The Anonymous Widower

London Tram Enhancements Included In Growth Fund

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in Metro Report International.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Transport for London is to finance around one-third of the cost of double-tracking the Elmers End branch of the tram network, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan announced on May 21.

TfL is to provide £3·3m from its Growth Fund towards the estimated £9m estimated project cost. In addition to double-tracking the short branch, this would add a second tram platform to the Elmers End terminus. TfL says that this would enable service improvements and ‘address reliability issues’ on the network.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr, shows the track layout between the Arena tram stop and Elmers End station.

My thoughts on the various works follow.

Double-Tracking

From the map, it doesn’t appear that a very large amount of track needs to be doubled.

This Google Map shows some of the single track section of the route.

Note the passing loop to the South of Elmers End is visible, at the top of the map.

It would also appear that there is space to add the second track, which used to exist when the tram line was the Addiscombe Line.

These pictures, which were taken from a tram, show the section of line in the map.

I suspect that a second track linking the double track at Arena to the passing loop South of Elmers End can be created.

Electrification Or Battery

Battery trams will soon be running on many tram networks around the world, including Birmingham in the UK.

Tramlink has a problem, in that they have two types of trams.

  • Twenty-four CR4000 delivered before 2000.
  • Twelve Variobahn delivered after 2010.

Because of their age, I think the CR4000 trams might be difficult to be fitted with batteries.

But Munich already has Variobahn trams fitted with batteries.

If battery power were needed just on the route to Elmers End, I think it would not be an economic decision to fit all trams with batteries.

Obviously, if in the future, more trams were to be ordered, there may be other routes, where batteries are ideal.

I don’t think, there will be any issues about putting up more wires.

Being able to use the current trams on the new track to Elmers End would be very convenient

For these and other reasons, I suspect this line will be electrified.

The New Elmers End Platform

Elmers End is the only one of the four Tramlink termini with a single platform, as Beckenham Junction, New Addington and Wimbledon all have two platforms.

So a second platform at Elmers End would surely make running a service easier, when things go a bit awry.

The need was illustrated as my tram left Elmers End. We stopped for a couple of minutes in the passing loop just outside the station to let another tram enter the platform.

After the proposed works, the two trams would have passed on the double-track to the East of the Arena tram stop.

This Google Map shows the platforms at Elmers End station.

 

These pictures show the station and in particular, the current single tram platform.

Note.

  1. Platform level is such, that platform-to-tram is step-free.
  2. The current platform has a cross-platform interchange with the Northbound Platform 2 on the Hayes Line.
  3. It would appear, that there is space alongside for a second platform, although it might mean the loss of some car parking spaces.
  4. Some equipment might need to be moved.
  5. The footbridge could probably need to be made step-free.
  6. There is space to add the gantries for the electrification.

The original Addiscombe Line had a platform on the other side of the tracks as shown in the map earlier in this post.

I doubt this old layout will be used, as a flat junction would be rather difficult to operate and a flyover would be expensive.

Could we see a staggered platform layout, so that both platforms are accessible from Platform 2?

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the track arrangement at New Addington.

The line appears to be singled a convenient distance from the terminus and then it splits again just outside the platforms.

Beckenham Junction and Wimbledon, both use a similar track layout.

If a layout similar to this were to be applied at Elmers End, it would have the collateral benefit of reducing the current three sets of points to two.

A single track, would also be easy to squeeze through the gap into Elmers End, provided there was space for the points before the platforms.

I believe this layout, would work with staggered platforms.

Would The Elmers End Platforms Be Made Longer?

Wikipedia talks about expanding Tramlink. Under Phase C of Trams 2030, this is said.

Furthermore, if extra capacity is required, tram stops could be lengthened to serve either longer trams or two trams coupled together on services between Wimbledon and Beckenham Junction or Elmers End.

I think that Elmers End will be future-proofed.

An Increase In Frequency To Elmers End

The Wikipedia entry for Elmers End station, says this about current tram frequencies under Services.

Trams depart from the station every 12 minutes; this service falls to four trams per hour during the early morning and evenings. Each tram travels towards Croydon town centre; trams on Route 1 continue to West Croydon tram stop, before travelling back as Route 2 to Beckenham Junction, while trams on Route 4 continue to Wimbledon.

A second platform would surely allow the five trams per hour frequency to be doubled to ten trams per hour, if this was thought necessary.

These trams would either be turned in Croydon or continue to Wimbledon.

Some might use a proposed diverting loop in Dingwall Road, by East Croydon station.

More Trams

If more trams are needed, I’m sure Stadler would oblige with a few new Variobahn trams.

Future Expansion

I also think, that because after the Elmers End scheme is completed, all the Tramlink termini will have two platforms, this will make it much easier to expand the system.

Conclusion

It seems a relatively simple scheme with no serious construction problems.

 

 

 

 

 

May 23, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Blankenberg Station

The Coast Tram connects to the Belgian Railway network at Knokke, Blankenberge, Oostende and De Panne.

These pictures show Blankenberge station and tram interchange.

Blankenberge station and the tram stop are undergoing a degree of rebuilding and landscaping.

Note.

  • The trams are metre gauge.
  • They were a bit thin on the ground, as there was a strike.
  • Many of the trams were covered in advertising, which made it difficult to see out.

I had taken a train from Bruges to Blankenberge.

May 16, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

New Istanbul Tram Line To Be Catenary-Free

The title of this post, is the same as that in this article on Global Rail News.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Contractor Dogus Construction has selected Alstom to supply a full APS ground-level power supply solution for the Eminönü-Alibeyköy tram line in Istanbul.

Choosing Alstom’s street-level power rail solution means that the 10km-long line will be entirely catenary-free.

I suspect, catenary-free will become the norm, either using systems like in Istanbul or batteries like the Midland Metro.

April 5, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Study Concludes There Is Demand For A Light Rail System In Bath

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in Global Rail News.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Plans to bring a light rail system to the historic city of Bath, UK, have taken a step closer after it received backing from a preliminary study.

The study was produced by consultants Atkins and followed suggestions from the public to look at the potential for a new tram system, according to Bath and North East Somerset council.

Consider.

  • Atkins are one of best consultants in the world, with lots of experience.
  • Many Continental cities, the size of Bath have a tram network
  • Darmstadt with a population twice that of Bath has nine tram lines.
  • Tram systems in historic towns and cities can be built without catenary, using batteries for motive power.
  • Smaller lightweight tram systems are being developed.

So I’m not surprised that, it was recommended that Bath get a tram network.

But if Bath can develop a viable tram network, then surely any town or city with the right set of problems and needs should be looking at trams.

My list of possible cities and large towns, where trams could start by connecting the the railway station to the main town centre would include.

  • Cambridge
  • Colchester
  • Coventry
  • Huddersfield
  • Ipswich
  • Leicester
  • Middlesbrough
  • Norwich
  • Wigan

There must be loads more.

 

 

January 24, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

The Great Electric Air Race Has Begun

The title of this post is the first sentence of this article in The Independent, which is entitled Electric Planes: Could You Be Flying On A Battery-Powered Aircraft By 2027?.

This is the full first paragraph in an article by respected travel writer; Simon Calder.

The great electric air race has begun. Three European industry heavyweights have teamed up against a US startup and Britain’s biggest budget airline to develop the first commercial electric aircraft.

So is such an aircraft feasible?

When you consider that the three European heavyweights are Airbus, Rolls-Royce and Siemens, I suspect that the proposed project is serious.

It should also be said that the companies are not aiming for an all-electric aircraft, but a hybrid plane with a very efficient on-board generator and a two-tonne battery.

The key to success will probably include.

  • Batteries with a very high energy density.
  • A highly-efficient and quiet gas turbine, that generates a lot of energy.
  • Radical air-frame design to take advantage of the technology.

In my view, the batteries will be the key, but making more efficient batteries with high charge densities will also do the following.

  • Improve the range and performance of battery and hybrid road vehicles like buses, cars and trucks.
  • Improve the range and performance of trains and trams.
  • Transform energy storage, so wind and solar power can be stored and used in times of high demand.
  • Allow every house, apartment or office to have its own affordable energy storage.

In all of these applications, the weight of the battery will be less of a problem.

This leads me to the conclusion, that we may see smaller electric plasnes in a few years, but the technology that will make it possible, may well improve other modes of transport so much, that electric planes are never an economic proposition.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens!

I think most travellers and members of the oublic will benefit in some ways.

 

December 3, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Exploring Dublin’s Trams

Dublin’s trams are called the LUAS and the consist of two lines; the Green and the Red.

Currently, there are two upgrades taking place.

  • The Green Line is being extended so there is an interchange with the Red in the centre of the City.
  • New six-segment articulated trams are being added to the system.

I was told that the extended Green Line will be running in a couple of weeks.

These are some or the pictures I took.

Note that I bought a €7.20 day ticket to use the trams.

I feel that the new layout with the Red and Green Lines crossing at the junction of O’Connell and Abbey Streets is good.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note that O’Connell Street links up with the widest bridge, where the Green Line will cross the Liffey going North.

Going South the tram uses the next bridge to the East, which I think is newly-built.

I think that it would be prudent, if you stayed at a hotel in Dublin, to choose one on either tram line.

December 1, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

World’s First Hydrogen-Powered Tram Runs In China

The title of this post is the same as this article on Global Rail News.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Rolling stock manufacturer CRRC has announced that the world’s first hydrogen-powered tram has been put into passenger operation in China.

The three-carriage hybrid electric tram enter service in the city of Tangshan, Hebei, on October 26.

It seems to have the following characteristics.

  • Three cars
  • 66 seats
  • 70 kph.
  • 40 km range.

It all sounds very tram-like.

It does seem there’s a lot of train and tram manufacturers thinking about hydrogen power.

 

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

CAF Secures Tram Contracts In The United States

The title of this post is the same as this article in Global Rail News.

The sale of two batches of trams is not that remarkable, but this is an extract from the article, about the vorder for Seattle.

The trams will have a 100 per cent low floor and come with onboard energy storage to run on catenary-free sections of the network.

Trams with these characteristics are becoming increasingly common.

October 4, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

CAF Rarely Do The Obvious, But It’s Generally Sound

This article on the BBC is entitled 300 Train Building jobs Created At £30m Newport Centre.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Three hundred “highly-skilled and well paid” engineering jobs will be created when a Spanish train manufacturer opens a production factory in Newport.
Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF) is expected to open its £30m centre where Llanwern Steelworks once stood in autumn 2018.

Currently CAF are supplying the following trains and trams for the UK.

The trains alone add up to nearly five hundred vehicles.

If you look at the geography of the sea routes between the Basque Country and the United Kingdom, taking a cargo ship with a few trains to South Wales  is probably not the most difficult or indirect of voyages.

Newport too, is on the South Wales Main Line, which is well connected all over England, by lines that should be electrified and will hopefully be by 2019.

This Google Map shows the Celtic Business Park in relation to Newport and its docks.

The Celtic Business Park is part of the massive rectangular site to the North East of Newport, that is the Llanwern steelworks, which is being downsized. The South Wales Main Line passes along the North side of the site and the map clearly shows access to Newport Docks.

It raises the question that CAF may bring the trains in on their wheels in a specialist train ferry.

I know nothing about how much preparation needs to be performed on a foreign-built train, before it can run on the UK rail network, but it would be expected that just checking the five hundred vehicles must keep quite a few employees busy. I suppose too, that if certain parts of the train were sourced from the UK, that instead of sending them to Spain, they could be fitted in Newport.

It should also be remembered, that Hitachi build their body-shells in Japan and then ship them to Newton Aycliffe for fitting out.

Although, the Welsh and the Basques are two nations with strong cultural ties; rugby included, I think that Newport was chosen with another very practical reason in mind.

In the May 2016 Edition of Modern Railways, Ian Walmsley, wrote an article called Metroland Of My Fathers, which included these  paragraphs.

Back in the November 2013 issue of Modern Railways I raised the possibility of converting the Cardiff network to light rail. I was still working for Porterbrook at the time, which, like other rolling stock companies (ROSCOs), saw the Valleys as a retirement home for its old London commuter trains, so when the proposal met with the response it’s heavy rail and that’s that, I was quite happy.

The local press and BBC Wales showed more interest and now I am delighted to say that Network Rail has the Valley Lines electrification ‘on hold’ pending re-evaluation.

Consider the following.

  • Urbos trams come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
  • Trams are getting better every year at climbing hills.
  • The Urbos family includes the Urbos TT, which is a tram-train.
  • Midland Metro’s trams are being fitted with energy storage using supercapacitors
  • How much marketing advantage for other places, is gained from having Edinburgh and Cardiff on the customer list?
  • Conversion could probably be done on a line-by-line basis.
  • Provision must be made for freight trains on some lines.
  • Cardiff and the Valley Lines were resignalled in the last few years and everything is controlled from Cardiff ROC

But remember that CAF are a very research and design-oriented company.

So what is the likelihood that the Cardiff Valley Lines will be converted to light rail using a CAF product?

I would say pretty high, especially after reading this article in Global Rail News, which is entitled Engineering Firm BWB Consulting Bought By Spanish Giant CAF.

I could see a design of rail vehicle with these features.

  • The ability to work on standard rail track.
  • The ability to give level step-free access to standard height rail station platforms.
  • The ability to use modern railway signalling.
  • The ability to climb steep gradients.
  • The ability to work on both 25 KVAC and 750 VDC overhead.
  • Automatic pantograph raising and lowering.
  • Supercapacitor energy storage.
  • Regenerative braking.

I could see an energy-saving vehicle being designed, that made clever use of the gradients.

Would it be a train or a tram-train?

Increasingly, the difference is getting blurred!

 

 

 

July 13, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Seville’s Elegant Trams

Seville’s tramway; the MetroCentro, by the cathedral is powered without using traditional overhead catenary.

Each double-sided stop has a high electrified rail on each side.

When the tram stops, it puts up a pantograph and then for a minute or so, it charges the batteries.

Seville’s Urbos trams are the same as in Birmingham, so will the Midland Metro be using the same elegant system to charge the batteries, that are now been fitted, so trams can run to Centenary Square in Birmingham and the railway station in Wolverhampton?

|Edinburgh also has another version of Urbos trams, so if Birmingham battery trams are successful, will we be seeing them North of the Border?

There’s only one thing wrong with Seville’s trams. Every one is wrapped in advertising, which makes it difficult to see out and look at the outstanding buildings.

How Does The Battery System Work?

CAF , who built the Urbos trams, have this page on their web site, which is entitled Greentech Tram.

The system uses two methods of storing electricity.

Supercapacitor Modules

A supercapacitor has the advantage that it can be quickly charged and discharged.

So as a tram only takes perhaps fifteen seconds to stop from full speed, the fast charging allows the regenerative braking energy to be stored.

On starting again, this energy can be discharged quickly from the supercapacitor to accelerate the tram.

This charging/discharging cycle does degrade the supercapacitor  and they would have to be replaced periodically.

Lithium-Ion Batteries

Lithium-ion batteries can hold greater amounts of electricity, but their charge and discharge rate is slower.

They can provide smaller amounts of power to keep the tram going at a constant speed after it has been accelerated.

A Sophisticated Control System

The page talks about a sophisticated control system that optimised the driving of the tram and the minimisation of energy.

The System Can Be Licenced From CAF

It should be noted that CAF will licence the system to other manufacturers.

Conclusion

By using two different storage systems with different characteristics, CAF are able to drive the tram along its 1.4 km route, charging at each stop.

 

 

 

June 24, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 1 Comment