The Anonymous Widower

An Illustration That Ipswich In Sixty Is Possible

I went to football at Ipswich today.

The match was a bit mediocre, but the result was the right one and Grant Ward scored a delightful goal.

Usually, after a three o’oclock kick-off, I try to get the fast 17:09 train back to Liverpool Street, where it is scheduled to arrive at 18:19 after two stops at Manningtree and Colchester. I can’t ever remember this train ever being later than more than a couple of minutes.

Today, instead of the usual rake of Mark 3 coaches pulled by a Class 90 locomotive, the train was a Class 321 electric multiple unit. I suspect the change of train was due to engineering works on the line North of Ipswich and the fact that London-Norwich services were being run as two separate services; London-Ipswich and Ipswich-Norwich.

From Colchester, which was left on time, after a stop of perhaps three minutes, the train ran non-stop to London, probably at about an average speed of 100 mph or nearly so.

I didn’t notice any slackening of speed at Shenfield, and after just 59 minutes, the train was passing through Stratford.

We eventually stopped outside Liverpool Street to wait for a platform at 64 minutes and finally stopped in platform 10 at Liverpool Street station at 67 minutes, three  minutes ahead of schedule.

This article in the East Anglian Daily Times, is entitled Faster trains to Ipswich as part of new franchise.

This is said.

Rail journeys between Ipswich and London will take, on average, 64 minutes from the introduction of the new timetable in 2019 once new “Stadler Flirt” InterCity trains are introduced on trains to the capital. At present the average journey time is 73 minutes.

That is more than the stated aim of the Great Eastern rail campaign to have services running to Ipswich in 60 minutes – but Abellio Greater Anglia managing director Jamie Burles said the last four minutes could only be shaved off journey times once Network Rail has carried out improvement work to the line.

So it looks like Abellio aren’t that far from 64 minutes with a nearly thirty-year-old British Rail designed and built Class 321 train.

  • Judging by the smooth ride all the way, I suspect that most of the track and overhead wires is now to a good standard.
  • Perhaps a minute or so can be saved in each of the two stops, by the better acceleration, braking and door systems of the new Stadler Flirts.
  • Better signalling and control of trains at Liverpool Street would surely save a couple of minutes.

Having seen a full station at Ipswich, when I arrived for the match, I suspect that work needs to be done at that station, to create more capacity for Cambridge, Felixstowe, Lowestoft and Peterborough trains, so that London-Norwich services are not slowed by full platforms at Ipswich.

But overall, I’m led to the conclusion, that Jamie Burles statement is substantially correct.

I suspect that once all of the trains on the line are 100 mph trains, with a fast 100-0-100 mph profile for stops, that we’ll be approaching that 64 minute average for trains between Ipswich and London.

I suspect for the magic 60 minutes to be obtained consistently by all trains, that the following will have to be done.

  • Enough extra platform space is created at Ipswich so that London-Norwich and London-Lowestoft services have exclusive use of the current platforms 2 and 3.
  • All electrification on the Great Eastern Main Line needs to be of a high standard and capable of handling regenerative braking.
  • Crossrail needs to be fully integrated with longer distance East Anglian Services.
  • The Southend to Shenfield Line needs to be updated, so it can reliably present and accept trains to fit the schedule at Shenfield
  • All trains are either Stadler Flirts or ombardier Aventras, with perhaps a few 100 mph trains awaiting replacement.
  • Liverpool Street station has enough platforms for the longer trains.

I suspect too, that Network Rail will have to do some smaller work, like lengthening some platforms, adjusting the signalling and adding a crossover.

With some work North of Ipswich, I suspect that Norwich in Ninety will be implemented at the same time as Ipswich in Sixty.



August 27, 2016 - Posted by | Sport, Travel | ,


  1. Such a shame they can’t supply a reliable train service for the poor commuters.

    Who cares about 60 minutes! It’s only a few minutes less.

    All anyone wants on that line is a RELIABLE service!

    H x

    Comment by askthevetnurse | August 27, 2016 | Reply

  2. I’m certain that’s what Abellio want to. Coupled with a sixty minute service that will increase ridership and make them more profits.

    Incidentally, the stop at Colchester going to Ipswich today took nearly six minutes. The new trains with automatic doors will improve reliability and access for everybody, as there will be no step.

    In fact, I believe that most of the speed improvement will come from new trains, which should be more reliable than ones of a certain age.

    The overhead wires are another source of delay and they are being replaced now!

    Comment by AnonW | August 27, 2016 | Reply

  3. Certainly feasible, in particular in the down direction. Trains from London termini are usually a few minutes quicker to their first major stop than up trains, due to the conservative speed limit profile on approach designed to prevent Montparnasse* type accidents. E.g. Paddington – Reading 27 minutes; Reading – Paddington 30 minutes)

    * in the modern era two TGV’s overshot buffers, one ending up in the concourse, however the most infamous incident was in 1895 when the loco’ ended up in the street: –

    Comment by Mark Clayton | August 28, 2016 | Reply

    • In my view, all trains should be driven automatically and especially when they enter the terminus. If a driver is still retained and I think they should be so that drivers open and close the doors, which is the one thing, where the train is interfacing with beings over which the train crew have no control! So if it all goes pear-shaped, the driver just stops it all.

      The way the Victoria Line used to work when it was built, was that when the driver saw the doors were properly shut, he pressed a button and the train was moved automatically to the next station. The system has been running for over fifty years. It probably works in a similar way today.

      You could say that autoland on aircraft works the same way. The plane is generally landed automatically, whilst being monitored by the pilots. If they are not happy, they take control.

      On yesterday’s journey, auto approach and stopping at Liverpool Street would have saved two minutes.

      Comment by AnonW | August 28, 2016 | Reply

  4. […] In An Illustration That Ipswich In Sixty Is Possible, on the 27th August 2016, I travelled from Ipswich to London in just 67 minutes, in a Class 321 train of all things. […]

    Pingback by Making Sense Of The New East Anglia Franchise « The Anonymous Widower | August 28, 2016 | Reply

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