster station.

I have some thoughts on the South Yorkshire Joint Railway (SYJR).

Should The Line Be Electrified?

This is always a tricky one, but as there could be a string of freight trains running between Doncaster iPort and Felixstowe, something should be done to cut the carbon emissions and pollution of large diesel locomotives.

Obviously, one way to sort out Felixstowe’s problem, would be to fill in the gaps of East Anglian electrification and to electrify the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Line between Peterborough and Doncaster via Lincoln. But I suspect Lincolnshire might object to up to fifteen freight trains per hour rushing through. Even, if they were electric!

I am coming round to the believe that Steamology Motion may have a technology, that could haul a freight  train for a couple of hours.

These proposed locomotives, which are fuelled by hydrogen and oxygen, will have an electric transmission and could benefit from sections of electrification, which could power the locomotives directly.

So sections of electrification along the route, might enable the freight trains to go between Felixstowe and Doncaster iPort without using diesel.

It should be said, that Steamology Motion is the only technology, that I’ve seen, that has a chance of converting a 3-4 MW diesel locomotive to zero carbon emissions.

Many think it is so far-fetched, that they’ll never make it work!

Electrification of the line would also enable the service between Doncaster and Worksop to be run by Class 399 tram-trains, which are pencilled in to be used to the nearby Doncaster Sheffield Airport.

What Rolling Stock Should Be Used?

As I said in the previous section, I feel that Class 399 tram-trains would be ideal, if the line were to be electrified.

Also, if the line between Shireoaks and Kiveton Park stations were to be electrified to Sheffield, this would connect the South Yorkshire Joint Line to Sheffield’s Supertram network.

Surely, one compatible tram-train type across South Yorkshire, would speed up development of a quality public transport system.

A service could also be run using Vivarail’s Pop-up Metro concept, with fast charging at one or two, of any number of the stations.

Conclusion

This seems to be a worthwhile scheme, but I would like to see more thought on electrification of the important routes from Felixstowe and a unified and very extensive tram-train network around Sheffield.

 

July 5, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Reinstatement Of The Barrow Hill Line Between Sheffield And Chesterfield

This is one of the successful bids in the First Round of the Restoring Your Railway Fund.

The Route

This Google Map shows where the Barrow Hill Line starts at Tapton Junction near Chesterfield station.

Note.

  1. Chesterfield station is less than a mile to the South.
  2. The left railway going North is the Midland Main Line to Sheffield
  3. The right railway going North is the Barrow Hill Line.

The Barrow Hill Line turns slightly to the East and this Google Map shows it passing through Barrow Hill, which gives the route its name.

Note.

The historic Barrow Hill Roundhouse and some rail-related businesses to the North of the line.

There used to be a station here called Barrow Hill! What a surprise!

The Wikipedia entry for Barrow Hill station has a section called Modern Traffic, where this is said.

At 22 June 2013 the line is part of the Midland Main Line. It is used predominantly for freight, with a handful of passenger trains going the “long way round” from Chesterfield to Sheffield via the Old Road and Darnall largely to retain staff route knowledge in case of diversions.

The Wikipedia entry for the station also has a section called Possible Future, which is worth a read, as it lists other mothballed rail lines in the area, that could be developed.

Follow the Barrow Hill Line to the North-East and it goes through a mix of agricultural land, industrial dereliction, modern factories and nature reserves before it splits near Beighton.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note.

  1. The rail lines splitting by the Rother Valley Country Park at Beighton Junction.
  2. Barrow Hill is to the South.
  3. There used to be a station at Beighton.
  4. Woodhouse station is in the North West corner of the map.
  5. Woodhouse station is on the Sheffield-Lincoln Line, which can be seen crossing the area.
  6. Trains taking the left fork at Beighton Junction can go to Sheffield via Woodhouse and Darnall stations.
  7. Trains taking the right fork go under the Sheffield-Lincoln line and have connections to a large number of destinations for both freight and passengers.

It looks to me, that it is proposed to convert this long-way round route, into a second route between Sheffield and Chesterfield.

  • Stations exist at Woodhouse and Darnall.
  • Stations used to exist at Barrow Hill, Eckington & Renishaw, Killamarsh West  and Beighton.
  • The route would surely be very useful, when the Midland Main Line route between Sheffield and Chesterfield is updated for High Speed Two.
  • The route might also be very useful for East Midlands Railway to develop services to Rotherham and other places to the East of Sheffield.
  • I’ve found a train that takes this route between Chesterfield and Sheffield and with no stops it took twenty-five minutes.
  • Typically, the direct route takes about eleven minutes.

I can see several possibilities for local, regional and national services using the Barrow Hill Line.

I have a few questions.

Would The Barrow Hill Line Be Electrified?

It has been stated that High Speed Two and the Midland Main Line will share an electrified corridor from Clay Cross North Junction to Sheffield via Chesterfield.

  • So as both stations will be electrified, it would not be any problem to rustle up a good electricity supply to power an electrified Barrow Hill Route.
  • Electrification might narrow the fourteen minute difference between the routes.
  • Electrification would allow East Midlands Railway‘s new Class 810 trains to have a second electrified route into Sheffield.
  • Is there a case for a service between London and the South of England and the South and East of Sheffield?

I think electrification of the Barrow Hill Line is more than a possibility.

Would Gauge-Clearance For Electrification Be Difficult?

As the route is already cleared for freight trains with the largest containers, it won’t be as difficult as some routes.

Could Tram-Trains Be Used Between Sheffield And Chesterfield On The Barrow Hill Line?

In Sheffield Region Transport Plan 2019 – A New Tram-Train Route To A New Station At Waverley, I talked about a plan by the Sheffield Region for a new tram-train route between Sheffield station and a new housing district of Waverley on the Sheffield-Lincoln Line.

  • Waverley is between Darnall and Woodhouse stations.
  • The new Advanced Manufacturing Park would also be served.
  • Tram-trains could venture further down the Sheffield-Lincoln Line, if that was so desired.

If tram-trains were used on the Barrow Hill Line, between Sheffield and Chesterfield, both routes would share the track between Sheffield and Darnall stations.

Note that tram-trains would be able to share tracks with all electric trains used around Sheffield, including freight trains and the Class 810 trains.

Note that the stations for tram-trains can be much simpler and even share platforms with full-size trains.

The pictures show Class 399 tram-trains at Rotherham Parkgate and Rotherham Central stations.

  • I feel with innovative design, the whole route between Sheffield and Chesterfield could be run using tram-trains.
  • The route could be electrified with 25 KVAC overhead wires.
  • Instead of taking the Sheffield fork at Beighton Junction, the tram-trains could also take the right fork and link Chesterfield with Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Swinton.
  • These tram-trains also come with batteries, if that is needed.

Barnsley, Chesterfield, Rotherham and Sheffield could be getting a lot of better connectivity and the Barrow Hill Line is key.

Conclusion

This looks to be a very sensible project.

  • It could be run with either trains or tram-trams.
  • It should be electrified, so it could be zero-carbon.
  • Tram-trains could be used to make stations simpler.
  • It could give an alternative route for electric trains to Sheffield station.
  • The track is already there and regularly used.

But surely the biggest reason to built it, is that it appears to open up a lot of South and South-East Sheffield and North-East Chesterfield for development.

 

May 25, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments