Proportion of diesel worked services on WCML

Discussion in 'UK Railway Discussion' started by euryalus, 6 Jun 2015.

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  1. euryalus

    euryalus Member

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    The widespread use of diesel locomotives on electrified main lines has attracted much adverse criticism from environmentalists - the practice having seemingly become more prevalent since the privatisation and fragmentation of BR. It is presumably cheaper for privatised train operators to employ diesel traction on services which start or terminate beyond the confines of the electrified system, and this has resulted in a situation whereby a large proportion of the train services on the West Coast Main Line are worked by diesel power. I wonder, however, if there are any figures relating to the proportion of diesel-worked services on the WCML - is it more that 50 per cent?
     
  2. MCR247

    MCR247 Established Member

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    A large proportion? Not really. The hourly Euston - Chester is diesel as well as some London - Birmingham - Scotland services and the odd London - Birmingham. Nowhere near 50%. There is also the odd 185 further north between Manchester and Scotland to allow longer trains.

    I don't really think it can fully be blamed on privatisation though. "It is presumably cheaper for privatised train operators to employ diesel traction on services which start or terminate beyond the confines of the electrified system" well if its cheaper for them surely it would also be cheaper for BR?
     
    Last edited: 6 Jun 2015
  3. jcollins

    jcollins Veteran Member

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    Actually most diesel locomotives have been scrapped. I think there are no diesel locomotives operating regularly on the WCML at all, services are operated by diesel multiple units, diesel-electric multiple units and electric multiple units.

    Well there are a number of services which go on to the WCML under diesel power but only a very small proportion of services on the WCML are operated by diesel services completely under overhead electrics. For instance, there's no overhead electrics to Chester and North Wales. Also at present some of the diversionary routes aren't electrified so Birmingham-Scotland services, in particular, may use a unelectrified line during engineering works or during disruption.
     
  4. euryalus

    euryalus Member

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    But surely most of the freight services are diesel-hauled, together with the various long-distance cross-country services?
     
  5. LeylandLen

    LeylandLen Member

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    Surely the majority of freight trains are diesel hauled on WCML , class 66 i think ? They seem to be the workhorse as many freight journeys either start or terminate on non-electrified , thats overhead , locations such as east London ( Fords , Dagenham ) , Port of Liverpool, Southampton docks.
     
  6. LNW-GW Joint

    LNW-GW Joint Established Member

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    I think the OP meant freight, or overall, not just passenger.
    My guess is that about 2/3 of WCML freight is diesel hauled, maybe more.
    Pretty much all the coal trains are diesel worked from Hunterston to Warrington and points south, some via Glasgow.
    Container trains are more likely to be electric hauled, but you still see single class 66s working all the way down the WCML into Trafford Park.
    Meanwhile, class 90/92s sit idle or are exported.

    Not to forget the 2tph XC Voyagers running under the wires north of Coventry/Birmingham to Manchester (and north of Doncaster/York on the ECML).
     
  7. Quakkerillo

    Quakkerillo Member

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    If all the goods trains had to be swapping locomotives when reaching electrified / non-electrified routes, this would also mean that many freight companies will need much more locomotives, drivers with multiple locomotive class knowledge, and more goods yards to be able to perform locomotive changes.
    Or the whole freight network would have to be electrified.

    I see neither option as particularly viable. No, diesel isn't ideal when a line is electrified, but to have the trains run electric too isn't easily achieved either, so I don't think the current situation is that bad.
     
  8. euryalus

    euryalus Member

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    Actual figures seem hard to come by, but random observation at locations on the northern section of the WCML such as Oubeck or Hest Bank would suggest that about 75 per cent of the trains are diesel-worked - not just the freight and cross-country workings, but also the local trains to destinations such as Morecambe, Barrow or Manchester Airport. The situation is less severe in the London, Glasgow or Birmingham areas, which have elecric-worked suburban networks.
     
  9. sprinterguy

    sprinterguy Established Member

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    Strange, then, that British Rail didn't see traction changes en route as an obstacle 25 to 30 years ago, where passenger or freight services operated over electrified sections of route for a significant distance. The intermodal arm of Freightliner still appears to operate to similar sensibilities to a greater extent than some of their arrivals, with loco changes occurring at the likes of Wembley, but in general there seem to be fewer changes of locomotive at places such as Bescot or Mossend.

    Granted that block trains of quarried, mined or extracted products, and coal in particular operating as it does on the merry go round system, have rarely been well suited to changes of traction en route, and I think it is the changes in these flows over recent decades that have contributed a great extent to the changing environment of railfreight flows: Where, for example, a network of local collieries used to be able to supply a more localised collection of power stations, keeping flows fairly short haul and generally away from the wires, now power station coal is either imported, or produced domestically at a small number of sites in a limited number of geographic areas, so in either case supply has been concentrated at a far smaller number of hubs, and hence the flows have become far longer haul, so diesel locomotives are running under the wires on major routes for a longer distance. The modern power stations are considerably bigger and far fewer in number than those that went before them.
     
  10. DarloRich

    DarloRich Veteran Member

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    it(anecdotally) isn't that high on the southern end of the WCML
     
  11. sprinterguy

    sprinterguy Established Member

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    Allied to my first point, I think it would me more accurate for the quoted statement to read "smaller, privatised train operators". British Rail was of course a large single entity whose railfreight sector had a monopoly on the market, and consequently could afford to maintain sufficiently large fleets of diesel and electric locomotives to achieve economies of scale in their maintenance and operation. The same goes for having a large pool of train crew to select from, with a range of route and traction knowledge.

    With the fragmentation of the railfreight industry, smaller operators such as GB Railfreight don't appear to have the critical mass (though they have gone from strength to strength!) to support both a large fleet of diesel and electric locomotives. It is no longer the case that traincrew from a depot in any corner of the country can be called upon to work any potential railfreight flow, as company drivers will only have the route and traction knowledge pertaining to their FOC.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    Compared to the ECML, I would actually say that the WCML is a poorer example as a bastion of diesel haulage under the wires. Since the start of regular through running of London-Birmingham-Scotland services, there are fewer Voyagers operating Birmingham to Scotland services, with them being confined to a greater extent to North Wales Coast and off peak Birmingham to London diagrams. TPE Manchester to Scotland services are now mainly electric 350s, and the likes of the TPE Barrow services are only under the WCML wires for a short distance, between Preston and Carnforth.

    Compare this to the ECML, which sees East Coast HSTs operating the full length of the electrified route quite regularly on both longer distance services and some "captive" diagrams that remain fully under the wires. Two open access operators, Hull Trains and Grand Central, operate solely diesel trains over a considerable length of the southern section of the route, and there are further East Coast HSTs utilised on shorter distance "off wires" services to the likes of Hull and Harrogate. North of Doncaster/York, there are also two diesel Crosscountry and one (two as far as Northallerton) diesel TPE service each hour.

    Electric freight on the East Coast main line is largely non-existant as well, while on the West Coast main line classes 86, 90 and 92, as well as Royal Mails' electric postal units, are regular sites throughout its length and particularly between Rugby and Wembley.
     
    Last edited: 7 Jun 2015
  12. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    How would you calculate any such figures?

    Would a Reading-Manchester train be considered to be using the WCML for 102 miles (Reading-Manchester) or for 5 miles (Stafford-Norton Bridge)? Or something else? This, of course, depends on your definition of 'WCML'.

    And, in either case, does this count as '1' train that is non-diesel, thus counter-acting a Euston-Glasgow electric train, or do you calculate this as a fraction of the WCML it uses?
     
  13. chorleyjeff

    chorleyjeff Member

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    BR had the staff on the ground to deal with changing engines quickly and seemed to have a policy of trying to avoid diesels under the wires. To be commended I think.
     
  14. MCR247

    MCR247 Established Member

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    As far as passenger services are concerned, I don't think they'd still be changing locos on XC services, for example, if BR was still around today
     
  15. euryalus

    euryalus Member

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    I was not aware that Reading was on the West Coast Main Line. A Reading to Manchester service would clearly join the West Coast system at Birmingham and then run on the electrified former L&NWR/NSR main line to its destination.
     
  16. route:oxford

    route:oxford Established Member

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    The environmentalists who have resolutely chosen not to set up their own ROSCO or TOC? It's the usual all talk and incapable of action.

    It's best to use the most suitable equipment for the job with consideration for overall requirements of the equipment.

    If we were to go back to the days of carriages and changes of and run-around of locos at Southampton, Reading, Birmingham New Street, Edinburgh and others then a considerable number of services would need to be cut to permit the changes.
     
  17. 6Gman

    6Gman Established Member

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    But that was when trains were loco + carriages. Bit difficult to convert a Pendolino into a Voyager during 10 minutes at New Street!
     
  18. Holly

    Holly Member

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    It's a bit of a stretch, don't you think, to call fixed configurations (such as Pendolino) "multiple units".

    With multiple units you get to couple together two or several units to form a train according to demand. Pendolinos and the like have fixed rakes. Which forces you to operate them like airlines - primarily as a money grafting schemes rather than as a necessary service for the travelling public.

    LHCS and MUs had big advantages over fixed rakes. Killed by the profiteers.
     
    Last edited: 7 Jun 2015
  19. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    Agreed. However it wouldn't take 10 minutes to start up the diesel engines/raise the pantograph on the bi-mode .... Oh, wait, we don't have any of them yet.
     
  20. MCR247

    MCR247 Established Member

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    So you would rather trains like London - Scotland were run by smaller units coupled up? Like 3x3 car sets instead of a pendolino?

    "Killed by the profiteers" seems to suggest that fixed formations are a privatisation thing. Yet MK4s have (AFAIK) always ran in fixed formations. I've never heard of a 6 car MK4 even in BR days. LHCS ordered in 2010 by BR or Virgin would always be intended for fixed formations. To be able to add extra coaches when you feel like it is wasteful and wouldn't happen regardless.
     
  21. euryalus

    euryalus Member

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    I was really asking if anyone has any figures relating to the proportion of diesel-worked services on the WCML. I don't like speculation, but as no figures have yet materialised I would suggest that at least 50 per cent of the train services between Preston and Carlisle are diesel worked. And as another contributor has pointed out, the situation on the ECML is as bad, if not worse.
     
  22. Bevan Price

    Bevan Price Established Member

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    Except for the DRS trains, all "inter-modal" trains (DB & Freightliner) north of Preston on WCML are normally worked by electric locos. DRS uses Class 66 diesels, but has some Class 88 electric locos on order.
    However, many run overnight, and are not seen by daytime observers.

    The Caledonian sleeper trains are also booked for electric locos.

    DB (ex EWS) run some other freight using electric locos, but the majority of other freight north of Preston is worked by diesel locos.
     
  23. satisnek

    satisnek Member

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    Diesels under the wires go back some years before privatisation. I think it was the introduction of HSTs on Table 51 services which was the catalyst. It was certainly the death knell for loco changes at places like Coventry.
     
  24. DownSouth

    DownSouth Established Member

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    You seem to be saying that it's too challenging.

    It's more likely that the real problem is actually the powers that be are not challenging themselves enough.
     
  25. D6975

    D6975 Established Member

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    Not necessarily. Under BR the diesel loco used for the last few miles of such a service would do other turns as well. For a private operator, they would have to provide a diesel loco just for that one train. The cost of splitting a service into electric and diesel legs would therefore be much higher for a private operator.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    Indeed, there was a shift towards using diesels throughout. Several services from the South and South West used to be 47s through to Manchester or Liverpool. The problems associated with doing loco changes at busy places like Coventry and New St were ostensibly the main reason for the shift.
     
  26. RichmondCommu

    RichmondCommu Established Member

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    What about freight?
     
  27. Deerfold

    Deerfold Established Member

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    I'm guessing you didn't read on after jcollins's post?
     
  28. euryalus

    euryalus Member

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    Do the railways pay for their electricity on a "flat rate" system, or is it possible to calculate the amount of electricity that is being consumed? In the early days of electrification, of course, the railway companies produced their own electricity - which must have been much simpler!
     
  29. 6Gman

    6Gman Established Member

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    Who are these profiteers?
     
  30. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    I'm not an expert, but I believe that trains do record the actual amount of power used, however the TOCs/FOCs pay on a £/track mile basis.
     
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