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 | , , , ,


  1. Just compare
    MML London to Sheffield 165miles 120 minutes
    ECML London to Doncaster 156 miles 94 minutes
    ECML London to York 188 miles 110 minutes

    Comment by Mark Clayton | July 8, 2016 | Reply

    • Interesting to look at the Doncaster figure. I reckon, if they electrified St. Pancras to Sheffield properly and used the four-track Erewash Valley Line as a High Speed diversion, that they could approach the 94 minutes of Doncaster, with 225 or even 250 kph trains.

      Remember that the MML is built on a large corridor with space for more tracks, unlike the West Coast Main Line. It’s problems are down to some of the stations like Leicester..

      I believe it would be possible to have a 250 kph line between Long Eaton and Sheffield, where the Northern twenty miles would be shared with HS2’s Sheffield spur.
      So does HS2’s idea of a spur to Sheffield, give Sheffield two high-speed lines for the price of one?

      What is probably more important for Sheffield is HS2’s connections to Birmingham and Newcastle.

      Comment by AnonW | July 8, 2016 | Reply

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