onsdag 27 december 2006

What will replace trains like this? The story continues

43162 Bristol
Originally uploaded by Thrash Merchant.

The Department of Transport issued a document on the subject in January 2006, as a preliminary notice for the guidance of potential suppliers of the new trains. This is known as a Prior Information Notice (PIN). The gist of the thing is that the trains will be in service for a long time and nobody can be sure what circumstances they will be operating in - for instance, to what extent diesel traction will remain affordable or what type of service the trains will be providing. Thus flexibility will have to be built in to the design.

Which all seems quite sensible - some of us have been saying this for years and it is reassuring that it has now got through to the highest level.

What does it mean in practice? Clearly something very different from the sort of inflexible, high-tech train that has been favoured for the past few decades and which is what the train manufacturers want to sell. Indeed, the specification seems to be saying, in a roundabout way, that the HST fleet should be replaced by conventional trains of locomotive-hauled carriages. This could well be what the civil servants at the DfT actually have in mind, but they can't spell it out as the notion goes against the conventional wisdom in the railway industry. But in the end, they may well have to be explicit.

The DfT anticipates commencing the procurement of the new High Speed Trains 2 (HST2) project with the release of an advert in September 2006.

Following release of the advert the DfT will invite expression of interest from potential bidders in the form of a response by an Accreditation Questionnaire that shall be available from the issuance of the advert.Those suppliers that are successful in being shortlisted will be invited to tender.

The current HST stock was introduced between 1976 and 1982 and were deployed to serve a wide variety of intercity flows. They provide front line services on high value trains across the Inter-City East Coast, Midland Mainline and Greater Western Main Line Train Operating Companies.

It is proposed to replace this ageing train fleet with a fleet of "new generation" HST's. This will require the specifying, designing, prototyping, testing and manufacturing of a fleet of new trains in order to replace the current HST fleet.

The estimated capital cost of this replacement programme is expected to be of the order of 1 000 000 000 GBP for the trains with further expenditure envisaged for the depot and related works. Funding arrangements are yet to be considered.

The trains will continue to be used on intercity passenger services and are integral to the long-term future of a number of franchises.

The aim of this project is to:

Deliver increased carrying capacity per train: We forecast increased demand on interurban services, so we would want HST2 to maximise passenger carrying capacity. The three main options for this are to increase the length, height or width of trains.

Deliver a fast, reliable journey time: As per capita GDP increases, so does the value of time. HST2 will need to match or better competitor modes in terms of reliable end-to-end journey times. Options for improving reliability include increasing physical robustness, reducing the complexity of the design, maximising the use of proven technologies and subsystems, and proper testing of a prototype train.

Meet customer requirements: We forecast an ageing and more affluent population and expect them to be more demanding in terms of comfort, ambience and on-train facilities. HST2 must be capable of accommodating these requirements. This is particularly important because the high revenues from inter-urban services permit cross-subsidy of services for which there is a sound economic case, but which have low revenue yields.

Improve safety: In a more affluent society, the value of life also increases. HST2 must also be as safe as we can reasonably make it. The safety objective should cover both passengers and railway employees (whether working on train or track), and it should focus particularly on reducing the risk of fatal accidents and include consideration of collision/derailment survival and evacuation characteristics. HST2 should seek to design-in improvements to personal security.

Deliver an environmentally sustainable solution: Fuel prices are expected to rise and environmental concerns to increase. HST2 should be as fuel-efficient as possible, with minimum generation of noise and emissions. We also need to ensure that we factor in the risk that some combination of fuel-price increase and environmental concern renders diesel operation non-viable during the lifetime of HST2. Emissions should be assessed at whole societal cost, rather than at point of use.

Minimise cost: The Business Case must be predicated on the whole-life, whole-system cost. This subsumes (a) the up-front cost of trains, maintenance facilities and any upgrades required to the infrastructure, (b) the ongoing cost of maintaining and operating the trains and infrastructure, and (c) financing cost.

Offer flexibility of deployment: A clear understanding will need to be made of the markets HST2 is intended to serve. Nobody can forecast with total confidence demand levels or passenger expectations. Assessments of how to optimise the carrying capacity of lines may also change over time. It is therefore desirable that the HST2 design should be capable of operating as many different types of inter-urban service as possible, eg non-stop or 20-stop London-Edinburgh services, on WCML as well as ECML, and possibly on longer-distance commuter routes. The ability to cascade the trains with minimal modification cost (e.g. by exploiting modular design) also has a value.

NOTICE DATED: 31.1.2006.


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