Railway Performance Society Magazine - Milepost

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January 7, 2010

China - fastest train service in world?

Railway Gazette International (RGI) reports that passenger services have commenced running on the 922km (572miles) high-speed route between the Chinese cities of Wuhan and Guangzhou Bei with scheduled journey times of 2h57 southbound and 2h58 northbound - a timetabled average speed of 312.5km/h (194.1mph) .

RGI further reports claims that the first southbound train covered the journey in 2hr48, setting a start-to-stop average speed of 329.3km/h (204.5mph). The line is designed for 350km/h (217mph) operation, but RGI reports that speeds of up to 380km/h (236mph) are being attained by these trains.

On December 9th, it is claimed that a test train running pre-opening trials achieved 394.2km/h (244.8mph). The Railway Performance Society has not seen any detailed information on these claims and whilst we welcome the news, we cannot verify the accuracy of these claims at this time.

If the reports are accurate, the Chinese have catapulted themselves to first position in the league of fastest train services in the world by some margin. RGI's World Rail Speed Survey conducted in 2007, found the French TGV EST service between Lorraine TGV and Champagne TGV stations to be the world's fastest train service with a start-to-stop average speed of 279.3km/h (173.4mph).

Britain's fastest scheduled train service ranked a lowly ninth in the survey with a less than impressive 173.3km/h (107.6mph) average speed for an East Coast Main Line service between London and York. It was hoped that the new high-speed services between London St Pancras and Kent might improve matters, but the fastest scheduled services - whilst hugely faster than the previous service- still average less than 160km/h (99mph).

The UK is likely to fall further in the rankings due to the openings of high-speed lines in Italy, who were previously in 11th place in the survey. Italy's fastest scheduled train service operated by ETR500 300km/h train sets averages 200.3 km/h (124.4mph) over the 550.95km (342.13miles) between Milan Rogoredo and Rome Tiburtina stations, despite having to run at  a lower maximum speed of 250km/h for more than half of the route between Bologna and Rome.

Italy has at least half a dozen other scheduled train services between major cities that exceed a 185km/h average speed.

Link to a video news story below.


December 13, 2009

Italy High-Speed network opens for business.

The bulk of Italy's High-Speed network commenced commercial service at the weekend. To date, the Milan to Bologna route has been in use, while Turin to Milan and Rome to Naples were partially open. From December 13th, the complete high-speed network from Turin to Naples via Milan, Bologna, Florence and Rome is now open allowing spectacular journey time reductions.

Longest non-stop journey is Milan to Rome - 350 miles in 2hr 59 - an average 117mph.  Fastest scheduled journey is Milan Rogoredo to Rome Tiburtina, 550km (342miles) in 2hr 45min at an average 200km/h -124mph.
The Turin Milan HSL only allows 300/260kph for around 71 miles of the 90 route miles. The ETR 500 train sets are as powerful as TGV reseau, but have an extra four passenger vehicles, hence greater weight and slower acceleration to line speed. This line was partially open from Turin to Novara and is now complete to the outskirts of Milan. However, a glance at the timetable shows only a handful of services using the line throughout the day, and a single ticket is 32 Euro comnpared to 9 Euro for the 1h55min stoppers.
Bologna to Florence HSL is engineered for 300kph, but for now, trains are timed at 250kph. hence the 37 min journey time. I understand that an extension underground through Florence to the start of the Rome Florence Direttissima is planned/under construction, but for now trains rejoin the classic network at Firenze Castello.
Rome to Florence Direttissima - still limited to a linespeed of 250kph - despite talk of upgrading it to current HSL standards.  Clearly the catenary has been upgraded, and some crossovers removed, but still 3kv DC throughout at present. Despite this, only 100mph average attained by most services.
Part of the problem is slow running on Classic lines from Florence SMN to start of Diretissimma at Rovezzano -max 80/120kph. Witness the difference in Average speeds on services from Florence S.M.N and those that start at Florence Campo Di Marte. Diretissimma ends 16km from Rome Termini, and trains limited to 120/130kph linespeeds.
Rome to Naples. The last section of line is now open through the naples suburbs bringing journey times down to 70min. A further stretch of 250kph HSL opened between Naples and Salerno some time ago, but for now, Naples seems to be the end of the line for High-Speed services.

June 18, 2009

Southeastern high-speed record attempt achieves 117.1mph average speed between London and Ashford

June 1, 2009

140mph High Speed 1 'preview services to commence on June 29 between London and ashford

Southeastern trains have announced that a limited high speed ‘preview’ service will begin on the 29 June. The preview service will run on High Speed 1 between Ashford International, Ebbsfleet International and St Pancras International from Monday to Friday.

These preview services will also allow Southeastern to continue testing, training, adjust to passenger feedback and ensure that the full introduction of the service runs smoothly.

The high speed service will radically improve travel times for many passengers, using the High Speed 1. Journey times from Ashford International to London will be just 37 minutes and from Ebbsfleet International the journey will take just 17 minutes.

The preview service will run three morning peak services from Ashford International to St Pancras International and three peak services in the evening peak. Trains from Ebbsfleet International will see four morning peak services to St Pancras International and six peak services back in the evening peak. Throughout the day services will run twice hourly between Ebbsfleet International and St Pancras International. The full timetable can be seen below.

Charles Horton, Southeastern managing director said, “These preview services offer many passengers the opportunity to reduce their journey times and experience what it is like to travel at up to 140 miles an hour on the UK’s first ever high speed line. This is an extremely exciting time for the whole rail industry and we are pleased that we are able to provide this preview service six months early and offer our passengers greater choice.”

The cost of travelling high speed will be more than the existing Mainline service. For example a Mainline single fare from Ashford International costs £22.20 compared to £26.60 for the new preview high speed fare, an addition of £4.40. For existing Southeastern ticket holders the additional supplement can be purchased at any station and all first class ticket holders are able to travel on the high speed service for no extra cost.

“The fares that we are announcing today are for the preview service only and we feel they offer value for money for passengers who will now be able to get to London in 37 minutes from Ashford and just 17 minutes from Ebbsfleet,” Charles Horton continued.

Ebbsfleet International to St Pancras International preview fares



Off-Peak return


Mainline (From Gravesend)





High Speed





Supplement for existing ticket holders





Ashford International to St Pancras International preview fares



Off-Peak return







High Speed





Supplement for existing ticket holders





The announcement of the start of preview services follows the recent publication of the draft December timetable which will see an extra 200 trains operating every day and resulting in an increased capacity of at least 5% across the entire network. The introduction of high speed will provide passengers with more choice with the option of this service or using Mainline services.

February 6, 2009

Italians set national rail speed record (in tunnel) of 362km/h (224.8mph)

Italian Railways claims its ETR500 Y1 test train set a national new 'indoor' world rail speed for trains in tunnels of 362km/h (224.8mph) on February 3rd  2009 on the soon the new Florence to Bologna high-speed line. The  speed was achieved at KM point 26,149 within the Morticine rail tunnel. It was thought that this was a new world rail speed record in tunnel, but research has since revealed that the German ICE achieved a speed of 406km/h in a rail tunnel in 1998.

The new record eclipses the former Italian rail speed record of 355km/h (220.5mph), and is 16mph faster than the British rail speed record of 208mph set by Eurostar in July 2003. However, the Italians still have some way to go before they can challenge the current world rail speed record of 574.8km/h (357.16mph) set by the French TGV in April 2007.

The Florence to Bologna section of high-speed line has been designed for 300km/h running. However, sources in Italy say that the trains will run at a commercial speed of 250km/h when services commence over the new line in December 2009 -apparently due to EU directives concerning train speeds in tunnel.  The new line - excluding connections to existing main lines at either end - is 78km (48.4miles) long - of which 73km (45.3miles) are in tunnel.  The new line will halve journey times between Florence and Bologna from 1 hour to 30 minutes. Journey times from Milan to Rome (approx 340 miles) will fall by 30 minutes to 3hrs. Milan to Naples (approx 480 miles) will take around 4 hrs at an average speed fo 120mph.

The Florence to Bologna high-speed line forms an important link in the Italian high-speed rail network, which runs from Turin and Milan in the North to Rome and Naples in the South. In December last year, the Italians celebrated the opening of their Milan - Bologna high-speed line which cut journey times between the two cities by 45 minutes to 1 hour. Lines already open include:

Other high-speed lines due to open in December 2009 include:

Furthermore, the original Direttissimma route between Florence and Rome is planned to be upgraded to 300km/h running by December 2009, which will involve converting part of the route from 3kv to 25kvAC power supplies - which will reduce journey times by a further 10 minutes. The Italians claim that this route - sections of which opened in 1977 - was the first high-speed line in Europe based on a definition that high-speed means speeds of 250km/h and above. Today, most trains take around 1hr 35mins to complete the 162.2 mile journey between Florence and Rome - an average speed of 103.5mph.

Lines planned for future construction include are Milan to Venice and Milan to Genoa.

Trains to run along the route are:

October 6, 2008

Italy - Milan to Bologna high-speed line - Pre-launch testing begins

Italian Railways has commenced a programme of intensive pre-launch running of trains along its Milan to Bologna high-speed line in advance of a December 13 launch.

Three trainsets, an ETR500 set 59, an ETR600 set 8 and the Network Rail Italy owned ETR500 Y1 test train are undertaking 20 return runs daily along the line- seven days a week -  to ensure that staff, operations, maintenance facilities, the trains, track and all  the equipment all work properly.

Test running will continue until December 12th. The line opens officially to fare paying passengers on Saturday December 13th. Journey times between Milan and Bologna will be slashed to 1hr for the approximately 120 mile journey. ETR500 trains will be able to run at a maximum of 300km/h (186mph) while other ETR variants will be limited to their top speed which is 250km/h (155mph).

The opening of Milan to Bologna will complete another important section of the 'T' shaped Italian high-speed network which is under construction. The ultimate aim is a West to East 186mph line between Venice and Turin in the North, connecting to the North to South high-speed line from Milan to Naples.

Sections of line already open include Turin to Novara, and the majority of Rome to Naples. By December 2009, the final section of the Rome Naples line - which traverses the suburbs of Naples, and the Novara to Turin section of Turin- Milan - will be open to traffic. Also completing the jigsaw will be the Bologna to Florence line - which is mainly in tunnel. The Rome to Florence high-speed line - already in traffic - is to be upgraded to allow 300km/h running from its current 250km/h line speed limit. The work involves converting the overhead power supplies from 3Kv DC to 25Kv AC operation. This work is to be completed in time for December 2009, whereby the whole Turin - Milan - Naples high-speed network should be complete.

The only section of network not to be complete by December 2009 will be the Milan to Venice, although a couple of short sections - Milan to Treviglio and Padova to Venice Mestre - have been built and are currently in use.

East Midlands Trains claims reliability improvement to over 90%

East Midlands Trains is proudly announcing an improvement in punctuality to 90.9%, which it claims is the best since taking over the franchise in November 2007.

Tim Shoveller, Managing Director for East Midlands Trains said:

“It’s fantastic to see that our initiative to improve punctuality and reliability across the network is starting to pay off. 

“We know that our passengers want reliable trains, and we are determined to deliver punctual trains, day in day out. Through our own internal improvement initiative, and by working closely with Network Rail, passengers are already starting to see real improvements.  

"We are determined to keep on getting better and better, building on the solid foundations we now have in place.”

East Midlands Trains performance improvement programme has included:
Launch of the Right Time Railway, an initiative to improve train punctuality, which has included issuing radio-controlled watches and new whistles to all staff to emphasise the importance of on time despatch of trains
Move to a new joint control centre, shared with Network Rail, to improve communication on day to day operation of services
Dedicated performance drives and improved service recovery arrangements on several different routes, including Derby to Matlock and the Robin Hood line
Introduction of an internal delay hotline
Improved processes, including better contingency plans and a new performance management system.

Network Rail’s route director Dyan Crowther said: “This is excellent news and comes as a result of hard work and a close working relationship with East Midlands Trains.

“Having them working alongside us in our flagship control centre in Derby is paying dividends. When a problem arises, we can quickly get to the root of the issue and find a solution with people sat in the same room as us, rather than dealing with them at the other end of a telephone.

”The end result is less delay and frustration for the travelling public.”

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October 1, 2008

Eurostar claims 93% reliability despite Chunnel disruption

Services between London and Paris/Brussels have been severly disrupted due to the closure of one of the Chunnel's two rail tunnels, following a serious Lorry fire on September 11.

A section of the damaged Eurotunnel Lorry Shuttle was dragged out of the Chunnel this evening (Wed Oct 1st), but another 800m of train has yet to be brought out.

Eurotunnel claims that five of six Chunnel sections are open to traffic. Eurostar has revised its timetable from today (Wed Oct 1 2008) to take advantage of this, claiming that the new timetable will equate to 93% of the seating that would have been on offer.

However most services to Paris/Brussels have journey times extended by 20 minutes. The Chunnel is not expected to fully reopen until Early 2009.

SouthEastern drivers commence class 395 'Javelin' simulator training

One hundred and twenty Southeastern drivers are receiving training on a new Class 395 'Javelin' simulator in Ashford Kent, to prepare them for driving the 140mph trains, which enter passenger service in December next year.

The Corys T.E.S.S built simulator will enable drivers to experience the pace and power of the new trains, together with their on-board signalling system and advanced controls. The system allows instructors to create various scenarios to test drivers’ ability to react to both regular and unexpected circumstances.

Driver manager Malcolm Bushell, who has been closely involved in the Class 395 training programme and who has helped to test the first units now in the UK, said: “The simulator is the next best thing to the train itself.

“It replicates the sights, sounds and sensations drivers will experience once inside the cab, and enables them to become familiar with the trains’ tremendous performance while in a safe and controlled environment.

“The benefits of being able to incorporate this into the learning experience are immeasurable, and the simulator is a major part in literally getting our drivers ‘up to speed’ prior to the trains’ introduction next year.”

September 30, 2008

Eurostar to considering buying AGV trains to replace present fleet?

This story comes from an outside source and has not been verified by the Railway Performance Society. The RPS is not responsible for content on external sites.

To view the story, click on the link below.


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