The Anonymous Widower

Improving Services To Lincoln

Lincoln is one of those places, where, companies have promised better train services for years and they’ve never appeared.

The Wikipedia entry for Lincoln station under Future Services reads like a catalogue of broken promises and very little progress.

I think that it is time to think out of the box to provide a better service for the City.

Sorting Out Newark

Newark is an important interchange to get good services to and from Lincoln.

Because of the notorious Newark Flat Crossing, the railways around the town need improving.

Currently there are two fast trains to and between Lincoln and London a day in both directions, an hourly service to Newark and various other random services.

To make matters worse, the change at Newark Northgate station is often fifteen minutes or so.

These pictures were taken as I changed trains at the station for Lincoln on a fine day.

Is an hourly single coach Class 153 train between Lincoln and Newark Northgate an adequate service?

There are other services to Newark Castle station, but the two stations are separated by the notorious flat junction at Newark, which slows services on the East Coast Main Line.

I think in a well-thought out solution, the following will be achieved.

  • Trains on the Nottingham to Lincoln  Line will pass Newark without inconveniencing trains on the East Coast Main Line, possibly by means of a flyover or a dive-under.
  • These trains would ideally call at both Newark stations.
  • Hopefully lifts and stairs will make the changebetween the two lines step-free.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a very unconventional solution to the problem.

Newark Northgate station could be closed and a flyover could take the Nottingham to Lincoln Line over the East Coast Main Line to the North of the town, where a new out-of-town station could be built, which had platforms on all lines and they were connected by lifts. I have called this arrangement A Four-Poster Station in the past.

The new station could also be a transport hub, with lots of car parking.

I changed twice at Newark Northgate today and in both instances I waited nearly fifteen minutes.

So why not just build a simple single-track flyover or dive-under and provide a comfortable electric shuttle bus between Northgate and Castle stations, that meets all trains and does the journey in less time, than the current wait?

Remember that Castle station is closer to the town centre.

It would be a cheaper flyover and the money saved might purchase some bigger new trains.

The service from Nottingham could even be run by tram-trains or like in Zwickau by diesel multiple units, which left the Nottingham to Lincoln Line at Castle station and then went walkabout in Newark.

The only certainty about the sorting of Newark, is that there are innumerable ways to do it and some could be unusual.

I doubt though, that we’ll see much improvement at Newark until after 2020.

The Great Northern And Great Eastern Joint Line

In Project Managers Having Fun In The East, I talked about hoe the Great Northern And Great Eastern Joint Line (GNGE) has been upgraded to be a valuable diversion route for freight trains travelling up and down the East Coast Main Line.

£230million has been spent to create a high-quality railway from Werrington Junction just North of Peterborough to Doncaster via Spalding, Sleaford and Lincoln.

Given the increasing traffic on the East Coast Main Line and the long wait for any relief in the shape of HS2 to Leeds, the North East and Scotland, I think we will see further development of the GNGE.

  • I reported in To Dive Or Fly At Werrington, how plans are ongoing to improve the Southern connection of the line to the East Coast Main Line.
  • The latest details on Werrington Junction are here on the Network Rail web site and talk about a 2020 completion.
  • Could a new Lincoln Avoiding Line be built, so that freight trains avoid going through Lincoln Central station and the level crossings?
  • The GNGE has lots of closed stations and some have been reopened in the last few years. Could more be reopened?

All these developments lead me to the conclusion, that there will be improved passenger services on the Peterborough to Doncaster route via Lincoln.

As the GNGE is now a high-class modern route, the single coach Class 153 train will be replaced by something like a two-car Class 158 train or Class 170 train.

The speeds of the three trains are.

  • Class 153 – 120 kph
  • Class 158 – 140 kph
  • Class 170 – 160 mph

As Inter-City 125s are released by the arrival of new Class 800 trains, could we even see shortened versions running between Kings Cross and Yorkshire via Peterborough, Lincoln and Doncaster? These magnificent trains certainly perform well on secondary routes, as anybody, who has ridden in the cab between Edinburgh and Inversion can testify.

I wonder what times a well-driven Class 170 train could achieve. Currently Peterborough to Lincoln takes eighty minutes and Lincoln to Doncaster takes two hours.

I estimate that a Class 170 train could do the journey between Lincoln and Peterborough in about an hour, which is about the fastest time that can be achieved changing at Newark.

An estimate for the time between Lincoln and Doncaster could be about ninety minutes.

All of this speed improvement could probably be obtained without any major infrastructure improvements, but updating Werrington Junction and creating a new Lincoln Avoiding Line would improve things further.

Faster connections to Doncaster and Peterborough would bring various benefits.

  • At Doncaster, it would give access to the East Coast Main Line services to the North East and Scotland.
  • From 2018, at Doncaster, it would give access to the the improved TransPennine services to Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Manchester Airport.
  • At Peterborough, it would give access to services to London, East Anglia and the South Midlands.
  • From 2018, at Peterborough, there will be a connection to Thameslink, to take passengers all over London and the South East.

Surely these connections will benefit Lincoln most, but a fast service to Peterborough would also do something to improve connectivity at places like Sleaford and Spalding.

I suspect that when the new East Midlands Franchise is announced next year or when suitable trains are procured, we will see significant speed, frequency and comfort improvements on this route.

Reinstating The Complete Great Northern And Great Eastern Joint Line

With the next East Anglian Franchise, it is rumoured that there will be a marked improvement in train services in the region with new and refurbished trains everywhere, running many more services.

One possibility, is that the Bramley Line to Wisbech will be served by passenger trains, as a network of local services are improved and created around Cambridge with expansion and development needs and its soon-to-be-two stations.

I think that the possibility exists that the line between March and Sleaford might be reinstated to give freight trains to and from Felixstowe, direct access to the GNGE to get to Doncaster, avoiding Peterborough and the East Coast Main Line South of Yorkshire.

If you look at Google Maps, then the old rail line is clearly visible for most of the way between March and Sleaford. However, Whitemoor Prison has been build over the route.

If this Southern part of the GNGE were to be reinstated, could we see passenger services between Cambridge and Lincoln?

I think we would, as the engine of growth that is Cambridge, would then be directly connected by train to all the cities and larger towns of East Anglia and Lincolnshire.

I should say, that just as London dominates the South East, I believe that Cambridge with all its skills, ambition and success will dominate the East of England.

Lincoln to Cambridge could be about ninety minutes using a fully developed GNGE, as opposed to two hours now.

Conclusions

I have come to the following occlusions.

  • The record of train companies in getting more direct services to Lincoln says a lot and I’d be very surprised if Lincoln sees more direct services to London.
  • Newark is a basket case and sorting it will be difficult and probably expensive
  • The best bet for improved services is to put faster trains on the upgraded Great Northern And Great Eastern Joint Line between Peterborough and Doncaster, which could mean Peterborough in an hour and Doncaster in ninety minutes from Lincoln.
  • The trains for this should be available in 2018.

In the long term, I can see benefits in connecting March and Sleaford.

Ironically, the GNGE was built to bring coal to East Anglia from Yorkshire and it could be used to bring freight between Felixstowe and the North, in an efficient ,manner.

The Victorians seem to have got the route of the GNGE correct.

Just as they did the Varsity Line and the Borders Railway.

 

 

August 4, 2016 - Posted by | Transport | , , , , ,

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