The Anonymous Widower

Beeching Reversal – Magor And Undy Walkway Station

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

I actually covered this proposal before in ‘Walkway’ Rail Station Plan For Magor As M4 Relief Road Scrapped,

I’ll repeat the start of that post.

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

These are the introductory paragraphs.

A village heavily affected by the decision to scrap the planned M4 relief road is bidding for help to build a £7m railway station there.

Residents of Magor in Monmouthshire have the mainline rail service to London running through the village, but no station.

They want to create a “walkway” station – one with no car parking that travellers will walk or cycle to.

The original Magor station was shut in the Beeching cuts in November 1964.

The Villages Of Magor And Undy

This Google Map shows the villages of Magor and Undy and their relationship to the roads and railway in the area.

Note.

  1. The Northern motorway is the M48, which leads to the original Severn Bridge.
  2. The Southern motorway is the M4, which leads to the newer Second Severn Crossing.
  3. Between the two lies the South Wales Main Line, with the two stations; Severn Tunnel Junction and Caldicot.
  4. At the Western end of the map, the railway runs between the two villages of Magor and Undy.

This second Google Map shows the villages.

Note.

  1. The M4 running East-West to the North of Magor.
  2. Magor services is in the North-West corner of the map.
  3. The South Wales Main Line running through the villages.

There certainly seems to be a lot of housing to provide passengers for the new station.

The Location Of Magor And Undy Station

On this web page on Rail Future, which is entitled Magor, this is said.

The station site is where the B4245 road passes closest to the railway line. The Monmouthshire County Council traffic survey shows that some 11 – 12,000 cars a day pass along this road through the middle of the villages. The shift from car to train use is primarily aimed at capturing those who at present are not prepared to drive the two and half miles to the east just to catch the train at Severn Tunnel Junction to travel the two and a half miles back passing their homes for the seven and a half mile journey into Newport, and hence at present use their car for the whole journey instead. The site also has the advantage of direct integration with the buses as the bus services pass the entrance to the site of the proposed Station and Community centre every half an hour.

This Google Map shows the B4245 road and the railway.

Note.

  1. The B4245 curving across the map.
  2. There are already two bus stops, which are marked by blue dots.
  3. There is a footbridge over the railway, which doesn’t appear to be step-free.

As Rail Future is probably correct, the position of the station is fairly obvious.

Various documents on the Internet talk about the station being built on the Three Field Site, which the local council bought for community purposes some years ago. Could the triangle of land between the B4245 and the railway, be this site?

Thoughts On The Station

Reading the web page on Rail Future, the following seems to be stated.

  • The platforms will be on the two outside tracks of the four through the station. These are the Relief Lines.
  • The two Fast Lines will be in the centre.
  • Existing crossovers will allow trains from the Fast Lines to call in the station.

Unlike at other proposed stations to the West of Newport, the tracks will not need major works to slew them to accommodate the new platforms.

I would also do the following.

Incorporate Wide Platforms

This picture was taken of the new platform at Stevenage station.

If the station gets busy, a wide platform will ease loading and unloading.

As Magor and Undy station, will be one that encourages passengers to cycle to the station, would a wide platform make it easier for passengers, who are travelling with bicycles?

Step-Free Between Train And Platform

Greater Anglia are using similar trains to South Wales and the Stadler Flirts in East Anglia offer step-free access between train and platform, as this picture shows.

South Wales should offer a similar standard of step-free access. as it eases access and cuts train delays.

A Step-Free Footbridge

In Winner Announced In The Network Rail Footbridge Design Ideas Competition, I wrote how the competition was won by this bridge.

So could a factory-built bridge like this be installed at Magor and Undy station?

  • The bridge can be sized to fit any gap.
  • If the platforms were wide enough, I think it would be possible.
  • It can have lifts that can take bicycles.
  • A bridge like this would also reduce the cost.

So the station can have a stylish, affordable, fully step-free footbridge.

A Walkway Along The Railway

It strikes me that a walkway on the Southern side of the railway to connect the communities South of the railway to the station could be very useful.

Electrification

The South Wales Main Line is electrified between London and Cardiff and Great Western Railway’s Class 802 trains between London and Swansea, change between electricity and diesel at Cardiff Central station.

All four lines at Severn Tunnel Junction appear to be electrified, so will all four lines at Magor and Undy station be electrified?

They certainly should be, to improve the reliability of electric services between London and South Wales.

Train Services

I suspect that the calling pattern of train will be similar to that at Severn Tunnel Junction, which is the next station to the East. The Wikipedia entry for Severn Tunnel Junction says this about services at that station.

The station is served by two main routes – Transport for Wales’ Cheltenham Spa to Cardiff Central and Maesteg via Chepstow local service and Great Western Railway’s Cardiff to Taunton via Bristol line. Both run hourly on weekdays & Saturdays, albeit with some two-hour gaps on the Chepstow line. In the weekday peaks, certain Cardiff to Portsmouth Harbour also stop here, whilst there is a daily train to Fishguard Harbour. CrossCountry also provides very limited services to/from Manchester Piccadilly via Bristol and to Nottingham via Gloucester and Birmingham New Street.

On Sundays, the Bristol to Cardiff service is once again hourly (and runs to/from Portsmouth) whist the Cheltenham service is two-hourly.

I think that this could result in these train frequencies in trains per hour (tph), from Magor station.

  • Caldicot – 2 tph
  • Cardiff Central – 4 tph
  • Cjeltenham – 1 tph
  • Chepstow – 2 tph
  • Gloucester – 1 tph
  • Newport – 4 tph
  • Severn Tunnel Junction – 4 tph

Note.

  1. I have assumed that the CrossCountry services don’t stop.
  2. As there seem to be proposals to add extra stations between Newport and Cardiff Central, these new stations could also get a service with a frequency of between two and four tph.

Working on rules that apply in Liverpool and London, and may apply to the South Wales Metro, I think that a Turn-Up-And-Go service of a train every fifteen minutes is needed between Magor and Undy station and the important Newport and Cardiff stations.

Battery Electric Trains Along The South Wales Main Line

The railways are being decarbonised and plans will have to be made to run all secondary services on the South Wales Main Line without diesel.

Hitachi have already played their cards, with the announcement of a Regional Battery Train, which will be created by replacing some of the numerous diesel engines on a Class 802 train with battery packs.

This is Hitachi’s infographic for the train.

The range of ninety kilometres or fifty-six miles is interesting.

  • Cardiff Central and Swansea are 46 miles apart, so with a charging facility at Swansea, Great Western Railway could run diesel-free between London Paddington and Swansea.
  • I suspect too, that destinations to the West of Swansea could also be served with intelligent placing of a second charging facility at perhaps Carmarthen.

But it’s not just Hitachi, who have made plans for battery electric trains.

  • Transport for Wales have ordered twenty-four Stadler Class 756 trains, which are tri-mode and can run on electrification, diesel or battery power.
  • Transport for Wales have also ordered eleven Stadler Class 231 trains, which are only bi-mode.
  • Both these fleets seem very similar to Greater Anglia’s Class 755 trains, which Stadler have said can be converted to 100 mph tri-mode operation, with perhaps a forty mile range on battery power.
  • I have ridden several times in Class 755 trains and without doubt, they are one of the best diesel-powered trains, I have used in the UK.

So I don’t think it is unreasonable to believe that Transport for Wales have the capability to run battery electric services with the fleet they have ordered given a few simple upgrades, that may already be planned for Greater Anglia.

But will the Welsh train builder; CAF, be happy with Hitachi and Stadler running their battery electric trains at high speed past their factory and onward to England and West Wales?

I doubt it and CAF have already made a response.

In Northern’s Battery Plans, I said this about CAF’s plans to create a battery electric Class 331 train for Northern.

It appears that CAF will convert some three-car Class 331 trains into four-car battery-electric trains.

  • A three-car Class 331 train has a formation of DMSOL+PTS+DMSO.
  • A fourth car with batteries will be inserted into the train.
  • Batteries will also be added to the PTS car.

I suspect that CAF  would be happy to convert some of Transport for Wales order for diesel Class 197 trains into one for suitable battery electric trains.

I believe some of the services that are planned to be run by these diesel trains into Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester, appear to be ideal routes for battery electric trains.

These diesel trains will still be serviceable in 2060, which will be long past the cut-off date for diesel trains in the UK.

So why not replace them before they are built?

  • The CAF Civity train is modular, so I doubt it would make much difference to CAF’s manufacturing process.
  • The diesel version of the Civity has a noisy transmission compared to the electric version.

It would surely, be better for CAF’s marketing.

Could the various routes through Magor be operated by battery electric trains?

These are my thoughts on the various routes.

Maesteg And Cheltenham Spa

This service is hourly and run by Transport for Wales.

  • Currently, the service seems to be running to Gloucester.
  • Maesteg and Cardiff Central is not electrified and 28.5 miles long.
  • Trains seem to take over 8-9 minutes to turn back at Maesteg.
  • Cardiff Central and Severn Tunnel Junction is electrified.
  • Severn Tunnel Junction and Gloucester is not electrified and is 35 miles long.
  • Trains seem to take over 25 minutes to turn back at Gloucester.

It certainly looks that with charging facilities at Maesteg and Gloucester, this service could be run by a battery electric train with a range of forty miles on battery power.

Fishguard And Gloucester

This service is occasional and run by Transport for Wales.

The problem with this service will be to the West of Swansea.

But if Great Western Railway and Transport for Wales put their heads and services together, I feel there is a cunning plan to run battery electric trains to Fishguard, with perhaps charging facilities at Fishguard, Carmarthen and Swansea.

Cardiff And Bristol Temple Meads

This service is two tph and run by Great Western Railway.

On the Welsh side of the Severn Tunnel, this could be an electric service.

On the English side, there is only ten miles of line without electrification between the South Wales Main Line and Bristol Temple Meads station.

This service in wales can be considered an electric service, as it is only onwards from Bristol Temple Meads to Taunton and Portsmouth Harbour, that charging facilities will be needed.

Conclusion

I like this scheme and as it looks like the trains will be running on electric power, through Magor and Undy station, it could be a very good one.

 

 

August 26, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Electrifying Wales

I would not be surprised to learn that Wales wants to decarbonise their railways.

At present, Wales only has the following electrified railways either in operation or under construction.

  • The South Wales Main Line between the Severn Tunnel and Cardiff.
  • The South Wales Metro based on local railways around Cardiff and Newport is being created and will be run by electric trains.

There is no more electrification planned in the future.

Hitachi’s Specification For Battery Electric Trains

Recently, Hitachi have released this infographic for their Regional Battery Train.

This gives all the information about the train and a definitive range of 90 km or 56 miles.

The Welsh Rail Network

If you look at the network of services that are run by Transport for Wales Rail Services, they connect a series of hub stations.

Major hubs include the following stations.

  • Cardiff Central – Electrified
  • Chester
  • Hereford
  • Shrewsbury
  • Swansea

Smaller hubs and termini include the following stations.

  • Aberystwyth
  • Birmingham International – Electrified
  • Birmingham New Street – Electrified
  • Blaenau Ffestiniog
  • Carmarthen
  • Crewe – Electrified
  • Fishguard Harbour
  • Hereford
  • Holyhead
  • Llandudno Junction
  • Manchester Airport – Electrified
  • Manchester Piccadilly – Electrified
  • Machynlleth
  • Milford Haven
  • Newport – Electrified
  • Pembroke Dock

Running Welsh Routes With Electric Trains

These routes make up the Welsh rail network.

Chester And Crewe

Consider.

  • The route between Chester and Crewe is without electrification.
  • Crewe and Chester are 21 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Chester and Crewe with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Chester and Crewe stations.

Chester And Holyhead via Llandudno Junction

Consider.

  • All services between Llandudno Junction and England call at Chester.
  • All services running to and from Holyhead call at Llandudno Junction.
  • The route between Chester and Holyhead is without electrification.
  • Chester and Llandudno Junction are 54 miles apart.
  • Llandudno Junction and Holyhead are 40 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train with a range of 56 miles can leave Chester, Llandudno Junction and Holyhead with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Chester and Holyhead stations.

Chester And Liverpool Lime Street

Consider.

  • The route between Runcorn and Liverpool Lime Street is electrified.
  • The route between Chester and Runcorn is without electrification.
  • Chester and Runcorn are 14 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Chester and Runcorn with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Chester and Liverpool Lime Street stations.

Chester And Manchester Airport

Consider.

  • The route between Warrington Bank Quay and Manchester Airport is electrified.
  • The route between Chester and Warrington Bank Quay is without electrification.
  • Chester and Warrington Bank Quay are 18 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Chester and Warrington Bank Quay with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Chester and Manchester Airport stations.

Chester And Shrewsbury

Consider.

  • The route between Chester and Shrewsbury is without electrification.
  • Chester and Shrewsbury are 42 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train with a range of 56 miles, can leave Shrewsbury and Chester with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Chester and Shrewsbury stations.

Llandudno And Blaenau Ffestiniog

Consider.

  • The route between Llandudno and Blaenau Ffestiniog is without electrification.
  • Llandudno and Blaenau Ffestiniog are 31 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train with a range of 56 miles, can leave Llandudno and Blaenau Ffestiniog with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Llandudno and Blaenau Ffestiniog stations.

Machynlleth And Aberystwyth

Consider.

  • The route between Machynlleth and Aberystwyth is without electrification.
  • Machynlleth and Aberystwyth are 21 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train with a range of 56 miles, can leave Machynlleth and Aberystwyth with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Machynlleth and Aberystwyth stations.

Machynlleth And Pwllheli

Consider.

  • The route between Machynlleth and Pwllheli is without electrification.
  • Machynlleth and Pwllheli are 58 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train with a range of upwards of 58 miles, can leave Machynlleth and Pwllheli with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Machynlleth and Pwllheli stations.

Machynlleth And Shrewsbury

Consider.

  • The route between Machynlleth and Shrewsbury is without electrification.
  • Machynlleth and Shrewsbury are 61 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train with a range of upwards of 61 miles, can leave Machynlleth and Shrewsbury with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Machynlleth and Shrewsbury stations.

Shrewsbury and Birmingham International

Consider.

  • The route between Birmingham International and Wolverhampton is electrified.
  • The route between Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton is without electrification.
  • Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton are 30 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Shrewsbury and Birmingham International stations.

 Shrewsbury And Cardiff Central via Hereford

Consider.

  • All services between Cardiff Central and Shrewsbury call at Hereford.
  • The route between Cardiff Central and Newport is electrified.
  • The route between Newport and Shrewsbury is without electrification.
  • Shrewsbury and Hereford are 51 miles apart.
  • Hereford and Newport are 44 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Shrewsbury, Hereford and Newport with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Shrewsbury and Cardiff Central stations.

Shrewsbury And Crewe

  • The route between Shrewsbury and Crewe is without electrification.
  • Shrewsbury and Crewe are 33 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train with a range of upwards of 61 miles, can leave Shrewsbury and Crewe with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Shrewsbury and Crewe stations.

Shrewsbury and Swansea

Consider.

  • The Heart of Wales Line between Shrewsbury and Swansea is without electrification.
  • Shrewsbury and Swansea are 122 miles apart.
  • Trains cross at Llandrindod and wait for up to eleven minutes, so there could be time for a charge.
  • Shrewsbury and Llandrindod are 52 miles apart.
  • Swansea and Llandrindod are 70 miles apart.

It appears that another charging station between Swansea and Llandrindod is needed

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Shrewsbury, Swansea and the other charging station, with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Shrewsbury and Swansea stations.

Swansea And Cardiff Central

Consider.

  • The route between Swansea and Cardiff Central is without electrification.
  • Swansea and Cardiff Central are 46 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Swansea and Cardiff Central with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Swansea and Cardiff Central stations.

Swansea And Carmarthen

Consider.

  • The route between Swansea and Carmarthen is without electrification.
  • Swansea and Carmarthen are 31 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Swansea and Carmarthen with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Swansea and Carmarthen stations.

Swansea And Fishguard Harbour

Consider.

  • The route between Swansea and Fishguard Harbour is without electrification.
  • Swansea and Fishguard Harbour are 73 miles apart.
  • Tramins could top up the batteries during the reverse at Carmathen.
  • Swansea and Carmarthen are 31 miles apart.
  • Carmarthen and Fishguard Harbour are 42 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Swansea, Carmathen and Fishguard Harbour with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Swansea and Fishguard Harbour stations.

Swansea And Milford Haven

Consider.

  • The route between Swansea and Milford Haven is without electrification.
  • Swansea and Milford Haven are 72 miles apart.
  • Tramins could top up the batteries during the reverse at Carmathen.
  • Swansea and Carmarthen are 31 miles apart.
  • Carmarthen and Milford Haven are 41 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Swansea, Carmathen and Milford Haven with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Swansea and Milford Haven stations.

Swansea And Pembroke Dock

Consider.

  • The route between Swansea and Pembroke Dock is without electrification.
  • Swansea and Pembroke Dock are 73 miles apart.
  • Tramins could top up the batteries during the reverse at Carmathen.
  • Swansea and Carmarthen are 31 miles apart.
  • Carmarthen and Pembroke Dock are 42 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Swansea, Carmathen and Pembroke Dock with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Swansea and Pembroke Dock stations.

Other Routes

I have not covered these routes.

  • Borderlands Line
  • Cardiff Valley Lines, that will be part of the South Wales Metro
  • Routes on the electrified South Wales Main Line, that are to the East of Cardiff.

The first will run between Chester and the electrified Merseyrail system and the others will be electrified, except for short stretches.

Stations Where Trains Would Be Charged

These stations will need charging facilities.

Aberystwyth

Aberystwyth station only has a single terminal platform.

I’ve not been to the station, but looking at pictures on the Internet, I suspect that fitting a charging facility into the station, wouldn’t be the most difficult of engineering problems.

Birmingham International

Birmingham International station is fully-electrified and ready for battery-electric trains.

Blaenau Fflestiniog

Blaenau Ffestiniog station has a single terminal platform.

My comments would be similar to what, I said for Aberystwyth station. I would hope a standard solution can be developed.

Cardiff

Cardiff station is fully-electrified and ready for battery-electric trains.

Chester

Chester station has two through platforms and one bay platform, that are used by Trains for Wales.

  • The through platforms are bi-directional.
  • The bay platform is used by services from Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Airport and Piccadilly.
  • The station is a terminus for Merseyrail’s electric trains, which use 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • Some through services stop for up to seven minutes in the station.

This Google Map shows the station.

There is plenty of space.

The simplest way to charge trains at Chester would be to electrify the two through platforms 3 and 4 and the bay platform 1.

I would use 750 VDC third-rail, rather than 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

  • I’m an engineer, who deals in scientifically-correct solutions, not politically-correct ones, devised by jobsworths.
  • Maintenance staff at the station will be familiar with the technology.
  • Station staff and passengers will know about the dangers of third-rail electrification.
  • Trains connect and disconnect automatically to third-rail electrification.
  • Trains don’t have to stop to connect and disconnect, so passing trains can be topped-up.
  • Hitachi with the Class 395 train and Alstom with the Class 373 train, have shown even trains capable of 140 mph can be fitted with third-rail shoes to work safely at slower speeds on lines electrified using third-rail.
  • Modern control systems can control the electricity to the third-rail, so it is only switched on, when the train completes the circuit.

I have a vague recollection, that there is an avoiding line at Chester station, so trains can go straight through. Perhaps that should be electrified too.

Carmarthen

Carmarthen station is a two platform station, with a rather unusual layout, that I wrote about in Changing Trains At Carmarthen Station.

I took these pictures when I passed through in 2016.

Note the unusual step-free crossing of the tracks.

This Google Map shows the layout at the station.

I believe it is another station, where third-rail electrification could be the solution.

  • Most trains seem to reverse at the station, which gives time for a full charge.
  • Others terminate here.

but would they still allow passengers to cross the line as they do now, whilst trains are being charged?

Crewe

Crewe station is fully-electrified.

  • Trains for Wales seem to use Platform 6 for through trains and the bay Platform 9 for terminating trains.
  • Both platforms appear to be electrified.
  • Terminating trains appear to wait at least 9-11 minutes before leaving.

It does appear that Crewe station is ready for battery-electric trains.

Fishguard Harbour

Fishguard Harbour station only has a single terminal platform.

My comments would be similar to what, I said for Aberystwyth station. I would hope a standard solution can be developed.

Hereford

Hereford station has four through platforms.

This Google Map shows the station.

There is plenty of space.

As with Chester, I would electrify this station with 750 VDC third-rail equipment.

But the electrification wouldn’t be just for train services in Wales.

  • West Midlands Trains, run an hourly service to Birmingham New Street and there is only a forty-one mile gap in the electrification between Hereford and Bromsgrove.
  • Great Western Railway’s service to London, has a massive ninety-six mile run to the electrification at Didcot Junction, which could be bridged by installing charging facilities at Worcestershire Parkway and/or Honeybourne stations.

Both services have generous turnround times at Hereford, so would be able to leave fully-charged.

Distances from Hereford station are as follows.

  • Abergavenny – 24 miles
  • Bromsgrove – 41 miles
  • Great Malvern – 21 miles
  • Honeybourne – 48 miles
  • Ludlow – 13 miles
  • Newport – 44 miles
  • Shrewsbury – 51 miles
  • Worcester Parkway – 33 miles

Hereford station could be a serious battery-electric train hub.

Holyhead

Holyhead station has three terminals platforms.

My comments would be similar to what, I said for Aberystwyth station. I would hope a standard solution can be developed.

Liverpool Lime Street

Liverpool Lime Street station is fully-electrified and ready for battery-electric trains.

Llandrindod

Llandrindod station has two through platforms.

I took these pictures at the station as I passed through in 2016.

The Heart of Wales Line is certainly a route, that would benefit from larger trains. Zero-carbon battery-electric trains would surely fit well in the area.

This Google Map shows the station.

It would appear that, it is another station, that could be fitted with third-rail electrification to charge the trains.

Distances from Llandrindod station are as follows.

  • Shrewsbury – 52 miles
  • Llandovery – 27 miles
  • Llanelli – 59 miles
  • Swansea – 70 miles

It would appear that a second station with charging facilities or bigger batteries are needed.

Llandudno Junction

Llandudno Junction station has four platforms.

This Google Map shows the station.

There is plenty of space.

As at Chester, the simple solution would be to electrify the platforms used by trains, that will need charging.

Butb there may also be a wider plan.

Llandudno Junction station is at the Western end of a string of five closely-spaced stations with Prestatyn station in the East.

  • Llandudno Junction and Prestatyn are eight miles apart.
  • Trains take twenty-three minutes to pass through this section.
  • Some trains do a detour to Llandudno station before continuing.
  • For part of the route, the railway lies between the dual-carriageway A55 road and the sea.

So why not electrify this section of railway between Llandudno Junction and Prestatyn stations?

  • Either 750 VDC this-rail or 25 KVAC overhead electrification could be used.
  • Prestatyn and Chester are 46 miles apart.
  • Llandudno Junction and Holyhead are 40 miles apart.

If third-rail electrification were to be used, it might be advantageous to electrify to Llandudno station.

  • It would be less intrusive.
  • It would be quieter in an urban area.
  • It would give the trains to Blaenau Ffestiniog trains a good charge.

But above all third-rail electrification might cost a bit less and cause less disruption to install.

Machynlleth

Machynlleth station is where the Aberystwyth and Pwllheli services split and join.

This Google Map shows the station.

Consider.

  • There is a train depot by the station.
  • Will there be a good power supply at the station to charge the trains?
  • Machnylleth and Pwllhelli are 58 miles apart.
  • Machynlleth and Shrewsbury are 61 miles apart.

I think that Machynlleth might be pushing things too far, without extra stations with charging facilities.

One solution might be to develop the Riding Sunbeams concept and electrify the route between Newtown and Dovey Junction via Machynlleth, using third-rail technology powered-by solar or wind power.

Another solution would be batteries with a larger capacity.

Manchester Airport

Manchester Airport station is fully-electrified and ready for battery-electric trains.

Manchester Piccadilly

Manchester Piccadilly station is fully-electrified and ready for battery-electric trains.

Milford Haven

Milford Haven station only has a single terminal platform.

My comments would be similar to what, I said for Aberystwyth station. I would hope a standard solution can be developed.

Pembroke Dock

Pembroke Dock station only has a single terminal platform.

My comments would be similar to what, I said for Aberystwyth station. I would hope a standard solution can be developed.

Pwllheli

Pwhelli station is a only has a single terminal platform.

This Google Map shows the location of the station.

The stsation is at the North West corner of the bay.

My first reaction, when I saw this was that I have to go.

So I took a closer look at the station instead.

I suspect that fitting a charging facility into the station, wouldn’t be the most difficult of engineering problems. Although, there might be a problem getting a good enough connection to the National Grid.

Shewsbury

Shrewsbury station is a five-platform station.

This Google Map shows the station’s unusual location over the River Severn.

It must be one of few stations in the world, where trains enter the station from three different directions.

  • From Crewe and Chester to the North.
  • From Hereford and Wales to the South.
  • From Birmingham and Wolverhampton in the East.

Adding electrification to all or selected platforms should allow trains to recharge and be on their way.

  • Under current timetables, dwell times in Shrewsbury are up to eight minutes.
  • I would suspect the train times could be adjusted, so that trains left the station with full batteries.

With battery-electric services to Aberystwyth, Birmingham International, Birmingham New Street, Cardiff Central, Chester, Crewe, Hereford, Holyhead, London Euston, Manchester, Pwllheli and Swansea, it will be a very important station.

Swansea

Swansea station has four terminal platforms.

A charging facility could be added to an appropriate number of platforms.

Or perhaps, the last few miles of track into the station should be electrified, so trains could charge on the way in, charge in the station and charge on the way out.

Third Rail Electrification

I have suggested in this post, that 750 VDC third-rail electrification could be used in several places.

I will repeat what I said earlier, when discussing Chester station.

  • I’m an engineer, who deals in scientifically-correct solutions, not politically-correct ones, devised by jobsworths.
  • Maintenance staff at the station will be familiar with the technology.
  • Station staff and passengers will know about the dangers of third-rail electrification.
  • Trains connect and disconnect automatically to third-rail electrification.
  • Trains don’t have to stop to connect and disconnect, so passing trains can be topped-up.
  • Hitachi with the Class 395 train and Alstom with the Class 373 train, have shown even trains capable of 140 mph can be fitted with third-rail shoes to work safely at slower speeds on lines electrified using third-rail.
  • Modern control systems can control the electricity to the third-rail, so it is only switched on, when the train completes the circuit.

Third-rail electrification should be seriously considered.

A Standardised Terminal Solution

In this post, I mentioned that the following stations could be powered by a scandalised solution, as they are all one platform, terminal stations.

  • Aberystwyth
  • Blaenau Ffestiniog
  • Fishguard Harbour
  • Holyhead
  • Milford Haven
  • Pembroke Dock
  • Pwllheli

The system might also be applicable at Carmarthen and Swansea.

My view is that Vivarail’s Fast Track charging based on third-rail technology would be ideal. I discussed this technology in Vivarail Unveils Fast Charging System For Class 230 Battery Trains.

Conclusion

With a bit of ingenuity, all train services run by Transport for Wales, can be run with battery-electric trains.

 

July 9, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

A Pair Of Class 230 Trains In The Sun

The picture is from Vivarail and shows a pair of their Class 230 trains in the sun.

Compare it with this picture I took in 2014 and showed with others in Raw Material For A New Train.

The trains certainly scrub-up well.

The improvement is more than cosmetic, if you read this Press Release from Vivarail, which is entitled First Time Together – 230006 And 230007.

Features of this pair of trains for Transport for Wales include.

  • They are the UK’s first battery hybrid trains.
  • The trains are geo-fenced, so that the gensets are not used in sensitive areas or stations.
  • The batteries allow fast acceleration comparable with other electric trains.
  • The gensets charge the batteries.
  • They have high-specification interiors.

These trains must be an ultimate example of recycling, when you consider that the London Underground D78 Stock, on which the trains are based, were built around forty years ago.

Conclusion

I’m certainly looking forward to riding in these trains.

June 9, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , | 2 Comments

A Train With A Geo-Fence

This article on Rail Advent is entitled New Train For Wrexham to Bidston Line Begins Testing.

The testing of Vivarail‘s Class 230 train for Transport for Wales, is taking place along the Cotswold Line, prior to entering service.

This is the most significant paragraph in the article.

The train is also geo-fenced so that the gensets are never used in stations or sensitive areas, although, the batteries are extremely quiet anyway.

From personal experience of battery trains, including Vivarail’s prototype in Scotland, battery trains are very quiet.

May 26, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

Automated Vegetation Monitoring Technology Deployed In Train Cabs

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Transport for Wales has worked with technology company One Big Circle Ltd to fit trains with ‘smart’ cameras designed to automatically record, analyse and report lineside vegetation risks.

This is surely, a simple application of technology, that will spot vegetation problems, before they cause serious trouble.

April 10, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts On The Actual Battery Size In Class 756 Trains And Class 398 Tram-Trains

A Freedom of Information Request was sent to Transport for Wales, which said.

Please confirm the battery capacity and maximum distance possible under battery power for the Tram/Train, 3 & 4 Car Flirts.

The reply was as follows.

The batteries on the new fleets will have the following capacities: –

  • Class 756 (3-car) Flirt – 480 kWh
  • Class 756 (4-car) Flirt – 600 kWh
  • Class 398 tram-trains – 128 kWh

I will now have thoughts on both vehicles separately.

Class 756 Trains

In More On Tri-Mode Stadler Flirts, I speculated about the capacity of the batteries in the tri-mode Stadler Flirts, which are now called Class 756 trains, I said this.

I wonder how much energy storage you get for the weight of a V8 diesel, as used on a bi-mode Flirt?

The V8 16 litre diesel engines are made by Deutz and from their web site, it looks like they weigh about 1.3 tonnes.

How much energy could a 1.3 tonne battery store?

The best traction batteries can probably store 0.1 kWh per kilogram. Assuming that the usable battery weight is 1.2 tonnes, then each battery module could store 120 kWh or 360 kWh if there are three of them.

I also quoted this from the July 2018 Edition of Modern Railways.

The units will be able to run for 40 miles between charging, thanks to their three large batteries.

Since I wrote More On Tri-Mode Stadler Flirts in June 2018, a lot more information on the bi-mode Stadler Class 755 Flirt has become available and they have entered service with Greater Anglia.

Four-car trains weigh around 114 tonnes, with three-car trains around a hundred. I can also calculate kinetic energies.

How Good Was My Battery Size Estimate?

These are my estimate and the actual values for the three batteries in Class 756 trains

  • My estimate for Class 756 (3- & 4-car) – 120 kWh
  • Class 756 (3-car) Flirt – 160 kWh
  • Class 756 (4-car) Flirt – 200 kWh

So have Stadler’s battery manufacturer learned how to squeeze more kWh into the same weight of battery?

In Sparking A Revolution, I talked about Hitachi’s bullish plans for battery-powered trains, in a section called Costs and Power.

In that section, I used Hitachi’s quoted figures, that predicted a five tonne battery could hold a massive 15 MWh in fifteen years time.

If Stadler can get the same energy density in a battery as Hitachi, then their battery trains will have long enough ranges for many applications.

Class 398 Tram-Trains

In Sheffield Region Transport Plan 2019 – Tram-Trains Between Sheffield And Doncaster-Sheffield Airport, I showed this map of the route the trams would take.

I also said this about the tram-trains.

The distance between Rotherham Parkgate and Doncaster is under twelve miles and has full electrification at both ends.

The Class 399 tram-trains being built with a battery capability for the South Wales Metro to be delivered in 2023, should be able to reach Doncaster.

But there are probably other good reasons to fully electrify between Doncaster and Sheffield, via Meadowhall, Rotherham Central and Rotherham Parkgate.

The major work would probably be to update Rotherham Parkgate to a through station with two platforms and a step-free footbridge.

Currently, trains take twenty-three minutes between Rotherham Central and Doncaster. This is a time, that the tram-trains would probably match.

If you adopt the normal energy consumption of between three and five kWh per vehicle mile on the section without electrification between Rotherham Parkgate and Doncaster, you get a battery size of between 108 and 180 kWh.

It looks to me, that on a quick look, a 128 kWh battery could provide a useful range for one of Stadler’s Class 398/399 tram-trains.

Class 398 Tram-Trains Between Cardiff Bay and Cardiff Queen Street Stations

The distance between these two stations is six chains over a mile,

Adding the extra bit to the flourish might make a round trip between Cardiff Queen Street and The Flourish stations perhaps four miles.

Applying the normal energy consumption of between three and five kWh per vehicle mile on the section without electrification between Cardiff Queen Street and The Flourish, would need a battery size of between 36 and 60 kWh.

Conclusion

The battery sizes seem to fit the routes well.

 

 

March 11, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage, Transport | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Ready To Charge

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in Issue 898 of Rail Magazine.

This is the sub-title of the article.

Vivarail could be about to revolutionise rail traction with its latest innovation

The article details their plans to bring zero-carbon trains to the UK.

These are a few important more general points.

  • The diesel gensets in the trains can be eco-fenced to avoid unning on diesel in built-up areas.
  • The Transport for Wales trains could be the last Vivarail diesel trains.
  • A 100 kWh battery pack is the same size as a diesel generator. I would assume they are almost interchangeable.
  • Various routes are proposed.
  • In future battery trains will be Vivarail’s focus.
  • At the end of 2020, a battery demonstration train will be dispatched to the United States.
  • Two-car trains will have a forty-mile range with three-cars managing sixty.
  • Trains could be delivered in nine to twelve months.

The company also sees Brexit as an opportunity and New Zealand as a possible market.

Modifying Other Trains

The article also states that Vivarail are looking at off-lease electric multiple units for conversion to battery operation.

Vivarail do not say, which trains are involved.

Vivarail’s Unique Selling Point

This is the last two paragraphs of the article.

“Our unique selling point is our Fast Charge system. It’s a really compelling offer.” Alice Gillman of Vivarail says.

Vivarail has come a long way in the past five years and with this innobvative system it is poised to bring about a revolution in rail traction in the 2020s.

Conclusion

Could the train, that Vivarail refused to name be the Class 379 trains?

  • There are thirty trainsets of four-cars.
  • They are 100 mph trains.
  • They are under ten years old.
  • They meet all the Persons of Reduced Mobility regulations.
  • They currently work Stansted Airport and Cambridge services for Greater Anglia.
  • They are owned by Macquarie European Rail.

I rode in one yesterday and they are comfortable with everything passengers could want.

The train shown was used for the BEMU Trial conducted by Bombardier, Network Rail and Greater Anglia.

The only things missing, for these trains to run a large number of suitable routes under battery power are.

  • A suitable fast charging system.
  • Third rail equipment that would allow the train to run on lines with third-rail electrification.
  • Third rail equipment would also connect to Vivarail’s Fast Charge system

As I have looked in detail at Vivarail’s engineering and talked to their engineers, I feel that with the right advice and assistance, they should be able to play a large part in the conversion of the Class 379 fleet to battery operation.

These trains would be ideal for the Uckfield Branch and the Marshlink Line.

If not the Class 379 trains, perhaps some Class 377 trains, that are already leased to Southern, could be converted.

I could see a nice little earner developing for Vivarail, where train operating companies and their respective leasing companies employ them to create battery sub-fleets to improve and extend their networks.

February 16, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Would It Have Been Better To Scrap HSTs, Abandon Class 769 Trains And Use Stadler Bi-Mode Flirts Instead?

I have ridden for several hours in Greater Anglia'[s new Class 755 trains and they seem to make good trains for scenic rural lines.

From December 16th, we’ll be seeing them work between Stansted and Norwich, which will show their mettle as true bi-modes working a partially-electrified route.

By mid-next year they will be working the following partially-electrified routes.

  • Liverpool Street and Lowestoft
  • Colchester and Peterborough
  • Norwich and Stansted
  • Ipswich and Cambridge
  • Sudbury and Colchester Town

I think that about forty percent of these routes are electrified and they also include a lot of 100 mph lines.

ScotRail

These Greater Anglia routes are not unlike some of the ScotRail Inter7City routes, which are to be run by shorterned four- and five-car HSTs.

Both trains have been late because of training and other issues, but delivery of the HSTs seems to have got stuck round various remanufacturing problems at Wabtec.

Would ScotRail have done better to follow their sister company Greater Anglia and buy some Class 755 trains to their specification?

Consider the advantages of the Inter7City over the Class 755 train.

  • Nostalgia
  • Well-known engineering
  • Comfortable

They could have been obtained at an affordable price.

But they do come with disadvantages.

  • Forty years old
  • Two big diesel engines
  • They are rather dark and dingy inside.

The Class 755 trains also have the following advantages.

  • They would help to remove diesel power from Edinburgh, Glasgow Queen Street and Stirling stations.
  • They have large picture windows ideal for looking at lakes and mountains.
  • Some seats are raised for a better view.
  • They are genuine 100 mph trains, which could be uprated to 125 mph, so would be ideal for incursions on the fast routes to England.
  • They’re probably ready to fit ERTMS.
  • They come in various lengths.
  • They are able to be modified for battery-electric operation.
  • I suspect hydrogen operation will be possible in the future.

But the biggest advantage is that they could extend Scotland’s electric network by using the bi-mode capability.

Think.

  • Fife Circle
  • Borders Railway
  • West Kilbride
  • Perth
  • West Highland Line

I think Scotland could really get to love these trains.

Great Western Railway

I could see a case for running shortened HSTs in the far South West, where GWR call them Castles, mainly on nostalgia and tourism grounds, but Class 755 trains would surely be better running the following partially-electrified services.

  • Henley and Paddington
  • Oxford and Gatwick via Reading
  • Oxford and Paddington
  • Cardiff and Taunton
  • Cardiff and Portsmouth Harbour

Often, they would be replacing Class 156 or Class 769 trains.

  • Some would need to be fitted with third-rail equipment.
  • The Gatwick services could be given an airport interior.
  • I suspect a 125 mph capability is available.
  • The Class 769 trains seem to be late in arriving.

I have no doubt in my mind, that the new Stadler trains are much better than the refurbished British Rail trains.

Transport For Wales

Transport for Wales have ordered a selection of bi-mode and tri-mode Flirts.

They must have good reasons for buying a selection of trains, rather than buying more Flirts.

Probably cost!

All these routes could be run using bi-mode Flirts

  • Cardiff and Holyhead
  • Birmingham International and Holyhead
  • Manchester Airport and Llandudno
  • Crewe and Chester
  • Chester and Liverpool Lime Street
  • Milford Haven and Manchester Piccadilly
  • Birmingham International and Aberystwyth via Shrewsbury
  • Birmingham International and Pwllheli via Shrewsbury
  • Heart of Wales Line
  • Conwy Valley Line

Some of these routes are partially electrified and use lines with a 125 mph operating speed.

Answering The Question In The Title

I very much feel that bi-mode Flirts would be better trains than shortened HSTs and Class 769 trains.

  • They are new trains.
  • They can use electrification, where it is present.
  • The appear to be capable of uprating to 125 mph.
  • They have good viewing for scenic routes because of large windows and some raised seats.
  • They are comfortable with a good ride.
  • They are able to be modified for battery-electric operation.
  • I suspect hydrogen operation will be possible in the future.

I  suspect their one downside is cost.

Conclusion

Bi-mode and tri-mode Flirts and other similar trains will proliferate and within ten years we’ll have seen the last of pure diesel trains in the UK.

I suspect that most of the shortened HSTs will have gone by 2030.

 

December 2, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Did Someone Try To Steal The Electrification?

I arrived at Ipswich station to come back to London at 09:30 this morning and finally arrived home at 15:00. The journey had taken at least four times longer than it should.

This article on Railnews, which has a subtitle of Overhead Line Damage Disrupts Great Eastern, explains the problem.

The wires between Colchester and Marks Tey stations were damaged at around four in the morning and trains didn’t run again until about 1700.

This is a paragraph that adds more details.

overhead line damage was discovered between Colchester and Marks Tey. Network Rail workers reported shortly before 04.45 that overhead line equipment was tripping, and a train driver reported ‘visible damage’ to the power lines.

I eventually came home by this route.

  • I took a train to Class 153 train to Cambridge.
  • Another electric train took me to to Tottenham Hale,.
  • It was then two buses home.

It was a completely wasted day.

What puzzles me is that the damage to the wires appears to have happened, when no trains were running. So that seems to indicate they either just fell down for no apparent reason or someone was up to no good.

Years ago, I did some work for British Rail and they talked about all sorts of groups getting up to all sorts f tricks to steal copper. signalling cable.

The crooks would even repeatedly cut fibre optic signalling cables, in the hope it would be replaced by copper, so they could nick that!

I shall await the report of what happened yesterday with interest!

Greater Anglia Were Short Of Trains

I took this picture, when I arrived at Ipswich.

It shows the Ipswich to Cambridge service that gives a good connection to the train from London. For several years, it has been a smart three-car Class 170 train. This is a rwo-car Class 156 train.

  • Greater Anglia were also apologising for the connecting Lowestoft service being just a one car; Class 153 train.
  • It appeared to me, that Greater Anglia has sent nearly all of their Class 170 trains to Wales.
  • And yet again, Greater Anglia are looking after their Norwich customers and heaping all the inadequate rolling stock on Ipswich.
  • Are the new Class 755 trains and their drivers ready?

It looks to me, to be a management cock-up.

Train For Cambridge Anybody?

This was my train to Cambridge.

As I said, it was normally a three-car Class 170 train, but this is an inadequate Class 153 train, which went they ran between Ipswich and Cambridge generally ran in pairs.

Gerald Fiennes and Delia Smith at Dullingham

At least I only had to wait ten minutes at Cambridge for my Tottenham Hale train.

Greater Anglia’s Response

The staff at Ipswich did their best, but there did seem to be a biit of bad leadership from somewhere as at one point, it was announced that a London train would be running and I don’t think it did.

To make matters worse, as we ran into Cambridge, we passed two brand new Class 755 trains in the sidings. Are they parked their ready to start the service?

This article on the East Anglian Daily Times is entitled We’re Completely Stuck – it’s A Joke’ – Rail Passengers’ Anger At Train Chaos.

It shows a large degree of management failure.

Planning For The Future

The electrification on the Great Eastern Main Line appears to be notoriously unreliable.

Network Rail must get it better! But they don’t seem to be doing a good job, as I have had pain getting to Ipswich for six years, whilst they are updating the wires!

I believe that the best insurance for the train services would be to do the following, as soon as possible.

  • Increase services on the Ipswich and Cambridge route to two trains per hour (tph) using four-car Class 755 trains. One would be direct and the other would have a change at Ely.
  • Increase services on the Norwich and Cambridge route to two tph using four-car Class 755 trains. One would be direct and the other would have a change at Ely.
  • Start running the London and Lowestoft service using four-car Class 755 trains.
  • Make sure that, it is possible to run routes with pairs of Class 755 trains.
  • Ensure, that Class 755 trains can run London and Norwich via Cambridge.

As an example yesterday, a six-car Class 755 formation formed of two three-car trains shuttling between Ipswich and Cambridge, would probably have solved the problem.

But I do think that East Anglia’s rail problems might be best served by running a new direct service between London Kings Cross and Norwich.

As I have said several times, the Kings Cross and Cambridge and/or Kings Lynn service needs to be upgraded to 140 mph trains to make the most of the 140 mph running on the Southern section of the East Coast Main Line.

So why not run the following services?

  • Hourly between Kings Cross and Kings Lynn via Cambridge.
  • Hourly between Kings Cross and Norwich via Cambridge.

The trains could be Hitachi AT-300 trains with a battery capability sufficient to take the train North of Ely.

Conclusion

Did someone try to steal the electrification?

I will await the answer as to what happened with interest.

October 26, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Pacers To Continue Into 2020, Operators Confirm

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Operators have confirmed that their Pacer diesel multiple-units will remain in service into early 2020, in spite of previous announcements that the unpopular four-wheeled vehicles dating from the 1980s would be withdrawn before enhanced PRM accessibility requirements come into force on January 1 2020.

The article then summarises the situation in the three operators running Pacers.

Northern

Some Pacers used by Northern will continue in service into 2020, because of late delivery of new Class 195 diesel trains and Class 331 electric trains.

They are also still awaiting delivery of eight Class 769 trains, which are very late into service.

Great Western

Great Western has said, that some Pacers will continue in service around Exeter.

No reason is given, but it does appear that because of non-delivery of electrification to Oxford and the late arrival of Crossrail, Great Western they still need Class 165 and Class 166 trains to work services for London commuters.

They are also still awaiting delivery of nineteen Class 769 trains.

Transport For Wales

Transport for Wales are in the same position as Great Western, in that the Class 769 trains, they ordered have still not been delivered.

The Operator Will Get The Blame!

Obviously, the operator will get the blame, but I would argue that all three have at least tried hard to avoid this crisis, as they knew the Pacers would have to be on their way to the scrapyard at the end of 2019.

  • If CAF had delivered their trains for Northern on time, things would be much better in the North.
  • If Porterbrook and their engineers had delivered the Class 769 trains on time, all three operators would be in a better position.

Hopefully, in a few months, the new trains will have been delivered and the Class 769 trains will have been created and in service.

 

October 24, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment