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Author Topic: East - West Rail update (Oxford to Bedford) - ongoing discussion  (Read 109393 times)
Rhydgaled
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« Reply #270 on: June 28, 2021, 04:26:19 pm »

It does 'feel' sensible with all the work being done that everything should be done at once - electrify the darned thing while you rebuild it must be cheaper in the long term than taking two major engineering bites?
I agree - electrify while rebuilding it and only then introduce train services. Obviously you would then need bi-modes (or leave the electrification infrustructure unused at first*) since Bletchley-Bedford isn't being rebuilt yet and Oxford-Bicester has already been through the 'rebuilding' but without electrification.

I suppose, if it isn't electrified while being rebuilt, it might not be the only route treated thus. this reply I had from Transport Scotland on Twitter recently suggests that the Levenmouth reopenning will be built as a diesel railway even though electrification is confirmed to be delivered eventually.

* I guess on this point it depends when you can get Oxford station wired - as someone else has said it is too big a job for this to come purely from the EWR budget. If Oxford station was scheduled to be wired only a year after EWR opens then it might make sense just to wire from Oxford Parkway or Bicester to Bletchley (with a connection to the existing electrified WCML (West Coast Main Line)) before openning EWR and run diesels under those wires until Oxford station gets wired up.

Once Didcot-Oxford-Bletchley is wired the Oxford - Milton Keynes service could be run using 387s. The Oxford-Bedford would need bi-modes (I'm still waiting for a fleet of regional express bi-modes - like 444s but with a pantograph and a diesel mode).

EastWest Rail lends its self to future electrification provided if new units are purchased they have an electrical traction system and not mechanical also the capability to have Pans and transformers fitted at a future date
If it isn't wired initially then, ultimately, the traction system on the units used on EWR doesn't matter. They could (as I understand is rumoured) use class 196s cascaded from West Midlands Trains (which I understand are mechanical units) - what matters is that any new units purchased (regardless of where they are intended to be used) are either EMUs (Electric Multiple Unit) or have an electrical traction system and the capability to have pantographs and transformers easily (ie. at low cost and without an extended period out of service) fitted at a future date. If leaving EWR unwired causes more mechanical DMUs (Diesel Multiple Unit) to be built for some other area then that is still digging us deeper into the hole we are already in thanks to Northern's class 195s and TfW's class 197s (the class 196 order is sufficiently small that there are enough routes with zero under-wires running in Network Rail's TDNS (Traction Decarbonisation Network Strategy) plan to utilise most of them).
« Last Edit: June 29, 2021, 09:04:29 am by Rhydgaled » Logged

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« Reply #271 on: June 30, 2021, 07:28:12 pm »

Many posters seem to have forgotten the old saw 'the best is the enemy of the good'.

The initial stretch of re-built railway from Oxford to Bletchley is just over 30 miles long, probably about 35 to Milton Keynes. A 100mph train will do the run in less than an hour with intermediate stops.

A power unit of a bit less than 400kW under each coach permits a top speed of 100mph. The line will not be re-engineered for higher speeds as this will require land take to ease curves and some increased spacings between tracks and between tracks and fixed items. The extra power available to an electric train from the overhead wires is not needed for this service.

A diesel power pack of some 400kW, even including all the extra exhaust treatment needed to meet the current regulations is a lot cheaper than all the electrification equipment - feeder stations, connections to the grid or distribution network operator, control systems, masts, supports, wires, tensioners and so on. These costs would have to be amortised over a service of two trains per hour in each direction, slightly offset by the additional maintenance costs of the diesel power packs.

This is all about economics, the ecological argument holds no water. The total UK (United Kingdom) electrical generating capacity is around 35GW in a mix of gas, wind, coal and nuclear. Last year (2020) China added about the same amount in coal-fired capacity alone, India somewhat less. More will be added in the years to come.

Running electric trains instead of diesels on this stretch will not make a scintilla of difference to the global output of carbon dioxide - the planet doesn't care from whereabouts the carbon dioxide was emitted.

But it does make sense to get the trains running as soon as possible at the lowest initial capital expenditure to demonstrate that there is indeed a market for such a service. As traffic builds and train services are extended off the ends of the current stretch, then that is the time to look at electrification.

But — get the trains running first.
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ellendune
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« Reply #272 on: June 30, 2021, 09:34:33 pm »

Running electric trains instead of diesels on this stretch will not make a scintilla of difference to the global output of carbon dioxide - the planet doesn't care from whereabouts the carbon dioxide was emitted.

I was with you until I came to this.  Yes it will make a difference, because a large number of small changes is what we need to do.  Me walking on a short journey rather than take the car will make only a small difference, but if we all do it....

Itworls the other way as well.  If we all say my small change will make no difference there will be no change . 
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4064ReadingAbbey
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« Reply #273 on: June 30, 2021, 10:03:25 pm »

Running electric trains instead of diesels on this stretch will not make a scintilla of difference to the global output of carbon dioxide - the planet doesn't care from whereabouts the carbon dioxide was emitted.

I was with you until I came to this.  Yes it will make a difference, because a large number of small changes is what we need to do.  Me walking on a short journey rather than take the car will make only a small difference, but if we all do it....

Itworls the other way as well.  If we all say my small change will make no difference there will be no change . 
I suggest that one looks at the small savings that we as individuals can/could make and compare the size of them it to the situation regarding emissions in China and India.

In each of the last two years China has added the equivalent of the entire generating capacity of the UK (United Kingdom) to its electricity plant inventory. Admittedly the utilisation is quite low, but even 50% of the total is still a huge quantity. See, for example, https://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-will-china-build-hundreds-of-new-coal-plants-in-the-2020s or https://e360.yale.edu/features/despite-pledges-to-cut-emissions-china-goes-on-a-coal-spree

Making little savings may give one a virtuous feeling, but these savings will be totally and completely swamped by what is happening elsewhere. After all, there are some 65 million people in the UK — and some 1.4 billion in China, over 20 times as many. If the entire UK electrical generating plant were to be switched off now, in a years time the equivalent coal-fired capacity will be newly available in China. And another equivalent UK system the year after that.

The significant changes will have to happen in China and India if carbon dioxide emissions are to be contained or reduced. The numbers show it. Which is no reason for us to stop building windmills in the North Sea, but is a reason not to waste capital on an electrification scheme which will, at best, make a marginal change in emission levels in its early years.
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Red Squirrel
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« Reply #274 on: June 30, 2021, 11:40:33 pm »

...but is a reason not to waste capital on an electrification scheme which will, at best, make a marginal change in emission levels in its early years.

Except it's not just about emissions, is it? Once the initial outlay has been made, electric trains are cheaper to run, cheaper to maintain, faster, quieter, and put less wear on the track. It pays for itself over time.
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« Reply #275 on: July 01, 2021, 07:17:06 pm »

The future needs to be electric if we are serious about climate change.
Each individual scheme is indeed negligible on a global scale. But there is no hope for the environment if everyone says  "my bit/this bit is too small to matter"
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A proper intercity train has a minimum of 8 coaches, gangwayed throughout, with first at one end, and a full sized buffet car between first and standard.
It has space for cycles, surfboards,luggage etc.
A 5 car DMU (Diesel Multiple Unit) is not a proper inter-city train. The 5+5 and 9 car DMUs are almost as bad.
4064ReadingAbbey
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« Reply #276 on: July 01, 2021, 10:28:03 pm »

...but is a reason not to waste capital on an electrification scheme which will, at best, make a marginal change in emission levels in its early years.

Except it's not just about emissions, is it? Once the initial outlay has been made, electric trains are cheaper to run, cheaper to maintain, faster, quieter, and put less wear on the track. It pays for itself over time.
Certainly electric trains should be simpler to maintain than diesels and therefore cost less to run. I am not convinced they are faster[1] — on this route the line limit is 100mph and these days any common or garden DMU (Diesel Multiple Unit) can reach these speeds easily. Acceleration is another issue and the marginal cost of additional power in a pure electric unit to achieve higher rates is less than that of a diesel unit, so here they do have an advantage.[2]

Quieter? Hmm. Modern DMUs are a lot quieter than earlier models because of, inter alia, the exhaust gas treatment. The days of the ear-shattering Perkins or Cummings are over.

The less wear on the track because of the reduced mass is true if the suspension designs are comparable. By all reports modern suspensions don’t seem to be as customer friendly as those of a generation back so I think that the jury is still out.

Apart from the amortisation costs of the initial outlay, one thing you have omitted is the cost of maintenance of the overhead wires which is peculiar to electric trains. I understand that with well designed and installed kit this is not excessive - but it still has to be considered.

Electric traction has its place in high density, high speed (greater than 125mph) railway operation with long trains. I am not convinced of the case for electrification for 4 coach trains running every 30 minutes between medium sized towns.

[1] The diesel HST (High Speed Train) was faster than any UK (United Kingdom) train, diesel or electric, when it was introduced and as fast as many continental European electric trains. Electric traction is only needed for speeds greater than this as the drag increases with the square of the speed.

[2]  Booster batteries in a DMU for the acceleration phase and regerative braking energy recovery could remove some if not most of the advantages of a pure electric train.

The future needs to be electric if we are serious about climate change.
Each individual scheme is indeed negligible on a global scale. But there is no hope for the environment if everyone says  "my bit/this bit is too small to matter"
Depends on the mix of primary energy into the generating system. Electricity is only non-polluting at the point of conversion.

I am also serious about climate change - and, all other things being equal, lots of small reductions can make a difference.

But all the other things are not equal. The effect of any small changes you may make personally will be nullified in a couple of seconds by the increase in coal-fired plant in China, India, Indonesia (https://reneweconomy.com.au/indonesia-begins-first-slow-steps-towards-ditching-coal-to-stop-new-plants/) and other places.

The only effective way to reduce emissions significantly is to reduce our dependence on goods and services produced by cheap coal in China.
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grahame
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« Reply #277 on: July 02, 2021, 06:53:29 am »

One of the things I've learned in campaigning is to have a strong technical discussion of all the options, but then to move on to accept and support fully what's on offer if it's good-to-excellent rather than holding out for the near-perfect.   Campaigning for an "appropriate" train service for Melksham, best evaluation was that an hourly service would be ideal; we accepted and continue to support a service every 2 to 2.5 hours, but did NOT press forward earlier suggestions of adding only a couple of middle-of-the-day (off peak as was) journeys.

I am going to suggest that a passenger train service and a freight route from Oxford to / via Bletchley to Bedford with prospects / plans onwards to Cambridge and with reasonably frequent trains is worthy of support, even if they are diesel powered; perhaps that's far from ideal, but it's also far, far better than nothing. I would strongly encourage "passive provision" for future electrification in works done to safeguard that option for a potential following phase.  And my logic is that I think the service as suggested (but not electric) can and will succeed, and can and will gain local sentiment and support.  There is an element of possibility that failing to electrify at the stage will push that back in the queue - "you've already had one big tranche of investment" - but that is a risk that should be accepted.
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4064ReadingAbbey
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« Reply #278 on: July 02, 2021, 12:33:39 pm »

One of the things I've learned in campaigning is to have a strong technical discussion of all the options, but then to move on to accept and support fully what's on offer if it's good-to-excellent rather than holding out for the near-perfect.   Campaigning for an "appropriate" train service for Melksham, best evaluation was that an hourly service would be ideal; we accepted and continue to support a service every 2 to 2.5 hours, but did NOT press forward earlier suggestions of adding only a couple of middle-of-the-day (off peak as was) journeys.

I am going to suggest that a passenger train service and a freight route from Oxford to / via Bletchley to Bedford with prospects / plans onwards to Cambridge and with reasonably frequent trains is worthy of support, even if they are diesel powered; perhaps that's far from ideal, but it's also far, far better than nothing. I would strongly encourage "passive provision" for future electrification in works done to safeguard that option for a potential following phase.  And my logic is that I think the service as suggested (but not electric) can and will succeed, and can and will gain local sentiment and support.  There is an element of possibility that failing to electrify at the stage will push that back in the queue - "you've already had one big tranche of investment" - but that is a risk that should be accepted.
I 100% agree with your analysis.

Get it working, show that it fulfils a need at a price people are prepared to pay and then think about improvements.

Any delay in starting will push costs up and make it even more difficult to persuade those with control of the money to spend it on your pet project.

This is, I suggest, the reason that Network Rail is pushing ahead to get the Okehampton re-opening to happen as quickly as possible — to build confidence that its engineering planning and cost control can complete projects to time and budget. Once it has some successes under its belt — and after the Great Western electrification fiasco[1] it badly needs them — then one hopes that gaining approval for other, bigger, projects will be easier.

[1] It should be noted that much of the fault lies with the Department for Transport in not knowing what it wanted and then changing its mind anyway.
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TonyK
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« Reply #279 on: July 02, 2021, 04:50:01 pm »

There are threads specifically devoted to issues of climate change and greening of the country, which wouldn't stop a thread on the colour of waistcoats worn by catering staff from entering discussion on whether China and Germany expanding coal-fired power stations is going to negate our own efforts to make things better, so all I will say for now is that China will surprise us all in a few years time, but is irrelevant to arguments about electrifying railways here. One day, all railways will be electric, for the reasons put forward by Red Squirrel, as well as environment improvement.

For the East-West line, it looks odd to be building a diesel line at a time when government is getting rid of diesel on roads where it can, but an electric island surrounded by existing unpowered lines would bring more problems than it would solve. I think, like grahame, that here, and on any other line being built or substantially engineered, at least passive provision for electrification should be made. By that, I mean at least up to and including the installation of the bases for OHLE pylons. The extra cost would be a fraction of that which will be incurred in fitting them to a busy live railway.
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« Reply #280 on: July 03, 2021, 04:21:49 pm »

Some good points made above along the lines of 'better to get something that is positive in some respects, but not ideal, than to hold out for perfect and get nothing'... That is a very convincing argument in the short term, and if we can do it without building any more diesel trains then I think that argument does work. My big worry is that not electrifying EWR from day one will contribute to (or result in) another order for diesel-mechanical multiple units.

We need to get to a decarbonised society as soon as possible and Network Rail's vision for what a decarbonised railway would look like (the TDNS (Traction Decarbonisation Network Strategy)) has no place for a large number of trains that cannot collect traction electricity from overhead wires and/or third/fourth rail. Thanks to Northern's class 195 order, Britain is already in a position where it will have more non-electric trains in 2050 than will be needed on a decarbonised railway, and Transport for Wales (TfW) is busy making this suituation even worse with their build of 77 more pure DMUs (Diesel Multiple Unit). If we want a decarbonised railway by 2050, we must reduce TfW's order and not order any more diesel-only trains.
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« Reply #281 on: July 04, 2021, 01:38:46 pm »

Some good points made above along the lines of 'better to get something that is positive in some respects, but not ideal, than to hold out for perfect and get nothing'... That is a very convincing argument in the short term, and if we can do it without building any more diesel trains then I think that argument does work. My big worry is that not electrifying EWR from day one will contribute to (or result in) another order for diesel-mechanical multiple units.
If I have correctly understood recent reports in the railway journals, front runner for the rolling stock for this line will be a small number of the Class 196 units being constructed for West Midland Trains.

It has always been intended that hand-me-down or second hand stock would be used for the initial section Oxford - Bletchley - Milton Keynes in order to keep the capital requirements to a minimum.

We need to get to a decarbonised society as soon as possible and Network Rail's vision for what a decarbonised railway would look like (the TDNS (Traction Decarbonisation Network Strategy)) has no place for a large number of trains that cannot collect traction electricity from overhead wires and/or third/fourth rail. Thanks to Northern's class 195 order, Britain is already in a position where it will have more non-electric trains in 2050 than will be needed on a decarbonised railway, and Transport for Wales (TfW) is busy making this suituation even worse with their build of 77 more pure DMUs (Diesel Multiple Unit). If we want a decarbonised railway by 2050, we must reduce TfW's order and not order any more diesel-only trains.
If we need to get to a decarbonised society as soon as possible then I suggest writing to Mr Xi and Mr Modi urgently...

The railway will never be completely 'decarbonised' - there are too many situations where the power of diesel engines will be needed where no external electrical supply is possible. Heavy civil engineering work comes to mind for a start.
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TonyK
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« Reply #282 on: July 04, 2021, 02:11:19 pm »


If we need to get to a decarbonised society as soon as possible then I suggest writing to Mr Xi and Mr Modi urgently...


I agree. The best way to start the letter would be "Dear Mr Xi and Mr Modi, We have converted all of our railway lines to electricity. We have closed down all of our coal and gas power stations. Would you like us to show you how we did it?"
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« Reply #283 on: September 30, 2021, 03:41:37 pm »

The East West Rail Consortium has rebranded as the East West Main Line Partnership, seemingly to emphasise their desire for trains to continue west of Oxford and east of Cambridge: https://www.eastwestrail.org.uk/2021/09/30/east-west-rail-consortium-relaunches-as-the-east-west-main-line-partnership/
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« Reply #284 on: September 30, 2021, 04:19:58 pm »

The East West Rail Consortium has rebranded as the East West Main Line Partnership, seemingly to emphasise their desire for trains to continue west of Oxford and east of Cambridge: https://www.eastwestrail.org.uk/2021/09/30/east-west-rail-consortium-relaunches-as-the-east-west-main-line-partnership/

I take it this is the core of their wish list:
Quote
With construction of the Oxford-Bletchley/ Milton Keynes section of East West Rail well underway, the Partnership is championing the long term opportunity for true, coast to coast connectivity, achieved through an East West Main Line, with services running from Norfolk and Suffolk all the way through to South Wales.

The Partnership has six key areas of focus for the East West Main Line:
 
  •    Oxford-Cambridge: Working with our partners to support delivery at the earliest opportunity, and no later than 2030
  •    Coast-to-coast connectivity: Realising opportunities east of Cambridge to Norwich and Ipswich; and west of Oxford to Swindon, Bristol and South Wales
  •     North-south connectivity: Including the Aylesbury-Milton Keynes link and opportunities for new journeys using intersection with radial main lines
  •     Interchange and strategic transport hubs: Frictionless interchange, including with other modes
  •     A 21st century main line: Ensuring East West Rail supports the environment and the communities it serves. This includes making it electrified and ‘digitally-enabled’ (providing digital connectivity to nearby communities) from the start. It must also be built with communities at its heart – with appropriate mitigation during construction, and quality local connectivity to stations when it is opened
  •     Freight: Ensuring East West Rail contributes to the requirements of the national rail freight strategy, while also making the strongest case for prioritisation of the Felixstowe-Nuneaton corridor.

Here, "connectivity" appears to mean through trains. When Network Rail started writing reports about it a few years back, their concept was centred on well-planned changes and especially cross-platform changes usable both ways between two trains. Far more station pairs can be linked that way with a single change, of course.

I can see a shadow of that in what DfT» (Department for Transport - about) said about the proposed SWR» (South Western Railway - about) changes, in words since reused:
Quote
These proposals will allow South Western Railway and Great Western Railway to consider how to provide attractive connections at Salisbury, whilst recognising the constraints of operating a reliable railway through many complex junctions on both routes, and the single line sections west of Salisbury.

I think you are allowed to be just a wee bit sceptical about what such "considering" would lead to in practice. I don't see there being much of an appetite for extending East-West services very far at NR» (Network Rail - home page), DfT, or their expected child GBR (Great British Railways).
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