The Anonymous Widower

Protests After Claim That Hitachi Has Lost T&W Contract

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

This is the introductory paragraphs.

There have been protests in north east England after a report claimed that Hitachi has been ruled out of the three-way contest to build a £500 million fleet for Tyne & Wear Metro.

The other contenders are CAF and Stadler, and the source of the claims says ‘insiders’ at Nexus have been told that Hitachi will be ‘overlooked’.

It should be noted that the two other bidders have orders for similar trains in the pipeline.

CAF

In TfL Awards Contract For New DLR Fleet To Replace 30-year-old Trains , I wrote about how CAF had been awarded the contract for new trains for the Docklands Light Railway.

I also said this about the possibility of CAF being awarded the contract for the new trains for the Tyne and Wear Metro.

In Bombardier Transportation Consortium Preferred Bidder In $4.5B Cairo Monorail, I indicated that as the trains on the Tyne and Wear Metro and the trains on the Docklands Light Railway, are of a similar height and width, it might be possible to use the same same car bodies on both trains.

So now that CAF have got the first order for the Docklands Light Railway, they must be in prime position to obtain the Tyne and Wear Metro order!

A second order would fit well with the first and could probably be built substantially in their South Wales factory.

Stadler

Stadler seem to be targeting the North, with new Class 777 trains for Merseyrail and Class 399 tram-trains for Sheffield and bids in for tram-trains and and new trains for the Tyne and Wear Metro.

Their trains are both quirky, accessible and quality and built to fit niche markets like a glove.

Only Stadler would produce a replacement for a diesel multiple unit fleet with a bi-mode Class 755 train, with the engine in the middle, that is rumoured to be capable of running at 125 mph.

Note the full step-free access between train and platform, which is also a feature of the Merseyrail trains.

Does the Tyre and Wear Metro want to have access like this? It’s already got it with the existing trains, as this picture at South Shields station shows.

Stadler’s engineering in this area, would fit their philosophy

I first thought that Stadler would propose a version of their Class 399 tram-trains. for the Tyne and Wear Metro and wrote Comparing Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles With Tyne And Wear Metro’s Class 994 Trains.

This was my conclusion.

I am led to the conclusion, that a version of the Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicle similar to those of the South Waes Metro, could be developed for the Tyne and Wear Metro.

My specification would include.

  • Length of two current Class 994 trains, which would be around 111 metres.
  • Walk through design with longitudinal seating.
  • Level access between platform and train at all stations.
  • A well-designed cab with large windows at each end.
  • Ability to use overhead electrification at any voltage between 750 and 1500 VDC.
  • Ability to use overhead electrification at 25 KVAC.
  • Pantographs would handle all voltages.
  • A second pantograph might be provided for reasons of reliable operation.
  • Ability to use onboard battery power.
  • Regenerative braking would use the batteries on the vehicle.

Note.

  1. Many of these features are already in service in Germany, Spain or Sheffield.
  2. The train would be designed, so that no unnecessary platform lengthening is required.
  3. As in Cardiff, the specification would allow street-running in the future.
  4. Could battery range be sufficient to allow new routes to be developed without electrification?

I also feel that the specification should allow the new trains to work on the current network, whilst the current trains are still running.

But since I wrote that comparison in June 2018, Merseyrail’s new trains have started to be delivered and Liverpudlians have started to do what they do best; imagine!

The Tyne and Wear Metro has similar ambitions to expand the network and would a version of the Class 777 train fit those ambitions better?

Conclusion

I wouldn’t be surprised if Hitachi misses out, as the experience of the Docklands Light Railway or Merseyrail fed into the expansion of the Tyne and Wear Metro could be the clincher of the deal.

They would also be the first UK customer for the Hitachi trains.

 

September 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

TfL Awards Contract For New DLR Fleet To Replace 30-year-old Trains

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

I don’t think this is a surprise, as the winning design is based on CAF’s Metro train, which is in widespread use, in Europe and around the world.

The Trains

They would appear to be of a similar specification to most modern Metro trains, as would be expected.

The Possibility Of A Second Order

In Bombardier Transportation Consortium Preferred Bidder In $4.5B Cairo Monorail, I indicated that as the trains on the Tyne and Wear Metro and the trains on the Docklands Light Railway, are of a similar height and width, it might be possible to use the same same car bodies on both trains.

So now that CAF have got the first order for the Docklands Light Railway, they must be in prime position to obtain the Tyne and Wear Metro order!

June 12, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | 1 Comment

Bombardier Transportation Consortium Preferred Bidder In $4.5B Cairo Monorail

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

This the first three paragraphs of the article.

Bombardier Transportation says its consortium has been named preferred bidder in a C$4.5 billion contract to build and supply a new monorail system in Egypt’s capital.

The company’s potential share of the design and build contract for the system in Cairo is C$1.8 billion with an operations and maintenance deal valued at about C$1.67 billion over 30 years.

The 54-kilometre monorail will connect East Cairo with the New Administrative City and a second 42-km line will connect 6th October City with Giza.

The railway division of Bombardier Inc. will deliver the project in partnership with two Egyptian companies Orascom Construction and the Arab Contractors with the trains being developed and built in Derby, Britain.

The article then mentions the Bombardier Innovia monorail.

  • The latest Innovia 300 monorail is automated and driverless.
  • These trains can travel at 80 kph
  • They can handle 48,000 passengers per hour in both directions.
  • The latest versions are manufactured in Brazil, Canada and China
  • The latest versions are installed or planned in Brazil, China, Saudi Arabia and Thailand.

I think there must be more to this project than the article in the Toronto Star.

What Are The Strengths Of The Innovia 300 Monorail?

This is Bombardier’s video of the monorail.

It looks to be a well-designed system, that has several strengths.

  • It is automated and driverless.
  • Cars are short and the trains can take quite curves, with as low as a 46 metre radius.
  • Trains can have up to eight cars. The Cairo trains will be four cars.
  • The latest cars look stylish, with cab design not unlike an Aventra.
  • The cars appear to be walkthrough.
  • The track is a slender concrete beam with walkways on either side for passenger evacuation and maintenance.
  • The tracks wouldn’t necessarily have to be elevated.
  • Construction could be quicker than a conventional railway.
  • It could also be built to travel over roads, railways, water and building, by placing the beam at the right height.

I would like to see one in operation, but Brazil is a long way, so I’ll stick with the video for the moment.

Why Develop And Build In Derby?

Why would a big company like Bombardier, with already three production lines for the monorail, want to setup another production line in Derby?

Bombardier say that the trains will also be developed in Derby.

Perhaps, some or all of these reasons apply.

  • The cross-section of an Innovia 300 monorail car looks to be about the size of a British train.
  • Can Derby’s manufacturing technology that has been used successfully to build Electrostar and Aventra bodies be applied to the Innovia monorail.
  • Derby has good relations with a large number of appropriate suppliers in the UK and Europe.
  • The new version will use the Aventra parts bin to cut development and manufacturing costs.
  • Supporting the Egyptian system from Derby will not be difficult.
  • Canada has better relations with the UK, than Brazil or China.

But even so, development could surely have been continued in Canada.

So Bombardier must have very good reasons!

Are Bombardier Proposing A Closely-Related Design For The Tyne And Wear Metro?

The current Class 994 trains of the Tyne and Wear Metro have the following dimensions.

  • Width – 2.65 metres
  • Height – 3.45 metres
  • Car Length – 27.8 metres
  • Train Length – 55.6 metres

The Class 710 train, which is an Aventra has the following dimensions.

  • Width – 2.77 metres
  • Height – 3.76 metres

So it would appear that the standard Aventra might be too large to fit the Metro, where Bombardier are approved bidders.

It does appear that Bombardier have designed the Aventra’s body from three aluminium extrusions, so these could be resized to fit the smaller dimensions of the Metro.

But looking at the video of the Innovia 300 monorail, I get the impression, that above the floor, the body might be almost the same size as that needed for the trains for the Metro.

So Bombardier would need to design an appropriate chassis, to replace that used for the monorail.

This could mean that the bodies on both trains could be identical.

  • Four fifteen metre cars, would give a length of sixty metres.
  • If longer trains are needed, then extra cars could be inserted up to a length of eight cars.
  • The trains would be walk-through with lots of doors for easy exit according to the video.
  • The four-car design would enable tight curves could be negotiated.
  • There would surely be advantages in support and maintenance.
  • Cabs could be provide for the driver if required.

I also believe that any new trains must have step-free access between train and platform. This picture shows a current train at South Shields station.

 

That is not bad for a system that opened forty years ago.

I would think that Bombardier will make the access better, when designing a new chassis from scratch.

But the big advantages of commonality between the Innovia monorail and the Metro cars, would be in the areas of support and expansion or lengthening of the fleet in the future.

What About The Docklands Light Railway?

The Docklands Light Railway like the Tyne and Wear Metro, is another one-off system, that is incompatible with most other rail systems in the UK.

The DLR is intending to replace the rolling stock and Bombardier has been shortlisted.

The current trains of the DLR have the following dimensions.

  • Width – 2.65 metres
  • Height – 3.47 metres
  • Car Length – 28 metres
  • Train Length – 56 metres

Give or take a few millimetres, they are almost the same size as the trains on the Tyne and Wear Metro.

Could we see similar trains on the Tyne and Wear Metro and the Docklands Light Railway?

Wikipedia says that the new DLR fleet will be 87 metres long, so could that mean six 14.5 metre cars?

A Possible Tram-Train?

Bombardier build trams and have supplied them to the UK.

The UK has just started to develop tram-train systems, with the South Wales Metro being developed in the next few years with Class 399 tram-trains.

If Bombardier use the concept, I’ve outlined here for the Tyne and Wear Metro and the Docklands Light Railway, I believe it is only a short development to get a tram-train, that could run in the UK

I’m sure that they could get it to work in Blackpool, where the company supplied their trams for the Blackpool tramway.

Are Bombardier Expecting Orders From Europe?

It was only in 2014, that the first Innovia 300 monorail route, Line 15 (São Paulo Metro), opened in Brazil.

But since then, have several Transport Authorities, City Councils and Governments visited Brazil to have a look?

Do Bombardier feel that they will be selling other systems in Europe?

If so, then Derby will be an excellent sales, development,  production and support base.

Could We See Some Monorails In The UK?

If you look at the list of Bombardier Innovia systems on Wikipedia, there are several short systems at places like airports and theme parks and a few longer systems of which the Cairo system will be the longest.

I can see opportunities for the shorter distance systems.

  • As a part of developments of Heathrow Airport’s third runway.
  • As a part of the development of Gatwick Airport’s second runway.
  • Linking Ebbsfleet International and Northfleet stations.
  • Linking East Midlands Airport to East Midlands Parkway station.
  • Linking the proposed Eden Centre at Morecambe with Lancaster station.
  • Linking Bristol Airport to the City Centre
  • Greenhithe station to the Bluewater shopping Centre.
  • It could be a modern replacement for the Liverpool Overhead Railway.

There are probably other locations at stations, airports and theme parts, where Innovia monorail systems could be installed.

As to a longer system in the UK, the only one I can think off would be to link High Speed Two at East Midlands Hub station to Derby and Nottingham and perhaps East Midlands Airport.

But then that would then be a system on Derby’s doorstep.

Conclusion

There are possibilities and with a billion pound-plus order, the project could be on its way!

But surely, the big advantage to Bombardier is if they get the orders for the new trains for the Tyne and Wear Metro and the Docklands Light Railway, they can create trains with a lot of shared components for all three applications.

The two UK systems would get trains that weren’t totally unique, which must ease maintenance and future expansions of the respective systems.

 

 

May 28, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 5 Comments

‘Washington Feels Like An Island’ – Minister Agrees To Consider Case For Bringing Metro To Town After MP Raises Issue In Parliament

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

These are the first two paragraphs.

She asked: “What assessment he has made of the potential merits of extending the Tyne and Wear Metro to Washington?”

She added: “Residents of Washington often feel like the town is an island compared with neighbouring cities and towns. It contains 70,000 of my constituents, 70% of whom use their car to get to work.

The Minister thanked the  MP for her comments and said they would be taken into consideration.

Washington station was on the Leamside Line. There have been plans for over ten years to reopen this line to passenger trains linked to the Tyne and Wear Metro.

Under Proposed Extensions And Suggested Improvements in the Wikipedia entry for the Tyne and Wear Metro this is said.

Washington, either via the disused Leamside line or a new route. Present planning may lead to the Leamside line being opened at least as far as Washington as a conventional rail line for passengers as well as freight, although this could be shared with Metro trains in the same way as the line from Pelaw Junction to Sunderland. In 2009 ATOC suggested reopening the Leamside line as far south as Washington.[70] On 12 July 2010 local MP Sharon Hodgson started an online petition on the website of local radio station Sun FM to get the Metro extended to Washington.

It is also intriguing to look at the specification for the new trains, where this is said.

During supplier engagement events in 2018, Nexus have now removed the provision for dual voltage operation from the specification, with preference for passive provision for future battery storage technology.

These are my thoughts.

  • Battery technology is an interesting possibility for an extension of the Tyne and Wear Metro to Washington, as it’s only a few miles.
  • The junction between the Leamside Line and the Tyne and Wear Metro would be easier to build, if trains only went North to Newcastle.
  • Heavy rail could be used to Washington, but on balance it would probably be easier to use the Metro, as where would heavy rail trains turn?
  • There is also a good suggestion to develop a South Shields to Sunderland service. This would balance services to Sunderland, if some Sunderland services were switched to Washington.

There certainly seems to be a lot of support for reopening railways in the North East!

 

 

March 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Merseyrail’s Battery Intentions

In New Merseyrail Fleet A Platform For Future Innovations, I quoted from  this article on the Rail Technology Magazine web site.

The article mainly is an interview with David Powell, who is programme director of rolling stock at Merseytravel.

This is a direct quote from the article.

We will be exploring, with Stadler, what the options are for having the trains becoming self-powered. This isn’t the bi-modes that lots of other people are talking about in the industry; this is on-board electrical storage.

The Wikipedia entry for Merseyrail links to this document, which puts a lot more flesh on Merseyrail’s intentions for battery trains.

It outlines strategies for the following routes.

Ellesmere Port And Helsby

The document says this.

There is a reasonable business case for extending the Merseyrail service through to Helsby.
However this is likely to be best served by the use of Merseyrail battery powered enabled
services. This will be tested on the new units in 2020.

According to Wikipedia, the sixth Class 777 train to be delivered will be fitted with batteries.

Currently, the service between Liverpool Central and Ellesmere Port stations is as follows.

  • A train every thirty minutes.
  • Trains take eighty-five minutes to do the round trip from Ellesmere Port round the Wirral Loop under Liverpool and back to Ellesmere Port.
  • There are thirty-one stops on the route.
  • There is a five minute turnround at Ellesmere Port station.

Two trains are needed to run the service.

The Current Class 507/508 trains and the future Class 777 trains both have the same operating speed, but there are performance differences.

The British Rail trains have 656 kW of power per train, whereas every new Stadler train will have 2,100 kW. The speed may be the same, but the acceleration will be much greater if needed and and the regenerative braking should be powerful and smoothly controlled.

  • Figures for the Class 313 train, which is similar to the Class 507/508 trains show a top speed of 75 mph and an acceleration of 0.67 m/s².
  • Figures for the Class 777 train show a top speed of 75 mph and an acceleration of 1.1 m/s².

These figures mean that a Class 507 train will get to 75 mph in 125 seconds, whereas the new Stadler trains will take just 76 seconds.

In addition, loading and unloading of passengers with their increasing levels of extras will be much faster due to the hollistic design of the trains and the platforms on the new Stadler trains.

It would not be unrealistic to see around a minute saved at every stop.

I think this level of improvement could be expected, with all the modern trains in the UK.

The extended service between Ellesmere Port and Helsby stations is not much extra distance and time.

  • Just over five miles each way.
  • About thirteen minutes each way , based on existing services on the route.

So if the terminus were to be moved to Helsby, when the new trains are in service, the time savings between Ellesmere Port and Liverpool should cover the extra distance.

It should also be noted about Helsby station.

  • It has four platforms and could probably handle four trains per hour (tph).
  • A platform with a charging station could be created.
  • It has a wide selection of services including Chester, Llandudno, Manchester and Warrington.

To my mind, Liverpool to Helsby would be an ideal route for a battery electric train.

Ormskirk-Preston Enhancements

The document says this.

This incorporates both electrification from Ormskirk through to Preston and the potential
reintroduction one or both of the Burscough Curves. In view of the deferral of electrification
proposals, and the relative low ranking of the electrification proposal in the Northern Sparks
report, it is unlikely that the electrification proposal is expected to be taken forward in the
near future. In addition to this, the business case for extending electrification to Burscough,
and the introduction of the southern Burscough Curve, is poor. The potential use of battery
powered Merseyrail units may improve the business case for both proposals. This will be
reviewed after the Merseyrail units have been tested for battery operation in 2020.

Currently, the service between Ormskirk and Preston stations is as follows.

  • A train every hour.
  • Trains take around thirty minutes to go between the two terminal stations.
  • The route is fifteen and a half miles long.
  • There are three stops on the route.
  • There is a long turnround in a bay platform at Preston station.

At the present time, the service seems rather erratic, with some services replaced by buses and long connection times at Ormskirk.

The service between Liverpool Central and Ormskirk stations takes thirty-five minutes with eleven stops and is generally every fifteen minutes, with a half-hourly service in the evening and at weekends.

If a Class 777 train could use battery power, I estimate it could run between Liverpool Central and Preston stations within an hour.

This would surely open up the possibility of a new service between Liverpool and Preston.

  • It would take only a few minutes longer than the fifty-one minutes of a direct train between Liverpool Lime Street and Preston stations.
  • It would connect a lot of stations to the West Coast Main Line at Preston.
  • It would link the major sporting venues of Aintree, Anfield and Goodison or Everton’s new ground to the North.
  • At the Southern end, it could connect to Liverpool Airport.

The Class 777 trains would need to be able to do about thirty miles on battery power and if required, the technology exists to either top up the batteries at Preston or use a pantograph to access the overhead wires of the West Coast Main Line.

At the present time, the Ormskirk Branch Line between Ormskirk and Preston stations is only single track and probably needs resignalling, but I suspect that a four tph service could be run between Liverpool and Ormskirk, with two tph extended to Preston.

Extra track work, North of Ormskirk and the reinstatement of the Burscough curves would allow.

  • Four tph between Liverpool and Preston via Ormskirk.
  • A service between Liverpool and Southport via Ormskirk.
  • A service between Preston and Southport.

There is even the possibility of extending Liverpool and Preston services to Blackpool South station, if they used the overhead electrification through Preston to charge the batteries.

Borderlands Development

The document says this.

While the aspiration is to fully electrify the line, and incorporate it into the Merseyrail
network, this is very much a long term aspiration. In the interim period the aim is to develop
the line through the introduction of an improved diesel service. Merseytravel will work
closely with relevant cross-border organisations such as Growth Track 360 to bring this
about. There are a number of new station proposals for the line, the principal being a new
station close to the Deeside Industrial Park, which would improve the ability of the
workforce to access the site via public transport.

The Borderlands Line provides a service between Liverpool and Wrexham Central station with a change at Bidston station.

  • The twenty-seven miles between Wrexham Central and Bidston are not electrified.
  • The line is double-track throughout.
  • There are twelve stations on the line.
  • The service is hourly, but probably needs to be at least half-hourly.
  • The service takes about an hour between Wrexham and Bidston stations.

Using Class 777 trains on the route, using battery power between Bidston and Wrexham Central stations would enable.

  • A direct service, that terminated in the Wirral Loop under Liverpool.
  • An increased capacity at Bidston station.
  • A faster service.

I estimate that a time of perhaps seventy to eighty minutes between Liverpool Central and Wrexham Central stations will be possible.

There would be very little infrastructure work, except for new stations and the possible ability to top up batteries at Wrexham Central.

I suspect that political problems, rather than any railway ones will be larger.

Bootle Branch Electrification

The document says this.

A long term proposal which will need to be considered alongside the developing freight
strategy for the region and the expansion of the Port of Liverpool. The proposal envisages
the introduction of passenger services which will operate from the Bootle Branch into Lime
Street. An initial study is required to understand fully the freight requirements for the line
and what the realistic potential for operating passenger services over the line is.

The Bootle Branch is known as the Canada Dock Branch in Wikipedia.

Class 777 trains with a battery capability and the ability to use the overhead electrification into Liverpool Lime Street would be able to serve this route, without the need for electrification.

Obviously, if for freight efficiency, the route was electrified, the trains could use it as needed.

North Mersey Branch

The document says this.

A long term proposal; this envisages a new service operating from Ormskirk via Bootle into
Liverpool. It was reviewed as part of the Merseyrail Route Utilisation Strategy in 2009 which
identified a poor business case.

I can’t identify the actual route, but there are various rail alignments into and through the Docks.

Skelmersdale

The document says this.

Merseytravel is currently working with Lancashire County Council and Network Rail to
develop the Merseyrail network from Kirkby through to Skelmersdale. This work is expected
to be completed in 2019. Further development work will be required before this project is
implemented. While 3rd rail electrification is being considered currently, alternatives will be
considered later in the development process. A new station at Headbolt Lane to serve the
Northwood area of Kirkby is an integral part of this proposal. The potential to extend the
network further through to Wigan will need to be developed separately.

I wrote about this plan in Merseyrail To Skelmersdale – How To Plan A New Rail-Link.

Thoughts On Battery Size And Range

Thjis article on Railway Gazette is entitled Battery Trial Planned For New EMU Fleet.

This is the first paragraph.

The sixth of the 52 four-car 750 V DC third rail electric multiple-units which Stadler is to supply for Merseyrail services around Liverpool is to be fitted with a 5 tonne battery to test the business case for energy storage. While all the EMUs will be equipped for regenerative braking, this is not seen as optimal on the Merseyrail network.

I find the last part of this paragraph difficult.

Does it mean the trains can use regenerative braking, but that it is not worth using?

This media release on the Stadler web site is entitled Stadler Signs Contract To Build And Maintain 52 Metro Trains For
Liverpool City Region.

This is a sentence.

The units will also be equipped with batteries that allow independent movement of the units in the workshop and depot areas.

Out of curiosity, what will be the kinetic energy of the four-car trains at the full speed of 75 mph

  • The train weight is given as 99 tonnes in Wikipedia.
  • The passenger capacity is 484, with a weight of 90 Kg each.
  • This gives a train weight of 142.56 tonnes.

Putting these figures into Omni’s Kinetic Energy Calculator gives a kinetic energy of 22.3 kWh.

I feel that this fairly low amount of energy could be held in a 60 kWh battery, that would probably come from a hybrid bus and weigh about 600 Kg.

I would be very surprised if Stadler are not using a smaller battery to do the following.

  • Handle regenerative braking.
  • Independent movement in the workshop and depot areas.
  • Train power in sidings and platforms.

It could also handle, train rescue to a safe evacuation point, in the event of power failure. I suspect that like Crossrail in London, Merseyrail would be very happy to have an independent recovery system in the tunnels under Liverpool, Birkenhead and the River Mersey.

In How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 mph?, I estimated that using 3 kWh per vehicle mile is not a bad estimate for the energy use of an electric train running at speeds in excess of 100 mph.

Using this figure would give  a range on a 60 kWh battery of at least five miles, which would move the train out of the tunnels if the power failed.

But we’re talking about a modern lightweight train running on probably newly relaid track and my 3 kWh per vehicle mile could be a little on the high side.

Stadler are talking of fitting the sixth train with a fifty five battery, which would probably have a capacity of around 500 kWh.

Using various consumption figures, the range would be as follows.

  • 3 kWh per vehicle mile – 42 miles
  • 2 kWh per vehicle mile – 62 miles
  • 1 kWh per vehicle mile – 125 miles

Stadler and their battery supplier are probably working on.

  • A train that uses less electricity.
  • More efficient regenerativer braking.
  • A more intelligent train control system.
  • Increased energy density in the battery.
  • Efficient charging systems.
  • A plug-in battery pack that can be added and removed in minutes.

As a Control and Electrical Engineer, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that the control, electrical and software system of trains with and without the five tonne battery are identical and some just have a larger amount of energy storage.

Range on battery power can only increase!

Consider the lengths of some of the routes discussed earlier.

  • Ellesmere Port and Helsby – 5 miles
  • Ormskirk and Preston – 16 miles
  • Bidston and Wrexham Central – 27  miles

Only the last route might need a charging station at the remote terminal.

My Own Speculation On Routes

I think there could be other routes that could easily be run by Class 777 trains running on battery power.

Onward From Hunts Cross

The current service between Hunts Cross and Manchester Oxford Road stations is only two tph, using rather suspect rolling stock.

  • Under Merseyrail and London Overground rules, it should be at least four tph to give travellers a Turn-Up-And-Go service.
  • The stations are of variable quality, but are being improved and will soon be joined by a new station at Warrington Wrst.
  • There is a lot of new developments along the route.
  • The service terminates in a convenient bay-platform at Manchester Oxford Road station.
  • The service calls at Deansgale station for the Manchester Metrolink.

The route could be developed into a City-Centre-to-City-Centre and commuter route for both Liverpool and Manchester.

So could this route be run by Class 777 trains using battery power?

Consider.

  • Hunts Cross and Manchester Oxford Road are just twenty-seven miles apart.
  • The last couple of miles to Oxford Road is electrified with 25 KVAC overhead wires.
  • Hunts Cross is electrified with 750 VDC third-rail.

It will be a Liverpool and Manchester Railway for the Twenty-First Century

I think it is one of those problems, where the engineering is easy, but the politics will be very difficult.

Onward From Headbolt Lane

The current service between Liverpool and Kirkby, which will be extended to the new station at Headbolt Lane, is a a Turn-Up-And-Go service of four tph. But the onward service to Wigan and Manchester is just a very inadequate hourly-service.

Consider.

  • Headbolt Lane and Wigan are just twelve miles apart.
  • Plans are being developed to create a proper transport interchange at Wigan for the arrival of High Speed Two.
  • Wigan North Western is electrified with 25 KVAC overhead wires.
  • Kirkby is and Headbolt Lane will be electrified with 750 VDC third-rail.

It would appear to be very possible to extend Class 777 trains from Kirkby to Wigan using battery power.

More Trains For Merseyrail

This is a paragraph from the Stadler media release about Merseyrail’s new trains.

The new four-car trains will all be in service by 2021, with the first unit arriving for testing by the middle of 2019.
The value of the manufacture and maintenance contracts for the 52 trains is up to £700m and Merseytravel
also has the option to procure an additional 60 units of rolling stock.

If the options are taken up, this would more than double the size of the Merseyrail’s fleet.

But where will these trains connect to Liverpool City Centre?

Helsby, Preston, Skelmersdale, Wrexham Central and the other routes in Liverpool will all need more trains, but nothing like sixty trains.

So will we see Wigan and Warrington added to Merseyrail’s destinations? And what about Manchester?

Never say no to Liverpool and their Swiss co-conspirators!

Conclusion

It is a comprehensive expansion strategy, where much of the work to create the various extensions is performed by adding equipment to the trains in factories or depots, rather than by the disruptive installation of electrification.

It looks very much like a case of Have Swiss Train Will Travel.

But then, I think the London Overground is using a similar strategy to expand in partnership with Bombardier.

Other networks like the Tyne & Wear Metro and those in cities like Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow and Leeds will be using similar philosophies of battery trams, tram-trains and trains.

Cardiff has already disclosed their plans and Stadler are building the trains for the South Wales Metro.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 21, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bidders For New Tyne And Wear Metro Fleet Revealed

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

The approved bidders are.

I am sure all will be good bids, but there are various factors that must be taken into account.

Current Rolling Stock

The current rolling stock has a slightly smaller cross section than most of the UK.

Although, some lines are shared with other trains like Grand Central’s InterCity 125s.

As new and old rolling stock will probably have to work together, they’ll probably need to be a similar size.

Modern manufacturing should handle that with ease.

Dual Voltage

I suspect that new route opportunities for the Metro will involve excursions on lines with 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

I doubt this is a problem these days.

Battery Power

Some new routes would be ideal for battery power.

As with dual voltage, this should not be a problem.

UK Experience

All bidders except for the Australian/Chinese joint venture of Downer EDI/CRRC have made significant sales in the UK.

Stadler is the interesting company, as they seem to be able to design bespoke trains for the local area, that seem to win bids.

  • Class 399 tram-trains for the tram-train trial in Sheffield.
  • Class 745 and Class 755 trains for Greater Anglia.
  • Class 777 trains for Merseyrail.
  • Citylink tram-trains and diesel/electric/battery tri-mode Flirts for the South Wales Metro.
  • Trains for the Glasgow Subway.

Stadler seem to have a library of standard solutions, that allows them to create smaller fleets to a slightly non-standard specification.

UK Manufacturing

All companies except Downer EDI/CRRC and Stadler have UK factories.

I can’t see the Australian/Chinese joint venture building a factory in the UK for a £362 million contract for one order in the North East, even though CRRC would probably like to get more involved in the UK rolling stock market.

Stadler has an unusual manufacturing model, in that trains and bodies are built in factories in various parts of Europe and sometimes brought to Switzerland for final assembly and testing.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Stadler setting up a UK operation to support their increasing UK presence and perhaps do the interior fitting out for future orders.

As to Stadler, I think it should be noted, that with the exception of the Glasgow Subway trains, I suspect all their UK trains are capable of being towed on much of the UK rail network.

Brexit may also give Stadler, an opportunity to set up a factory outside the EU, but connected to it, by the Channel Tunnel.

Conclusion

As I said earlier, all bids will have a high quality and reasons for winning.

However, I do feel that the Downer EDI/CRRC bid may be discounted for reasons of geography and politics.

I also think we should be prepared for Stadler to offer an innovative bid similar to the ones that succeeded on Merseyside and in South Wales.

 

September 19, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Nexus Invites Bidders To Build New Metro Fleet

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Rail Magazine.

Reading the article, it appears that the contract will be awarded, by the end of 2019.

After writing Comparing Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles With Tyne And Wear Metro’s Class 994 Trains, I think it is highly likely that Stadler will be in pole position, with a member of the Citylink family.

June 12, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

Comparing Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles With Tyne And Wear Metro’s Class 994 Trains

As the Class 994 trains of the Tyne and Wear Metro, are being replaced, it will be interesting to compare them with the proposed Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles for the South Wales Metro.

New Trains For The Tyne And Wear Metro

Under Proposed New Fleet in the Wikipedia entry for Tyne and Wear Metro Rolling Stock this is said.

In November 2017, the Chancellor Philip Hammond announced that the government would provide £337 million towards the new fleet. The proposed new fleet would consist of 84 trains to replace the existing 90 train fleet, as Nexus believe that the improved reliability of the newer trains would allow them to operate the same service levels with fewer trains. These are proposed to have longitudinal seating instead of the 2+2 bench seating arrangement of the present fleet, and a full width drivers cab instead of the small driving booth of the existing trains. The proposed new fleet is planned to have dual voltage capability, able to operate on the Metro’s existing 1.5 kV DC electrification system and also the 25 kV AC used on the national rail network, to allow greater flexibility. Battery technology is also being considered.

Note.

  1. A dual-voltage capability will be required.
  2. Battery capability would be ideal for short movements and regenerative braking.
  3. In my, view longitudinal seating needs a walk-though capability.
  4. Currently, trains are two-car units and generally work in pairs.
  5. Trains can work in formations of three and four units, but the ability is not used.

If trains generally work in pairs would it be more affordable to have four-car trains?

Comparing Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles With The Current Tyne And Wear Class 994 Trains

In the following I will assume that the Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles are similar to Class 399 tram-trains, as they are both members of the Stadler Citylink family.

Train Width And Height

The width and height of the two vehicles are as follow.

  • Class 994 train – 2.65 x 3.45 metres
  • Class 399 tram-train – 2.65 x 3.60 metres

There’s not much difference here.

Train Length And Sections

  • Class 994 train – 55.6 metres and two sections.
  • Class 399 tram-train – 37.2 metres and three sections.
  • South Wales Metro’s Metro Vehicle – 40 metres (?) and three sections.

It should be noted that Citylink tram-trains in Valencia have four and five sections.

Having used the Class 378 trains, with their walk-through capability and longitudinal seating, on the London Overground for at least seven years, I believe there is no other way to design a high-capacity metro train.

So the Tyne and Wear Metro’s new trains could be 110 metres long and four walk-through sections.

  • This train would be the same length as two current trains working as a pair, which they generally do!
  • The design reduces the number of cabs.
  • Passengers distribute themselves along the train better.
  • Passengers can move to the convenient point to disembark at their destination.
  • On train staff are more prominent.

If in the future, the trains need more capacity, extra cars can be added.

Train Capacity

  • Class 994 train – 64 seats and 188 standing.
  • Class 399 tram-train – 88 seats and 150 standing
  • South Wales Metro’s Metro Vehicle – 129 seats and 128 standing

This works out as.

  • Class 994 train – 9 passengers per metre.
  • Class 399 tram-train – 6.4 passengers per metre.
  • South Wales Metro’s Metro Vehicle – 6.4 passengers per metre.

Are we creating trains, that give passengers more space?

Doors

The Class 994 trains have two double-doors on each side of all cars.

But with Stadler Citylink vehicles, it appears the number is flexible.

  • Sheffield’s three-car Class 399 tram-trains have four double-doors on each side of the train.
  • Visualisations of the proposed Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles, show a double-door in each of three cars.
  • Karlsruhe’s version only appear to have a double-door on the two end cars on one side only.

It would appear that the customer gets what they want.

Maximum Speed

  • Class 994 train – 80 kph
  • Class 399 tram-train – 100 kph
  • Karlsruhe’s Citylink tram-trains – 80 kph

There is no speed given for South Wales Metro’s Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles, but they are replacing diesel trains with a 120 kph maximum speed.

As tram-trains share tracks with faster trains, I would expect that a maximum speed of at least 100 kph is needed.

Power Supply

  • Class 994 train – 1500 VDC
  • Class 399 tram-train – 750 VDC and 25 KVAC
  • South Wales Metro’s Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicle – 25 KVAC and battery.

I also suspect thst the Class 399 tram-train and other members of the Citylink family, can run for a few metres on battery power in order to bridge the gap between different voltages.

It is worth noting that future vehicles for the Tyne and Wear Metro will need to access both 1500 VDC and 25 KVAC. A possible battery capability is also mentioned.

I suspect that Stadler could easily produce a Citylink to work on all these common European voltages.

  1. 750 VDC
  2. 3000 VDC
  3. 15 KVAC
  4. 25 KVAC

All except 3000 VDC are already in service in Gerrmany, Spain or the UK.

So the Tyne and Wear Metro’s unusual 1500 VDC shouldn’t be a problem.

Minimum Curve Radius

Wikipedia says this about the minimum curve radius for a Class 994 train.

The vehicles have a minimum curve radius of 50 m (55 yd), although there are no curves this tight except for the non-passenger chord between Manors and West Jesmond.

This page on Wikipedia, says that the Karlsruhe Citylink tram-trains can handle a minimum cure radius of twenty-two metres.

Conclusion

I am led to the conclusion, that a version of the Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicle similar to those of the South Waes Metro, could be developed for the Tyne and Wear Metro.

My specification would include.

  • Length of two current Class 994 trains, which would be around 111 metres.
  • Walk through design with longitudinal seating.
  • Level access between platform and train at all stations.
  • A well-designed cab with large windows at each end.
  • Ability to use overhead electrification at any voltage between 750 and 1500 VDC.
  • Ability to use overhead electrification at 25 KVAC.
  • Pantographs would handle all voltages.
  • A second pantograph might be provided for reasons of reliable operation.
  • Ability to use onboard battery power.
  • Regenerative braking would use the batteries on the vehicle.

Note.

  1. Many of these features are already in service in Germany, Spain or Sheffield.
  2. The train would be designed, so that no unnecessary platform lengthening is required.
  3. As in Cardiff, the specification would allow street-running in the future.
  4. Could battery range be sufficient to allow new routes to be developed without electrification?

I also feel that the specification should allow the new trains to work on the current network, whilst the current trains are still running.

June 12, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 3 Comments

The Rather Ordinary Sunderland Station

The first impression given by a station when you arrive in a town or city is important.

Some like Cambridge, Kings Cross, Liverpool, London Bridge and Reading say you are arriving in a place that is important, but others fail to get over a positive message.

If you compare Sunderland station to those at Middlesbrough and Newcastle, it doesn’t score well.

This set of pictures shows the important Sunderland station, which serves a city of nearly 200,000 people.

it is very disappointing.

  • Passenger facilities are limited for a city, that is the size of Sunderland.
  • The lighting levels are not as high as the other Tyne and Wear Metro  stations, that are in tunnels.
  • It needs double escalators.
  • A coffee kiosk on the double platform would be welcome.

I get the impression that the station was designed down to a cost, rather than up to a passenger standard.

Station Capacity

The Metro currently runs five trains per hour (tph) between  NewcastleAirport and South Hylton stations. I suspect that the number of trains will increase when new trains run on this branch.

The Metro  has put forward proposals to run services on the Durham Coast Line to Seaham station. Four tph?

Northern will also be doubling the frequency of their hourly service between Middlesbrough and Newcastle.

These improvements could raise the train frequency from six to perhaps twelve tph.

Through trains will not be a problem, as with modern signalling and trains, the frequency of trains in both directions could be as high as the twenty tph, that will be running on the East London Line in a couple of years.

But would it be possible to turn Grand Central and Virgin services that terminate at Sunderland in the time available between Metro trains. The twelve minutes available at present with five Metro tph is obviously enough, but what if the Metro frequency were to be substantially increased?

As both Grand Central and Virgin would probably like to increase their frequencies to London, a solution will need to be found.

This diagram from Wikipedia, shows the track layout at Sunderland station.

This is the key to the diagram

  • Black lines: Track shared by Metro and mainline services, electrified at 1500 V DC overhead.
  • Green lines: Track used by Metro services only, electrified at 1500 V DC overhead.
  • Blue lines: Track used by mainline services only, not electrified.
  • Grey area: covered station shed.
  • Maroon area: Platforms.
  • Platform 1: Southbound mainline services.
  • Platform 2: Southbound Metro services.
  • Platform 3: Northbound Metro services.
  • Platform 4: Northbound mainline services.
  • A: Towards Newcastle
  • B: From Newcastle
  • C: From South Hylton
  • D: To South Hylton
  • E: Electrified siding
  • F: Non-electrified siding
  • G: From Middlesbrough
  • H: Towards Middlesbrough

I think an engineer named Baldrick has been at work and they’ve devised a cunning plan.

If you arrive from the South on the 16:38 Grand Central train, it appears that it returns at 17:31.

So does it use time profitably, by sitting in the non-electrified siding labelled F, where it is refuelled and restocked, whilst the crew get a well-needed rest?

Consider,

  • Let us suppose the frequency through Sunderland is twelve tph or a train every five minutes.
  • A train from London arrives in Platform 4 and would have five minutes to reverse into the siding.
  • When it leaves for London, it would a five minute window to move into Platform 1, pick up passengers and proceed South.
  • The current service is five trains per day.

It certainly looks possible, but as there are two sidings and twelve five minute slots in an hour, I suspect that theoretically at least four tph could be turned back South if required.

Note that if the trains had a degree of automation, this would make a higher frequency attaining a higher frequency a lot easier.

, I also suspect the capacity of the East Coast Main Line restricts services to Sunderland, more than the actual capacity at Sunderland station.

Conclusion

The track layout at Sunderland station seems to have been designed to handle many more through trains than it does now!

In addition, it has a large capacity to turn trains from the South.

Obviously, modern trains and signalling is required.

Sunderland station may appear to be rather ordinary, but the track layout can cope with a lot of trains.

February 6, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | 3 Comments

Exploring The Tyne And Wear Metro

The Tyne and Wear Metro is unique in the UK, in that it is a regional electric railway system, that is powered by 1500 VDC overhead electrification.

But what is not unique about the system is the affection shown by regular users. You get similar feelings on other local systems like these.

As they mature, other systems including the Manchester Metrolink, Midland Metro and the London Overground will be felt of by their passengers in a similar way.

My four examples and the Tyne and Wear Metro, have a lot more in common than just affection from their users.

  • All were created in their own unique ways in an era not noted for railway innovation.
  • Merseyrail has an unrivalled tunnel layout for a railway under a city.
  • The Docklands Light Railway is automated with a Train Captain on each train.
  • Glasgow’s Blue Trains were very-un-British at the time.
  • Local interests were very much involved in creating the systems.
  • The Tyne and Wear Metro was created for  Driver Only Operation.

All of these lines are seeking to add more branches and replace, update and augment the rolling stock, much of which is forty years old.

Does the age of te trains show Central Government contempt for important local railway systems, which are the lifeblood of communities?

Manchester’s Missing Tunnel

The tunnels under Liverpool and Newcastle, were part of a three pronged plan by to improve local transport in the North.

  • I remember from the 1960s, when I was at the University, the electric railway under the Mersey to Birkenhead and the Wirral. Modern it was not, but the innovative Loop and Link Project made it a lot better. Although, that project was never completed.
  • Newcastle had had Tyneside Electrics from the 1900s. In the 1970s the old system became the core of the Metro, with the addition of a central tunnel.

The third plan was to bore the Picc-Vic tunnel under Manchester to link Manchester Piccadilly and Victoria stations.

According to Wikipedia, it would have had the following characteristics.

  • Full-size twin-bore tunnels.
  • 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • Low-level stations at Piccadilly and Victoria.
  • Three intermediate stations at Market Street, Albert Square and Princess Street
  • Trains would have been similar to the Class 315 trains, which are still common in London.

It would have joined the suburban rail services together across the city.

How would Manchester have developed if this important tunnel had been built?

We will probably be able to partially answer this question, when the Ordsall Chord is fully operational, which will handle cross-Manchester long-distance and local trains.

It is my view that cancelling this tunnel was one of the great infrastructure mistakes of the period along with the cancellation of the Channel Tunnel and London’s Third Airport at Maplin. But then Harold Wilson believed everybody would have their own car and that railways were of the past and preferred to spend what little money the Government had on political projects, many of which were total failures.

We must protect ourselves from politicians, who have a political view that owes too much to the extreme left or right and be left to get on with our personal lives.

To my mind, it is no surprise that the cities in the UK with the best urban rail systems; London, Cardiff, Liverpool and Newcastle, have more local control. Now that Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds and Manchester have greater local control, will we see improvement?

Exploring The Metro

There are several main assets and factors that make up a railway system.

  • Tracks
  • Tunnels and Bridges
  • Electrification
  • Stations
  • Accessibility
  • Trains
  • Signalling
  • Operating Method
  • Ticketing

I shall now give my thoughts on these in detail.

Tracks

The branches of the Metro were all built for heavy rail trains and the Sunderland Branch even shares the tracks with Class 142, Class 180 and heavy freight trains.

This principle of building tracks for full-size trains, has been used on Merseyrail’s Northern and WirralLines, London’s Trameslink, Crossrail and East London Line and innumerable railways across the world.

Build a system for small-size trains and you paint yourself into a dead end. I doubt for instance, London will ever build another new Tube-size line across London.

As I explored the Matro, the tracks also seemed to be in generally good condition.

This picture taken at South Hylton station shows typical track in apparently good condition.

Tunnels And Bridges

Wikipedia has a section on the tunnels of the Metro. This is said.

The tunnels were constructed in the late 1970s, using mining techniques, and were constructed as single-track tubes with a diameter of 4.75 metres. The tunnels under Newcastle were mechanically bored through boulder clay and lined with cast iron or concrete segments. The tunnel under Gateshead, was bored through sandstone and excavated coal seams. Old coal mine workings, some of which dated from the Middle Ages had to be filled in before the tunnelling began.

This description of the Crossrail tunnels is on this page of their web site.

A network of new rail tunnels have been built by eight giant tunnel boring machines, to carry Crossrail’s trains eastbound and westbound. Each tunnel is 21 kilometres/13 miles long, 6.2 metres in diameter and up to 40 metres below ground.

The Crossrail tunnels have a walkway on either side, but they are only 1.25 metres larger in diameter than those of the Metro. So it would appear that there is not much difference in size of the important section in the middle, where the trains run.

It is worthwhile looking at the widths of various trains.

The last three figures are from Wikipedia.

Look at these pictures of some of the tunnels and bridges on the Metro.

The weather could have been betterfor photography.

I rode on all the branches of the Metro and, I get the impression that all the bridges and tunnels seem to have been built with a generous clearance in both width and height.

I very much feel that when the Metro was built that unlike some other lines, it was well-built to a heavy rail standard.

I wouldn’t be surprised to be told, that a battery-powered train based on say an Electrostar like the Class 379 BEMU demonstrator, could pass through all of the Metro.

Electrification

The electrification is a unique 1500 VDC overhead system, which is the same as was used on the Woodhead Line, which closed to passenger trains in 1970 and to goods in 1981.

Could it be that the Metro got this voltage, rather than the 25 KVAC used on similar systems in London and Glasgow suburban routes, as British Rail and their contractors had 1500 VDC expertise available in the North and all their 25 KVAC expertise was employed elsewhere?

The bridges and tunnels seem to have been built with the ability to handle the higher and more common voltage.

1500 VDC may have also saved on the cost of the installation, as they had a lot of gantries and brackets from the Woodhead Line.

These pictures show the simplistic nature of some of the electrification.

However, on the South Hylton Branch, which was built in the 2000s, it appears that better methods were used, as these pictures show.

The gantries and supports are certainly better than many you see on the Lea Valley Lines.

This picture shows 25 KVAC electrification at Walthamstow Central station.

Note the extra insulators to deal with the higher voltage.

Would it be possible and worthwhile to convert all of the Metro lines to 25 KVAC?

In theory this must be possible, but I think it is probably more important to first beef up the electrification gantries to the higher standard of the South Hylton Branch.

Consider.

  • A driver told me, that electrification failures are not unknown.
  • Trains running on 25 KVAC are more energy-efficient.
  • Trains could be built that would be able to run on both 1500 VDC and 25 KVAC, that use the same pantograph for current collection and automatically adjust to the voltage received.
  • Trains with batteries can be used on sections without electrification.
  • Mixed voltage systems are possible, that would have 25 KVAC electrification on some sections of track and 1500 VDC on others.
  • The passenger Health and Safety case would need to be established for the higher voltage.

The electrification could be designed holistically with any future trains to maximise reliability, electrical efficiency and operational flexibility, and minimise costs.

Obviously, during the changeover to new trains, all lines would need to be at 1500 VDC, so that the current rolling stock could be used as required.

Stations

These pictures show a selection of Metro stations.

The stations appear to be in generally good condition and vary from the the basic to well-preserved Victorian stations like Tynemouth and Whitley Bay.

The platforms are generally of an adequate length, which except for some stations in tunnels seem to have been built to accept three of the current trains working together, which would be a formation 83.4 metres long.

This would be long enough to accept one of any number of four-car trains running on the UK rail network, which are usually eighty metres long. London Overground’s, new Class 710 trains will be this length.

Sunderland Station

Sunderland station, is an important station on the Metro.

I describe the station and its operation in The Rather Ordinary Sunderland Station.

 

 

Accessibility

Stations are step-free, but this is often by the use of ramps and a few more lifts woulds be welcome.

Access from platform to train is generally good, as these pictures show.

Note the picture of the access to a Grand Central Class 180 train.

I suspect that when Northern replace their Class 142 trains, with brand new Class 195 trains on the services between Middlesbrough and Newcastle, that the step-free access will be good.

I think a lot of credit is due to the original designers of the Metro, who thought about what they were doing and seem to have created a system that fitted heavy rail trains, Metro trains and users requiring step-free access.

Trains

There are several sets of electric trains in the country, that continue to defy their age and are a tribute to their builders, refurbishers and operating companies, by providing a quality service to passengers and other stakeholders

  • Merseyrail’s Class 507 and Class 508 trains.
  • The Class 315 trains of TfL Rail and the London Overground.
  • The Piccadilly Line’s 1973 Stock trains.
  • South Western Railway’s Class 455 trains.
  • The trains of the Tyne and Wear Metro.

|These pictures show the trains for the Metro.

Note.

  1. The quality is not bad for nearly forty years of service.
  2. The lady in the last picture, sitting in the front of the train, watching the world go by.
  3. Standing is not difficult in the rush hour for this seventy-year-old stroke survivor.
  4. Information could be better.
  5. The Metro needs a new train wash.

Wikipedia says this about the Proposed New Fleet.

The proposed new fleet would consist of 84 trains to replace the existing 90 train fleet, as Nexus believe that the improved reliability of the newer trains would allow them to operate the same service levels with fewer trains. These are proposed to have longitudinal seating instead of the 2+2 bench seating arrangement of the present fleet, and a full width drivers cab instead of the small driving booth of the existing trains. The proposed new fleet is planned to have dual voltage capability, able to operate on the Metro’s existing 1.5 kV DC electrification system and also the 25 kV AC used on the national rail network, to allow greater flexibility. Battery technology is also being considered.

I’ll put my ideas at the end of this note.

Signalling

The Metro is unique in the UK, in that it uses the Karlsruhe model to mix Metro trains with heavy rail trains on the Southern branch to Sunderland and South Hylton.

If in the future modern signalling and trains are used on the Metro, an increasingly intricate set of routes could be designed.

Add in dual-voltage trains able to run on both the Metro’s 1500 VDC and the National network’s 25 KVAC and the possibilities will be even greater.

Operating Method

The trains are run in the same way as London Underground, with only a driver on the train, who does the driving and controls the doors.

Ticketing

As I always find outside London, ticketing is still in the Victorian era.

Will the Tyne and Wear Metro embrace a contactless card based on bank and credit cards?

Possible Future Expansion

Wikipedia gives a list of possible extensions under Proposed Extensions And Suggested Improvements.

These include.

Tyne Dock To East Boldon

Wikipedia says this.

Tyne Dock to East Boldon along a dismantled railway alignment through Whiteleas could easily be added, because two Metro lines are separated by only a short distance (1.61 miles). This would provide a service from South Shields to Sunderland via the Whiteleas area of South Shields.

If ever there was a route for a battery-powered train, this must be it.

Consider.

  • The route is less than two miles.
  • The route connects two electrified lines.
  • You can see the disused track-bed on a Google Map.
  • No electrification would be required.
  • The battery would be charged between South Shields and Tyne Dock and East Boldon and Sunderland.
  • Modern signalling would allow the route to be built as a single track if required, handling up to ten tph in both directions.
  • Single platform stations could be built as required.

I can certainly understand, why Wikipedia mentioned battery trains.

Washington

Wikipedia says this.

Washington either via the disused Leamside line or a new route. Present planning may lead to the Leamside line being opened at least as far as Washington as a conventional rail line for passengers as well as freight, although this could be shared with Metro trains in the same way as the line from Pelaw Junction to Sunderland.

Washington station would only be a short run of less than ten miles along a reopened Leamside Line.

  • If somebody else paid for 25 KVAC electrification of the Leamside Line, then dual-voltage trains could run the service.
  • If not, they could use battery-power.

Either way, Washington would get a Metro service.

If as I believe, the new trains on the Metro will be main line trains, then what is the point of running heavy rail services to the town, as the Metro would be able to serve more places and with a change at Newcastle station, you could get a train virtually anywhere.

The possibility must also exist if the Leamside Line is developed as a diversion of the East Coast Main Line, then the Metro could go as far South as Durham.

Blyth And Ashington

Wikipedia says this.

Blyth and Ashington, running on existing little-used freight lines. Northumberland Park station has been built to provide a link to a potential new rail service to these communities; if opened, it will not be a part of the Metro system.

Ashington is around fourteen miles from Northumberland Park station, which means that an return journey might be possible on battery-power.

In an article in the October 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled Celling England By The Pound, Ian Walmsley says this in relation to trains running on the Uckfield Branch, which probably has a terrain not much different to the lines to Blyth and Ashington.

A modern EMU needs between 3 and 5 kWh per vehicle mile for this sort of service.

If the Metro trains could have a high energy efficiency, I think it would be reasonable to assume that 4 kWh per vehicle mile is attainable.

So a three car train, would need a battery of 14 x 2 x 3 x 4 = 336 kWh. That is not an unattainable figure for battery size.

Killingworth And Cramlington

Wikipedia says this.

A northward extension to Killingworth and Cramlington has been planned since the Metro was on the drawing board, but would require widening of the busy East Coast Main Line to four tracks, which would be expensive, and a new alignment involving street running.

Suppose the new Metro trains were modern trains, such as the latest offerings from Bombardier, CAF, Hitachi, Siemens, Stadler and others, that were able to do the following in addition to running on the Metro.

  • Use 25 KVAC electrification.
  • Operate at around or even over 100 mph.
  • Execute fast stops at a station.

Would they be able to perhaps run a four tph Metro service along the East Coast Main Line to Cramlington station?

I suspect with modern signalling and a couple of passing loops on the East Coast Main Line, the answer is yes!

This may eliminate the need for street-running.

West End Of Newcastle

Wikipedia says this.

Extending the Metro to the West End of Newcastle would require new track, involving tunnelling and bridging in rough terrain; this would be very costly and is perhaps least likely to receive funding, though would probably have the highest potential ridership.

In this article in the Newcastle Chronicle, which is entitled What Could Happen To The Metro, this is said.

A rail extension out of Central Station along the original Newcastle to Carlisle line could head along Scotswood Road to serve Newcastle’s west, while a bridge could then connect the city to the Metrocentre. This would be integrated with the Metro system. Building developments in Gallowgate have greatly reduced any chance of extending the Metro west from St James’ Park.

The railway alignment still seems to be there in places.

It would be another extension that would use battery-powered trains on sections, that don’t have electrification.

Ryhope And Seaham

Wikipedia says this.

Ryhope and Seaham, a proposal drawn up by Tyne and Wear Passenger Authority to use the existing Durham coast line south of Sunderland.

Sunderland to Seaham is about six miles, so is definitely in range of battery trains.

But that is being timid!

Sunderland to Middlesbrough is probably about thirty miles and I believe it will be possible to do those sort of distances on battery power alone, in a few years. Provided that the train could be recharged at Middlesbrough.

What would a four or six tph service between Middlesbrough and Newcastle Airport via Hartlepool, Seaham, Sunderland, Gateshead and Newcastle, do for the area?

Conclusion About Possible Future Expansion

In this section on expanding the Metro network, it has surprised me how many of the extensions could be done with dual-voltage or battery-powered trains.

  • Tyne Dock To East Boldon – Battery
  • Washington – Battery
  • Blyth And Ashington – Battery
  • Killingworth And Cramlington – Dual-Voltage
  • West End Of Newcastle – Battery
  • Ryhope And Seaham – Battery
  • Middlesbrough – Battery and Dual-Voltage

I think it shows how we must be careful not to underestimate tyhe power of battery trains. But then I’m one of the few people in the UK, outside of the residents of Harwich, who’s ridden a battery-powered four-car heavy rail train in normal service! Mickey Mouse, they are not!

New Trains

I’ll repeat what Wikipedia says this about the Proposed New Fleet.

The proposed new fleet would consist of 84 trains to replace the existing 90 train fleet, as Nexus believe that the improved reliability of the newer trains would allow them to operate the same service levels with fewer trains. These are proposed to have longitudinal seating instead of the 2+2 bench seating arrangement of the present fleet, and a full width drivers cab instead of the small driving booth of the existing trains. The proposed new fleet is planned to have dual voltage capability, able to operate on the Metro’s existing 1.5 kV DC electrification system and also the 25 kV AC used on the national rail network, to allow greater flexibility. Battery technology is also being considered.

I’ll now give my views on various topics.

Heavy Rail Train Or Lightweight Metro?

Will the trains be lightweight metro trains or variants of heavy rail trains like Aventras, Desiro Cities or A-trains to name just three of several?

The advantages of the heavy rail train are.

  • It could run at 90 or even 100 mph on an electrified main line.
  • It will meet crashworthiness standards for a main line.
  • It would likely be a design with a lot in common with other UK train fleets.
  • It could run into most railway stations.
  • If it was shorter than about sixty metres it could use all current Metro stations without station rebuilding.

On the other hand the lightweight metro train would be lighter in weight and possibly more energy-efficient.

Walk-Through Design

Wikipedia says this about the seating layout.

These are proposed to have longitudinal seating instead of the 2+2 bench seating arrangement of the present fleet.

Longitudinal seating has been successfully used on London Overground’s Class 378 trains.

  • This layout increases capacity at busy times.
  • It allows passengers to distribute themselves along the train and get to the right position for a quick exit.

But the biggest advantage, is that when linked to selective door opening, it enables a longer train to be used successfully in stations with short platforms.

London Overground use this facility on their Class 378 trains to overcome platform length problems at a few stations on the East London Line.

But train design is evolving.

Bombardier have shown with the Class 345 train, that you can have both in the same train. So in a three-car train, you might have two identical driver cars with longitudinal seating and a middle car with 2+2 bench seating.

Bombardier are able to get away with this, as they are maximising the space inside the train. I wrote about it in Big On The Inside And The Same Size On The Outside.

These pictures show the inside of one of Crossrail’s Class 345 trains.

Whoever builds the new Metro trains, they’ll probably have similar interiors.

Train Length

A trend seems to be emerging, where new fleets of trains are the same length as the ones they replace, although they may have more carriages.

This has happened on Greater Anglia, Merseyrail and West Midlands Trains.

It probably makes sense, as it avoids expensive and disrupting platform lengthening.

Currently, the Metro trains work in pairs, which means a train length of 55.6 metres. As the standard UK train carriage size for suburban multiple units is often twenty metres, then if the platforms can accept them, three-car trains would be possible for the new trains.

Longer trains would be possible in most stations, except for some in the central tunnel, which appear to have platforms around sixty to seventy metres long.

So perhaps four-car trains would be possible for the new trains, that would use selective door opening at the short platforms of the stations in the central tunnels.

Because the trains are walk-through, passengers can position themselves accordingly, for the station, where they will leave the train.

London Overground have also shown that selective door opening and walk-through trains can be used to advantage, when trains are lengthened to increase capacity.

Dual-Voltage

Obviously, the trains will have the capability of running on both 1500 VDC and 25 KVAC overhead wires, as the extension to Killingworth And Cramlington would need the latter, for a start.

The interchange between the two different voltages can be very simple, due to some technology developed for the
German cousins of the Class 399 tram-train. A ceramic rod separates the two voltages and the pantograph just rides over. The train or tram-train, then determines the voltage and configures the electrical systems accordingly.

Batteries

These would appear to be key to several of the proposed extensions.

Batteries also enable other features.

  • Movement in depots and sidings without electrification.
  • Emergency power, when the main power fails.
  • Handling regenerative braking.
  • Remote train warm-up.

In a few years time, all trains with electric drive will have batteries, that are probably around 75-100 kWh.

Operating Speed

To work efficiently on the East Coast Main Line, 90 mph or even a  100 mph operating speed will be needed.

Note that Crossrail’s Class 345 trains, which will generally work routes very similar to the Metro, have a 90 mph operating speed.

These faster trains will result in an increased service.

Currently, trains between Newcastle Airport and South Hylton take 65 minutes with sixteen stops.

Modern trains have the following features.

  • Minimised dwell times at stations.
  • Smooth regenerative braking and fast acceleration.
  • Driver Advisory Systems to improve train efficiency.
  • Higher safe speeds in selected sections.
  • Trains are designed for quick turnrounds at each end of the route.

In addition, train operators are organising station staff to minimise train delays.

Put it all together and I’m pretty certain, that this route could be done comfortably in under an hour.

So the same number of trains are able to do more trips in every hour.

Handling Tight Curves

Under Electrics, Wikipedia says this about the ability of the trains to handle tight curves.

Metro has a maximum speed of 80 km/h (50 mph), which it attains on rural stretches of line. The vehicles have a minimum curve radius of 50 m (55 yd), although there are no curves this tight except for the non-passenger chord between Manors and West Jesmond.

Could this chord be avoided by different operating procedures?

Serving Newcastle Station

Northern’s services from Newcastle station are.

  • 1 tph – Northbound on the East Coast Main Line to Cramlington and Morpeth with services extended to Chathill at peak hours.
  • 1 tph – Southbound along the Durham Coast Line to Middlesbrough calling at Heworth, Sunderland, Seaham, Hartlepool, Seaton Carew, Billingham, Stockton andThornaby, with an extension to James Cook University Hospital and Nunthorpe.
  • 1 tph – Westbound on the Tyne Valley Line to Carlisle calling at MetroCentre, Prudhoe, Hexham, Haydon Bridge, Haltwhistle, Brampton and others at alternate hours.
  • Westbound slow service on the Tyne Valley Line to Hexham calling at Dunston, MetroCentre, Blaydon, Wylam, Prudhoe, Stocksfield, Riding Mill, Corbridge and terminating at Hexham, with an extension to Carlisle at peak hours.
  • 1 tph – Newcastle to Metro Centre calling at Dunston only during the day.

Pathetic is probably a suitable word.

When Greater Anglia have their new trains, services between Ipswich, Norwich, Colchester, Bury St. Edmunds, Lowestoft and Yarmouth, will be at least two tph and sometimes three and four on most routes.

Newcastle To Sunderland Via Sunderland

Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesbrough surely need a four tph rail connection along the Durham Coast Line.

I believe that dual-voltage Metro trains with a battery capability could run between Middlesbrough and Newcastle at a frequency of four tph.

If they can’t, I’m certain that a suitable train could be procured.

If the new Metro trains are correctly-configured heavy-rail trains, then surely a go-anywhere express version can be built.

  • Identical train bodies, cabs and traction systems to new Metro trains
  • An interior geared to the needs of passengers.
  • Four or five cars with selective door opening.
  • Ability to run on Metro tracks using 1500 VDC overhead wires.
  • Ability to run on 25 KVAC overhead wires.
  • Batteries for regenerative braking, emergency power and distances up to two miles.
  • Diesel or preferably hydrogen power pack.
  • Sufficient range to keep going all day.
  • 90-100 mph capability.

As the trains would have an identical cross-section to the new Metro trains, they could do any of the following at Newcastle.

  • Terminate at Newcastle station.
  • Go through Newcastle station to Metrocentre, Hexham, Carlisle, Morpeth or some other destination.
  • Go through the tunnel of the Metro to Newcsastle Airport.
  • Go through the tunnel of the Northumberland Park station to link to the North-East.

I believe that such a train could run as an express to link the whole conurbation from Middlesbrough to Morpeth together.

Newcastle To Carlisle Via Metrocentre and Hexham

The train that i just proposed would be ideal for this route.

I also believe that Metrocentre needs at least six tph connecting it to the centre of Newcastle and the Metro.

The proposed West End of Newcastle branch of the Metro looks to be a necessity, to provide some of this frequency.

What Is The Point Of Northern?

With the right trains, all of the local services in the Tyne-Wear-Tees area can be satisfied by a Metro running modern trains making the maximum use of modern technology.

This model already works in Merseyside, so why not in the North-East? And Manchester, Leeds and South Yorkshire!

A Tees Valley Metro

I have always been keen on the creation of a Tees Valley Metro. I wrote about it in The Creation Of The Tees Valley Metro.

Get the design of the trains on the Tyne and Wear Metro right and they could work any proposed Tees Valley Metro.

Conclusion

I think that Nexus will get some very interesting proposals for their new trains, which will open up a lot of possibilities to extend the network.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 5, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment