The Anonymous Widower

A Crossrail For Aberdeen

Cross-city lines are all the vogue.

  • London has Thameslink, several Underground and Overground Lines and will shortly have Crossrail.
  • Edinburgh has Crossrail.
  • Liverpool has the Northern Line.
  • Paris has the RER.
  • Leipzig has a cross-city tunnel.
  • Birmingham has the Cross-city Line.

So why shouldn’t Aberdeen propose Aberdeen Crossrail?

Aberdeen Crossrail

This Google Map shows Aberdeen.

aberdeencrossrail

Note.

The Aberdeen Crossrail plan is to link the Aberdeen to Inverness Line to the shared line to the South and create a frequent service along the route.

That is a standard philosophy for a cross-city line.

This diagram from Wikipedia, shows the proposed line and the stations.

aberdeencrossrail2

It is a simple plan and a simple route with one big difference to most of the other proposed or built Cross-city lines – There is no expensive central tunnel. It is almost solely a marketing concept, based around existing services.

Implementation

Wikipedia says this about Implementation.

Transport Scotland announced in March 2016 that the scheme will go ahead as part of a wider timetable recast in 2018. The new service will run between Inverurie & Montrose, serving all existing intermediate stations and one at Kintore from 2019. The Aberdeen to Inverurie section will then have a 30-minute interval service in operation. Infrastructure enhancements on the Aberdeen to Inverness line (including the redoubling of track from Aberdeen to Inverurie) are also scheduled to be completed by this time, as part of a £170 million route upgrade project.

All it needs is to add lots of stations.

It is a project manager’s dream to build, as once trains are running and the pattern of passenger use develops, the authorities can add trains and stations, as needs and budget dictate.

Similarity To The London Overground

The nearest cross-city lines in concept to Aberdeen Crossrail are probably the North London and East London Lines of the London Overground, where two cross-city lines were created from some very tired track, stations and trains, by refurbishing the first two and replacing the trains.

Like the London Overground, Aberdeen Crossrail is updating the route. Aberdeen’s current trains are probably better now than the travelling urinals, that the Overground inherited from Silverlink.

One thing that I think Aberdeen Crossrail will need is a Turn-Up-And-Go frequency of four trains per hour (tph), that has been used so successfully on the Overground and Merseyrail.

Frequency Issues

The route of Inverrurie to Montrose has been deliberately chosen.

  • Inverurie to Aberdeen takes around 23 minutes.
  • Montrose to Aberdeen takes around 35 minutes.

So with slightly faster trains and line speed, than currently used, it should be possible for a train to go from Inverurie to Montrose and back in two hours to include a few minutes to turn the train round.

A two hour round trip means that a train leaving Inverurie at say 06:00 in the morning, will if all goes well, be back in Inverurie to form the 08:00 train.

How convenient is that?

This means that two trph will need four trains and four tph will need eight trains.

Possible Stations

In A Look At New Station Projects, I’ve found several.

I am sure there are many more.

Girdle Ness

Girdle Ness could be a station in a spectacular location on the coast.

This Google Map shows Aberdeen.

girdleness

Aberdeen station in the top left corner and Girdle Ness is the lower of the two promontories on the right.

What looks like a wall curving behind the promontory is in fact the railway crossing across the city and the turning South to Montrose, Dundee and Edinburgh.

If an average architect couldn’t make good use of this location, then they’re not even average.

Conclusion

This proposal is very likely to be a success, but I feel that it needs to offer a frequency of four trph.

February 19, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

The New Tunnel Under Bank Station

I never took the connection tunnel between the Waterloo and City Line or Drain platforms at Bank station to the escalators that eventually get you out into the air by Lombard Street, where I used to visit clients at a major clearing bank.

I doubt, it was as good as it is now!

I was travelling home from Waterloo using the Drain and once back on the surface, I just  crossed King William Street and got a 141 bus home.

It might be upwards of a hundred metres underground, but it’s light, airey and traffic-free.

We need more pedestrian tunnels like this under London.

Obviously, it wasn’t Rush Hour!

February 19, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Will Trains Enable Chinese And Other Tourists To Invade Loch Ness?

In my list of possible stations from my friend Nick, there is the innocent station called Ness.

This could be any one of the following.

  • Orford Ness in Suffolk.
  • Bo’Ness near Falkirk in Scotland
  • Bowness in Cumbria
  • Loch Ness

As the others, are probably not destinations that would generate a lot of traffic to pay for the station, I suspect that Ness refers to Loch Ness.

There used to be a Fort Augustus Pier station, at the Southern end of Loch Ness. I assume from the giveaway word in the station name, that this was the transit point for Victorian hunters going to shoot Nessy

The station was the Northern terminus of the Invergarry and Fort Augustus Railway. At its Southern end the railway connected to the West Highland Line at Spean Bridge station.

This Google Map shows the area.

Fort Augustus To Spean Bridge

Fort Augustus To Spean Bridge

Loch Ness intrudes from the North and Spean Bridge station is close to Ben Nevis at the bottom.

This diagram shows the various stations on the Invergarry and Fort Augustus Railway.

ness2

Surprisingly, the railway has not been completely dismantled and Wikipedia says this.

Some of the line today has been built over by roads and holiday parks, although it mostly survives in a reasonably good, if overgrown, condition. The many bridges and single tunnel are in particularly good condition. Some of the line along Loch Oich has been incorporated into the Great Glen Way, and a further section is proposed to become part of National Cycle Route 78.

A restoration project is (2016) under way at Invergarry Station, the last remaining station that is largely intact. The Invergarry Station Preservation Society plan to create a static museum, with a short length of track and several freight wagons.

It would be an interesting way to get to Inverness, if you could get a boat from Fort Augustus.

February 19, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

The South Wales Mountain Railway

South Wales might not have the reputation of beautiful mountains, of say Snowdonian, the Cairngorms or Switzerland, but some of the Valley Lines that go up to places like Merthyr Tydfil and Ebbw Vale Town stations have spectacular views.

I was looking for a possible station at a village called Nelson and found a single-track railway passing to the North of the village.

I followed the track with my helicopter up the mountain and this is a Google Map of what I found.

Merthyr Tydfil And The Ffos-y-fran Land Reclamation Scheme

Merthyr Tydfil And The Ffos-y-fran Land Reclamation Scheme

The station on the left is Merthyr Tydfil and on the right is the massive Ffos-y-fran Land Reclamation Scheme. This is opening paragraph in the Wikipedia entry.

The Ffos-y-fran Land Reclamation Scheme is a major opencast coaling operation to the north-east of Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales. Miller Argent is owned by Gwent Investments Limited, which is based in South Wales and is a privately owned family business. The scheme development is the last part of the East Merthyr Reclamation scheme, and will extract 10 million tonnes of coal over 15 years, the revenues from which will redevelop the current former industrial workings into residential and recreational use.

It is a controversial scheme and I am usually against using coal for combustion purposes, but some of these Welsh landscapes are dotted with dangerous mine workings and slag heaps, so they certainly need cleaning up.

There is a Transport section in the Wikipedia entry for the scheme. This is said.

Under agreed planning rules, the site is not allowed to transport coal from the site via road. All extract is therefore moved to the rear (East) of the site where the coal is separated and washed at the Cwmbargoed Washery. Built in 1959 on land to the north and east of the railway connection to Fochriw Colliery, the coal washery was refurbished by Celtic Energy in 1992. DB Schenker trains then move the washed coal from site to Aberthaw Power Station, along the former route of the Rhymney Railway. Joining the modern Rhymney Line just south of Ystrad Mynach railway station, the trains then travel onwards via Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan Line to Aberthaw, enabling Ffos-y-fran to supply 40% of the coal to Aberthaw power station.

It must be challenging driving a Class 66 locomotive with a train of full coal wagons down the mountain.

It was this railway I had followed up the mountain.

Before I leave Merthyr Tydfil, look at this Google Map of the town.

Merthyr Tydfil And Rhymney

Merthyr Tydfil And Rhymney

The East Merthyr Reclamation Scheme is in the middle, flanked by Merthyr Tydfil in the West and Rhymney in the East.

So if the Authorities in South Wales are thinking of building a station on this line at Nelson, are they thinking of reopening this line after the scheme has finished extracting coal, as a second rail route to Merthyr Tydfil?

Coming back down the mountain from Merthyr, the first possible station from my list of possible stations is Bedlinog.

This Google Map shows the rail line going through the village.

Bedlinog And The Railway

Bedlinog And The Railway

Note that Bedlinog already has a Railway Inn.

After Bedlinog, the next one on the list is Trelewis. This is the Google Map

Trelewis And The Railway

Trelewis And The Railway

The railway goes between the Primary School and the Kigdom Hall.

And then it’s back to where I started this quest at Nelson, of which this is the Google Map.

Nelson And The Railway

Nelson And The Railway

The railway then goes South-East to join the Rymney Line at Ystrad Mynach station.

Trains For The Route

The task of hauling empty wagons up the mountain is not to much for a Class 66 locomotive, so I suspect that a multiple unit could be designed to handle a route like this, of which there are several in the Cardiff Valley Lines.

Either electric or diesel multiple units could probably manage the climbs, if they were designed for it, but would electreifying these routes be a feasible undertaking, given the difficulties of working on these busy lines.

But train technology is moving on and with the Class 319 Flex, we are getting close to having a true tri-mode train, with diesel, electric and battery power.

The Welsh Government have said they want new trains for these routes and I suspect engineers are working on a product tailored to run these routes efficiently.

So could we see a quad-mode train for the Valleys?

  • Four-car electrical multiple unit.
  • Onboard energy storage.
  • Perhaps even a small diesel generator for the difficult bits.
  • Gravity power, which the lines have in abundance, to use with regenerative braking to charge the batteries on the descent.
  • As modern trains can deploy pantographs automatically, some selective electrification could be added as the project develops.

I would also commit the ultimate heresy and use third-rail electrification on the steep parts at the heads of the valleys.

Consider.

  • Bombardier, Siemens and others make reliable dual-voltage trains.
  • Both electrification systems have their good and bad points.
  • It must be less intrusive and disruptive to install third-rail electrification.
  • Is overhead electrification more prone to weather damage?
  • Network Rail seem to be terribly accident-prone when it comes to overhead electrification.

In the end costs and overall reliability will decide.

But I do think sometimes, that Network Rail always chooses overhead electrification, even if third rail will be more reliable, less intrusive and more affordable.

But I’m sure that all the technology has now been proven to create a very efficient modern electric train to work the Valley Lines, which have been electrified using a great deal of innovation and common sense.

February 19, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Station For Morriston Hospital

Morriston Hospital is in Swansea or to be more precise it appears to be up the hill and a fair way from Swansea station. I could probably just walk it.

It would appear that there are plans to reopen Cockett station, which would only be ten minutes by train from the main station and close enough  to Morriston Hospital for a shuttle bus.

It would also mean that to get between the Hospital and East Wales, you wouldn’t have to go into Swansea and change trains.

It looks like the Welsh are finally getting access to the hospital acceptable, but so many hospitals don’t have a decent transport connection.

At too many places in the UK, the only reliable way to get from the main station to the local hospital is by hiring a taxi.

Is that acceptable?

February 18, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 1 Comment

Derby To Manchester The Midland Way

I was trying to find out about two stations; Miler’s Dale and Monsal Dale, which are both on the Manchester, Buxton, Matlock and Midland Junction Railway.

I found this article in the Derby Telegraph, which is entitled 50 years on, as passengers return to railways, in a few quiet corners, Beeching’s cuts are being reversed.

It says a lot about the Midland’s spectacular route from Derby to Manchester.

As a result, some of the lines and stations axed in the Beeching Report are being brought back to life. One of these is the Midland Railway, a route which once linked Derby and Manchester.

It is regarded as one of the most spectacular lines ever built. Cutting through the Peak District, numerous tunnels and other impressive civil engineering features, including magnificent viaducts at Millers Dale and Monsal Dale, had to be constructed because of the terrain.

In 1967, the Beeching Report brought about the end of passenger services on the line with the closure of stations at Millers Dale, Bakewell, Rowsley, Darley Dale and Matlock Bath. Now a three-and-a-half-mile section of the line has since been reopened and brought back into use by Peak Rail.

Today, the company operates both a steam and heritage diesel service for tourists and visitors to both the Peak District and the Derbyshire Dales. The preserved railway line operates trains from Matlock station via Matlock Riverside and Darley Dale to Rowsley South.

Peak Rail has ambitions to reopen more of the line in the future. The first stage would be to relay track to the site of Rowsley station, extending to a total of 4.25 miles. There are also plans to extend the line all the way to Bakewell, which would involve the restoration of both the Haddon tunnel and Coombs Road viaduct as well as the reinstatement of numerous bridges along the way.

It certainly seems to be worth a visit.

It sounds to me though to get trains running all the way will need a friendly billionaire.

February 18, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 1 Comment

Two Stations For Guildford

Guildford station is one of those stations that is very crowded.

So the Borough of Guildford is promoting two stations, one in the East and one in the West.

Merrow Station

A station at Merrow is proposed in the East on the New Guildford Line between London Road and Clandon stations.

This Google Map shows the location.

merrow

The station is proposed to be on the site of Merrow Depot, which is in the South-East corner of the map, with the railway line conveniently across the North of the site.

Guildford West Station

A station in the West of Guildford is proposed on the Ascot-Guildford Line between Guildford and Wanbotough stations, close to the Royal Surrey Coumty Hospital.

This Google Map shows the location.

guildfordwest

It is certainly a very convenient station for the hospital and the technology park.

There must be scope given that the railway is in a wide cutting, to do some development over the station and the railway.

February 18, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , | 1 Comment

A Plea For A Shropshire Metro

Shrewsbury station is not one of the best stations, as I remarked in Passing Through Shrewsbury Station.

Clean toilets and a Starbucks doth not a station make!

I was drawn to this letter in the Shropshire Star, which was entitled Better rail investment would reduce problems on the roads.

The writer details some of the problems on the five rail lines that meet at Shrewsbury, which they start with this paragraph about the lack of parkway stations.

Shropshire, in particular, could benefit enormously from reopening old stations in the form of parkways or even  parkways near to where stations used to be. Thus the five lines running into Shrewsbury are badly serving the public except the one from Crewe which does still have small stations, utilised occasionally but could be improved by upgrading to parkways and additions.

The writer also says that Hereford is just as bad.

This map shows the lines meeting at Shresbury.

shrewsburylines

The lines meeting at Shrewsbury station are as follows.

There certainly were a lot more stations in the past.

But it does appear that some new stations are in the pipeline.

Adnaston

Admaston is a possible reopened station on the Shrewsbury to Wolverhampton Line.

Baschurch

Baschurch is a possible reopened station on the Chester to Shrewsbury Line.

Cefn

Cefn is a possible reopened station on the Shrewsbury to Chester Line.

Hadnall is a possible reopened station on the Welsh Marches Line.

Johnstown

Johnstown is a possible reopened station on the Shrewsbury to Chester Line.

Meole Brace

Meole Brace is a possible new station in Shrewsbury.

Conclusion

It looks like the letter writer’s plea has been answered.

Putting four trains per hour on all of the routes from the centre at Shrewsbury would probably create a more than acceptable system.

It looks like the trains would have to be diesels, as I can’t see much electrification in this area.

But who knows what will happen, if someone develops a fast charge system  for a hybrid/battery train, that could be implemented at Chester, Hereford, Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton?

February 18, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , | 1 Comment

The No Frills Station

I’m always putting in the same picture of Zwickau Zentrum station on the Vogtlandbahn in Germany into posts, so I thought I should give the picture a post of its own.

Arrival At Zwickau Zentrum Tram/Train Stop

The station is one of the simplest I’ve ever seen and it has been designed very much like a tram stop.

  • There is no footbridge, as if travellers need to cross the line, they just walk round.
  • The access is as step-free as it gets in Germany.
  • The other side of the platform is a stop for Zwickau’s trams.
  • There is no electrification, which must improve safety.
  • The station could be made long enough for any train that might call.
  • The station has been landscaped into the local environment.

But we’re starting to see simple stations like this in the UK.

These pictures show Galashiels station on the recently opening Borders Railway.

Galashiels is an interesting solution, as there is a single-platform step-free railway station on one side of the road and a comprehensive bus interchange on the other with seats, cafes, shops and warm shelter.

Both Zwickau Zentrum and Galashiels are served exclusively by diesel trains and as electrification can be a hazard to some passengers and is expensive, I would feel that most stations like this, would be better served by trains that are self-powered.

We shall be seeing more simple station designs like these, as architects and designers get very innovative.

February 18, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

A Station For Marlborough

Marlborough once had a pair of stations, as this map of the railways in the town shows.

marlboroughlines

Note the various stations in an area, where Marlborough the largest town has a population of 8,395.

This railway map shows the important Reading to Taunton Line that passes to the South of Marlborough. This Google Map shows that line as it crosses the A346 road.

The Reading to Raunton Line South Of Marlborough

The Reading to Raunton Line South Of Marlborough

Note.

There would also appear to be tracks of disused railways leading North-Westerly from Bedwyn towards Marlborough.

If Marlborough and the surrounding area were to be given a better rail connection, I would think that a possible solution would be a parkway station, perhaps where the A346 crosses the railway and the canal.

It should be born in mind, that modern trains are designed to perform fast stops at stations, so the extra station at Marlborough would not be the time penalty, it was a few years ago.

Transition Marlborough’s Proposal

But a local action group called Transition Marlborough have their own plans for a Marlborough Rail Link, which as this graphic shows are more ambitious.

marlboroughraillink

Their plans would involve restoring and electrifying the line to Marlborough, where a well-positioned station will be built.

These are my initial thoughts.

  • The route of the line appears feasible.
  • Electrification may be a problem given Network Rail’s expertise in this area.
  • Bedwyn would not appear to be the best terminus for a line to London.
  • I’ve not been to Bedwyn station, but I suspect it could be a bleak place in some kinds of weather.

After I wrote this list, a kind soul in the area sent me this message.

You’ll find that Bedwyn station is a pretty bleak place, especially in Winter. To reach it by road from Marlborough involves a 7.5 mile road trip, at least 3 miles of which is on an unmarked road through a forest. Bedwyn station is almost inaccessible for people without cars, as the connecting bus service is poor and unreliable.

My Version Of The Proposal

I think the best solution could be to create a single-track railway without electrification to a simple station with adequate parking at the proposed Salisbury Road Business Park location.

The distance between Reading and Marlborough by train would be about 37 miles. Network Rail’s plans to electrify the line between Reading and Bedwyn are probably best described as fluid, but I suspect that electrification to Newbury could be possible, which would mean that only twenty miles between Paddington and Marlborough would be unwired.

So this would mean that when inevitably an electric train with onboard energy storage has a range of forty miles, Marlborough could get a modern electric service to and from Paddington.

The advantages of this strategy are as follows.

  • No ugly overhead catenary marching across the country.
  • Work would only include restoring a single track railway and building a simple no-frills station at Marlborough.
  • Marlborough station would not have any electrification and could be designed like a tram stop.
  • Fast Environmentally-friendly electric trains to and from Reading and Paddington.
  • The route would be designed for six-car trains in case Marlborough College put on a free concert featuring the Rolling Stones.
  • The route could be designed to allow two trains per hour (tph), as opposed to the current one tph service to and from Bedwyn.
  • Marlborough to Paddington would have a maximum time of around 80 minutes.

But the biggest advantage is that the scheme is that it could be affordable.

This article on the BBC is entitled Marlborough £30m railway line restoration plan.

If this branch line is developed as I believe Network Rail are now thinking, there could be money left over for a good launch party!

Conclusion

With the next generation of electric train with onboard energy storage or IPEMUs, a Marlborough station on a new Marlborough Branch Line can be used to create a two tph service to and from Paddington to replace the current one tph service from Bedwyn.

So a new Marlborough station would be a win for all those using stations on the Reading to Taunton Line to the East of Pewsey.

I also wonder how many other similar services can be developed by extending a service past a main line terminal to a new or reopened branch line, which is built without electrification and run using trains with onboard energy storage.

 

 

 

 

February 18, 2017 Posted by | Travel, Uncategorized | , , , | 4 Comments