The Anonymous Widower

The Railways East Of Nottingham

As an engineer, I’m always of the view that a lot of engineers, do the jobs they do because they like creating things on the one hand and because it’s great fun on the other.

Although, I’ve been much more in a support role to engineers in many varied industries, I’ve loved the solving of problems and the creating of products all my working life. It might have been stressful at times, but it has been tremendous fun!

It strikes me that the rail projects centred on Nottingham in the last few years, have been done well and with a great deal of style and innovation.

There has been a lot of them in recent years.

Network Rail are following these with other projects in the area.

Only the Ilkeston station project has started, although not much trackwork needs to be done for the two new routes.

There would appear to be little work either done or proposed to the East of Nottingham.

But that would ignore the big project about thirty miles to the East – the updating of the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Railway (GNGE). I wrote about that project in Project Managers Having Fun In The East.

Effectively, £230million has been spent to create a high-quality line for freight between Doncaster and Peterborough, so that there is a higher capacity for passenger services on the East Coast Main Line.

So what could happen in the area?

Poor Lincoln – Level Crossings

I say poor Lincoln, as the city has suffered for years because there is a busy level crossing used by very large numbers of people, vehicles and trains, right in the centre of the City on the High Street. This article from the Lincolnite talks about the start of a £12m project to create two footbridges over the railway. Reading the comments to the article is an informative exercise.

If you want to read more about this project, there are more details on this page on Network Rail’s web site.

This Google Map shows the two level crossings to the West of Lincoln Central station.

Lincoln Level Crossings

Lincoln Level Crossings

As an East West relief road is also being built, according to this article in the Linconite, the two projects might improve the problems in the City centre for a few years.

Before I leave the level crossings at Lincoln, take a look at this article from Rail Magazine. This is said about the level crossings.

Early Network Rail figures suggest that by 2030, with all freight paths being used and all East Anglian ports running at maximum capacity, the barriers in Lincoln could potentially be down for 40 minutes in every hour. The resulting road traffic problems are likely to increase local discontent.

So something serious must be planned for the future.

Poor Lincoln – Passenger Services

Lincoln also deserves sympathy for the poor passenger service that the City has to connect it with the rest of the UK. By comparison, Norwich is perhaps fifty percent bigger than Lincoln, but has a half-hourly service to Ipswich and London, and an hourly service to Cambridge.

Lincoln has an hourly shuttle to Newark and a few direct trains to London. There is also an irregularly-timed shuttle to Newark for London trains.

I think a city with the population and status of Lincoln deserves better.

North and South Through Lincoln

I have read the Route Utilisation Strategy (RUS) for the East Midlands and searched it for references to Lincoln. Two sections are of note. This is said in the RUS.

In addition, the interaction between passenger services terminating at Lincoln and freight trains passing through the station area has been identified by the RUS as a constraint to future growth. The RUS recommends that the  great Northern/Great Eastern (GN/GE) Joint Line scheme, which will provide additional capacity between Peterborough and Doncaster (via Spalding) in CP4, considers whether or not combining terminating services at Lincoln (to create more through services and reduce congestion in the station area) would free up sufficient capacity to accommodate growth.

With my scheduling hat on, I think this simple matter of joining services together could give some needed additional paths to improve passenger services. In many places in the UK, like Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London, this has been done to provide cross-city services, that release platform space in the station.

This was also said about improving services between Lincoln and Peterborough.

Peterborough and Lincoln by providing an improved service using existing resources once the upgrade of the GN/GE Joint Line has been completed.

After the upgrade of the GNGE, I wonder if any changes have been made to the passenger services between Peterborough, Lincoln and Doncaster.

I think not!

From my travels in Germany, the Peterborough to Doncaster and/or Sheffield/Meadowhall via Lincoln, is just the sort of route on which the Germans would run a regional service.

I think the RUS is hoping that someone will do this, but it would seem it’s just the same old slow service.

There may have been an improvement between Lincoln and Peterborough, as the service is roughly hourly and takes eighty minutes with four stops. There may be an improvement to come, when Werrington Junction, where the GNGE joins the East Coast Main Line, is improved. I wrote about this junction in To Dive Or Fly At Werrington.

But if you look at the services from Lincoln and Doncaster, some go direct in forty seven minutes and others go to everywhere in Yorkshire and take over two hours.

Lincoln To Nottingham via Newark

To improve services between Lincoln and Nottingham, the RUS recommends doing something about the notorious flat junction at Newark, which is best described as a cross roads, where a B-road crosses a motorway. This is said.

Of the remainder, the RUS recommends that the provision of a flyover at Newark is further developed in CP4 to refine the infrastructure costs and potential benefits. It is recognised that the development of the East Coast Main Line Intercity Express Programme service requirements beyond those proposed for LDHS services from May 2011, combined with freight growth beyond 18 freight trains per day on the east – west corridor, may drive the requirement for the flyover in CP5.

I have now looked at this Victorian railway relic in The Newark Crossing


Local Services Between Nottingham And The East

As I said earlier, Network Rail and the various local councils have done a lot of work to give Nottingham a first class tram systems and Nottingham station has been upgraded to accept extra services. They are now starting to improve services to the West and North.

So what will happen to services to the East of the city?

There are rumours about tram-trains being introduced in Nottingham and this is said in the section on Future Routes in the Wikipedia entry for the Nottingham Express Transit.

The document raised the possibility of tram-train lines from Nottingham to Gedling and/or Bingham, and to Ilkeston.

Gedling is on the line to Newark and Bingham is on the line to Grantham.

So one option would be to use tram-trains on the routes to Newark and Grantham, where the services run into the city as far as Bingham and Gedling as trains and then run as trams, to join the main tram network at either Nottingham station or some other convenient point.

One interesting observation is that as tram-trains can take much tighter curves than trains, is that a Nottingham to Newark tram-train might be able to call at Newark Castle, then cross the East Coast Main Line and then do a tight turn to call in the bay platform at Newark North Gate station before reversing and going on to Lincoln. This Google Map shows the Newark Crossing in detail.

Newark Crossing Close-Up

Newark Crossing Close-Up

It is a very crowded place, but there may just be space for a tram-train coming from Nottingham to turn and go to Newark North Gate. It would appear to be no tighter than the Tinsley curve that will be used by Sheffield’s tram-trains to Rotherham.

Going the other way from the spur to Nottingham, might be more difficult, but I think it would be possible.

So could using tram-trains to Lincoln, give that city a much better service to and from Nottingham, but also take some pressure off the design of any solution at Newark?

I would suspect that if tram-trains went to Newark/Lincoln and Grantham, there would be a half-hourly service to and from Nottingham.

The Class 399 tram-train would also provide a faster service than the current trains.

Conclusion On The Newark Crossing

I only come to one conclusion about the solution to the Newark Crossing. Everybody should prepare for the unexpected.



September 12, 2015 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , ,

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