North Downs line electrification

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Philip Phlopp

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Then there's the whole fiasco with the GWML electrification, Reading DMU depot won't be around for much longer and the North Downs isn't expecting third rail until at least control period 6, (that's 2019, for those not in the know) as per the Wessex Route Study, and that doesn't even guarantee it!

The North Downs line isn't getting third rail at all, not in CP6 nor any further Control Period. 25kV AC is the only electrification option available, and it's a CP7 option.
 
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greaterwest

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Yep - as a user (Betchworth) I would support this view! The service's 'skip-stop' pattern is bizarre (so to get from, say, Betchworth to Chilworth in the off-peak can take well over an hour and a change of train en route for the twelve mile journey!), and its overall lack of reliability is depressing and annoying to those of use who use it. Connections (two-hourly off peak stopping trains) are not held at Redhill, and station facilities are woeful (for example, one platform screen at Betchworth has probably worked for only 60% of the time in the last four years). The signalling allows only a thin service provision and the lack of train lengthening has been poor. The costs of extending platforms at the intermediate stations would not be huge but we continue with three car units (sometimes two cars). Part of the problem is that the Surrey folk here prefer to drive to a major station (or all the way) so the backing is not there for improvements.

Indeed I would agree that the service pattern East of Guildford is even more unusual than West. Trains won't stop at Betchworth because people don't use it, but people don't use it because trains don't stop.
The oddest thing of all is the 2-hourly alternation between Chilworth & Gomshall, and Dorking West & Betchworth, meaning, as you accurately said, getting from Betchworth to Chilworth or Gomshall involves a change at Shalford or Guildford (which is further up the line!) and a 40-50 minute wait for the next Redhill service by my calculation; the reverse journey involving catching the train to Redhill and doubling back on the same unit!

Let's also not forget the (very unusual) additional call to Gomshall on 1O86, the 18:34 Reading to Gatwick. I'm sure there are more anomalies like this, my point being that it doesn't make for a very regular service.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
The North Downs line isn't getting third rail at all, not in CP6 nor any further Control Period. 25kV AC is the only electrification option available, and it's a CP7 option.

Route study (August 2015, page 109 & 110):
5.7.61 The sub options tested here were:
• DC third rail infill electrification
• AC overhead infill electrification
• Complete AC electrification between Reading and Reigate

5.7.62 Table 5.9 shows the improvements that electrification
could realise for journey times. Pattern 1 represents timings for
semi-fast services; Pattern 2 represents stopping services on current
stopping patterns; and Pattern 3 represents all station services (for
comparison purposes). It can be seen that provision of AC
electrification would provide the most journey time benefit and that
the more stops made the more significant the journey time improvement.

5.7.63 The Electrification RUS (draft for consultation), due to be
published later in 2015, will set out the case for North Downs Line
electrification. It will compare the costs and benefits with other
electrification schemes nationally to determine priorities for CP6
and beyond.

Please feel free to link me to any more up-to-date information you have though. (I was unable to find the Electrification RUS, so if you have an up-to-date publication please to link it to us)
 
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Philip Phlopp

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Route study (August 2015, page 109 & 110):

Please feel free to link me to any more up-to-date information you have though. (I was unable to find the Electrification RUS, so if you have an up-to-date publication please to link it to us)

The RUS doesn't actually consider third rail as a viable option, it's only there as an illustration of performance differences between diesel, DC and AC. Page 121 Table 6.1 is the applicable portion here, which is 25kV AC OLE electrification during CP7.

Electrification RUS is due later this year, which will lay out the electrification schemes we want to undertake from CP6 through to CP8.

We're not doing any significant new third rail electrification though, that's absolutely out of the question.
 

greaterwest

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The RUS doesn't actually consider third rail as a viable option, it's only there as an illustration of performance differences between diesel, DC and AC. Page 121 Table 6.1 is the applicable portion here, which is 25kV AC OLE electrification during CP7.

Electrification RUS is due later this year, which will lay out the electrification schemes we want to undertake from CP6 through to CP8.

We're not doing any significant new third rail electrification though, that's absolutely out of the question.

And it wouldn't come under an infill scheme, rather than a totally new installation of third rail? (Wokingham to Aldershot South Junction, Shalford Junction to Reigate?)
 

Philip Phlopp

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And it wouldn't come under an infill scheme, rather than a totally new installation of third rail? (Wokingham to Aldershot South Junction, Shalford Junction to Reigate?)

It would be pushing it to consider it an infill, and with the intention to convert 750V DC to 25kV AC already in the area, it would be difficult to justify commercially a 750V DC installation which would have only a short number of years service life, plus there's the usual re-sleeper work needed to support third rail.
 

greaterwest

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It would be pushing it to consider it an infill, and with the intention to convert 750V DC to 25kV AC already in the area, it would be difficult to justify commercially a 750V DC installation which would have only a short number of years service life, plus there's the usual re-sleeper work needed to support third rail.

Having not read the entire route plan, I don't know what's up for consideration in the rest of the area regarding electrification, 25kV AC or otherwise, but would that not cost more? (Required modifications to South West Trains' EMU fleet for example)

Then there's the problem of low bridges (e.g. Crowthorne and Reigate) and where to install the actual supports for the OLE in question (e.g. Sandhurst, Guildford, Dorking Deepdene), or what about East of Guildford where the locals may consider OLE out of the question, given that the North Downs is also known for its scenery.
 

Deepgreen

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Having not read the entire route plan, I don't know what's up for consideration in the rest of the area regarding electrification, 25kV AC or otherwise, but would that not cost more? (Required modifications to South West Trains' EMU fleet for example)

Then there's the problem of low bridges (e.g. Crowthorne and Reigate) and where to install the actual supports for the OLE in question (e.g. Sandhurst, Guildford, Dorking Deepdene), or what about East of Guildford where the locals may consider OLE out of the question, given that the North Downs is also known for its scenery.

I'm afraid that, like it or not, 750vDC is in a huge minority in the UK and will at some point succumb to OHLE, despite the latter's visual intrusion. I think the NDL will continue to be diesel worked for many years, albeit not necessarily by the 16xs currently used. Battery hybrids have been discussed in other threads here, and may become viable. However, the biggest improvements would come through train (and therefore platform) lengthening, increased frequency (probably needing re-signalling beyond 3 tph) and improved reliability.
 

greaterwest

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I'm afraid that, like it or not, 750vDC is in a huge minority in the UK and will at some point succumb to OHLE, despite the latter's visual intrusion. I think the NDL will continue to be diesel worked for many years, albeit not necessarily by the 16xs currently used. Battery hybrids have been discussed in other threads here, and may become viable. However, the biggest improvements would come through train (and therefore platform) lengthening, increased frequency (probably needing re-signalling beyond 3 tph) and improved reliability.

Indeed, as I said earlier anyway, the Wessex Route Plan doesn't necessarily mean it will happen (or to schedule) and for the foreseeable future it will be diesel operated.

I do have to say though, 750vDC is the majority in London and the South East, and I have read posts on here about the battery operated trains, how viable will that be though, with short turnarounds at Gatwick, Redhill and Reading. Not to mention that the NDL is one of the few lines in the South East to not be 750vDC.

There's also the possibility of a re-assignment of route to another TOC to consider, which has been discussed to some extent on this forum too, Southern being the only TOC in the area with suitable diesel trains in their current fleet. (170s and variants)
 

HarleyDavidson

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Indeed, as I said earlier anyway, the Wessex Route Plan doesn't necessarily mean it will happen (or to schedule) and for the foreseeable future it will be diesel operated.

I do have to say though, 750vDC is the majority in London and the South East, and I have read posts on here about the battery operated trains, how viable will that be though, with short turnarounds at Gatwick, Redhill and Reading. Not to mention that the NDL is one of the few lines in the South East to not be 750vDC.

There's also the possibility of a re-assignment of route to another TOC to consider, which has been discussed to some extent on this forum too, Southern being the only TOC in the area with suitable diesel trains in their current fleet. (170s and variants)

I should point out that the 158/159 fleet are also permitted to run over the Guildford - Reading section, they're not currently allowed Guildford - Redhill, but that's nothing more than doing a few test runs, getting any platform edges altered or track adjusted slightly and the route clearance paperwork done.

Doing that you could have a Exeter/Salisbury/Basingstoke - Redhill/Gatwick service or from Westbury/Newbury to Gatwick service, depending on who does what & with what stock.
 

Taunton

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We're not doing any significant new third rail electrification though, that's absolutely out of the question.
I don't want to divert this thread, but that's surely not relevant. The route is already 50% third rail electrified in a range of pieces, and there's no 25Kv around, so it's an infill rather than significantly new. It doesn't seem to have affected the scheme for the extension of the Northern Line from Kennington to Battersea.

Is it another example from Network Rail theoreticians of a Solution In Search Of a problem?

I'll push for a Guildford to London Victoria Southern service, all stations to Redhill then non-stop to Victoria. That's my commute sorted out!
There were such services before around 1965, steam hauled throughout.
 
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Philip Phlopp

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I don't want to divert this thread, but that's surely not relevant. The route is already 50% third rail electrified in a range of pieces, and there's no 25Kv around, so it's an infill rather than significantly new. It doesn't seem to have affected the scheme for the extension of the Northern Line from Kennington to Battersea.

Is it another example from Network Rail theoreticians of a Solution In Search Of a problem?

Infill would need around 32 miles of new third rail electrification, the idea of installing that amount of third rail, with its associated DC switchgear, extending the existing 33kV grid and relaying part the route to support the third rail itself, in light of both SWT's Class 450 fleet and GWR's Class 387 fleet being dual voltage capable, is a non starter.

There's a few options, but using dual voltage units and doing changeovers at various points is going to be the easiest option temporarily.
 

greaterwest

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I don't want to divert this thread, but that's surely not relevant. The route is already 50% third rail electrified in a range of pieces, and there's no 25Kv around, so it's an infill rather than significantly new. It doesn't seem to have affected the scheme for the extension of the Northern Line from Kennington to Battersea.

Is it another example from Network Rail theoreticians of a Solution In Search Of a problem?

There were such services before around 1965, steam hauled throughout.

Indeed this is my point, it would come under an infill scheme and as per the Wessex Route Plan, is an option to them.
 

Philip Phlopp

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Indeed this is my point, it would come under an infill scheme and as per the Wessex Route Plan, is an option to them.

It's not an option available to us, as I've already said, nor one we would be considering even if it was.
 

greaterwest

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I should point out that the 158/159 fleet are also permitted to run over the Guildford - Reading section, they're not currently allowed Guildford - Redhill, but that's nothing more than doing a few test runs, getting any platform edges altered or track adjusted slightly and the route clearance paperwork done.

Doing that you could have a Exeter/Salisbury/Basingstoke - Redhill/Gatwick service or from Westbury/Newbury to Gatwick service, depending on who does what & with what stock.

Given that the 158/159s can (and do!) run to Brighton via Chichester, I can't imagine they'll have any problem running to Redhill via Guildford as the Turbos require much more clearance than the 158/159s.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
It's not an option available to us, as I've already said, nor one we would be considering even if it was.

Can you tell me why it isn't an option available though? As Taunton has said, it's 40-50% done anyway.
 

Philip Phlopp

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Can you tell me why it isn't an option available though? As Taunton has said, it's 40-50% done anyway.

The plan is to convert to 25kV AC, starting with Basingstoke to Southampton, and moving closer to London on the South West Main Line.

Third rail being installed on the North Downs Line at the same time as Basingstoke to Farnborough is being converted to 25kV AC makes absolutely no sense, it could have less than 5 years before it all needs to be ripped out again, so installing 25kV AC from the start and working around the existing DC routes with dual voltage stock is what will be done.

It's also difficult to obtain a safety case for new third rail, and it's going to be almost impossible when we're ripping out third rail, the question that will be asked is why not install 25kV AC OLE from the start, so that's what we will do.

The Basingstoke to Southampton conversion will see SWT (or any replacement franchise) actively running dual voltage units, changing at Basingstoke from DC to AC. That allows Reading to Ascot to be converted. It's entirely possible that when the North Downs Line is electrified, only the section from Reigate to Redhill remains electrified with third rail.
 

DerekC

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The plan is to convert to 25kV AC, starting with Basingstoke to Southampton, and moving closer to London on the South West Main Line.

Third rail being installed on the North Downs Line at the same time as Basingstoke to Farnborough is being converted to 25kV AC makes absolutely no sense, it could have less than 5 years before it all needs to be ripped out again, so installing 25kV AC from the start and working around the existing DC routes with dual voltage stock is what will be done.

It's also difficult to obtain a safety case for new third rail, and it's going to be almost impossible when we're ripping out third rail, the question that will be asked is why not install 25kV AC OLE from the start, so that's what we will do.

The Basingstoke to Southampton conversion will see SWT (or any replacement franchise) actively running dual voltage units, changing at Basingstoke from DC to AC. That allows Reading to Ascot to be converted. It's entirely possible that when the North Downs Line is electrified, only the section from Reigate to Redhill remains electrified with third rail.

Although you are right about conversion to 25kV AC being the plan, with the escalation of OLE costs I suspect that it is going to be a very long time before even the SWML is done, let alone Reading to Ascot or anywhere else. So third rail infill on the Reading-Gatwick route would have a life of a lot more than 5 years and in a logical world would happen (or rather would have happened already).
 

greaterwest

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The plan is to convert to 25kV AC, starting with Basingstoke to Southampton, and moving closer to London on the South West Main Line.

Third rail being installed on the North Downs Line at the same time as Basingstoke to Farnborough is being converted to 25kV AC makes absolutely no sense, it could have less than 5 years before it all needs to be ripped out again, so installing 25kV AC from the start and working around the existing DC routes with dual voltage stock is what will be done.

It's also difficult to obtain a safety case for new third rail, and it's going to be almost impossible when we're ripping out third rail, the question that will be asked is why not install 25kV AC OLE from the start, so that's what we will do.

The Basingstoke to Southampton conversion will see SWT (or any replacement franchise) actively running dual voltage units, changing at Basingstoke from DC to AC. That allows Reading to Ascot to be converted. It's entirely possible that when the North Downs Line is electrified, only the section from Reigate to Redhill remains electrified with third rail.

Given that Network Rail can't even keep a new electrification scheme to timetable (GWML) I can't imagine Farnborough or Ascot will see 25kV AC for a very long time.

The suggestion that an already electrified (3rd rail) line will be converted to AC in any sane timescale is hilarious in this day and age with the current state of Network Rail's timekeeping. There's more chance of the North Downs Line receiving third rail in my opinion.
 

61653 HTAFC

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Given that Network Rail can't even keep a new electrification scheme to timetable (GWML) I can't imagine Farnborough or Ascot will see 25kV AC for a very long time.

The suggestion that an already electrified (3rd rail) line will be converted to AC in any sane timescale is hilarious in this day and age with the current state of Network Rail's timekeeping. There's more chance of the North Downs Line receiving third rail in my opinion.

One thing that might have happened under BR if DC-AC conversion was happening under their watch, would be the possibility of non-life-expired equipment being re-used on minor routes where AC is less of a priority due to traffic levels and absence of freight or XC services. This may well have lead to 3rd rail on Marshlink and North Downs (probably not Uckfield due to supply issues), or even extension of the Merseyrail juice.
 

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The escalation in electrification costs may well be down to factors mainly specific to GWML such as the profusion of signalling cables in unknown locations, plus the sudden flurry of scheme go-aheads at a time when few people with the relevant skills were still around. So we should hope that with a steady rolling programme of electrification schemes the costs will settle down at a more reasonable level.
 

Philip Phlopp

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Given that Network Rail can't even keep a new electrification scheme to timetable (GWML) I can't imagine Farnborough or Ascot will see 25kV AC for a very long time.

The suggestion that an already electrified (3rd rail) line will be converted to AC in any sane timescale is hilarious in this day and age with the current state of Network Rail's timekeeping. There's more chance of the North Downs Line receiving third rail in my opinion.

I can only tell you what is actually happening within Network Rail today, what we are planning and what is going to happen in the next control periods.

The Wessex Route Study is abundantly clear, third rail is not an option, as of March 2015, the plan available to funders, the plan we have made available to funders, is for the North Downs Line to be electrified at 25kV AC OLE during CP7. I cannot be any clearer than that, third rail is not an option, it is not on the table, it will not be happening.
 

Taunton

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I can only tell you what is actually happening within Network Rail today, what we are planning and what is going to happen in the next control periods.

The Wessex Route Study is abundantly clear, third rail is not an option, as of March 2015, the plan available to funders, the plan we have made available to funders, is for the North Downs Line to be electrified at 25kV AC OLE during CP7. I cannot be any clearer than that, third rail is not an option, it is not on the table, it will not be happening.
You can only wonder what part of The Planet Zog the NR theoreticians come from. It's like the old definition of An Economist ("one for whom the Real World is a Special Case") :)

South of London has a huge 3rd rail system which has worked well for 100 years. You are discussing this with one who saw BR put the 3rd rail down on Custom House to North Woolwich in the 1980s in, guess what, one WEEKEND! This by a Chesterton Junction (Cambridge) 08-hauled train and a PW crew who had little experience of 3rd rail, a couple of lads from Hoo Junction (Gravesend) came over to assist and advise if required.

Infill would need around 32 miles of new third rail electrification, the idea of installing that amount of third rail, with its associated DC switchgear, extending the existing 33kV grid and relaying part the route to support the third rail itself
You generally know straw-clutching is in hand when tasks are micro-broken down into tiny bits, each presented as a major issue. Oh dear, all those substations. never mind that on the 25Kv railway each 4-car unit is hauling round its own substation/transformer, under the frames, at all times, each of which has to be bought from Bombardier (££) or Siemens (£££).

How is the GW electrification going, to the original budget and timescales? How is that High Output Plant System coming along then with erecting the overhead? Ought to be finished by now, surely?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-33425743

Hey, Patrick McLaughlin, the DfT's budgets are safe in their hands.
 
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swt_passenger

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An obvious problem with Reading to Wokingham being changed to overhead to benefit the northern part of the North Downs route, is that the 458/5s in use by then on the 10 car Waterloo-Reading service are allegedly not capable of dual voltage conversion.
 

HarleyDavidson

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It's a shame that they won't put the juice rail down, because in the not too distant future there's going to be at least 18 5 car trains doing SFA, which would be perfect for the role.

It seems that the nitwits in charge of NR have backside & elbow syndrome.
 

Philip Phlopp

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It's a shame that they won't put the juice rail down, because in the not too distant future there's going to be at least 18 5 car trains doing SFA, which would be perfect for the role.

It seems that the nitwits in charge of NR have backside & elbow syndrome.

If it's going to descend into petty name calling, I'm out.
 

Taunton

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If it's going to descend into petty name calling, I'm out.
It's not that, it's a serious discussion about a complete (and alas ongoing) squandering of public assets and money; a real "Emperor Has No Clothes" situation that many competent observers can see.
 

YorkshireBear

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It's not that, it's a serious discussion about a complete (and alas ongoing) squandering of public assets and money; a real "Emperor Has No Clothes" situation that many competent observers can see.

Which assets and money is it that are these that are being wasted exactly?
 

Taunton

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Which assets and money is it that are these that are being wasted exactly?
All the 25Kv electrification hardware, and its associated costs, being installed over fractions of already electrified and working 3rd rail, or not infilling gaps like that being discussed (which quite possibly will then end up so expensive that it won't be worth doing at all).

Given the difficulties that the North London Line ran into (apparently unexpected) where there were two systems installed, we can doubtless look forward to all sorts of issues at the new changeover points. Do I hear that the Farringdon supply changeover is regarded as the Achilles Heel of Thameslink?

I see that today all round Birmingham is grossly disorganised because the wires are down again, while the southern 3rd rail networks seem to be rolling along, which in all fairness they normally do, at least on the power supply side.
 

greaterwest

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All the 25Kv electrification hardware, and its associated costs, being installed over fractions of already electrified and working 3rd rail, or not infilling gaps like that being discussed (which quite possibly will then end up so expensive that it won't be worth doing at all).

Given the difficulties that the North London Line ran into (apparently unexpected) where there were two systems installed, we can doubtless look forward to all sorts of issues at the new changeover points. Do I hear that the Farringdon supply changeover is regarded as the Achilles Heel of Thameslink?

I see that today all round Birmingham is grossly disorganised because the wires are down again, while the southern 3rd rail networks seem to be rolling along, which in all fairness they normally do, at least on the power supply side.

Well said!
On top of that, I don't see nearly as many problems, reliability wise, with third rail as I do with OLE.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
If it's going to descend into petty name calling, I'm out.

It's not petty name calling, at least not directly, and he's perfectly right. Why replace perfectly capable & functioning 750vDC with 25kV AC? An infill would certainly be cheaper!
 

YorkshireBear

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All the 25Kv electrification hardware, and its associated costs, being installed over fractions of already electrified and working 3rd rail, or not infilling gaps like that being discussed (which quite possibly will then end up so expensive that it won't be worth doing at all).

Given the difficulties that the North London Line ran into (apparently unexpected) where there were two systems installed, we can doubtless look forward to all sorts of issues at the new changeover points. Do I hear that the Farringdon supply changeover is regarded as the Achilles Heel of Thameslink?

I see that today all round Birmingham is grossly disorganised because the wires are down again, while the southern 3rd rail networks seem to be rolling along, which in all fairness they normally do, at least on the power supply side.

Still not sure how that is a waste if you get an electrified route at the end. By that logic, surely electrifying at 3rd rail is a waste due to the much higher frequency of substations needed?

I doubt they were unexpected, the problems on the NLL I believe were more to do with signalling than the two electrification types interfering with each other. Of course the two run very merrily alongside each other along the Southern WCML.

The changeover will always be the achilles heel but the alternative was 3rd rail up the MML or OHL down to Brighton so....

The changeover points will gradually reduce and of course modern stock is much more adept at switching power supply.

So the wires are down? Okay. Well sometime the 3rd rail fails? Not really a point. Sometimes a diesel engine fails too, we shall electrify everything with OHL. But wait the OHL falls down? Right well lets do 3rd rail, but that fails too. Shall we use diesel (and the circle continues).

Let us add in the 3rd rail risks to staff working on the tracks too as a big plus point for removing it.

It is all a balance, which after numerous years of experimentation, usage and study, has come down on the side of OHL not just the UK but around the world.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
It's not petty name calling, at least not directly, and he's perfectly right. Why replace perfectly capable & functioning 750vDC with 25kV AC? An infill would certainly be cheaper!

Nitwits at Network Rail is most certainly petty name calling. Considering there are many Network Rail employees on this forum.
 
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