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Uckfield line to be electrified?

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At a local community rail partnership meeting, a spokesperson for Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) who operate “Southern” services on the Uckfield Line told us that electric trains would be in Uckfield in the coming years.

We are waiting for a full press release from system operator Network Rail and GTR, with full time scales, and we will of course share this as soon as it is available here and through our social media channels.

This scheme invariably will cause some disruption to the line, while the works are done, of course we will let you, our followers and listeners know as soon as this is available.


Platforms

When platform extensions were done some years ago, to allow for ten car class 171 trains to operate, these were done to the specification to allow twelve car electric trains later, so no further works for the stations are required.

We will soon be seeing trains like the one pictured, in Uckfield, fantastic news for our local line and businesses.
Came across this article in the local news today. Can anyone shed any light?

If it goes ahead, I guess EMR will get their Class 171s after all!
 
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zwk500

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Came across this article in the local news today. Can anyone shed any light?

If it goes ahead, I guess EMR will get their Class 171s after all!
Electric trains does not necessarily equal electrified lines. AFAIK there's nothing in the pipeline further than the blue-sky ideas stage at NR.

The article might have got itself slightly confused - it says served by electric trains. That could be battery technology not full electrification
Perfectly understandable for the local radio DJ to not be fully up-to-date with rail technology details, of course.
 

Aictos

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Say Southern decide that they want to retrofit a batch of 377s with batteries, how many would they need to offer the same capacity as the 171s? As in have a batch to release all the 171s from Uckfield and Ashford Int services.
 

Aictos

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Seeing as it was announced that Uckfield is going to see electric trains, in what form should this take? Should a batch of 377s be fitted with batteries (keeping their DC equipment)? How many 377s if this was taken, would be need the work to offer the same if not more capacity then the existing 171s (I believe a 10 car Class 171 formation offers the same capacity as a 12 car Class 377?) Would it be be possible to use those 377s if chosen on both Uckfield and Ashford Int services?

Or would we see a different type of traction?
 

Bald Rick

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It is being looked at, early days. A few very significant issues as you might imagine.

Say Southern decide that they want to retrofit a batch of 377s with batteries, how many would they need to offer the same capacity as the 171s? As in have a batch to release all the 171s from Uckfield and Ashford Int services.

Allowing for better availability, about 15-20, with a majority being 3 car.

how did the battery 379 conversion trial go?

Okay, but that was 6 years ago in passenger service, 7 years since conversion. Battery tech has moved on a lot since then. DB are about to start running services that run for 90miles+ off the wire.
 

steamybrian

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They have been talking about electrification for many, many years.
I believe it when I see it......
 

Chrisgr31

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As per this thread https://www.railforums.co.uk/thread...extension-of-3rd-rail-electrification.205175/ the RSSB are looking at 3rd rail extensions and due to report late this year/early next. Their recommendations then need researching to confirm they work. Then the decision can be taken as to whether it can be done safely & is affordable etc. Well that’s what the guy doing the report for the RSSB told me when I asked.

I thought I had read the issue with batteries was linking the units together? So they could only be run as a single unit, which wouldn‘t be great on the Uckfield line (assuming passengers return in any number).
 

Aictos

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I’ve never heard of that issue.
Why would they have that issue? Surely as long as the units are coupled together both electrically and mechanically, it shouldn't matter what the form of power is used.

As to the fleet, does it have to be 377s although for simplicity it would be the best thing to proceed with.
 

Fincra5

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how did the battery 379 conversion trial go?
Not amazingly. Performance was also somewhat limited by the Battery Banks seeingly replacing the MCMs (Motor Coverter Modules) on the MOSL. Which on a commuter network isn't Ideal. Of course on a DC only Electrostar, you could put them under the PTOSL, which is fairly barren of equipment!

Personally I'd chose a 377/3. 1 Less coach of stuff for batteries to power, can have a dedicated fleet of 28 Units...

3rd Rail extension would be the best (even though that idea gets shot down on here ;) )
 

zwk500

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Then the decision can be taken as to whether it can be done safely & is affordable etc.
These two considerations would seem to still present a formidable (although not insurmountable) obstruction.
Of course on a DC only Electrostar, you could put them under the PTOSL, which is fairly barren of equipment!
I'd guess any conversion would want to remain compatible with AC-equipped version as well.
Personally I'd chose a 377/3. 1 Less coach of stuff for batteries to power, can have a dedicated fleet of 28 Units...
Uckfields ran 10-cars in the peak pre-covid. 9-cars might be fine for a year or two, but I suspect the extra coach would be desirable fairly soon.
3rd Rail extension would be the best (even though that idea gets shot down on here ;) )
Well the best would be to convert to OLE :D (not-serious). If the RSSB are seriously considering reviewing the criteria for 3rd rail then it could happen, but I imagine the safety and cost concerns will win that argument.
 

Mikey C

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These two considerations would seem to still present a formidable (although not insurmountable) obstruction.

I'd guess any conversion would want to remain compatible with AC-equipped version as well.

Uckfields ran 10-cars in the peak pre-covid. 9-cars might be fine for a year or two, but I suspect the extra coach would be desirable fairly soon.

Well the best would be to convert to OLE :D (not-serious). If the RSSB are seriously considering reviewing the criteria for 3rd rail then it could happen, but I imagine the safety and cost concerns will win that argument.
The Turbostars are 23m units, the Electrostars 20m ones, so you really need a 12 car 377 to replace a 10 car 171 properly
 

zwk500

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The Turbostars are 23m units, the Electrostars 20m ones, so you really need a 12 car 377 to replace a 10 car 171 properly
In which case 3x 4-Car would seem more sensible than 4x 3-car. Although the platform lengthening for 10-Car 171s was only to 237m, so 12-Car Electrostars would presumably need either very precise drivers or further platform extensions (or SDO).
 

NSEFAN

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If batteries are going to be an option, it will be interesting to see if any extra third rail would be required to make it work. For example, a small section at Uckfield Station to allow trains to top-up before they head back?
 

Chrisgr31

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Uckfields ran 10-cars in the peak pre-covid. 9-cars might be fine for a year or two, but I suspect the extra coach would be desirable fairly soon.

Uckfield in theory had 10 car 171’s in the peak pre-Covid. I say in theory as most of the time most of the peaks weren’t 10, but were usually 8 or less. The big demand being ECR to LBG, but also the bit between Oxted & ECR.

Wasn’t there talk of a 377 being in Selhurst for conversion to battery hybrid? Fairly sure there is a thread about it somewhere here but my search abilities are letting me down.
 

Fincra5

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In which case 3x 4-Car would seem more sensible than 4x 3-car. Although the platform lengthening for 10-Car 171s was only to 237m, so 12-Car Electrostars would presumably need either very precise drivers or further platform extensions (or SDO).
Aye but there comes of available battery power for a 4 car vs a 3 car. 4x3 car will have more battery power available for a 12 car formation than 3 x 4 Car.
 

physics34

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Uckfield in theory had 10 car 171’s in the peak pre-Covid. I say in theory as most of the time most of the peaks weren’t 10, but were usually 8 or less. The big demand being ECR to LBG, but also the bit between Oxted & ECR.

Wasn’t there talk of a 377 being in Selhurst for conversion to battery hybrid? Fairly sure there is a thread about it somewhere here but my search abilities are letting me down.
A DMOS from 377446 got taken away from selhurst by road the other day but although early rumours were for fitting of batteries it now seems to be because of flashover damage!
The talk of the battery units has gone very quite. Pretty sure this uckfield talk is about 750v DC 3rd rail.
 

Chrisgr31

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Aye but there comes of available battery power for a 4 car vs a 3 car. 4x3 car will have more battery power available for a 12 car formation than 3 x 4 Car.

I guess the real question is in the event of unit failure, which means it can’t power itself, can it be recovered by other battery units, or will the line be closed waiting for the loco to recover it?

A DMOS from 377446 got taken away from selhurst by road the other day but although early rumours were for fitting of batteries it now seems to be because of flashover damage!
The talk of the battery units has gone very quite. Pretty sure this uckfield talk is about 750v DC 3rd rail.

Everything I have heard, including communication from Southern, points to 3rd rail being the preferred option subject to the caveats already mentioned. I might even see it before I retire!

To give Southern their dues it is only because of their investment in the 171s we are even having this discussion IMO. Most people thought the line would be closed when privatisation came along, instead the actions of Southern increased passenger numbers hugely. The line gets a bad name due to reliability issues but much of that is down to points failures, which wouldn’t have been an issue if it wasn’t for the single track introduced over 30 years!
 
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Meglos

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If batteries are going to be an option, it will be interesting to see if any extra third rail would be required to make it work. For example, a small section at Uckfield Station to allow trains to top-up before they head back?

Indeed the extra ummph the charge at Uckfield would give would be useful on the morning peak services in the winter where the UP services can be fairly heavilly loaded, and often are running on wet (less adhesive) lines, in a cold environment.
 

physics34

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I guess the real question is in the event of unit failure, which means it can’t power itself, can it be recovered by other battery units, or will the line be closed waiting for the loco to recover it?



Everything I have heard, including communication from Southern, points to 3rd rail being the preferred option subject to the caveats already mentioned. I might even see it before I retire!

To give Southern their dues it is only because of their investment in the 171s we are even having this discussion IMO. Most people thought the line would be closed when privatisation came along, instead the actions of Southern increased passenger numbers hugely. The line gets a bad name due to reliability issues but much of that is down to points failures, which wouldn’t have been an issue if it wasn’t for the single track introduced over 30 years!
..and i think the future may not be as bright as we all thought it would be, seeing as we expect a large chunk of commuters working from home. Im not sure we'd need 10 cars down there for example anymore. But the electrification makes sense... and it may help kick start uckfield to Lewes reopening too.

Will be interesting to hear the time scale given for electrification, id imagine it could be completed relatively quickly.
 

Bald Rick

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Will be interesting to hear the time scale given for electrification, id imagine it could be completed relatively quickly.

That depends entirely on the electricity network operator. Some connections can take years.
 

zwk500

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ut the electrification makes sense... and it may help kick start uckfield to Lewes reopening too.
It makes sense from an operational point of view, but not enough sense from a financial or safety point of view (at the moment). And it will add next to nothing to the Uckfield-Lewes case.
 

Chrisgr31

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..and i think the future may not be as bright as we all thought it would be, seeing as we expect a large chunk of commuters working from home. Im not sure we'd need 10 cars down there for example anymore.

That is the unknown question. I suspect a lot of people are going to want to be in the office Tuesday to Thursday & home Monday & Friday however that won’t work with office space nor public transport!

I reckon give it a year or two and traffic will be about 85% of pre pandemic level maybe even 90%.
 

hwl

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That is the unknown question. I suspect a lot of people are going to want to be in the office Tuesday to Thursday & home Monday & Friday however that won’t work with office space nor public transport!

I reckon give it a year or two and traffic will be about 85% of pre pandemic level maybe even 90%.
They also provided a useful level of standing capacity between East Croydon and London Bridge relieving the pressure on other services a bit.
 

Fincra5

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Probably make it worse, to be fair.
Would it though? Say it was electrifed 3rd Rail to uckfield. Its Still only 8ish Miles to fill to Lewes and with the rest being Juiced, its actually a plausable diversion route when BTN/LWS to Three Bridges is closed...
 
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