Prospects of HSTs surviving on "Highland Chieftain" (London/Inverness VTEC)

Discussion in 'Allocations, Diagrams & Timetables' started by BRX, 6 Jun 2017.

  1. BRX

    BRX Established Member

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    As I understand it, the idea was originally that the IEP trains would take over East Coast services north of Edinburgh using their bi-mode capabilities, meaning that we should expect the last Highland Chieftain service worked by HST within the next couple of years.

    However, I've recently seen suggestion that VTEC will retain some of its HSTs for this route, due to concerns about performance of the bi-mode trains - is this correct?
     
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  3. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    I hope so, but I wouldn't get my hopes up too much.

    Are bi-modes cleared for all routes operated by VTEC or are there some routes where they aren't?

    If they are cleared then the company may be prepared to use a sub-optimal path if the concerns are just performance related, but it's possible that option may not be available to them.
     
  4. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    I don't think formal route clearance has happened yet. They certainly haven't done any route proving up my way that I've seen or heard about.
     
  5. Clansman

    Clansman Established Member

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    I'd have thought the IEPs would perform better than the HSTs on the HML, given that HSTs, although they're powerful beasts, have to haul 9 dead coaches whereas the IEPs have an engine under each carriage that will speed up departure times and hopefully along with the Japanese technology, the reliability and most of all comfort will be high.

    Although some will say that DMUs* and such like have found the HML difficult, an IEP has a little under double the amount of horsepower per engine compared to each engine on a 170, so I think they'll cope just fine out with initial teething problems common with new rolling stock.
     
    Last edited: 6 Jun 2017
  6. takno

    takno Established Member

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    Any performance issues on diesel north of Haymarket are likely to be comfortably cancelled out by shorter dwell times (assuming the HSTs don't have replacement doors) and better acceleration on electric south of Edinburgh.
     
  7. Clansman

    Clansman Established Member

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    Given we're speaking in the context of the Chieftain, am I right in saying that the 800s will run on electric as far as Dunblane, as they can convert to diesel whilst on the move? Heard nothing about this so I can only assume they will...
     
    Last edited: 6 Jun 2017
  8. route:oxford

    route:oxford Established Member

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    Only time will tell.

    If it's a smooth transistion, you can be sure the pants will drop and the diesel engines will roar into life just after Dunblane signal box.

    If in practice it's not a smooth transition when the unit is on a fairly aggressive incline, then chances are it'll switch at the call at Stirling.

    I'm not sure how far along the knitting will go. If a 6 car unit terminates at Dunblane, it must go a fair distance to the Allan Water Viaduct before it can reverse.

    Overall, whilst some members disagree with me, it's my view that electrication should continue to Perth rather than stop at Dunblane.
     
  9. BRX

    BRX Established Member

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    Depending on how you feel about that underfloor engine drone that seems inevitable on any DMU...
     
  10. Clansman

    Clansman Established Member

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    True about the time. Even when EGIP is complete, there's no merit in VTEC not utilising electric power even to Stirling.

    Completely agree about Perth though, I could go on for hours about that! However, I'd draw the line by saying that doing it under the current layout would be pointless.
    The engines don't really affect the comfort of my journey to be honest. To be fair riding 170s all the time instilled that within me!
     
    Last edited: 6 Jun 2017
  11. HLE

    HLE Member

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    Try a 153! Modern day boneshaker - 170's are quiet in comparison
     
  12. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    Don't know what kind of trains you've been on! :D
    They can change on the move, and my suspicion is that'll be just as smooth on an incline as on the level.
    There's no point electrifying just to Perth as there are few (no?) Glasgow-Perth stoppers. If you electrify past Dunblane then you've got to be going at least as far as Dundee for it to make sense.
     
  13. Altnabreac

    Altnabreac Established Member

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    As well as there being no services for a Perth electrification there are also several infrastructure reasons why electrifying to Perth quickly is a bad idea.

    Perth station is due to be remodelled early in CP6 to improve dwell times and accessibility. No point wiring up the old layout.

    Perth is due to get a new depot early in CP6 which is likely to be positioned SE of the station. This will involve substantial changes to the approach lines and track layout. Again pointless to wire up immediately before such a big change.

    Dunblane - Perth is due for resignalling over next few years. No point in making changes to current signalling layout to suit electrification.

    Much better to pursue a total route modernisation type approach and make all these schemes work to deliver electrification over CP6.
     
  14. Clansman

    Clansman Established Member

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    Agree 100% with this - not meaning to deviate from the thread topic or anything.
     
  15. sprinterguy

    sprinterguy Established Member

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    Well, engines under five out of nine coaches, which still amounts to 3,750hp, and distributed traction to boot, compared to the HSTs 4,500hp. I'd be surprised if the class 800s would encounter any issues on the Highland Main Line unless they had a couple of engines out.
     
    Last edited: 6 Jun 2017
  16. Fuzzytop

    Fuzzytop Member

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    Also if it's still a pipe-dream to enable faster 140mph running on the very Southern bit of the ECML by the end of the current franchise, keeping HSTs for a while on some of the headline express services would prove a backwards step?

    Although I suppose it'd certainly be possible for the ICEC franchise to order some higher-spec 802 units for these services if it proves necessary, and once Newton Aycliffe's order book clears up a bit.

    I still don't see it happening, as much as we all love the HSTs. The Azumas on order cover pretty much all of Virgin EC's needs, both in terms of capacity and horsepower. Previous suggestions have pointed to the retention of a handful of the 91/Mk4 fleet to cover Edinburgh - Kx diagrams, which would require fewer modifications for PRM-TSI and are more likely to be approved to run at 140mph. That seems to make more sense to me - but even with that proposal I'm doubtful that any will be kept.
     
    Last edited: 6 Jun 2017
  17. Starmill

    Starmill Veteran Member

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    Presumably they would also need to be fitted with ETCS if they are to stay in the long-term?
     
  18. Bevan Price

    Bevan Price Established Member

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    Wikipedia claims that a 9 coach 800 IEP is expected to weigh 540 tons (or an average 60 tons per coach). I would hope they can get the weight a bit lower than that. But if 540 is correct, diesel-mode performance climbing adverse gradients seems likely to be worse than a Class 158 or 170, and probably worse than a 9 coach HST (although it might have better acceleration from a standing start).

    From memory, a 9 coach HST plus 2 power cars weighs in the region of 470 tons. That gives 4500/470 = 9.5 hp/ton

    The IEP would be 3750/540 = 6.9 hp/ton

    A Scotrail 3 coach 170 is about 1260//133 = 9.4 hp/ton

    and a typical 2 coah 158 is about 700/77 = 9.1 hp/ton
     
  19. Blindtraveler

    Blindtraveler Established Member

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    I refuse to believe anything could be worse than a 170 to the Highlands. Anyone who has used the booked 158 turns on that route will know that they generally cope better.

    The IEPs willas far as I know take over and until Stirling is wired change to deezol whilst traveling between Linlithgow and Polmont prior to the call at Falkirk.

    Whilst keeping HSTs would be nice it would be a tad embarrasing for the DFT if their multi billion pound train was less able to climb Slocht than the 40 plus year old one it was built to phase out.
     
  20. Starmill

    Starmill Veteran Member

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    This notion is not new. There have been mumblings and rumblings about this in the Railway press for some time. There is no escaping the worse power to weight ratio of a Super Express Train against a 9 car HST or a 3 car Turbostar. The question is merely can that be made to work in the timetabe?
     
  21. 47271

    47271 Established Member

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    The yard at Dunkeld had had a sign on its gate for the past six months saying that it's a centre for IEP gauging, so I think it's safe to assume that they're well on with making sure the trains can run on the HML.
     
  22. Blindtraveler

    Blindtraveler Established Member

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    Well I guess if it expires regularly enough then they can find a plan B..
     
  23. Clansman

    Clansman Established Member

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    Given the case looks to be that the 800s will have a far less power to weight ratio than the HSTs and the 170s, doesn't that beg the question as to why DfT/VTEC didn't go for 802s instead?

    If the 800s show sign of struggle on the HML particularly during the testing stage then, with reference to the thread topic, that could possibly extend the tenure of VTEC HSTs by a small degree.
     
    Last edited: 7 Jun 2017
  24. Blindtraveler

    Blindtraveler Established Member

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    To directly, and as a matter of opinionly answer the why did they go for 800s not 802s? Coz their stupid enough to drum up a design that costs plenty and most likely woant be as nice to ride in to replace the HSt fleat. The 802s ordered by First group for Westen, Hull and TPX opperations should be better and I welcome them. I hope to be proved wrong on the 800s also.
     
  25. GusB

    GusB Established Member

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    If the 800s do turn out to be underpowered, isn't it just a case of tweaking the software to give them the same amount of power as the 802s?
     
  26. tbtc

    tbtc Veteran Member

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    Possibly because the gradients between Perth and Inverness are a fairly minor part of VTEC - they'll be running sixty five 800/801s - possibly more if they order another half dozen to replace the remaining 225s (once Newton Aycliffe has capacity and more positive headlines can be generated from a follow on order).

    The "Highland" part of the Highland Chieftain is such a small part of the overall VTEC network (and obviously the diagrams interwork with services to/from common-or-garden destinations at Kings Cross, since it's only eight hours) that it presumably isn't worth having specialist trains just to deal with a hundred miles a day.

    GWR will need 802s to deal with the Devon Banks, which they run over much more often than the once-a-day Chieftain (and which won't need to interwork with Oxford/ Bristol services at Paddington), so it'll be worth having separate trains to do this.

    To turn the question on its head, what would you need to do to have a small fleet of "802s" dedicated to the Chieftain? Presumably you'd need three trains, to be restricted to the diagrams that run from Neville Hill to Inverness each day (via Kings Cross), which would require separate staff training for - which would mean a lot of redundancy for the sake of a hundred difficult miles a day on a TOC that must run several thousand miles per day.
     
  27. Gareth Marston

    Gareth Marston Established Member

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    Couple it up to a DRS 68 at Perth or Edinburgh.........which is what a LHCS with an electric loco could have done at much much lesser cost...

    There not known as Daft for nothing.
     
  28. Mag_seven

    Mag_seven Established Member

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    Given the amount of money thats been spent on the IEP project (not withstanding all the VTEC PR) I think that would be a political disaster. You can see the headlines now!

    With regards to electrifying to Perth, NR needs to get on and complete what its supposed to electrifying first (i.e. EGIP) before even thinking about further routes.
     
  29. 43074

    43074 Established Member

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    I doubt you'd need to have LHCS at all for that - an EMU & a diesel loco arrangement would probably have worked as well - it worked for 33s & 4REPs between Bournemouth & Weymouth until it was electrified, likewise 57s & 390s between Crewe and Holyhead so I don't see why an option like this couldn't have been pursued. It might have been more of a problem for the likes of Lincoln or Harrogate where I doubt the cost of a diesel loco would be justified for such short distances off the wires, in which case the solution is probably to electrify them anyway :idea:

    Obviously this horse has long since bolted, in fact it was probably about a decade ago (which serves to show the inefficiency of DfT's procurement, given three or four years is typical from order to delivery elsewhere).
     
  30. BRX

    BRX Established Member

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    leads to the question of whether it makes sense to have Inverness-London as part of the EC franchise. Perhaps it would be more sensible to hand it over to Crosscountry, for example.
     
  31. takno

    takno Established Member

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    Why would adding another operator onto the ECML help anybody? Most of the traffic on these trains is in the Edinburgh-London portion anyway, where they form an important part of the hourly timetable.
     

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