The Anonymous Widower

Does Sheffield Need A Super High Speed Line To London?

I ask this question because HS2 was put forward in the days, when brute force and high speed was the only way to get fast journey times.

In this article on the BBC, which is entitled HS2 South Yorkshire route change threatens new estate, the following is stated.

  • 120 mins – Fastest existing Sheffield to London service
  • 79 mins – Fastest Sheffield to London service via HS2

I have not seen any details as to how fast conventional trains could do Sheffield to London, but we do have some useful figures from the Great Eastern Main Line, which I wrote about in Could Class 387 Trains Do Norwich In Ninety And Ipswich In Sixty? I came to the conclusion that a 200 kph Aventra with modest track improvements could reduce the current 120 minutes to ninety.

Compare the Great Eastern Main Line (GEML) with the Midland Main Line (MML)

The GEML is about 180 km long and fully electrified, with only two tracks except South of Shenfield and a 160 kph line speed.

The MML is about 250 km long and not electrified past Bedford, with generally more than two tracks and quite a bit of 200 kph running.

The MML has a lot of potential for improvement.

  • In several places there is space to add extra tracks and improve junctions.
  • A fully-developed Erewash Valley Line, could possibly be used as a higher-speed diversion, avoiding the line through the Derwent Valley, which is a World Heritage Site.
  • The MML is currently being electrified.
  • Modern electric trains with regenerative braking would speed stops on the MML.
  • Some of the stations on the MML, could be rebuilt to speed trains through.
  • This is just the sort of line for which the Digital Railway could have a large positive affect.

I feel that after the line is fully electrified and upgraded between London and Sheffield, that there could be a big improvement in journey times.

I do wonder if the revised plan for HS2 to serve Sheffield, , has come about because engineers have been able to devise a plan to improve the MML, that has created enough capacity from Clay Cross to Sheffield, to allow HS2 to share.

In HS2 Does The Right Thing In Sheffield, I postulated that if the MML from Clay Cross, where it bis joined by HS2 to Sheffield, were to be built to HS2 standards, when it was electrified, then this would have benefits for both lines.

  • HS2 trains could approach Sheffield, using the sort of speed profile, they’d use into other stations.
  • 200+ kph trains on the MML would knock a few minutes off schedules.
  • Any extra tracks would probably fit on railway land.
  • Chesterfield station could be rebuilt to accept HS2 trains.

There would be a large saving in costs, as only two tracks would be built. They would also be built when the MML is electrified.

We might not see trains on the classic route between London and Sheffield do the trip in the 79 minutes of HS2, but they would certainly be some minutes quicker than the two hours of today.


July 7, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

HS2 Does The Right Thing At Sheffield

In HS2 Does The Right Thing At Leeds, I put my case for HS2 stations to be in City Centres, so that when passengers arrived, they could use all the current and often well-developed local trains and trams to get to their ultimate destination.

I said this.

I don’t like the concept of most of the HS2 stations.

Euston, isn’t too bad, as the HS2 platforms are alongside those for the main station and I suspect that when and if I see it in reality, I will be able to arrive in the station on perhaps a London Midland train from Bletchley or Tring and just walk across to the HS2 platforms.

At some of our better interchange stations like Reading, to change trains, you go up escalators to a wide overbridge and then walk across to the escalator for the platform of your departing train. The design also allows seats and cafes in a totally non-claustrophobic environment. I have a feeling that the new London Bridge will raise the bar of this type of station even higher!

To my mind the designs for HS2 station at Birmingham is absolute rubbish and truly terrible. Birmingham is developing a local train, tram and bus network centred on New Street station, so instead of HS2 arriving into this hub, it arrives at a separate station some distance away and many passengers will have to get a tram to connect to their ongoing service.

After seeing the light at Leeds and proposed something much more sensible, HS2 has now done a similar thing at Sheffield.

This article on the BBC explains it all.

  • HS2 will now serve the main Sheffield station.
  • HS2 will now pass to the East of Rotherham.
  • HS2 will reach Sheffield on classic lines from a junction near Clay Cross and via Chesterfield.
  • Sheffield City Council say the new route will create 6,500 more jobs in Sheffield.
  • The old route might have created congestion around Meadowhall.

This map shows the new and the old routes.

HS2 Through South Yorkshire

HS2 Through South Yorkshire

The yellow route is the old one and the blue one is the new one.

Note how the on the map it says “Link to Sheffield Midland on Existing Railway”

I have followed this route on Google Maps and with the exception of perhaps Chesterfield station, there would appear to be space to get four tracks from the junction at Clay Cross to Sheffield station. There also appears to be few houses close to the line, which seems to be in a wooded corridor between industrial premises.

Good planning says that this line should be upgraded and Chesterfield station should be remodelled, when the Midland Main Line (MML) is electrified.

Is this one of the reasons, that HS2 has chosen this route and moved the station from Meadowhall to Sheffield?

Clay Cross to Sheffield is about twenty miles and if two tracks were rebuilt or added to the MML, to HS2 standards, it would have the following benefits.

  • HS2 trains could approach Sheffield, using the sort of speed profile, they’d use into other stations.
  • 200 kph trains on the MML would knock a few minutes off schedules.
  • Any extra tracks would probably fit on railway land.
  • Chesterfield station could be rebuilt to accept HS2 trains.

There would be a large saving in costs, as only two tracks would be built. They would also be built when the MML is electrified.

Unfortunately, this change of route will cause problems as the BBC article explains.

It’s a pity they didn’t lay down a few objectives at the start of the detailed design of HS2.

One of which would have been, that HS2 should access existing well-developed stations if possible.


July 7, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , | 2 Comments

How To Move 100,000 Containers A Year Between Germany And China

This article on Global Rail News is entitled DB and Georgian Railways to cooperate on new Silk Road rail corridor.

It described how Deutsche Bahn and Georgian Railways have signed an agreement to develop a new rail freight route between the Far East and Europe.

This map from the article, shows the various rail routes across Eurasia and how the new Silk Road will fit in.

DB transports more container by train between China and Germany

DB transports more container by train between China and Germany

I think the most interesting thing about the new route, is that it doesn’t go through Russia.

Vladimir Putin will not be amused!

If you read the Wikipedia entry for Georgian Railways, it does list a few problems, but it would appear that the route across Georgia is being upgraded to Standard Gauge all the way from the Turkish border to Almaty in Kazakhstan.

With Germany, Turkey and Europe at the Western end and China at the Eastern end both predominately Standard Gauge, I think that this route will be all the same gauge.

When this happens, trains will be able to go straight through, with perhaps just a change of locomotive.

How long will it be before, an enthusiastic entrepreneur starts to run a passenger service between Europe and China. Trans-Siberian Express eat your heart out!

Vladimir Putin will be even less amused!

If DB can build the Standard Gauge railway through to China via Georgia, it will give the following benefits.

  • Services will be faster than the Russian routes.
  • There will no change of gauge, which means unloading one train and loading another.
  • If the line is electrified, this will make the route more efficient.
  • Freight will move smoothly across Asia avoiding the pariah that is Russia.
  • The route avoids the more volatile parts of the Middle East.
  • Countries on the route like Serbia, Turkey, Georgia and Kazahkstan will surely benefit.
  • The route will surely be more accessible to Southern European countries, than the current Russian routes.

It is undoubtedly a good plan.

July 7, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

I Am Totally Against Brexit, But Read This!

York Potash are developing a potash mine in you’ve guessed it! – Yorkshire.

This article from the Gazette Live is entitled Work on York Potash mine which could employ 1,000 due to start in September.

This can’t be bad news, as every new job on Teesside is needed. This is also said.

Costs for the project “have moved in our favour”, Mr Fraser told the newspaper. “We are a dollar asset but a big part of the costs will be [paid in] sterling [for] labour… With lower sterling, we will be in a stronger position.”

In the end, I suspect that whether or not we leave Europe, the result will not be a disaster for the country.

The dollar will continue to call the shots, as it moves towards being the universal world currency.

July 7, 2016 Posted by | Business, World | , , | 2 Comments

Help From The Germans

I want to go to Sudbury today, so to find the times of the trains, I tried to look them from Shenfield to Sudbury on the National Rail web site.

But the site was having an off day.

So I used the alternative of the Deutsche Bahn web site.

Shenfield To Sudbury By Deutsche Bahn

Shenfield To Sudbury By Deutsche Bahn

As you can see it worked. As it does with all European trains!

So if you want to go from Zaragosa to Geneva say, it will give you the route and details.

It even has Llanfairpwll station in the database and looking up the journey to there for Cologne, it even estimates twenty-five minutes for the walk between St. Pancras and Euston.

It is a very comprehensive free service.


July 7, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , | 1 Comment