I am not putting a time-scale on this, as there are so many possibilities in the mix.
I think we can assume that at some point, there will be a new station, that will look substantially like this visualisation.
The Wikipedia entry for Ilkeston station says that the station is expected to open in August 2016. I think this may be challenging, but there is one factor that makes building a station here easier. It would appear that there will not be any substantial new track, so other than the station, there should not be a great deal of work to do, before trains can provide a service at the station.
There was also a substantial amount of engineering work done to the line through Ilkeston and Langley Mill in Summer 2007.
The Initial Train Service
I had intended to check whether trains between Nottingham and Leeds that call at Langley Mill, actually pass through the Ilkeston station site, when I visited Ilkeston. But as the weather was so bad and I was sitting on the other side of the train, I didn’t see anything.
I shall certainly be going to Nottingham on October 24th, so if I don’t get the information by then, I can take a detour.
If the trains that go through Langley Mill can stop at Ilkeston, the station would not have to wait long before the timetables were adjusted, so that they called. According to Wikipedia, this is the services at Langley Mill.
Northern Rail run an hourly service between Nottingham and Leeds that stops at Langley Mill. This service started from the December 2008 timetable change.
East Midlands Trains operate a few services per day from Langley Mill southbound to Nottingham and beyond (usually Norwich) and northbound to Sheffield (usually continuing to Liverpool Lime Street).
Some East Midlands Trains Mainline services from London St Pancras to Sheffield / Leeds call here, but generally interchange with London services should be made at Nottingham.
Incidentally a typical Nottingham to Leeds service stops at Langley Mill, Alfreton, Chesterfield, Dronfield, Sheffield, Meadowhall, Barnsley and Wakefield Kirkgate.
So will the new station at Ilkeston get a similar service? I think that the service will be at least as good as that to Langley Mill.
After all the timetable change of 2008 was implemented, when it was quite likely that a station would be built at Ilkeston, so I would assume timings make allowance for a possible stop at Ilkeston
In fact of the two stations, if either gets preference for services, it is more likely to be Ilkeston, as unless Langley Mill is upgraded it is a very basic station according to Network Rail.
One of the usual problems, when starting a service is finding the trains to run it. This delayed the opening of the Todmorden Curve by several months.
But in the case of services at Ilkeston, it’s mainly a process adjusting schedules so that passing trains, stop at the station.
Problems On The Midland Main Line Through Derby
It’s an ill wind, that blows nobody any good!
Ilkeston station is actually on the Erewash Valley Line, which runs from Long Eaton to south of Chesterfield joining the Midland Main Line at both ends.
In the Future section for the Erewash Valley Line on Wikipedia, this is said.
Network Rail as part of a £250 million investment in the regions railways has proposed improvements to the junctions at each end, resignalling throughout, and a new East Midlands Control Centre.
As well as renewing the signalling, three junctions at Trowell, Ironville and Codnor Park will be redesigned and rebuilt. Since the existing Midland Main Line from Derby through the Derwent Valley has a number of tunnels and cuttings which are listed buildings and it is a World Heritage Area, it seems that the Erewash line is ripe for expansion.
So it looks like Ilkeston could be on a by-pass of the Midland Main Line.
I just wonder if Class 800 electro-diesel trains were run through Derby and Class 801 electric trains were run on the Erewash Valley Line, this might get round the problem of the heritage lobby objecting to electrifying through the World Heritage Area of the Derwent Valley, with its Grade 2 Listed tunnels and cuttings.
Derby would still get new trains. It would just be that the faster electrified ones ran up the Erewash Valley Line.
Would these trains call selectively at Long Eaton, Alfreton and Ilkeston?
Services To Derby
Ilkeston is in Derbyshire, so I expect there will be pressure to have a direct service to Derby.
At present, if you want to go between Langley Mill and Derby, you have to change at either Nottingham or Chesterfield.
I suspect that when Ilkeston station opens the route between Ilkeston and Derby will be as tortuous as it is now from Langley Mill.
Look at this Google Map of the area.
Ilkeston is indicated by the red arrow.
There must be a better way, than changing trains in Nottingham or Chesterfield.
The Erewash Valley Line goes South to Long Eaton, which has several trains per hour direct to Derby, so this could be the key to getting to Derby.
The usable length of the station platforms is shorter than the express trains which stop here, so passengers arriving from London, Derby or Sheffield will usually have to get off from the front four carriages. Elderly passengers or those with pushchairs, heavy luggage or bicycles wishing to alight at Loughborough should take particular care to board the correct portion of the train. Cycles may have to be stored in vestibules away from the cycle lockers depending on the orientation of the train.
It is planned that both platforms will be extended by up to 10 metres by no later than 2012.
It is anticipated that developments along the Erewash line will result in changes for Long Eaton station. A plan drawn up in 2011 recommended a new Derby to Mansfield service via new stations at Breaston & Draycott, Long Eaton West (renamed from Long Eaton), Long Eaton Central, Stapleford & Sandiacre, Ilkeston, Eastwood & Langley Mill (renamed from Langley Mill), Selston & Somercotes and then to Pinxton via new trackbed connecting with the Mansfield line from Nottingham at Kirkby in Ashfield.
It strikes me that work at Long Eaton, the several new stations and improvements north of Langley Mill would enable direct services from Ilkeston to both Derby and Mansfield. A trackbed from Langley Mill to Kirkby in Ashfield is shown on Google Maps.
Alfreton is the station at the top left and Kirkby-in-Ashfield is at the top right. The Erewash Valley Line from Langley Mill, enters at the bottom and splits with one branch going to Alfretonand the other going East to cross the M1 and join the Robin Hood Line south of Kirkby-in-Ashfield.
On an Ordnance Survey map, dated 2009, the railway is shown as a multiple track line, probably serving collieries and open cast coalfields.
It all sounds very feasible too! Especially, as the Erewash Valley is an area of high unemployment, low car ownership and a dependence on public transport.
IPEMU Trains For Ilkeston?
If the Erewash Valley Line is electrified, so that Class 801 can run fast from London to Chesterfield and Sheffield, one option for the local services is to use Aventra IPEMU trains, which will be built in Derby.
IPEMU stands for Independently Powered Electric Multiple Unit. These trains have all the features of the standard four-car electric multiple unit, but they have an on-board battery that is charged when running from the overhead line and gives them a range of about sixty miles, when the wires run out.
So chargeing the battery on the Erewash Valley Line, they could reach Derby, Mansfield and Nottingham.
If Nottingham and Derby weren’t electrified until a later phase, then Class 800 electro-diesel trains could work the routes to London, until full electrification were to be completed.
Watch what happens about IPEMU trains.
Rumours have appeared in Modern Railways that orders for trains powered by the technology are imminent.
Tram-Trains For Ilkeston?
In my view the Nottingham Express Transit will get overcrowded in a few years and the capacity of the system will have to be increased.
One way to increase capacity would be to run tram-trains to destinations away from the city on the heavy rail lines. Once in the city centre they transfer to the tram lines and run as trams to suitable destinations, thus increasing the number of trams running on the various lines.
So tram-trains could say run between Ilkeston and say the Old Market Square or the Queens Medical Centre and then on to one of the terminals.
It all sounds rather fanciful, but go to Karlsruhe or Kassel and see the tram-trains in action.
Ilkeston To HS2
Tram-trains, IPEMU or standard trains from Ilkeston and other places to the North could link quite a few places to the proposed East Midlands Hub station at Toton.
The more I look at the future of Ilkeston station, the more I realise that constructing the new station is just petty cash in the big scheme of things around rail and tram expansion in the East Midlands.
A lot of money has been spent in sorting Nottingham station and expanding the Nottingham Express Transit and a lot more will be spent in improving and electrifying the Midland Main Line and the Erewash Valley Line. The latter will be equipped with several new stations and probably new trains of some sort.
On Saturday, I went out without my real handkerchief, so just before I got my train, I popped into Boots at Liverpool Street station and bought a pack of tissues for the princely sum of forty-five pence.
As I always do in Boots, I used a self-service till, but this time I used my contactless American Express card for the purchase, by just tapping it on the reader.
In some ways that seemed a bit cheeky to me and it certainly raised a smile in myself.
So now, my on-line American Express statement has an entry for 0.45p against Boots.
It got me thinking and yesterday I was taken short in Nottingham station.
How long before public toilets like these in stations gocredit contactless?
I got off the bus on the roundabout in Ilkeston and walked along Millership Way to the construction site of Ilkeston station.
It took me about twenty minutes, so I would suspect that Ilkeston will need a shuttle bus to actually get between the town and the station.
Not much seemed to be happening, but then, it appears to my untrained eye, ythat the station is being built in the middle of a swamp. It’s certainly a challenging project. \Wikpedia saus this about construction delays.
During preliminary work at the site in June 2014, an ecological survey found protected great crested newts, delaying the start of construction until October 2014. This, together with additional flood protection work means that the station opening is deferred to spring 2015.
In October 2014, it was announced that the cost of proposed flood protection work exceeds the available budget, requiring a cheaper solution to be found. This further delays the start of construction until 2015, and the earliest opening date to ‘late 2015’..
In February 2015, it was announced that more great crested newts had been found, further delaying work on site. The opening is now expected to be by August 2016.
Hopefully, it will look like this when it is finished.
All of the pictures of the station site, were taken from the road on the left.
I walked back to Ilkeston and then had to climb the hill to where I was meeting local residents interested in their train station.
It was a challenging walk. As I said before, when they build the station there will be a need for a shuttle bus!
Ilkeston has not had a railway station since 1967, despite its substantial population and the fact that the Midland Main Line (formerly part of the Midland Railway, later the LMS) skirts the eastern edge of the town. Due to recent rail reopenings in similarly-sized towns it is now, by some definitions, the largest town in Britain with no station.
So I had to go to the nearest station at Langley Mill and hopefully, I could organise a taxi. I took these pictures on the journey.
After trying three taxi numbers at Langley Mill and all saying they couldn’t help, I got a bus to Heanor from where I got another bus to Ilkeston. To be fair to the buses, I’ve travelled on much worse services elsewhere in the UK. Cambridge to Haverhill for a start. And I was not issued with a dreaded ticket.
After my meeting, I decide to take the easy route back, so I got an express bus into Nottingham and then use the Nottingham Express Transit to get to the station.
I don’t think that in the twenty-first century, where we’re supposed to use green public transport, that this is the best we can do to get in a reasonable time from Nottingham to Ilkeston.
A related question, is, Is it easier to get to Ilkeston by taking a train to Derby and getting the bus from there?
The Queen’s Medical Centre is Nottingham’s big hospital.
The tram climbs onto a viaduct to pass through the hospital and although the walkways into the hospital aren’t fully completed, it is surely the way to provide transport to a hospital.
The guy manning the station, as surely it is too grand just be a stop, was proud of his charge, saying it is the only hospital with a tram stop in the UK. I think he could be right, although University station in Birmingham serves the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and my three local hospitals are all served by the Overground or Underground.
Having seen this station, there is no doubt in my mind, that to serve a hospital with its large number of people with mobility problems is the best way to do it, if it is possible.
Nottingham’s solution at the Queen’s Medical Centre is definitely world class.
Nottingham certainly passes the Two Elderly Siblings test with a score of at least nine out of ten.
One sibling is in the hospital and the other lives some distance away but can get to the nearest station to the hospital reasonably easy. Can they then get from the nearest station to the hospital using local transport? Even if they are being pushed in a wheelchair.
In Nottingham, you would use a lift at the station to get to the tram and then it’s a simple ride on a step-free low-floor tram to the station. The hospital is actually on the other side of the tram tracks on arrival from Nottingham station, but as it’s a tram, you just walk or be pushed across, to enter the hospital.
I took these pictures at the NG2 tram stop.
It’s just a pretty normal tram stop by Nottingham’s standard, but the reason I stopped off here to take pictures, was that it is close to the triangular junction to the west of Nottingham station, where trains for Nottingham turn off the main Midland Main Line to access the station. This Google Map shows the area.
The NG2 tram stop is just South of the place where the road crosses the railway at the Western point of the junction, which goes in the direction of Beeston and the South. The line to the East leads to Nottingham station, and that to the North leads to Chesterfield, Sheffield and the North, as well as the Robin Hood Line.
The tram route curves away to the West to go to the Queen’s Medical Centre and Nottingham University.
In some ways it illustrates how Nottingham’s railways and the new trams weave a pattern around the city, with very large numbers of possible routes.
As tram-trains are now on the menu and tram-trains were first employed in Nottingham’s twin city of Karlsruhe, I doubt that anybody can predict the next line to be developed in Nottingham.
The only certain thing, is that in my two trips to the city recently, is that the people of Nottingham are proud of their trams and are using the system in large numbers.
As I said in Conclusions On Phase 2 Of The Nottingham Express Transit, the system may suffer from London Overground syndrome, of being built without enough capacity and new trams, tram-trains or extensions will soon be in the pipeline.
Toton Lane tram stop is the Southern Terminal of Line 1 of the Nottingham Express Transit.
It opened on the 25th August 2015 as part of Phase 2 of the NET. These are pictures. I took on a visit a week later.
The stop and the associated Park-and-Ride are very similar to the similar facility at Clifton South.
When I arrived in Nottingham, the weather was still good, despite rain being forecast, so I went for a walk right around the train station to see if there was space for the junctions to connect tram-trains coming in as trains from points East and West to access the tram line that crosses the station in a North South direction with a tram stop above the station. This Google Map shows the area, where I walked.
Note that this map was created before the tram line over the station and the multi-coloured multi-story car park were built, but the old tram-stop on Station Street is clearly marked. The foot bridge over the station, which is a public footpath that also allows pedestrians to access the trains is the only bridge across the station.
These are pictures I took as I walked around the station
I started by walking East along Station Street that runs along the North side of the station, then crossed the rail lines on the road bridge before walking back to the station along Queen’s Road.
After a brief pit stop in the station, I crossed South and followed the tram route intending to pick it up at the next stop to go to Toton Lane. But it was a long walk, so I crossed back North across the railway and walked back to the station along the canal, from ewhere I caught the tram South.
Currently Wikipedia lists three possible tram-trains routes from Nottingham to expand the NET. Two are in the East; Gedling and Bingham and one is in the West; Ilkeston.
I think there is plenty of space around the station to accommodate these routes.
I suspect too, that as the routes have been discussed since the mid-2000s, any current or future development has been or is being built, so that it doesn’t compromise any possible tram-train connections.
They’ve been a long time coming, but today I relieved Waitrose in Islington of six Celia gluten-free lagers.
If anybody should find any Celias in an obscure Waitrose, send me a picture.
I should say that I don’t live on the Gospel Oak To Barking Line (GOBlin), but I use it regularly.
I must say that I’m looking forward to using the new four-car trains on the line, but I’m not looking forward to all of the years of disruption, as the line is electrified.
In an article on the RailFuture web site, how the electrification will be implemented is described.
It is expected that NR will electrify first one half of the line and then the other half, and that whilst electrification is in progress on each half, that part of the line will be closed and the service provided by rail replacement bus. Whilst electrification is in progress LOROL will be able to run longer trains on the remaining half of the line with the existing stock, provided platform lengthening is completed early whilst work proceeds. Therefore if electrification keeps to current plans and if TfL could source electric stock (possibly temporarily, until the new stock is available) when electrification is completed, overcrowding will only be a problem for a period of a year between now and the start of electrification.
That sounds like a plan for organising chaos.
Everywhere in the UK electrification projects are in trouble. Network Rail are getting the blame, but underneath it all is the crumbling Victorian infrastructure and other political and environmental problems. The problem is also made worse by a shortage of engineers and equipment and on top of this, you also have the justifiable desires of passengers, politicians and train companies to get things done as soon as possible and at an affordable cost.
On the Great Western, the train operating company, First Great Western have lost patience and have ordered extra electro-diesel go-anywhere trains, so they can increase their services to the West.
In the September edition of Modern Railways there is an article entitled Class 387s Could Be Battery Powered.
The trains referred to in the article are an order of eight four-car Class 387 trains that will be used by First Great Western to provide electrified services to places like Newbury and Oxford.
The Class 387 train is a modern electric train produced by Bombardier, but will probably be the last of their ubiquitous Electrostar family to be produced before the company switches production in Derby to the new Aventra train for Crossrail and the London Overground.
In their article, Modern Railways says the following about the First Great Western order.
Delivery as IPEMUs would allow EMUs to make use of as much wiring as is available (and batteries beyond) while electrification pushes ahead under the delayed scheme, and in the longer term would allow units to run on sections not yet authorised for electrification, such as Newbury to Bedwyn. The use of IPEMUs might also hasten the cascade of Class 16x units to the west of the franchise.
Note that these trains are called IPEMUs or independently powered electric multiple units.
To passengers, there is no difference between the standard train and the IPEMU variant, but the IPEMU variants use overhead wires where they are available and charge their batteries at the same time. The batteries give the IPEMU trains a range of about sixty miles, where the wires are not available.
I think that IPEMU will be an acronym we’ll be hearing increasingly in the future.
Especially, as all Aventra trains are being built so they can be fitted with batteries, so every train is a potential IPEMU.
But don’t think that these new trains, are some form of second-class cobbled-together stop-gap!
Last year, I rode the prototype based on a modified Stansted Express from Manningtree to Harwich and back. The only thing that told me it wasn’t a normal Class 379 train, was the engineer sitting opposite, who was monitoring everything on a laptop.
They are a serious innovation using proven technology, developed by serious engineers, serious companies and cost-conscious train operators.
As I believe that electrifying the GOBlin will be a nightmare for contractors, train companies, passengers and residents alike, I feel there is a possible chance, that IPEMU variants of the Bombardier Aventra trains could be ordered for the line, as they’d charge their batteries on the stretch of overhead wires at Barking and then make the twenty-four mile trip from Woodgrange Park to Gospel Oak and back silently on the batteries.
The only work that would need to be done, would be platform lengthening to accept the new four-car trains and the electrifying of the terminal platform at Barking and possibly Gospel Oak. This work would not need a long closure and once it was done, the trains could be delivered. Similar platoform work on the North and East London Lines has been done to accept the new five-car trains, during weekend closures.
The extension to Barking Riverside would probably be fully-electrified and then when the passenger trains are all delivered, the rest of the line could be electrified using a method and pace, that would be acceptable to all.
One possible benefit could be a lower cost of providing the new electric trains and that some of the savings could be used to upgrade stations with full step-free access, better shelters and other facilities.
So if you should hear rumours that electrification of the GOBlin is to be delayed and battery-powered trains are to be used in the interim, don’t think slow, uncomfortable, overcrowded milk-floats!
It’s more like ordering a Ford Escort hire car from Hertz for your holiday and finding that on collection they’ve given you a Toyota Prius.