The Anonymous Widower

Electrification May Be In Trouble Elsewhere, But The Brummies Keep Marching On

Electrification may well be in trouble with the Government delaying Trans Pennine and Midland Main Line electrification and having a strong look at that on the Great Western Main Line.

So I was interested to read this article in Rail Engineer about how a consortium is electrifying the Chase Line between Walsall and Rugeley. This is the first three paragraphs.

With electrification being high on everybody’s consciousness, the schemes to electrify the Great Western and Midland main lines have been getting all the attention. Similarly, the works in the North West and Scotland have been proceeding apace and gaining publicity but the scheme to electrify the railway from Walsall to Rugeley has managed to stay ‘under the radar’.

The scheme is, in fact, a significant step in the direction of developing the public transport system in the West Midlands by improving services on what was a relatively-forgotten part of the network. Due to be completed by December 2017, the project will allow electric trains to run between Birmingham New Street and Rugeley via the Cannock lines, providing passengers with a more reliable, efficient and greener service.

In fact, the scheme will revitalise a line which, not so many years ago, had no regular passenger services at all.

It goes on to describe how the scheme is progressing with a lot of cooperation between the various parties and not much of the usual drama.

So it would seem that not all electrification projects end up in trouble.

I shall go and take a look!

There is one fly in the ointment, though and it is detailed here in Wikipedia. This is relevant paragraph.

Gavin Williamson, Conservative MP for South Staffordshire, has campaigned to limit the speed of trains through Great Wyrley and Cheslyn Hay when the line is complete. He has written to transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin, requesting confirmation that trains travelling through these areas will not exceed a speed of 45 mph. He has also requested that “environmental mitigation measures” be put in place to reduce the potential impact of the electrification on residents in South Staffordshire. Network Rail had previously said that electric trains are quieter, greener and cleaner, reducing carbon emissions.

So, if in the future, you are fed up with your electric train crawling along, send your complaints to the local MP.

July 27, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , | 6 Comments

Whitechapel Station – 27th July 2015

Last Friday I took several pictures at Whitechapel station. They included this one looking down into the Overground station from the bridge between the two Metropolitan/District line platforms.

You Don't See Much Looking Down

I titled it You Don’t See Much Looking Down, which as you’re looking through wired glass at an angle is true. Today, I took this picture from the same place.

The Same View Today

If you look up, you’ll see steelwork erected behind the retaining wall of the station. All hopefuly will be revealed on Wednesday morning.

Whilst at the station, I took a few pictures from the Westbound Metropolitan/District line platform.

It’s almost as the builders of the station are teasingly revealing their new creation, in an elaborate striptease.

July 27, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

Network Rail’s Problems In Oxford

Oxford is going to be a big rail hub with  over the next few years the following projects being completed or at least underway.

1. Chiltern Railways from Oxford Parkway to Oxford station. Services to Oxford Parkway station will start on October 26th 2015, with services to Oxford city centre starting in spring 2016. I’ll believe the last part of that, when a Chiltern Railways train takes me to Oxford. When I visited in March 2015, little seemed to be happening at Oxford station in preparation for the arrival of this service.

2. Oxford station to be substantially upgraded with more platforms and possibly two island platforms for through trains. Again in March 2015, little seemed to be happening.

3. Chiltern Railways from Oxford station to the Science Park on the Cowley branch.

4. Electrification between Didcot and Oxford.

5. The creation of the East-West Rail Link

But according to the August 2015 of Modern Railways, they are having severe problems in the area North of the station, which I explored in a walk in March 2015. This is said.

On top of that, there is a hint of exasperation with the local authorities about the glacial pace of the planning process:  it took two and a half years to get approval for a pedestrian crossing to replace a footbridge for Chiltern’s mew line to the city centre, because allotment holders used to wheeling barrows of compost across the line were complaining about the new up-and-down route they would have to take over the bridge. New railway staff accomodation in Oxford is mired in similar planning mud.

Cambridge have upgraded their railways in recent years, and although they have had delays on the new Cambridge North station, there doesn’t seem to have been the same planning mud.

The question has to be asked if the good burghers of Oxford would prefer that money was spent on improving transport infrastructure in more welcoming places. The writer obviously feels strongly as he goes on to say this.

While not wishing to stand in the way of democracy , Network Rail is pointing out that there is a window of opportunity for modernising the route to Oxford that could be lost unless local authorities embrace it wholeheatedly. With NR’s spending plans under pressure, there is a danger that Oxford will be put in the “too difficult” pigeonhole and the caravan will move on. Then it would really be back to the 1970s, with changing at Didcot becoming the best option to reach Paddington at some times of day.

I had a friend who lived in Oxford and he used to say that the Council liked to keep cars out of the City. Perhaps, it is more fundamental than that, and the Council would prefer to keep everybody out of the city, so they can continue to lead their cloistered lives, untroubled by the Twentieth Century, let alone the twenty-first.

Do the same people, who blame Network Rail for their well-documented problems, like these at Oxford and those at Manchester, fully support the improvements in the first place or do they really want money to be spent on their own pet projects?

We certainly need a planning system that allows people to air their views and protest, but also one that takes more account of the good of the majority after all contra-arguments have been rejected.

July 27, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 3 Comments