The Anonymous Widower

Piers Corbyn

I’ve just read Piers Corbyn’s entry in Wikipedia.

It is the sort  of short light reading, that you need to pass the time on a bus, train or toilet.

November 13, 2019 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

Galliard Homes To Develop £140m Luxury Flat Complex Above Crossrail Station

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on City AM.

This is yet another Crossrail related development.

November 13, 2019 Posted by | Transport, World | , , | Leave a comment

One Liverpool Street: City Of London Approves Crossrail Entrance Office Block

The title of this post is the same as that as this article on City AM.

This paragraph describes the financial structure of the development.

One Liverpool Street will be run by asset managers Aviva Investors, through a joint venture with Transport for London (TfL), and will replace an existing six-storey office block.

It is yet another development along the Crossrail route.

November 13, 2019 Posted by | Transport, World | , , | Leave a comment

Should High Speed Two Have A Station At Calvert?

The leak of the Oakervee Report into High Speed Two published in today’s Times, says that extra stations might be added to High Speed Two and in particular one could be built at Calvert in Buckinghamshire, where it would also be an interchange  with the East-West Rail Link between Oxford and Cambridge.

Calvert And The Current Railways

This Google Map shows the area around the village of Calvert.

Note.

  1. The two lakes in old clay pits to the North of the village; one for sailing and one for fishing.
  2. A massive landfill to the South.
  3. The route of the East-West Rail Lnk runs East-West to the North of the two lakes.

The enlarged Google Map shows the two lakes and the East-West Rail Link.

Note how the Great Central Main Line from Aylesbury Vale Parkway station has a chord to the East and joins the disused track, that used to form part of the Varsity Line. This line will be developed in the next few yeas to allow Chiltern Railways to open a service to Milton Keynes Central station.

Calvert And High Speed Two

This paragraph from the Wikipedia entry for Calvert, describes the possibilities in the area for High Speed Two.

The planned route of High Speed 2 (HS2) will run along the Great Central Railway north-south corridor in this area, past Calvert and the phase one Infrastructure Maintenance Depot will be located near Calvert. No passenger interchange between East West Rail and HS2 is proposed, since stopping high speed trains ‘too often’ reduces their high speed benefits, although in February 2017, the local MP called for the station to be built at the junction between East West Rail and the HS2 line, serving both lines.

Note how the track of the Grand Central Railway can be picked out on the second map.

It looks like the Oakervee Report is recommending that at least passive provision is made for a station in the area, that would connect to the East-West Rail Link.

Calvert And The Oxford To Cambridge Expressway

This paragraph from the Wikipedia entry for Calvert, describes the trunk roads in the area.

Calvert sits in the strip of land which the Government announced in 2018 as its ‘preferred route’ for the new Oxford-Cambridge Expressway road, which would link the A34, M40, and M1 trunk roads. It has been noted that the convergence of HS2, East-West Rail, and the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway at this location would offer opportunities for future provision of a key regional facility, such as an airport, or a New Town.

I doubt there will be a new airport, but other forms of development would be better than landfill.

Oakervee’s Recommendation For Calvert

It looks like the Oakervee Report is recommending that at least passive provision is made for a station in the area, that would connect to the East-West Rail Link.

Thoughts On A Possible Calvert Station

These are my thoughts on a possible Calvert station, that would be built to connect the East-West Rail Link and High Speed Two.

Changing Between The East-West Rail Link And High Speed Two At Calvert Station

This would be very easy to arrange in a well-designed station and would give a lot of stations a direct connection to High Speed Two.

  • Oxford, Swindon, Bristol, Newport, Cardiff and Swansea
  • Oxford, Swindon, Bristol, Exeter, Plymouth and Penzance
  • Reading, Basingstoke, Southampton and Bournemouth
  • Cambridge, Ipswich and Norwich
  • Milton Keynes and Northampton

Bi-mode trains would run direct to Calvert station, where passengers would change to and from High Speed Two.

Could Trains Run Direct Between The East-West Rail Link And High Speed Two At Calvert?

In the leak of the Oakervee Report, The Times also says that it could be advantageous if existing trains could use the HS2 track.

Suppose Transport for Wales wants to improve services between South Wales and the Northern destinations of High Speed Two.

As I read the leak, they could obtain their own Classic-compatible High Speed Two trains and perhaps run services to Birmingham, Manchester,  Leeds and other destinations.

The only extra infrastructure needed would be as follows.

  • Appropriate flyovers at Calvert.
  • Electrification between Calvert and Didcot.
  • Electrification between Cardiff and Swansea.

The electrification would be needed, as I suspect trains running on High Speed Two would be unlikely to be bi-modes.

In fact, if the connection is built as Phase 1 of High Speed Two, Swansea and Birmingham via Cardiff, Bristol, Swindon and Oxford, could be one of the initial High Speed services on High Speed Two.

I estimate that a Swansea and Birmingham service would take about two and a half hours.

When the East-West Rail Link is completed between Calvert and Cambridge, services will also be able to turn East to Cambridge, Ipswich and Norwich.

How the services are arranged will depend on where passengers want to go and in what numbers.

Will There Be Commuters From Calvert Station?

Consider.

  • Calvert station will not be surrounded by large amounts of housing, with the exception of Milton Keynes perhaps fifteen minutes away.
  • Services on the East-West Rail Link will probably call at Calvert station.
  • The route of the proposed Oxford to Cambridge Expressway could serve Calvert station.
  • I estimate that Euston and Calvert will have a journey time around twenty-five to thirty minutes.

Calvert might develop into a commuter station and not just to London and Birmingham.

A Calvert And Market Harborough Service Via Milton Keynes And Northampton

In Shapps Supports Beeching Axe Reversals, I talked about a proposal to reopen the Market Harborough-Northampton Line that was only finally closed in 1981.

I also included this map, which shows the link between Milton Keynes and link to Market Harborough.

So could we see a service linking High Speed Two at Calvert to the fast-expanding Milton Keynes Northampton and Market Harborough?

I feel that if there was a four trains per hour (tph) service between Calvert and Milton Keynes, this could mean a possible simplification of the services on the completed East-West Rail Line.

\services to Milton Keynes could be.

  • Two tph – Calvert and Market Harborough via Winsford, Bletchley, Milton Keynes, Wolverton and Northampton.
  • Two tph – Marylebone and Milton Keynes via Winsford and Bletchley.

East-West Rail Link services wouldn’t call at Milton Keynes Central, as this would mean a reverse.

Calvert Station Will Be A High Speed Station For The Local Area

If road access is good, the station will get used as a Park-and-Ride station for accessing High Speed Two for passengers living in the local area.

Useful Routes Via Calvert

Off the top of my head, these are a selection of routes, that could be run via Calvert station; either direct or with a change.

  • East Anglia (Cambridge, Colchester, Ipswich and Norwich) and The Midlands, Northern England and Scotland
  • South Wales (Cardiff, Newport and Swansea) and The Midlands, Northern England and Scotland
  • West and South West England (Bristol, Exeter, Penzance and Plymouth) and The Midlands, Northern England and Scotland
  • Southern England (Bournemouth, Portsmouth and Southampton) and The Midlands, Northern England and Scotland
  • Thames Valley (Oxford, Reading and Heathrow) and The Midlands, Northern England and Scotland

Journeys between areas like South Wales and East Anglia could be done with a change at Calvert.

Conclusion

Trying to predict what would happen if a station were to be built at Calvert is not easy.

But on balance, I very much feel that it would improve the connectivity of High Speed Two.

A Calvert station would also improve the East-West Rail Link, with faster trains and better connectivity.

High Speed Two should be for all and not just services to and from London!

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 12, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Full Speed Ahead For HS2 Or Passengers Will Face Rising Fares

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in today’s copy of The Times.

This is the introductory paragraph.

The early draft of the HS2 review seen by The Times recommends that ministers proceed with the full Y-shaped line as it stands, connecting London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.

It then lists some of the recommendations.

  • Reducing the frequency of trains from eighteen to fourteen trains per hour.
  • The main terminus will still be Euston.
  • More stations could be added later, including one in Buckinghamshire.

The report makes these statements.

  • More capacity is needed.
  • To provide it by other ways would take ten years to plan.
  • Fare increases will be needed to ration capacity if HS2 is not built.

As an engineer, who throughout his working life squeezed quarts into pint pots, at the most advantageous cost and timescale, I like what I have read of the report.

|Anybody seriously interested in rail transport, HS2 or the future of the UK shoud read the articles in tday’s Times.

 

 

 

November 12, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

Virgin Reports Record Modal Shift From Planes To Trains

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Rail News.

This paragraph sums up the shift from plane to train.

The operator said rail had a 29 per cent share of the traffic during the 12 months to July this year, and that annual passenger numbers on the route have now reached 700,000, compared with 244,000 ten years ago.

Virgin seem to say it’s all down to them, but various factors with flying are having an effect.

  • Airport delays due to drones and other operational problems.
  • In the case of Glasgow, the lack of a rail link to the airport, might encourage passengers to go the whole way by train.
  • Improved Railcard offerings.
  • Climate change awareness and guilt.
  • Ryanair’s problems.
  • Glaswegians taking long haul flights from Scotland and Manchester, rather than London.
  • Better awareness of rail travel.

I also wonder, if Scotland’s extensive electrification and large numbers of new trains has convinced a lot more Scots to travel by train.

I should also say, that my Scottish friends seem to be using trains rather than flying more often.

Conclusion

Let’s hope that when West Coast Rail take over on December 8th, 2019, the upward trend of market share continues, as it is surely better for the planet.

November 11, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Comparing Ride And Perceived Performance In Class 170 And Class 755 trains

I had intended to go to Norwich and Sheringham today, to take some pictures of Class 755 trains at Sheringham station.

Unfortunately, when I got to Norwich, the Sheringham train was a Class 170 train, so as I was running late, I came back.

But as I had travelled to Norwich in a twenty-year-old Class 170 train and returned in a brand-new Class 755 train, I was able to compare their ride and passenger performance on the well-maintained and straight Breckland Line.

The Class 170 train has a good ride and I’ve never felt to complain, even when travelling at 100 mph on some CrossCountry and Greater Anglia routes.

But I did feel that the Class 755 train had a smoother ride.

I did time the 755 at 90 mph on parts of the route, but at most times it was doing a motr sedate 75 mph.

Could it be that twenty years has enabled train dynamics to have been improved using computer simulation?

Intriguingly, the three-car Class 170 train is twenty percent heavier and has half the power of the four-car Class 755 train, which probably results in more sprightly acceleration for the new train.

Could this acceleration mean that the trains will be faster on a route with lots of stops?

 

November 11, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

National Trust Looks At Car Ban In Lake District

The title of this post is the same as that as that of this article in yesterday’s Sunday Times.

The secondary headline sums up the article.

Nearly 20m visitors a year are ‘loving the national park to death’, and officials are looking at excluding drivers.

So what is to be done?

Can The Railways Help?

In 2015, I spent Three Days in Preston and explored the area by train.

These problems were apparent on the trains and at the stations.

  • The capacity, quality and frequency of the trains to Windermere is pitiful.
  • The capacity, quality and frequency of the trains along the Cumbrian Coast Line is inadequate.
  • Bus information and interchanges could be better.
  • Getting a train to Penrith North Lakes station was difficult.

The only line with an acceptable train service is the West Coast Main Line.

Everything else needs major improvements.

These are some random thoughts.

Could Carlisle Become The Rail Tourism Centre For The Borderlands And The Lakes?

These rail lines and services are already or will be connected to Carlisle Citadel station, within the next few years.

  • Virgin services on the West Coast Main Line between London and the South and Glasgow and Edinburgh in Central Scotland.
  • TransPennine Express services on the West Coast Main Line between Liverpool and Manchester in the South and Glasgow.
  • Possible Grand Union services on the West Coast Main Line between London and Stirling for the North of Scotland.
  • High Speed Two services between London and the South and Glasgow and Edinburgh in Central Scotland.
  • ScotRail services on the Glasgow South Western Line between Carlisle and Glasgow via Dumfries and Kilmarnock.
  • ScotRail services on an extended Borders Railway between Carlisle and Edinburgh via Hawick and Galashiels.
  • Northern services on the Tyne Valley Line between Carlisle and Newcastle via Hexham and the Metro Centre.
  • Northern services on the Settle and Carlisle Line between Carlisle and Leeds.
  • Northern services on the Cumbrian Coast Line between Carlisle and Carnforth via Workington, Whitehaven and Barrow.

Carlisle sits at the centre of a network of some of the most scenic rail lines, anywhere in the world.

Rail services in the area with the exception of the through services, provided by Virgin and TransPennine Express are probably considered by their operators to be a pain.

  • They are generally not used by commuters.
  • There are regular operational problems like floods and landslips.
  • They are overcrowded at some times of the year and need expensive new rolling stock.
  • Rail tourists from aboard probably complain like mad.

But above all the services probably lose money hand over fist.

What Is The Ideal Train For Scenic Routes?

Two possible trains for scenic routes are now in service in the UK.

The Scottish Solution – Inter7City

ScotRail are now introducing four- and five-car InterCity 125 trains on routes between the seven cities in Scotland.

They will probably do a good job and they have the following.

  • Large windows to enjoy the views.
  • Many seats have tables.
  • An on-board buffet and trolley service.
  • Wi-fi and power sockets for phones and laptops.
  • The trains should be reliable, as there is a vast knowledge base about running these trains.
  • The trains can be easily lengthened, by adding extra cars.
  • The trains were 125 mph trains and are probably slower in this application.

But the trains are forty years old and have two enormous diesel engines on each end.

The Swiss Solution – Class 755 train

Greater Anglia are introducing three- and four-car Class 755 trains on rural routes in East Anglia.

They appear to be doing a good job with high passenger satisfaction and they have the following.

  • Large windows to enjoy the views.
  • A number of seats have tables.
  • Space for bicycles.
  • Wi-fi and power sockets for phones and laptops.
  • The trains have level access between train and platform.
  • Hopefully, the trains will be reliable, as they are brand new and Stadler has been making similar trains for over ten years.
  • The trains can use 25 KVAC overhead electrification, where it is available.
  • The trains can work in multiple formations.
  • The trains can be easily lengthened, by adding extra cars.
  • The trains are 100 mph trains.

But the trains still have a diesel power-pack in the middle for operation independently.

In future, these trains will be used to run new services between London and Lowestoft, which is a distance of 118 miles of which 59 miles is electrified.

Similar trains will be fitted with batteries for the South Wales Metro.

Could a train be built with the best of all the features?

I believe the Class 755 train is a pretty good start, but it would have the following extra features.

  • Ability to run at up to 125 mph on 25 KVAC overhead or 750 VDC third rail, where the track allows.
  • A well-designed buffet.
  • 50 mile battery range.
  • A stand-by generator.
  • The ability to fast-charge the battery at a station stop.

I also think that Hitachi could make a five-car AT-300 train and Bombardier could make an Aventra, that met this specification.

What would a fleet of battery-electric trains do for the rail lines around Carlisle?

  • Hopefully, they would become a tourist attraction in their own right and encourage visitors to corm by train.
  • Frequencies would be at least two trains per hour on all routes.

This could be a starting point for making the area easier to access.

Should Stations Around The Lakes Be Developed With Bus Interchanges?

I’ve seen the bus interchange at Windermere station, but are other stations around the Lakes as well provided with comprehensive bus routes?

The objective surely should be that if a family wanted to have a day out in the Lakes from their home in Liverpool or Manchester, they should be able to get a train to a convenient station and a bus to their final destination.

Surely, if there is a sensible aslternative, then visitors might use it.

Could The Cockermouth, Keswick and Penrith Railway Be Reopened?

The Cockermouth, Keswick and Penrith Railway was finally closed in the 1970s and according to Wikipedia, the track-bed has been used for roads and other developments.

I doubt that the railway could be reopened, but a modern light rail route would probably be a very valuable tourist asset.

But Would Good Train And Bus Routes Cut The Traffic In The Lakes?

I doubt it!

If someone has spent £40,000 or more on an expensive car, they feel they have bought the right to drive it anywhere they want!

The Dutch once talked about road pricing for every vehicle and that government lost the next election.

Conclusion

Traffic congestion in the Lakes, is a problem that threatens other ares, where tourists want to go.

So will as the National Trust are suggesting have to ban cars to restore some sanity?

I suspect so!

But it won’t be popular!

 

 

November 11, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Mysterious Scotsman

A couple of years ago, I was contacted by a Scot called Andrew, who wanted to talk to me about blogging and my blog in particular.

I said, on my next trip North, why don’t we meet at somewhere like Stirling, which I sometimes use as a base for trips. I wrote about the city as a base in this post called Stirling.

We met and had a pizza in the City and we talked about Stirling’s direct rail connections to London.

This morning, I was looking up Grand Union, who are a proposed open-access train company, who aim to be running a rail service between London Paddington and Wales, within the next few years using InterCity 225 trains.

And what did I find?

The company is also proposing to run a service between London and Scotland. In a London-Scotland section in the Wikipedia entry, this is said.

In August 2019, Grand Union lodged an application to operate three or four trains per day between London Euston and Stirling calling at Milton Keynes Central, Nuneaton, Crewe, Preston, Carlisle, Lockerbie, Motherwell, Whifflet, Greenfaulds and Larbert with InterCity 225s from May 2021.

As I said in my meeting, I feel that a direct London and Stirling service could be invaluable.

  • Stirling has good rail connections to the rest of Scotland.
  • Stirling will be served by Scotrail’s upmarket Inter7City services.
  • The route is fully-electrified between London and Stirling.

I doubt the good burghers of Stirling would object.

I have a few comments.

The Route

The route is interesting, as it gives some new connectivity, that I’m sure will be welcomed by customers.

Milton Keynes

Consider.

  • Milton Keynes Central is a well-connected station.
  • It will get even better when the East-West Rail Link is opened in a few years.
  • Some journeys will be easier with a change at Milton Keynes, rather than in London.

Current services between Milton Keynes and Scotland, go via Birmingham.

Nuneaton

Nuneaton is becoming a busy hub station between Birmingham, Coventry and Leicester and must improve services along the West Coast Main Line to and from the North and Scotland.

Crewe, Preston And Carlisle

The new service will add connectivity to these important hubs.

Lockerbie

Lockerbie station only gets three trains per day in both directions.

If Grand Union stopped all their services, this would double the number of services calling at Lockerbie.

Motherwell, , Whifflet, Greenfaulds And Larbert

These stations should give good connectivity in South-East Glasgow, with links to Ayr in the West and Edinburgh in the East.

Stiring Station

In addition to good rail connectivity, Stirling station is not  far from the City Centre and has good facilities.

The Trains

Wikipedia says the services will be run by InterCity 225 trains.

I would assume they will be shortened to perhaps five to seven cars.

The Timings

Currently, the fastest train between Euston and Motherwell is the 17:30, which takes fours and fifteen minutes, with six stops.

As the proposed service would also take six stops between Euston and Motherwell, I would assume that Grand Union would be aiming for a similar time.

Looking at individual timings on the route the train would take between Motherwell snd Stirling via Whifflet, Coatbridge Central, Greenfaulds, Cumbernauld, Carmuirs Junction and Larbert, I am fairly certain that a train running with three scheduled stops could do the trip in around 38-42 minutes.

This is the summary of the times.

  • London Euston and Motherwell – four hours and fifteen minutes.
  • Motherwell and Stirling – 38-42 minutes.

Which would give a time between Euston and Stirling of around five hours.

This compares with the current best timings.

  • London Kings Cross and Stirling – five hours and eighteen minutes
  • London Kings Cross and Edinburgh – four hours and twenty minutes
  • London Euston and Glasgow – four hours and thirty minutes

So the new service would appear to give the following advantages.

  • A faster service between London and Stirling.
  • Faster services between London and Whifflet, Greenfaulds and Larbert.

This is in addition to the big advantage of three or four new direct services per day.

Services Between The South And Inverness With A Change At Stirling

Could this be one of the markets that Grand Union are looking to exploit?

Currently, there are two direct services between London and Inverness.

  • The daily direct daytime service takes eight hours and runs once a day.
  • The Sleeper takes even longer, but you do get an overnight rest.

So could a service between London and Stirling provide extra services?

Consider.

  • Currently, Scotrail’s services between Stirling and Inverness take just under three hours and run roughly two-hourly.
  • Network Rail are improving the Highland Main Line with passing loops and longer platforms to increase capacity and operating speeds.
  • Scotrail are introducing new better quality Inter7City trains on the route.
  • The new December 2019 timetable looks like services could be a few minutes faster.

I suspect, if the trains were appropriately timetabled, there could be extra services between Inverness and London Euston.

  • There would be a change of train at Stirling.
  • Timing could be around seven and a half hours.
  • Both trains would be high-quality ones.

I suspect that three new services with times of less than eight hours could be created bertween London and Inverness

The Glasgow By-Pass

If you want to go between Carlisle and Stirling, you will be recommended to take the following route.

  • Carlisle to Glasgow Central – Up to four trains per hour (tph)
  • Glasgow Central to Glasgow Queen Street – Walk as I do or a bus.
  • Glasgow Queen Street to Stirling – three tph

The journey time is just over two and a half hours.

I estimate that Grand Union’s services could go between Carlisle and Stirling in around forty-five minutes less, without a change of train.

The route is also now fully-electrified between Stirling and Carlisle, so could this be used by other services.

High Speed Two

When High Speed Two is completed, there will be two tph to both Edinburgh and Glasgow, with I suspect the trains working as a pair South of Carstairs, where they will split and join.

I suspect that High Speed Two will take the lion’s share of passengers between London and Edinburgh and Glasgow, but the two services could work together.

  • It might be quicker to change at Preston to Grand Union, if you’re going to Stirling.
  • If Stirling to Aberdeen and/or Inverness were to be electrified, could classic-compatible High Speed Two trains go further North?
  • At the Southern end, places like Milton Keynes and Nuneaton will not be served by High Speed Two, but existing and Grand Union services could provide connections.
  • North of Crewe, it is planed that High Speed Two will run on an upgraded West Coast Main Line.

For reasons like this High Speed Two will need to be integrated with other services.

Conclusion

Grand Union will make services from London to Stirling and the Northern part of coitland netter and more competitive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 10, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Eden Project Morecambe Now ‘Certain’

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the Westmoreland Gazette.

I’ve always liked the Eden Project Morecambe and can’t see why it will not be as big a success, as its Cornish sister.

  • It has good transport links.
  • It could be served by battery electric trams or trains from the West Coast Main Line.
  • It is within an two hours ,of the large population centres of Blackpool, Liverpool, Manchester and North Lancashire.
  • It is a complimentary attraction to the Lake District.

But above all, it catches the mood of today’s world.

November 10, 2019 Posted by | World | , , , | 2 Comments