Archive for the ‘Pendolino’ Category

Expansion of Pendolino services

Monday, 5 October 2015

PKP InterCity have taken delivery of their twentieth and final Pendolino unit.  The EMU’s were built by Alstom at their Savigliano plant in Italy.  Introduced to the timetable in December 2014, and branded as Express InterCity Premium (EIP), they have been working scheduled services on the Warsaw – Czestochowa – Wroclaw, and Gdansk – Warsaw – Krakow routes.  With their top speed in public service of 200 km/h they have cut journey times between the Polish cities.

DSCF1271

A Pendolino waits in Wroclaw Glowny for a departure to Warsaw. 8 February 2015.  Photo: John Savery

InterCity have now announced plans to expand the routes, with Jelenia Gora and Kolobrzeg joining the network.  The Jelenia Gora to Wroclaw route has recently been modernised, with PLK spending a quoted 400 million zloty on works since 2010.  The result is a reduction in the journey time to Wroclaw of approximately one and a half hours, compared with five years ago.

For those not familiar with the route, the line follows a fairly straight run down to Jaworzyna Slask, before winding its way up the climb to Walbrzych, and onwards to Jelenia Gora at the foot of the Karkonosze range.  The twisty windy route would be well suited to the tilting Pendolino’s.  Sadly PKP InterCity cut the tilting element from the Pendolino project at design stage, and so passengers will not be able to take advantage of this or the potential for increased speeds on this stage of the journey.

The introduction of the through services to Warsaw (using Pendolinos) is due to take place at the December timetable change.

Polish Pendolino – a cautious step forward, or too little too late?

Monday, 15 December 2014

Dyspozytor travels on the first public service Express InterCity Premium (EIP) ‘Pendolino’ train from Warsaw to Krakow on 14 December.

Pendolino-1030184-2

Over half an hour to go before the first Warsaw to Krakow Pendolino departs – time for a coffee and a roll in my favourite coffee bar at Centralna. Photo BTWT.

(All the photos can be enlarged x 2 by clicking on the image.)

I am impressed, but not excessively so. The 2nd class seats are comfortable, though a tad narrow for the classical Polish male derrière. Acceleration out of Warszawa Zachodnia – gentle yet sustained – is comparable to the diesel-powered HST125s out of Paddington (after they were throttled back following the Ladbroke Grove crash) though to PKP’s credit there is no appreciable slowing down through the Zyradow modernisation area, where delays have been the rule for over a year.

I cannot find an Internet signal, but there is a double power socket in the space between the seats. I have to have it pointed out to me as my left thigh is obscuring the location. It seems that the same approach has been made as regards the inter-seat spacing as on the notorious PESA Bydgostia EMU’s – a narrow body shell has been fitted out with 2 + 2 seating and a gangway wide enough to run a wheelchair from one end of the train to another. I have difficulty in believing that such a wide gangway, and the consequent narrow seats and ultra close inter-seat positioning that results, is really required to comply with EU directives.

Pendolino-1030189

On the platform at Centralna there is an impressive platform, but it is only for TV news crews – there will be no speeches. Photo BTWT.

We change tracks vis a facing point at approximately 60mph and I am impressed with our coach’s steadiness as its Alstom Pendolino bogies negotiate the pointwork. The ride is very good, though I am annoyed by the low-frequency rumble occasioned by the welded track joints. Polish rails lack the near perfect alignment achieved in the UK and, apart from a few high quality sections, each welded rail joint is felt in the coach as a slight bump.

I am frustrated by the quality of information provided to passengers. In Warsaw a female voice on a recorded loop announced some 30 times that passengers attempting to travel WITHOUT a ticket and seat reservation will be fined 600 złoty (approx. 120 GBP). This seems somewhat excessive both as regards frequency of the announcement and also the size of the fine, especially as 90% of the seats are empty and journalists and PKP staff seem to outnumber fare-paying passengers.

The LED travelling information ribbon panel at the end of the coach is stuck in an endless loop announcing alternatively: first, that the next station will be Krakow Glowny and then, that the remaining stations will be… Krakow Glowny. I had hoped for the usual more informative display with an occasional real-time indication of our speed.

Pendolino-1030197

Our train draw into the platform, but where are the crowds of intending passengers? Photo BTWT.

There are some nice human touches, the driver switches on the PA and announces aeroplane captain style that we are travelling at 200 km/h (125 mph). The track is exceptionally smooth here and I would never have guessed. However, immediately after making the announcement he applies the brakes so I cannot savour the moment for long.

Our 200 km/h peak top speed took some time to build up and I conclude that Pendolino drivers have been trained to limit their acceleration and hence the current drawn from the electric supply. The Pendolino traction equipment was originally designed for high voltage (25kV or 15kV) AC electrified lines and the current drawn on Poland’s 3kV DC lines is very high. (Hint: POWER = VOLTS x AMPS.) Theoretically, two Pendolinos passing each other on the same electrical section and accelerating hard could blow the circuit breakers in the electricity sub station.

Pendolino-1030200

The interior – very nice, but the passengers do not quite fit the seats (or is it the other way round?). Photo BTWT.

We slow down for the junction at Psary and turn south passing through the site of the Szczekociny head on collision of 2012. The line begins to twist and turn and on this section the tilting package (based on research carried out by the BR Research Division in the 1970s and left off the Polish Pendolino bogies to save money) would have allowed our driver to take the curves some 10 km/h faster. With only twenty-five minutes to our scheduled stop at Krakow Glowny, we grind to a halt at Niedzwiedz. So much for our 2hr 28min run, thinks the cynic in me. Our captain comes on the intercom again to say that the delay has been factored in the timetable, and, we are still scheduled to arrive in Krakow on time. Four minutes later, a train running in the opposite direction having passed, we are off again.

Resisting blandishments to sample the delights of the restaurant car, I remain in my seat throughout and tap away on my tablet writing this article. The ride is sufficiently smooth to make typing on a tablet or laptop a pleasure. Another announcement (surely too early?) informs us that we are approaching our destination and that we should check that we have collected all our luggage.

Krakow-EICP-1030201-2

On arrival in Krakow a few stragglers pause to admire the train. Photo BTWT.

We arrive in Krakow Glowny at 08:56, 2hr 21min after departing Warsaw – 7 minutes early! The (theoretically non-stop run) from Warszawa Zachodnia (Warsaw West) has taken just 2hr 15min to cover 290km – a very satisfactory average speed of approx. 129km/h (80mph). At Glowny, just as had been the case at Centralna, there is a scramble of TV cameras and journalists, but no brass band, nor ribbon cutting. VIPs, whether PKP senior executives or politicians are conspicuous by their absence.

Maria Wasiak – former PKP group chairman and now as minister of Infrastructure and Development ultimately responsible for Poland’s railways – said a few days ago, no need to make a fuss, the Pendolino is just a train. However, I am cautiously impressed, and with plenty cheap discount tickets available for advance purchase, I will certainly be using PKP’s Express InterCity Premium service again.

dyspozytor_sig

Pendolino nudges record by 2km/h

Monday, 25 November 2013

 

The 293km/h record=breaking run on 24.11.13. Video by vwpassatfan.

While many observers, including BTWT, thought that Saturday’s 291 km/h run along approximately 5 km of the CMK line was likely to remain the Polish railway speed record for the foreseeable future, another batch of VIP passengers on Sunday 24 November hoped to witness a record breaking run. They were not to be disappointed and the driver notched another 2 km/h on the speedometer and reached 293 km/h.

While Sunday’s 293 km/h is a very credible performance bearing in mind the power limitations of 3,000 DC electrification and lack of experience in Poland with maintaining high speed track alignment standards it is hardly revolutionary compared with what is being achieved elsewhere in Europe.

A very informative article published today on the wyborcza.pl portal reminds readers that in several countries including France and Spain 300 km/h running is a regular occurrence. In two years time when the Polish Pendolino is in service and line speeds are raised between Warsaw and Gdansk it will be possible to travel between the two cities in some 2½ hours approximately the same times as it currently takes to travel from Madrid to Barcelona.

The distance between the two Polish cities is 328km and the average speed of the Pendolino will be 123 km/h. The distance between the two Spanish cities is 628km and the high speed train averages 248km/h.

More:

291 km/h – Pendolino sets new record

Saturday, 23 November 2013

 

The 270 km/h run on 17.11.2013. Video by ralfovski.

On 16 November 2013, high-speed testing of Poland’s ETR 610 Pendolino trains began on the CMK trunk rail line. Test runs are being carried out on the weekends of: 16-17 November, 23-24, November 30 Nov – 1 Dec, and 7-8 December.

During the course of the tests, which take place approximately between 10:00 and 15:00hrs, normal train services are suspended over the CMK, and the trains that were due to run are either cancelled or re-routed through Chestochowa.

The speed and breaking trials are part of the certification tests for the Alstom-built Pendolino trains being delivered to Poland. Twenty 7-unit ETR 610 sets, together with a new depot and a 17-year maintenance contract were ordered by PKP IC for 2,640 million PLN (65 million euro).

The trains are being certified for up to 250 km/h (155 mph) running. With a requirement for a 10% safety margin the objective has been to work up to a speed of 275 km/h (171 mph).

On the first day of the trials on 16 November 2013, the test train reached 242 km/h. On 17 November, it reached a speed of 270 km/h, breaking a little publicised record of 250.1 km/h set by an earlier generation Pendolino test train some 19 years earlier.

Today, the test train, with Rail Minister Andrzej Massel and other rail VIPs on board, achieved its objective and exceeded the 275 km/h target reaching a top speed of 291 km/h (181 mph).

To enable the high speed tests to take place, the section of CMK track used for the tests (between Gorą Wlodowska and Psary) had to be re-fettled with new ballast, and its overhead catenary replaced. For today’s record-breaking run the 3k DC voltage supply was tweaked by PKP’s electricity distribution company, PKP Energetyka.

Sadly, there is nowhere on Poland’s railway network actually certified for 250 km/h (155.3 mph) running, although a number of sections of line, including a short section of the CMK trunk line, are certified for 160 km/h (100 mph) running. PKP has plans to upgrade the CMK for 200 km/h (124 mph) running, and then in stages up to 220 km/h (137 mph), and eventually to 230 km/h (143 mph).

Sources:

 

Pending Pendolino

Monday, 12 August 2013

Around 04:00hrs ET22-2019, an electric  locomotive designed for hauling heavy freight trains, hauled the first of Poland’s 20 Pendolino trainsets through Wroclaw station. Eight hours later the train was very carefully propelled back into the station for its first showing to its potential customers. So many people wanted to walk through the train that the event, which had been scheduled from 12:00 to 14:00 had to be extended until 15:30.


Pendolino’s first appearance at Wroclaw Glowny. Video Gazeta Wroclaw.

A phone call on Sunday afternoon gives me early warning of today’s media storm. Do I want to take part in an early morning TV breakfast show to discuss PKP’s latest toy: the Pendolino? For various reasons which will rapidly be made clear, I am not a great fan of the PKP Pendolino but neither do I want to spoil beleaguered rail minister, Andrzej Massel’s, moment of triumph. How early is early? 06:40, I’m told.

Hmm. My first train of the morning, the 04:17 ex Lodz Kaliska, is supposed to get in to Warszawa Centralna at 06:23, but there a note on the timetable advising would-be passengers that because of a ‘usterki tchnicznej’ (a technical fault) the train may not reach Centralna until 06:53. I gracefully give my apologies.

Which neatly brings me to the first of my Pendolino reservations. Some 5 years since the introduction of the special 100mph (160km/h) PESA-built ED74s and the start of a multi-billion PLN project to rebuild the the Lodz-Warsaw line for 100mph running, PKP IC TLK trains from Lodz Kaliska to Warszawa Centralna are still timetabled to take between 2hrs 1min and 2hrs 14min.

The run is timetabled (and this is excluding any delays caused by ‘usterki’) for an average speed of 41.3mph (66.1km/h). If PKP cannot run its ‘fast trains’ faster than at an average speed of 40 mph after a hugely expensive track upgrade, what hope is there that the Pendolino will be able to run at anywhere its top service speed of 156mph (250km/h)?

2nd class seating is decidedly tacky. Video Gazeta Wroclaw.

My second reservation is concerned with passenger comfort. The PKP Pendolino is being positioned as a premium service. Yet the seats look decidedly tacky – a cut down version of something I would expect to find on RyanAir and a million miles away from the sumptuous comfort that I recently experienced in a (quite old, but superbly maintained) DB ICE coach. Look at this carefully staged photograph with the models leaning over to make the seats appear bigger.

1st class seating does not seem more comfortable. Video Gazeta Wroclaw.

My third reservation is why, oh why, are PKP buying Alstom rather than supporting Poland’s own railway industry? Both Newag and PESA were quoting for 125mph (200km/h) trains at substantially below the French company’s bid. 125mph running would be a step change from today’s railway and would leave cash to spare for other much-needed improvements.

The start of today’s event in Wroclaw. While the picture quality is appalling the video does capture how the special announcer brought in for today’s event stumbles over the word “Pendolino”. On two occasions he starts to say “Prendolino”, before correcting himself. While “Prendko” is the Polish for ‘fast’ is it really possible that the announcer never heard of a pendulum? Video Gazeta Wroclaw.

My fourth and final reservation is that while PKP bosses focus on shiny new trains, nobody seems very interested in the overall passenger experience. For a relatively small investment on such matters as: decent interchange with public transport transport, secure parking for bikes (and cars!), full height platforms, and fast and friendly ticketing the ‘user experience’ could be transformed for all passengers, not just those lucky enough to be able to travel by ‘Premium InterCity’.

pendolino_bogie

Non-tilting PKP Pendolino bogie. Photo courtesy PKP IC.

After today’s launch, the Pendolino unit will undergo certification trials on PKP’s test track at Zmigrod test track, and after that further trials and driver training will take place on the main line. If all goes well, the first Pendolino trains will start running in regular service at the end of 2014.

dyspozytor_sig

Sources:

More:

Nice train… pity about the seats

Friday, 21 June 2013

pkp-pendolino

PKP’s Pendolino train in Savigliano. Photo Alstom.

The Polish Government has been cuddling up to Alstom, the builders of PKP’s special fleet of non-tilting Pendolinos. Today, 21 June 2013, Polish Prime Minister, Donald Tusk,, accompanied by the Minister of Regional Development, Mrs Elzbieta Bienkowska, visited Alstom’s turbine factory in Elbląg, Poland. On 17 June, the Undersecretary of State responsible for Poland’s railways, Andrzej Massel met his Italian counterpart Rocco Girlanda on Alstom’s site in Savigliano, Italy. The event was part of the official presentation to the board of PKP and PKP Intercity of the first Pendolino train for Poland.

The event is seen as a significant milestone in the €665m contract signed between Alstom and PKP IC in May 2011 for the delivery of 20 Pendolinos. The contract also covers the construction of the train depot in Grochow district of Warsaw and the maintenance of the trains for 17 years. The 250 km/h (156 mph) Pendolinos are scheduled to go into service from December 2014 and will connect northern and southern Poland, linking the Gdansk-Gdynia-Sopot Tricity, Warsaw, Cracow, and Katowice.

Rather like the wicked fairy in the tale of Sleeping Beauty, Dyspozytor, was not invited to the champagne-popping and feasting. So instead, he got out his wand and…  a puff of smoke and lots of red stars appear and there’s Andrzej Massel sitting inside the Pendolino, but something is not right, Andrzej Massel is too big, or the seat’s too small, or… .

The smoke settles and all is clear, the Pendolino bodies are tapered to stay within the loading gauge when they tilt. The Polish Pendolinos have the same narrow bodies. The 4-in-a-row narrow seats are designed around the Mediterranean-diet derrière, but the average Polish backside is a much more substantial affair. Oh dear!

More:

Pendolino – Massel hits back at critics

Saturday, 4 June 2011

New Pendolino in Polish colours – Alstom visualisation.

There has been widespread criticism in the Polish media regarding of PKP IC’s signing of a 2.5 billion PLN purchase and maintenance package with Alstom for 20 New Pendolino train sets. One of many voices that questioned the wisdom of the decision was independent railway consultant, Jakub Majewski. In an article for trade journal Rynek Kolejowy, Majewski wrote (BTWT translation):

It’s worth remembering that we’ve been here before. Polish railways already once bought Pendolino. In July 1998 – after a tender had been evaluated – 16 trainsets were ordered. An agreement was signed and a great success was trumpeted. But the rejoicing was short-lived, after a National Audit Office (NIK) investigation, the tender was annulled in December 1999 and no trainsets were ever delivered.

What links both these situations is the financial standing of the purchaser. Just as 13 years ago, the railway has not managed to complete the  financing package for the the modern rolling stock. To avoid history repeating itself, the Government has offered PKP InterCity a 10 year contract for the operation of long distance trains. So far approval for this deal has not been obtained from the European Commission. And it is by no means certain that approval will be granted, because when Spain was in a similar situation the subsidy was rejected. The crowning argument was that such services could be run commercially and that there was no reason to disturb the operation of free competition in the transport market. So just before the expiry of Alstom’s offer the Government has stepped in to guarantee the required credit. An agreement has been signed with the proviso that PKP IC has another three months to complete the finance package and make its final decision.

The financial barrier has led to another strange situation. In an effort to make savings PKP has bought a tilting body train that won’t tilt. This has allowed the price to be reduced at the cost of reducing the trains speed on lines with many curves. And this gives rise to another question – if we are basically buying a classical technology train which can only travel a tad faster, maybe it would have been better to have specified the operating speed at 160 km/h (100 mph) and to have bought three times as much rolling stock. Such rolling stock would have been appropriate for our generally level country and the track upgrading being carried out by PKP. It would also have been cheaper to maintain.

An investment in tilting body technology means shorter journey times and greater comfort. Purchasing classical technology trainsets means a larger pool of rolling stock, more capacity, more frequent trains and a larger network of connections. Unfortunately the chosen option manages to miss both objectives.

In an interview with Rynek Kolejowy Andrzej Massel, the Undersecretary of State at Poland’s Ministry of Infrastructure responsible for Poland’s railways, hit back at the critics.

I’m really surprised at all the critical comments that were published in the Polish media. I’m sad because what is being criticised is a clear success, an important step in the modernisation of the Polish railway.

This really is rolling stock from the top shelf rolling stock that conforms to the technical interoperability standards for high speed trains. It is capable of operating at 250 km/h. Here in Poland it will run at 220-230 km/h on the CMK.That is why we are spending money on this line to permit higher speed running. Thanks to this between Warsaw and Krakow or Katowice we will be able to offer a very high standard of service.

Comparing the Pendolino with conventional rolling stock is a grave mistake – there’s a huge difference, that’s why it guarantees a different standard of travel and different speeds. Of course acquiring such rolling stock makes greater demands, however we must take this first . If our dreams about high speed rail travel are to be realised, we have to take the first step, we have to learn about high speed railways. The CMK – where over the last few years we have invested a fair amount money and installed ECTS Level 1 will be our learning laboratory. This new rolling stock will allow us to fully exploit our investment. We also need it it for the Warsaw – Gdansk, Gdynia, Sopot line where it will be able to travel faster than present day services.

I’m pleased with this transaction. I’m aware that there are those who think that we should have purchased rolling stock of a lower standard, for different routes. However, I believe that that we should look at the transaction this way – there is a complementary between infrastructure and rolling stock. The infrastructure improvements between Krakow to Gdansk, Gdynia, Sopot by way of Warsaw are proceeding very sucessfully. This rolling stock will allow us to exploit these investments from 2014. At the same time it will be an important signal for the public that we really have a high speed railway. The next step will be the construction of the “Y” line linking Poznan and Wroclaw through Lodz to Warsaw.

PKP IC orders Pendolino

Thursday, 2 June 2011

but tilting trains won’t tilt!

Latest generation tilting train, the New Pendolino ETR 600. From a photo by Mathew Black in Wikimedia Commons.

(Click on image for details of licensing.)

PKP Intercity, has awarded Alstom a contract to supply 20 New Pendolino trains, their full maintenance up to 17 years and the construction of a new maintenance depot. The first trains are scheduled for delivery in 2014. The 7-car train sets will cost €20 million each. Alstom will also supply full maintenance of the trains up to 17 years in a new depot of 12.000 m² which will be built in Warsaw. The maintenance package will bring the total cost of the contract to €665 million.

PKP SA, the holding company responsible for all the PKP daughter companies, originally hoped to attract an EU grant for the purchase of the high speed trains. Indeed the feasibility study for the EU finance assisted Warsaw – Gdansk track upgrading specifically required that the upgrading be compatible with the introduction of tilting train technology. However, the German railway industry lobbied hard against PKP acquiring the Pendalinos and receiving any EU assistance. In the end Alstom has agreed to give PKP IC another three months to complete its funding package.

PKP IC will operate the trains on existing routes in Poland: Warsaw – Gdansk – Gdynia; Warsaw – Krakow; Warsaw – Katowice. The train sets will be able to carry up to 402 passengers and have a maximum speed of 250 km/h. In practice, given the state of Poland’s railway infrastructure, it is unlikely that the trains will operate anywhere above 200 km/h (125 mph) and they will only operate at 200km on a short section of the 1970s built CMK between Warsaw and Krakow. For the rest the trains will be throttled down to 160 km/h (100 mph) or less.

Pendolino’s tilting train technology would have been ideal on the sharply curved section of the Warsaw – Gdynia line on the section Dzialdowo – Ilawa – Malbork. There just one problem – PKP IC has chosen to buy the Pendalino trains without the tilting mechanism!