Could battery powered trains operate Guildford to London Bridge via North Downs?

Discussion in 'Traction & Rolling Stock' started by Minstral25, 30 May 2015.

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  1. Minstral25

    Minstral25 Established Member

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    Reading that the new Great Western Franchise requires the operator to look at North Downs services using Battery-electric stock made me wonder why they couldn't run a London Bridge to Guildford service via Redhill along the North Downs utilising Battery-Electric stock replacing the FGW slows which could be cut back to just Reading to Guildford.

    That would create regular Guildford and Dorking to East Croydon services plus also through to London Bridge in much faster times than currently available. It would also be a good test of Battery trains without too much risk - can recharge on the third rail at Guildford between duties.

    Would this be a viable option rather than electrification?
     
  2. ExRes

    ExRes Established Member

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    I would have thought the biggest problem would be obtaining pathways between Redhill and London Bridge, on top of that there is the question of whether there is actually a requirement for such a service
     
  3. tsr

    tsr Established Member

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    There will be direct Victoria-Reigate off-peak services soon in replacement for Ldn Bridge-Reigate trains. New Ldn Bridge-Guildford via Reigate services could cater for what existing demand there already is (variable!) and add more pax. However, as above, I really couldn't say if pathing would be viable, but sadly I suspect now the Dec. 2015 timetable is now specified that it might be pretty hard.

    There are certainly long-standing aspirations for further trains from Reading running through to Gatwick, which has a decent-size market, as well as for various other improvements. As many journeys to the smaller stations East of Guildford could be easily contained to services between London and Guildford via Redhill, it might be best to run one fast + one semi-fast Reading-Gatwick train per hour - the latter all-stops Reading-Guildford - and one train per hour calling at all stops Guildford-Redhill then onwards to the most appropriate London terminal. I have developed variations on this in times past - eg. splitting trains also running to Tonbridge, or extensions towards Brighton - but maybe this is the smartest idea given the ideal of more Gatwick services, better local frequencies and a need for battery electrics.

    The first part of a run from London to Guildford would be electrified to Reigate and the latter part Shalford Junction, so there's plenty of time on the juice. I think the major technical question is whether the third rail could reasonably power trains and charge their batteries, but then again this may have to be done on the basis that no through trains run from what will be OHLE areas onwards to Gatwick via Guildford. This is perhaps excepting a highly theoretical future "outer London orbital" from Cambridge/Bedford to Oxford, Reading, Guildford, Redhill and Gatwick Airport.
     
  4. Bald Rick

    Bald Rick Established Member

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    Battery trains are going to be expensive, so I would expect them to be kept on services that can replace existing diagrams, ie (Oxford) Reading - Gatwick.

    Besides, the good folk of Redhill will not want more trains to London turning up full!
     
    Last edited: 30 May 2015
  5. Peter Sarf

    Peter Sarf Established Member

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    Regarding the demand on the third rail. I guess a four coach battery-electric unit running at full power AND charging its batteries would be unlikely to be more of a drain than a twelve coach non-battery train. Therefore the potential strain on the Third rail and substations would probably not be the issue. I wondered if it might be hard work for the pickup shoes but then I thought of the 4-REP units. These 4 car units got enough power via their pickup shoes to shift 12 coaches of train (4-REP + 4-TC + 4-TC) - albeit less power hungry mark one coaches.

    I wont mention what happened to the 4-REPs (Four Four Two) !.
     
    Last edited: 30 May 2015
  6. 30907

    30907 Established Member

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    Ingenious, but I Don't think the London market would be significant, as the only sizeable settlement is Dorking which has a direct service, and Croydon on its own would be a poor use of BML paths.

    BTW the last direct train on the route ran around 1964, 5.25 pm London Br- Reading.
     
  7. JamesRowden

    JamesRowden Established Member

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    I think that reducing the present 2tph through service between Reading and Redhill to 1tph would be a greater disbenefit than any benefit produced by a Guildford-Redhill-London service.

    If there becomes enough demand to justify a 3tph service between Guildford and Redhill, then I think that extending the proposed Reading-Guildford stopper by either:
    • Extending it to Gatwick to create a 3tph Reading-Gatwick service
    • Or extending it to Redhill and then extending it further to take over 1tph of the Redhill-Tonbridge paths
    would be better value than extending the Victoria-Reigate service to Guildford (which I belive would be interworked with the Victoria-Tonbridge service).
     
  8. Minstral25

    Minstral25 Established Member

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    Interesting points - Guildford/Dorking to East Croydon are major town pairs that have work and other commitments. Croydon is a major employer and many people drive to Croydon because of the lack of direct train service, also vice versa.

    At Reigate alone in 10 years since hourly direct trains to London Bridge were introduced all day, passenger numbers have grown from 600k to almost 1.7m so there is evidence of a lot of untapped demand along the North Downs line.

    Passengers are reluctant to use the change at Redhill to FGW trains as FGW trains often depart ahead of a London train arriving 2 or 3 minutes late (leaving a long wait for next train) or from unreliability of the FGW services turning up in the first place. It is thus fairly obvious that increasing Reigate to 2 trains per hour to London (Victoria or London Bridge) will reap dividends in passenger numbers.

    At Dorking it takes longer to get to London (Victoria and London Bridge) on a direct train than it does currently changing at Redhill. [eg 49 minutes on 9:30am from Deepdene against 59 minutes on a direct train) so a through service will reduce journey times even to Victoria (London Bridge even more so as there are very limited direct trains)

    So extending the existing Reigate services to two per hour and onto Guildford would generate traffic. They could be fitted as extensions into the existing Reigate/Tonbridge services and a battery train like the Class 379 battery unit that was tested or even a diesel hybrid on the same basis as IEP and NBFLs where a generator powers the electric motors off the Third Rail.
     
    Last edited: 31 May 2015
  9. swt_passenger

    swt_passenger Veteran Member

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    There are proposals like your first idea in the Western and Wessex route studies already. Basically they are suggesting a 2 tph limited stop Reading to Gatwick service with a third all stations stopper from Reading as far as Redhill (or Gatwick eventually). It is one of the drivers for the planned extra platforms at Guildford.

    Having three tph on the route must help the case for electrification anyway.
     
    Last edited: 31 May 2015
  10. Minstral25

    Minstral25 Established Member

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    Why is the proposal always for more Reading - Gatwick services as these currently are only three coaches and whilst I am sure there are exceptions I've never even seen a half full train whilst using them 2/3 times a month. I'm sure peak services may be very busy but these are not Gatwick passengers.

    From my experience there is heavier loading between Reigate and Redhill on the hourly London Bridge service than on the FGW Gatwick services

    That's why I asked the question about extending the local services from Guildford to Redhill on to East Croydon and London where there is untapped demand rather than the well worn additional Gatwick services.
     
  11. JamesRowden

    JamesRowden Established Member

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    One explaination would be that Redhill has a frequent service to London, and Gatwick has a frequent service to the entire Sussex Coast which Redhill doesn't.
     
  12. infobleep

    infobleep Established Member

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    The extra train an hour will only be Monday to Friday. Saturdays is still going to be 2 I believe and Sundays just the current 1.

    I can see a train to Victoria or London Bridge being used. I can also see another train to Gatwick being used if it's promoted well. A train every 30 minutes might encourage more people to go by train to Gatwick.

    I imagine once an hour might put people off. After all Redhill has more than 1 train an hour to Gatwick so I don't see why more than 1 train an hour to Gatwick from Guildford or Dorking wouldn't be used.

    One can travel on the slow train to Redhill and change there Mondays to Saturday's but one doesn't arrive into Gatwick much earlier than the direct.

    The other issue is that there are services where, due to stopping at additional stations during the peaks, they end up being an all stations stopper to Gatwick. I was on one the other day. Felt like I was on a tourist train between Redhill and Gatwick, given the speed we were going at. I try to avoid those trains if changing at Gatwick to another train.

    When there is engineering works on a Sunday and all trains terminate at Redhill, with passengers told to take another Southern train to Gatwick from there, the waiting time can be over 20 minutes. I'm sure that puts people off using the trains.

    Back to London. If every train was to head that way, it would need to be more than 4 coaches as that would be a waste of paths to London. So I can see a good argument for having both services but I suspect paths and infrastructure wouldn't allow.

    As for terminating trains at Guildford, currently during the morning and evening week day peaks, some local Reading services terminate / start at Shalford. I suspect that would happen less if Guildford had the space to accommodate them.
     
    Last edited: 31 May 2015
  13. Class 170101

    Class 170101 Established Member

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    Why are we going on about Battery trains for this route? The 3rd Rail should be extended to cover the gaps.
     
  14. Bald Rick

    Bald Rick Established Member

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    Perhaps Battery trains would be cheaper? A lot cheaper?
     
  15. tsr

    tsr Established Member

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    Not to mention how either third rail or OHLE electrification wouldn't work on the North Downs on a significant number of occasions between approximately late October and late February each year. Winter conditions round there can be very unforgiving. You're effectively skirting the bottom of a very exposed set of quite high hills. I for one do not fancy having to dig trains out of the snow in the more exposed parts of Buckland or Gomshall.
     
  16. FenMan

    FenMan Member

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    The Class 16x 3 coach (23 metre) trains have a seating capacity just shy of 300, slightly lower than a 4 coach (20 metre) EMU.

    The loadings on the Guildford - Reading stretch are pretty good and FGW think they can expand the airport market by going for a 2nd semi-fast per hour from 2017. I'm looking forward to the improvement.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    It would be nice. However, as discussed in previous threads, the cost of 3rd rail electrification between Shalford Junction and Reigate would be huge. Sub-stations would need to be installed at frequent intervals in the sections where there are no roads nearby and gaining access to the National Grid would cost a fortune.
     
  17. Minstral25

    Minstral25 Established Member

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    For passengers off the North Downs currently heading to London the change isn't bad but they are dissuaded by the return journey where the timing means a long wait at Redhill especially as they will not hold FGW trains when Southern trains are a few minutes late. Hence the untapped market

    The new Victoria to Tonbridge/Reigate services will only have 4 coaches as Reigate can only turn round 4 coach trains - is that a waste of paths to London. These trains are going to be rammed all day long too.

    AFAIK they cannot turn trains round at Reigate longer than 4 coaches without closing the level crossing - hence an extension to Guildford with new Battery-electric stock could be longer trains using SDO at appropriate stations.

    I'm not suggesting that the FGW semi-fasts be withdrawn, just the local service replaced by an extension of current Reigate trains plus an extra train per hour to make it a service every 30 minutes
     
  18. FenMan

    FenMan Member

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    I can understand why a 3rd service per hour may not feasible on Saturdays due to planned maintenance. However the 1tph Sunday skip-stop services are inadequate, particularly between 10am and 6pm when the Reading and Guildford shoppers are out in force. The current mix of shoppers, day trippers with bikes going to the Surrey Hills and airport passengers with their luggage can result in serious overcrowding. Adding an hourly Sunday stopper between Reading and Guildford (probably extended to Shalford to turn round) during this period, with the Gatwick trains reverting to being semi-fasts on this stretch, would solve this issue.
     
  19. infobleep

    infobleep Established Member

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    The problem with that would be the Gomshall, Chilworth, Dorking West (which is step free accessible unlike Dorking Deepdene) and Betchworth would be without a service all day.

    Selfishly I use to like the former 2 hourly stopping Sunday service between Guildford and Redhill as it connected with a direct Southern service to Haywards Heath. It allowed for a faster journey to Haywards Heath than now.
     
  20. Deepgreen

    Deepgreen Established Member

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    The key here is that the line is at or near the bottom of the hills, not the top. As a resident of Betchworth (one of the summits of the line) I can attest that snow here is not so copious as to warrant ploughs or blowers every winter! As for OHLE, it seems to be OK most of the time at Shap, Beattock, etc. However, the attached shot shows how bad things could get at Gomshall!
     

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    Last edited: 1 Jun 2015
  21. Deepgreen

    Deepgreen Established Member

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    As I understand it, the plan for Reigate is to lengthen the platforms to take 12 car trains (I think from 2025 or so?).
     
  22. broadgage

    broadgage Member

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    From a strictly technical point of view I see no reason why battery powered trains should not provide a viable solution.
    Battery technology has improved considerably, and the remainder of the train is fairly standard EMU technology. Charging from the conductor rail when available should be easy, possibly with automatic controls that prevent charging AND accelerating at maximum power at the same time.

    Extending the conductor rail may not be allowed by the elf an safety who are opposed to any significant extension of a system that uses a lethal voltage exposed at ankle height.

    As to whether or not sufficient demand exists, and the availability of paths, I know not.
     
  23. Domh245

    Domh245 Established Member

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    If you want to run a battery train over a 3rd rail and charge it, the current draw is going to be higher than usual. This either means running it at a reduced rate and making it a PITA to timetable, or run it without amenities such as air con. If the 3rd rail supply wasn't as limited as it is, it would be fine, but it runs close to capacity as it is.
     
  24. FenMan

    FenMan Member

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    My suggestion would retain the skip-stop element of the Gatwick services east of Guildford. Granted, airport passengers from Farnborough North, Sandhurst etc would need to change at Guildford, but they would get a doubled-service frequency to Reading or Guildford in return. A greater good, I'd say.
     
  25. JamesRowden

    JamesRowden Established Member

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    I think that for the vast majority of a North Downs battery train's cycle, that when on eletrified lines it will be on lines designed to power trains of at least double its length. So it should be able to run at maximum drive and charge the batteries at a fast and efficient rate simultaneously.

    Or the train could contain programming to regulate its battery inverter rectifier to limit battery charging as a function of drive power. The power consumption of the train from the eletrification could therefore be limited to a customised value.
     
  26. Deepgreen

    Deepgreen Established Member

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    [QUOTE

    As for terminating trains at Guildford, currently during the morning and evening week day peaks, some local Reading services terminate / start at Shalford. I suspect that would happen less if Guildford had the space to accommodate them.[/QUOTE]

    That may be partly true, but I had understood that those trains are extended to Shalford actually to cater for demand from commuters there (it's the biggest settlement between Guildford and Dorking).
     
  27. 33Hz

    33Hz Member

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    I showed on a previous thread that with some very conservative assumptions the charging and traction power was of the order of 2.4 MW ,which is less than a multiple 444 or 450 consist.
     
  28. HarleyDavidson

    HarleyDavidson Established Member

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    This is one of the lines that I know quite well and have worked over in the past & no it wouldn't be hugely expensive either. The last costings were in the region of £30-50m for the electrification of the two missing sections.

    However as the line hasn't had any serious infrastructure upgrades in over 40 years, you'll need to factor in the resignalling as well, which will probably mean an overall cost of £50-60m to give the line a complete update and soon NR will have the perfect opportunity to do it, when the line gets transferred to Basingstoke ROC & Three Bridges ROC.

    They need to extend the platforms at most stations, increase the line speeds in several key sections (there's absolutely no reason why linespeeds in excess of 75mph shouldn't be possible), shorter signalling sections should be easily achievable using the lightweight stuff that they used in the Fens.

    Power supplies in difficult locations away from roads? You're having a laugh aren't you?

    Most locations are quite easily accessed from either the local road network, a substation at Shalford Junction or Shalford station easy access, another sub at Albury (Brook)/Shere Heath again easy access, another at Dorking West or Deepdene which could be used to power both NDL and supplement the Horsham line & final one at Buckland (Betchworth) again accessible from either Rectory or Lawrence Lanes. Simple easy access and TP huts or DC containers are now prefabricated and easily transportable to their corresponding locations and assembled on site.

    The other direction you can have a feed from the Substation at Aldershot North, you then already have a Sub at Farnborough for the SWML, another Sub at either Sandhurst or Crowthorne, before joining the already electrified Reading - Waterloo section at Wokingham, where there's already a substation.
     
    Last edited: 1 Jun 2015
  29. Bald Rick

    Bald Rick Established Member

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    On the basis of the above:

    Option 1) electrify. Cost £30-50m. Cost of track and signalling alterations to permit electrification £10m. Cost of new electric trains (fleet of 10x4 car) for the route £50m (as by the time this has been electrified, there will be no spare electric stock). Total £90-£110m

    Option 2) battery trains. Cost of new battery trains, same size fleet. £70m. Total £70m.

    Closer than I thought, but no contest.

    And that's assuming £30-50m for electrification, which feels light.
     
  30. HarleyDavidson

    HarleyDavidson Established Member

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    Stop dancing on the head of pin. Battery trains are a complete waste of time, whilst it may be an ideal solution for moving them around in a depot off of the trolley, it's a pointless & overweight solution for lines like the NDL, Marshlink etc.

    Splash the cash, get the job done at today's prices, procrastination just increases the overall cost. Once it's done, it's there for good and as someone who lives along the NDL, it's time to get rid of FGW (or F**king Godknows When) and their smelly, noisy diesels and the nice clean & quiet electrics in with dual voltage capability, which would score well for extended journeys.
     
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