The Anonymous Widower

Sainsburys Put Their Money On Crossrail

With the exception of the Tesco Extra at Goodmayes, the large Waitrose at West Ealing and the large Sainsburys at Whitechapel, Crossrail stations aren’t generally very close to large superstores, although at least nine are near to big shopping streets or centres.

As all stations and trains will be step-free, I’m surprised that we aren’t seeing more large supermarkets built close to stations.

But according to this article in the South London Press, Sainsburys have now opened a superstore by the Crossrail terminus at Abbey Wood.

Opening large supermarkets may be out of fashion, but I don’t think that the Abbey Wood Sainsburys will be the last on the line.

July 31, 2015 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

The View From Platform 1 At Birmingham Moor Street Station

Birmingham Moor Street station is one of my favourite stations, as it is rather a unique restoration and enlargement of an old Great Western Railway station.

I hope the restoration for Crossrail of Hanwell and West Drayton station please me as much.

My train was leaving from Platform 1, so I took these pictures whilst I waited.

Platform 1 and 2 are either side of the lines to Birmingham Snow Hill station and were opened in the 1980s and when the station was enlarged later the buildings were matched to the original terminus, which is Grade 2 Listed

The low-flying barrage balloon in most of these pictures is Birmingham’s Selfridge store.

July 31, 2015 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | Leave a comment

A Short Trip On Birmingham’s Cross-City Line

The Cross-City Line In Birmingham, which runs from Lichfield to Redditch is the city’s equivalent of one of London’s Overground lines. It operates on similar principles, with a frequent service run by modern electric trains.

As I found myself at Five Ways station on the line, I thought I’d take a short tip to somewhere the other side of the city, before returning to New Street for my trip back to London from Moor Street.

I took these pictures on the journey.

I went as far as Gravelly Hill station, which is just past the infamous Spaghetti Junction, where the M5, M6 and A38 meet.

July 31, 2015 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , | Leave a comment

Walking The Route Of The Midland Metro Line One Extension

I’ve walked the Line One Extension of the Midland Metro between New Street and Snow Hill stations before, but I’ve never walked the proposed extension as far as Five Ways. I took these pictures on the route.

The Extension was planned to be opened to Centenary Square in 2017 and to Brindleyplace, Five Ways and Egdbaston later. Nothing much seems to be happening past New Street station, except for some utility works, which must be sorted before tram tracks and station are put over the top.

The walk is fairly easy, but the last section around Five Ways and to Five Ways station was designed using Birmingham’s 1960s philosophy of deling with traffic and pedestrians, that I’ve seen going to Birmingham City several times – Pedestrians should be channelled into dangerous areas, so they are run over and killed. This would of course make it less likely a driver will damage his car, by hitting one.

Birmingham could do a lot worse than extend the tram to Five Ways. Some of the running routes would be challenging and Birmingham’s many drivers would probably object, but if they want more visitors to the City, surely it is a price worth paying?

I do wonder about the costs of extending tram lines, as opposed to building new ones. Obviously, some costs like new trams and getting power to the trams will be minimised, but you’ve still got the costs of actually putting in the rails and divering utilities.

July 31, 2015 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Electrification Of Britain’s Railways Isn’t Easy

There are a lot of reports in the media talking about the delays in electrifying railways in the UK, like this report in the Yorkshire Post, which talks about the Trans Pennine and Midland Main Line schemes.

I have just found this report in the Rail Engineer, which talks about a forty-four day closure of the important Winchburgh Tunnel between Edinburgh and Glasgow to prepare for electrification as part of the Edinburgh Glasgow Improvement Program. The report starts with this paragraph.

A legacy of the rapid early growth of Britain’s railway network is that the UK has one of the world’s most restrictive loading gauges. As a result, typically half of the cost of British electrification projects is the civil engineering work to adapt structures to provide clearance for wires and pantographs.

As anybody who’s ever got to grips with any old building, what it looks like on the surface is very different to what is underneath.

The project described in the article is challenging to say the least. This extract describes the building of the tunnel.

Winchburgh tunnel lies at the eastern end of a five- kilometre long cutting. It is 338 metres long and was opened in 1842, having taken two years to complete. When digging the cuttings and tunnel, the contractor, Gibb and Sons, removed 200,000 tons more rock than expected and consequently made a loss.

The tunnel was cut through dolerite rock, mudstone and shale. In the middle on the nineteenth century, these oil shale deposits once made West Lothian one of the world’s biggest oil producers. This shale was also a factor in an unfortunate accident during tunnel construction in 1839 when a man was severely burnt by firedamp.

The cutting is crossed by two streams, west of the tunnel. A twin four-foot diameter cast-iron inverted syphon was provided to carry Myers Burn under the railway. Swine Burn crosses the cutting on an aqueduct that had to be re-decked as part of the EGIP electrification works. Downstream of the aqueduct is a pumping station, which drains the cutting west of the tunnel. This is an area with significant drainage issues, some of which are addressed by the tunnel works.

So making it large enough for electrification wasn’t easy. As is typical on a project such as this, concrete slab track was used. You don’t see it much on UK railways, as where it is used is generally in tunnels and other places, where you have tight clearances.

In the Winchburgh tunnel slab track was used and they are also using an overhead rail system to get the power to the train.

In searching for a good article about slab track, I found this article on Balfour Beatty’s Rail web site, which is entitled Polyurethane Slab Track.

Balfour Beatty have worked with Herriot Watt University to create a method of using polyurethane to create a method for strengthening track in awkward places.

One example describes how a bridge was improved to cope with modern loads.

While George Stephenson was a forward thinker, even he didn’t predict freight trains running at 80mph with 25 tonne axle loads over his bridge. So he hadn’t calculated for those stresses. The bridge has done a good job of coping with them for 190 years, but it was getting a bit tired. 

The article also highlights that Network Rail has 25,000 masonry arches, so you can see why there must be a need for such a technique.

The technique has also been used to increase the headrom for electrification in a tunnel on the Midland Main Line.

It’s all impressive engineering.




July 31, 2015 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | Leave a comment