The Anonymous Widower

A First Ride On A Class 710 Train Between Upminster And Romford

This morning I went to Upminster and took the Class 710 train to Romford and back.

All went well and what a difference from yesterday, which I wrote about in A Last Ride On A Class 315 Train Between Upminster And Romford?

These are my thoughts.

Capacity Improvement

These pictures show the interiors of the Class 710 train and the Class 315 train.

It looks like many more passengers can be squeezed into the Class 710 train, than the Class 315 train.

According to Wikipedia the Class 710 train can hold 189 seated and 489 standing passengers, whilst the Class 315 train has 318 seats.

Ride Improvement

I travelled along the route with a Transport for London engineer, who worked on the Crossrail trains.

We both felt the ride was a large improvement and we both felt that it Network Rail worked a bit of magic on the track, it would be a very good train service.

Could Four Trains Per Hour Be Possible?

My travelling companion had worked on the Docklands Light Railway, and we both felt that with a degree of automation, an increased frequency would be possible.

Consider.

  • There is only one train on the line at any one time.
  • No other trains use the line.
  • The route is under 3.5 miles long.
  • The acceleration and deceleration of the new trains is superior to those of the Class 315 trains.
  • Do the Class 710 trains employ regenerative braking to battery technology?
  • The current operating speed is just 30 mph.
  • I’m sure Network Rail could improve the operating speed.
  • My travelling companion told me, that Crossrail had successfully tested the automated auto-reverse feature on the Class 345 trains

All these points convince me, that, track improvements and simple automation, much less sophisticated, than that of the Victoria Line or the Docklands Light Railway, could run the service at a frequency of four trains per hour (tph).

There is one problem though.

This article on Time 107.5, is entitled New Train To Begin Running Between Romford And Upminster.

This is an extract.

From today, the new Overground train which has changes to certain features, will be implemented.

The key changes include a different colour at the front which has changed from yellow to orange.

Different LED lights have also been fitted to the train.

The new trains are also quieter so may sound different to the older trains.

As a result, Network Rail and Transport for London are reminding pedestrians using level crossings along the route to stay safe.

Network Rail and Transport for London seem to be worried about pedestrians on the level crossings.

I would think, it prudent, that before line speeds and the frequency of the service are increased, there should be a thorough period of testing to see how pedestrians cope with the new trains, at the level crossings.

What methods of automation could be used?

Borrow From Dear Old Vicky

The Victoria Line (aka Dear Old Vicky!) opened in 1968 and runs using a fully-automated system, at frequencies of up to 36 tph.

Under Service And Rolling Stock, in the Wikipedia entry for the Victoria Line, there is this description of the original automation system.

On opening, the line was equipped with a fixed-block Automatic Train Operation system (ATO). The train operator closed the train doors and pressed a pair of “start” buttons and, if the way ahead was clear, the ATO drives the train at a safe speed to the next station. At any point, the driver could switch to manual control if the ATO failed. The system, which operated until 2012, made the Victoria line the world’s first full-scale automatic railway.

The Victoria line runs faster trains than other Underground lines because it has fewer stops, ATO running and modern design. Train speeds can reach up to 50 miles per hour (80 km/h).

Note.

  1. The original ATO system worked for over forty years.
  2. The method of operation seemed to be very safe,
  3. But most remarkably, the electronics that controlled the trains, were 1960s technology and contained a lot of thermionic valves and relays

What would 50 mph running do for timings between Romford and Upminster?

By training I am a Control Engineer, and although, I’ve never worked on large-scale automation systems, I have worked with lots of people who have and firmly believe that a simple system based on Dear Old Vicky’s original design would work.

What sort of times could be achieved between Romford and Upminster?

  • The route can be considered to be two legs; Romford and Emerson Park and Emerson Park and Upminster, both of which are about 1.75 miles long.
  • The fastest way in a train between too stations, is to accelerate to cruising speed, cruise at that speed and then time the deceleration, so you stop neatly in the station.
  • The Class 710 trains probably accelerate and decelerate at around 1 m/sec/sec.
  • The acceleration and deceleration section of each leg will take 22.2 seconds and during that time the train will travel 0.15 miles.
  • So that means the train will cruise at 50 mph for 1.45 miles, which will take 104 seconds.
  • The two legs of the journey will take around 150 second or 2.5 minutes.

The time for a round trip from Romford to Upminster can now be calculated,

  • Four legs between station 4 x 2.5 = 10 mins
  • Two stops Emerson Park 2 x 1 mins = 2 mins
  • One stop at Romford 2 mins = 2 mins
  • One stop at Upminster 2 mins = 2 mins

Note.

  1. This is a total of 16 minutes
  2. The longer stops at Romford and Upminster are needed for the driver to change ends.
  3. I have repeated the calculations for a 60 mph cruise and it saves just 40 seconds.

But I do feel that improving the method of operation could allow four tph.

The Driver Could Control The Train From One End

Consider.

  • Each cab could have a video screen showing the view from the other cab.
  • There could also be video screens on the platforms giving detailed views of the train in a station, as there are on many platforms now!

Would these and perhaps extra automation allow the driver to control the train from one cab, as it shuttled back and forth?

I suspect it would be cab at the Upminster end, as the platform is longer at Romford.

I believe that it would be possible and should allow stops of a minute at the two termini, as the driver wouldn’t be changing ends.

One minute stops would reduce the round-trip time to fourteen minutes and allow four tph.

Full Automation With The Driver In Control

The Docklands Light Railway is fully automated, so why not use a similar system on the Romford and Upminster Line?

But instead of having the system controlled by an operator in a remote signalling centre, the driver on the single train on the route is in control of it all.

The automation would enable fast stops and the driver would not have to change ends.

This would mean that four tph would be able to run at all times.

The System Would Self-Regulate

With public transport, things do go wrong.

Supposing someone turned up in a wheel-chair and it took five minutes to load them onto the train, so it left late.

This would mean that the train would be running late for the rest of the day, unless it was decided to wait for a few minutes, so it had the time of the following service.

After the wait, all trains would be on time.

Put Two Drivers On The Train

This would also be possible.

The train would have a driver in each cab.

  • The driver in the cab at the Romford end of the train would drive the train to Romford.
  • The driver in the cab at the Upminster end of the train would drive the train to Upminster.
  • At each terminus, they would swap over control, just as the two pilots do in an airliner.

There would probably need to be a simple interlock, so that only one driver could drive the train at the same time.

This should give the required four tph, as fast stops could be performed at all stations.

Using two drivers could be the ideal way to test out four tph and see whether it attracted more passengers.

Conclusion

The Romford and Upminster route has been markedly improved with the new Class 710 train.

I believe, that it is now possible to run four tph on this route, with some moderate extra expenditure or using two drivers.

 

 

October 5, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Last Ride On A Class 315 Train Between Upminster And Romford?

This morning I went to Upminster and took the Class 315 train to Romford.

I added the question mark, as when I passed East Ham depot, there were two new Class 710 trains sitting there, covered in graffiti.

Could The Romford And Upminster Line Be Improved?

I see two possible simple improvements

Four Trains Per Hour

London Overground likes to run four trains per hour (tph).

Could this frequency be run on the Romford and Upminster Line?

Three years ago I wrote Could The Romford To Upminster Line Handle Four Trains Per Hour?, and came to this conclusion.

A seven minute trip would mean the train could perform the required four trips per hour.

It would still be tight.

I also investigated an automated shuttle train on the route in An Automated Shuttle Train Between Romford And Upminster, which I felt would be possible, to run a four tph service.

Extension Of The Service

There are various reasons, why the service could be extended from Upminster station, in the Grays direction.

  • It would give travellers from South Essex much better access to Crossrail.
  • It could give a shuttle between Romford and Grays via the Lakeside Shopping Centre
  • Tilbury Riverside station could be a possibility.
  • It could open up possibilities for more housing in the area.
  • If the route were to be extended to a new station at London Gateway, it could make it easier for people to travel to work at the large port.

Obviously, it would have to be viable for the operator, but the big beasts of Crossrail, Lakeside Shopping Centre and London Gateway might make it possible.

Planning the route wouldn’t be that easy.

Consider.

  • The connections to Romford and Grays are on different sides of the District Line, so a flyover or dive-under might be needed.
  • Upminster and Grays is a single-track line with a passing loop at the two-platform Ockenden station.
  • Upminster and Grays used to be worked by a shuttle service.
  • The signalling appears to be able to handle four tph in both directions.
  • The current service between Grays and Upminster is two tph in both directions.
  • There is a bay platform 1A, at Upminster, which faces towards Grays.

It can certainly be said, that the extension of the service can’t be run at four tph.

I also think, that the current track layout at Upminster looks like one of British Rail efforts to stop any expansion of the railway.

This Google Map shows the layout of Upminster station.

Note.

  1. The  platforms are numbered 1 to 6 from South to North.
  2. Platform 1A is the Southernmost platform, which is slightly at an angle.
  3. The main station footbridge is at the Western ends of the platforms.
  4. The station isn’t fully step-free.

Is an alternative approach possible?

Suppose the following were to be arranged.

  • A four tph endless shuttle between Romford and Upminster stations.
  • Full step-free access at Romford station is currently being installed.
  • Full step-free access at Upminster station.
  • A two tph shuttle between Platform 1a and Grays, London Gateway or wherever most passengers want. This service would be arranged to give four tph between Upminster and Grays, when combined with the current services.
  • The two four tph services would be timed to give a convenient interchange at Upminster.

Could it be made to work?

It would only need improvements to Upminster station.

These pictures show Upminster station.

Note.

  1. Platform 1a is fully-electrified and long enough for a Class 710 train.
  2. The bridge at the Eastern end of the station is not step-free but could be updated.
  3. It might be possible to extend this bridge to Platform 6.

Platform 1a could certainly be used to operate a shuttle service to Grays to create a new service across South Essex.

 

 

October 4, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

An Automated Shuttle Train Between Romford And Upminster

The Romford-Upminster Line has the following features.

  • It is 3.5 miles long.
  • It is single-track.
  • It is electrified with 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • The maximum speed is only 30 mph.
  • There is a single platform station at either end with one intermediate station.
  • The service frequency is two tph.
  • Trains take nine minutes to go between the two terminals.
  • No other trains use the line.

To run the ideal four tph, trains would need to do the round trip between Romford and Upminster in fifteen minutes.

If we assume that the two end stops take one minutes and the two intermediate ones take thirty seconds, then that leaves just twelve minutes to cover the seven miles of the round trip.

This is an average speed of 35 mph.

As with the Greenford Branch, I think that an appropriate train would be able to run an automated shuttle, with a frequency of four tph.

The train (or tram-train) would have the following features.

  • It would be able to use the 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • It would have an operating speed of perhaps sixty mph.
  • It would have fast acceleration and deceleration.

The only infrastructure works that would also be needed, would be to improve the line to allow higher speeds.

February 19, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Could Metropolitan Line Trains Run Between Uxbridge In The West And Barking/Upminster In The East?

I read somewhere in Wikipedia, that Transport for London (TfL) were thinking of extending Uxbridge Branch trains on the Metropolitan Line from Aldgate to Barking and/or Upminster stations.

Current Frequencies Between Wembley Park And Upminster Stations

These are the Off Peak frequencies on the various sections of the route in trains per hour (tph)

Wembley Park To Baker Street

  • 2 tph – Amersham to Aldgate
  • 2 tph – Chesham to Aldgate
  • 8 tph – Uxbridge to Aldgate
  • 4 tph – Watford to Baker Street

This gives a total of 16 tph

Baker Street To Liverpool Street

  • 2 tph – Amersham to Aldgate
  • 2 tph – Chesham to Aldgate
  • 8 tph – Uxbridge to Aldgate
  • 6 tph – Hammersmith to Barking
  • 6 tph – Circle Line

This gives a total of 24 tph

Aldgate East to Barking

  • 6 tph – Hammersmith to Barking
  • 6 tph – Richmond to Upminster
  • 6 tph-  Ealing Broadway to Upminster
  • 3 tph – Wimbledon to Barking

This gives a total of 21 tph

Barking to Upminster

  • 6 tph – Richmond to Upminster
  • 6 tph – Ealing Broadway to Upminster

This gives a total of 12 tph

Current Frequencies Between Hammersmith And Baker Street

I’ll add this, in case I need it later.

  • 6 tph – Hammersmith to Barking
  • 6 tph – Circle Line

This gives a total of 12 tph

Current District Line Frequencies Between Hammersmith And Upminster

These are the Off Peak frequencies on the various sections of the route.

Hammersmith to South Kensington

  • 6 tph – Richmond to Upminster
  • 6 tph – Ealing Broadway to Upminster

This gives a total of 12 tph

South Kensington to Tower Hill

  • 6 tph – Richmond to Upminster
  • 6 tph – Ealing Broadway to Upminster
  • 3 tph – Wimbledon to Barking
  • 6 tph – Circle Line

This gives a total of 21 tph

Aldgate East to Barking

  • 6 tph – Hammersmith to Barking
  • 6 tph – Richmond to Upminster
  • 6 tph-  Ealing Broadway to Upminster
  • 3 tph – Wimbledon to Barking

This gives a total of 21 tph

Barking to Upminster

  • 6 tph – Richmond to Upminster
  • 6 tph – Ealing Broadway to Upminster

This gives a total of 12 tph

Four Lines Modification

The Four Line Modification is a project to upgrade the following lines.

  • Circle Line
  • District Line
  • Hammersmith & City Line
  • Metropolitan Line

New S7 and S8 Stock trains have been delivered and new track and drainage has been installed, but the biggest change will be in the new signalling. TfLsays this abut the new signalling.

Work to install a new signalling and control system began in summer 2016. This will eventually allow the trains to be driven automatically, with a train operator in the cab to open and close the doors. The train operator will be responsible for managing customer information and safety.

Similar technology introduced in recent years on the Jubilee and Northern lines improved performance. The new signalling system allows trains to be run closer together, meaning a more frequent service and shorter waiting times, allowing more people to be carried. This new technology will enable us to reduce delays and improve reliability.

If 32 tph can be run on sections of the four lines, it is an impressive upgrade of capacity.

Currently the frequencies are.

  • Wembley Park to Baker Street – 16 tph
  • Baker Street to Liverpool Street – 24 tph
  • Aldgate East to Barking – 21 tph
  • Barking to Upminster – 12 tph

For completeness these frequencies will be added.

Hammersmith to Baker Street – 12 tph

Note

  1. The frequencies are all at least eight tph below the maximum future operating frequency.
  2. The busiest section is between Baker Street and Liverpool Street stations.
  3. The frequency on the two end sections of the Northern East-West section between Hammersmith and Upminster stations is only 12 tph.

It looks like TfL have scope to increase the capacity on the four lines.

Are The Circle/District Line Platforms At Edgware Road Station At Maximum Capacity?

Currently, the following services terminate at Edgware Road station.

As there are only two platforms to turn the twelve tph, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone told me, that Edgware Road station was at maximum capacity.

If this is the case, then no more trains can be run on the Circle Line, without reducing the frequency to Wimbledon, unless the station were to be rebuilt.

This Google Map shows the station.

And this map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines through Edgware Road and Baker Street stations.

Edgware Road station lies in a cutting, in the midst of some very expensive real estate.

  • It is not step-free.
  • According to the carto.metro.free.fr map, there used to be or still is a siding or platform to the South of the current four platforms.
  • The junctions to the West of the stations are complicated.
  • As trains often wait for a few minutes in the station, I suspect it is not operationally efficient.

Could at some time in the future, the station be rebuilt?

  • The East-West services might go straight through in two Northern platforms.
  • The junction to the West of the station would be simplified, with no crossing of tracks.
  • Three terminal platforms could be built for trains coming from the South, which would allow an increase in services.
  • Hopefully, the East-West and terminating services could be separated and wouldn’t cross each other.
  • Development of tower blocks over the top would provide some funds for the new station.

Would it be possible to increase Circle Line services to ten tph?

Frequencies along the route would be as follows.

  • Baker Street to Liverpool Street – 28 tph
  • Tower Hill to South Kensington – 25 tph
  • High Street Kensington to Edgware Road – 16 tph

My scheduling nous says yes! I also feel, that using good project planning, the station could be built without disrupting services.

Baker Street Issues

Is Aldgate Station At Maximum Capacity?

Currently, the following services terminate at Aldgate station.

  • 2 tph from Amersham
  • 2 tph from Chesham
  • 8 tph from Uxbridge

As there are only two platforms to turn the twelve tph, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone told me, that Aldgate station was at maximum capacity.

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

Note

  1. The two platforms at Aldgate station are sandwiched between the two Circle Line tracks.
  2. The platforms are curved, which makes step-free access difficult.

I suspect fitting in three straight platforms and full step-free access in the existing station will be very difficult.

This Google Map shows the general area around Aldgate station.

Certainly South of Aldgate High Street, there seems to be a site that could be ripe for development.

Are the District and Circle Lines underneath?

In a comment to this post, Melvyn says that the station could be redeveloped. He said this.

I did read a proposal to make Aldgate accessible linked to property development so this would mean a redesign of the station which could lead to removal of one of the terminal tracks.

I think I will conclude, that whatever happens at Aldgate station, there is no way, the station can handle more than twelve tph.

Could Extra Trains Be Turned At Barking?

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows Barking station and the sidings to the East.

If the eight tph from Uxbridge turned back at Barking, that would mean that seventeen tph would need to be handled at the station.

I’m fairly certain, that this number of trains could be turned at Barking.

It is also worth noting in the map, the cross-platform interchange with c2c.

Could Extra Trains Be Turned At Upminster?

Upminster station has a depot with an impressive maze of sidings to the East.

As the station also has three platforms for District Line trains, I believe the station can handle more than the twelve tph, that it does now!

Increasing The Core Frequency

Suppose extra trains were to be run between Baker Street and Liverpool Street stations.

Ideally, eight extra tph would need to be run to use the maximum capacity of the route.

Where Would The Extra Trains Go In The West?

Extra trains could possibly be run to Hammersmith station, as the three-platform station can probably handle more trains than the twelve tph it does now.

If Edgware Road station is at maximum capacity, then no more Circle Line trains could be run.

But with a rebuild of Edgware Road station in the future, would allow perhaps up to an extra four tph on the Circle Line.

But there could be a few more Hammersmith & City Line services.

There would also be the possibility of more Metropolitan Line services to Amersham, Chesham Uxbridge and Watford stations.

Where Would The Extra Trains Go In The East?

Consider.

  • There are four bay platforms at Moorgate station,but are they currently the wrong side of the important Liverpool Street station.
  • Moorgate station is being rebuilt for Crossrail and this may open up possibilities for using the bay platforms.
  • Aldgate station is at full capacity.
  • Extra trains can’t take the Circle Line as Edgware Road station is at frill capacity.
  • With a rebuild of Edgware Road station, it might be possible to add four tph to the Circle Line.

So I come to the conclusion, that some extra services must go on to Barking and/or Upminster.

A Possible Timetable

If I assume the extra eight tph go all the way between Wembley Park and Upminster, this gives the following frequencies along the line.

  • Wembley Park to Baker Street – 24 tph
  • Baker Street to Liverpool Street – 32 tph
  • Aldgate East to Barking – 29 tph
  • Barking to Upminster – 20 tph

The terminals of the various services could be shared between Aldgate and Upminster.

I also suspect, that the new signalling will allow twelve tph instead of the current eight tph to be terminated at Baker Street station.

Uxbridge To Barking/Upminster Timings

These are the timings for various section of the route.

  • Uxbridge to Baker Street – 38 minutes
  • Baker Street to Liverpool Street – 13 minutes
  • Liverpool Street to Barking – 25 minutes
  • Barking to Upminster – 18 minutes

This means that Uxbridge to Upminster could take 94 minutes, with Uxbridge to Barking taking 76 minutes.

These may translate into the following round-trips.

  • Uxbridge and Upminster – Four hours, which would need 32 trains.
  • Uxbridge and Barking – Three hours, which would need 24 trains.

The current service between Uxbridge and Aldgate has a round trip of two hours, which needs 16 trains.

It would appear that if Uxbridge services go to an alternative terminal, then Barking would be a better choice.

Conclusion

It looks like, that it is very likely, that Metropolitan Line trains will run as far as Barking and/or Upminster stations.

December 17, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 5 Comments