Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Introducing the class 707

On Wednesday 23rd March the South West Trains class 707 mock up was introduced to the public at Waterloo station. The mock up of the cab and an area of passenger seating gave commuters their first chance to see the what they could expect from the 120 new Siemens 'Desiro City' trains which will be launched on South West Trains routes from 2017.
The 5-coach trains will provide 275 seats and have a total capacity (including standing room) for over 1000 passengers enabling them to reduce overcrowding on some of the busiest routes in South West London. While the trains, which are largely intended for inner suburban work, will not be fitted with toilets they will feature WiFi and a new more intelligent Passenger Information System.
The trains are similar in style and build to the class 700's which are due to enter traffic imminently on the Thameslink route (the mock up was converted from a 700 model) however the interior specification is different. The class 707 will provide a massive increase in capacity and while not replacing any existing trains will allow stock cascades to other routes so that many more services can be increased in length.
The 30 x 5 coach trains will be maintained at Wimbledon depot in South West London and all will be delivered in the red suburban South West Trains livery.
Also last week an upgrade scheme for Waterloo station was launched to the public- the scheme which will see platforms 1-4 lengthened and full use of the former international platforms will be completed by 2018 and will allow full utilisation of the class 707 fleet as well as 10 car working of suburban trains by the older class 455 and 456 fleet.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

East Lancs Diesel Gala

D1501 at Ramsbottom with a shuttle train from Bury.

A very SR feel here- 33109 and 50015 pass at Ramsbottom.
Class 14 'Teddy Bear' D9537 approaches Irwell Vale
50015 'Valient' climbs away from Irwell Vale to Rawtenstall
Back in February there was time to pop in to the East Lancashire Railway on my way back from Scotland (well, it was sort of on the way!). While the weather on the day was not really the best the traction on offer from the ELR's home fleet certainly didn't disappoint, a particular highlight being the Bury Diesel groups Hymek D7076 which was on top form and looking splendid. Overall on offer on the day was a strong line up of: D9531 (class 14), D9537 (class 14), 31466, 33109, D7076 (class 35) 37109, 37418, D345 (class 40), D1501 (class 47), 50015 and 73001.
33109 is ready to depart Irwell Vale with a Ramsbottom train.

The East Lancashire railway runs for twelve miles between Rawtenstall and Heywood in Lancashire with its base at Bury Bolton Street, a short hop from central Manchester on the Metrolink tram service.

Hymek D7076 awaits its departure from Ramsbottom back to Bury and Heywood.

Friday, 18 March 2016

Comment- Crossrail 2 is go

It will be all change at Raynes Park in the 2030's if the Crossrail 2 scheme has gone ahead. Many trains such as this one will have their origin switched from Waterloo station to new destinations north of London via a tunnel which will emerge at Wimbledon. It may also be the perfect time to replace the train fleet with the current class 455's which will be between 45 and 50 years old.  
Discussing the outcome of the 2016 UK budget is quite beyond the realms of this blog- but the fact that funding has been secured to give the go-ahead for London's next super infrastructure project cannot be ignored. Crossrail 2 will link parts of the West Anglia Main Line and Great Northern Main Line with the South West Main Line via a new tunnel under the capital from Seven Sisters/Tottenham Hale in the north through to Wimbledon in the south west. It will form the third heavy rail route through London after Crossrail [now to be known as the Elizabeth Line] and Thameslink.
The project is much needed and will provide extra capacity on the routes it serves as well as freeing up space at several busy London terminals; Kings Cross, Liverpool Street and Waterloo. By providing direct links into the heart of the city the route will also alleviate congestion on underground routes, most notably the busy Victoria Line.
The West Anglia Main Line will form the northern part of the
Crossrail 2 link
The 80 million committed to the project in the latest budget is of course a drop in the ocean when put next to the 27 billion (at today's prices) to build the complete route. This funding will allow studies to push forward to allow planning to continue on the scheme. There are of course many milestones yet to reach before any work can start on the ground. Hopefully this new funding will allow the project to press forward, and if done quickly we may not be too late to utilise the pool of skilled workers which have been working on the current crossrail scheme.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Snow and Ice Treatment Train- with class 20's!

20905 leads the SITT through the reverse curve into Coulsdon Town on the return run from Tattenham Corner.

20901 leads the SITT through Kingswood.

Keeping rails clear and trains running can be a constant battle for Network Rail. Following the heavy snowfall during the winter of 2010 Network Rail invested in some new kit- the 'Snow and Ice Treatment Trains' or SITT. These vehicles treat the rails with hot de-icing fluid and are also fitted with hot air blowers and brushes to scrub and clear snow from the tracks quickly. In addition fixed snow ploughs can be added to the front of the trains to clear larger drifts from the track. Since their comissioning in 2011 the SITT trains have seen little use in anger as a series of particularly cold winters have been followed by some of an unseasonably mild nature. Nether the less it has still been cold enough for frost and ice to build up on rails on occasions and the Kent and Sussex regions of the fromer SR have seen their rails treated with de-icing fluid from the SITT trains. Running as a pair of locos, supplied and crewed by GBRailfreight, sandwiching two SITT wagons the trains have been touring various locations around the network determined by track and weather conditions. The usual traction for the trains has been class 73's of both the original and re-built variety from GBRf's fleet. On occasions Tonbridge based 20901 and 20905 have also got in on the action and it was this pairing that I caught up with on the Tattenham Corner branch on 29th February.

20905 brings up the rear as the SITT approaches Coulsdon South on the final leg of it's duties bound for base at Tonbridge.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

New traction for the Gatwick Express

387203 and 387201 call at Harpenden with a service to Bedford on 16th February. The new Gatwick Express trains had yet to enter service on airport express services from Victoria and are still awaiting the details of their branding to be applied. The trains will seldom get to use their 25kv AC capacity once in full service on the Victoria - Gatwick Airport - Brighton route.
This week the new order on the Gatwick Express worked its first services on the premium London-Gatwick Airport-Brighton route with deployment of the first class 387/2 trains. The latest 'Electrostars' built by Bombadier at Derby have been delivered from late 2015 and will over the coming months replace the class 442 trains which are currently working the airport express services. Prior to their deployment on the Gatwick Express several 387/1's have seen use on Thameslink services from Bedford to Brighton, where your author was able to catch up with a pair of these brand new trains in their striking red livery.

Standard class on the 387/2 showing the luggage space, 2+2
seating and red/blue colour scheme.
The 1st class section on the new Gatwick Express. The 1st
class supplement may buy privacy but it doesn't seem to
entitle the passenger to any enhanced comfort!
The 387/2's will be the second dedicated fleet of trains built for the airport express service since it commenced in 1984- the first being the class 460 Junipers which worked trains to the airport until 2012 when they were all withdrawn to be amalgamated into the South West Trains fleet as part of the class 458/5's. The most famous trains of the airport service were undoubtedly the original express fleet of class 73's hauling Mk2 coaches with a GLV driving trailor on the country end of the set.
The new Electrostars will bring wi-fi and power points to the airport service and be more friendly to those with disabilities. The future of the undoubtedly more comfortable class 442 fleet is currently unknown although there are indications that Southern may keep a small number of the trains in the short-medium term.