The Anonymous Widower

Are The Trains In Ely Finally To Be Sorted?

Railways in Ely must be a bit of a problem as they have their own section in Wikipedia.

This map shows the lines in the area.

Ely Lines

Ely Lines

This is a Google Map of the area.

ely

The current Ely station is towards the South-West corner, with the iconic cathedral to the North. The main line goes South-West to North-East across the map with Ely North Junction alongside the white chalky area in the North-East corner.

What suggested that I write this post was this article in the Eastern Daily Press, which is entitled Talks in Downham Market hear work to end East Anglia’s rail bottleneck at Ely could begin in three years’ time.

Reading the title, is a good summary of the article.

So what are the problems at Ely?

Ely Station

Ely station was not designed for efficient operation.

The following services call at the station.

  • Ipswich and Peterborough.
  • Cambridge and Norwich.
  • London, Cambridge and King Lynn.
  • Stansted Airport and Birmingham.
  • Norwich and Liverpool.

To make matters worse. the Norwich-Liverpool service has to reverse in the station.

Connectivity between services can be bad and I have read that passengers between Kings Lynn and Ipswich may have to wait up to nearly an hour for a connection.

Because the station has only three platforms, organising the trains into a sensible pattern, for train operators and passengers. must be a difficult process.

The station is not step-free and relies on long ramps to cross the lines.

The Low Road Bridge On The A142 At Ely Station

This is said in Wikipedia about the low bridge just to the North of the station.

The height available for road traffic passing beneath the bridge is only 9.0 feet (2.7 m) which is unusually low for a bridge over an A-road. Despite the various warnings, the limited headroom is a frequent cause of accidents.[12] High vehicles must use a level crossing next to the bridge.

East Anglia’s legendary bad drivers, who seem to find new ways to cause chaos on the railways, must have real fun with this crossing.

According to this article on the BBC web site, the bridge was hit twelve times in 2015/16.

This Google Map shows Ely station.

elystation

Note that the level crossing is closed.

The Large Number Of Freight Trains Between Felixstowe And Peterborough

In Along The Felixstowe Branch, I said that the number of trains on the Felixstowe Branch could rise to 47. Not all will come through Ely station, but there could be a couple of long container trains in both direction every hour.

Note.

  1. The number of freight trains will increase.
  2. These freight trains can be up to 775 metres long and the average length will grow.
  3. Hawk Bridge over the  Great Ouse on the Ipswich-Ely Line is only single-track, as is several miles of the line to Kennett station, where the Cambridge and Peterborough branches join.

All of these trains have to pass over the low bridge and through the level crossing.

Ely North Junction

Ely North Junction is a busy junction, where services to Kings Lynn, Norwich and Peterborough split.

This Google Map shows the junction.

elynorthjunction

 

Note the tracks come from Ely station to the South-West and split into three separate lines.

There is also.

  • A single-track loop line called the West Curve, that allows traius to go between Peterborough and Norwich.
  • A distribution depot by the junction.

One of the problems is that freight trains between Peterborough and Felixstowe pass on the Southern side of Ely station and need to cross the lines to connect to Peterborough.

Footpaths

Footpaths and where they cross the railway  are a sensitive issue in the Ely area. This document on the Network Rail web site, illustrates some of the problems.

This is said in the document.

The railway at this level crossing carries passenger and freight trains with a line speed of 60 mph. There are generally 194 trains passing throughthis level crossing per day.

That sounds like a recipe for a serious accident to me.

The Opening Of Cambridge North Station

The new Cambridge North station is scheduled to open on the 21st May, 2017 and will initially be just a stop on all services passing through.

The Cambridge Effect

Cambridge is successful and overflowing.

Towns and cities like Bury St. Edmunds, Ely, Haverhill, Huntington, Newmarket and Peterborough will increasingly find that they become satellites of the East Anglian Mega-Powerhouse.

These towns and cities will need good transport links to Cambridge.

Rail links to both Cambridge and Cambridge North stations will be important.

The New Greater Anglia Franchise

Greater Anglia have published plans that will affect Ely.

  • They will run an hourly service between Peterborough and Colchester via Bury St. Edmunds and Ipswich to replace the current less frequent service between Peterborough and Ipswich.
  • They will run an hourly service between Norwich and Stansted Airport  to replace the current less frequent service between Norwich and Cambridge.
  • I have also read somewhere, that Greater Anglia would like to run a direct service between Cambridge North and Ipswich via Bury St. Edmunds.
  • Fordham and Soham stations could be reopened.

Some of these changes will put more pressure on Ely, but they will have two very beneficial effects.

  • A North-facing bay platform will be released at Cambridge station.
  • There will be two trains per hour (tph) between Kennett and Ipswich via Bury St. Edmunds.

I suspect that Greater Anglia will bring in other changes.

The Reopening Of March To Spalding Via Wisbech

Network Rail has spent £330million on upgrading the Great Northern Great Eastern Joint Railway into a freight link between Peterborough and Doncaster, which I wrote about in Project Managers Having Fun In The East.

It might never happen, but why shouldn’t the route be extended from Spalding to March on the Peterbough-Ely Line via Wisbech?

This would open up two main possibilities.

  • Freight trains between Felixstowe and Doncaster would avoid the East Coast Main Line to the South of Doncaster.
  • A passenger service from Cambridge to Wisbech could be opened.

Other longer distance passenger services might be viable.

The East West Rail Link

The East West Rail Link will provide a new route from Cambridge to the West, via a new Cambridge South station.

It will add to the numbers of passenger trains through Ely, as services will probably go from Oxford to Norwich and Ipswich via all three Cambridge stations.

But will the East West Rail Link be used to route freight trains between Felixstowe and Wales and the West?

A Proposed Ely North Station

I have found this article on the Ely Standard web site, which is entitled Could railway revolution see new station built at Ely North?.

The article says a new four-platform station would allow.

  • Two tph on the Fen Line
  • Connections reduced to no more than eight minutes.
  • The introduction of a Kings Cross to Norwich service.

The new station would probably have the following.

  • More passenger-friendly features.
  • A lot more car parking.
  • Good walking access to the City Centre.
  • Trains between Norwich and Liverpool would stop in the station and would use the West Curve to avoid reversing in the station.

With all the water in the area, there must be scope for an architecturally excellent station.

From a project management view, this station is a good idea.

  • It could probably be built fairly easily without causing too much interruption to current services, as Cambridge North station seems to have been.
  • Once open, the current Ely station could be demolished or simplified.
  • The low bridge and the level crossing could then be replaced with a modern traffic underpass capable of handling trucks.
  • Ely Dock Junction and the lines South of the City could be remodelled to speed the freight trains through the area.

There might even be a dive-under to simplify operations.

I have no idea if the good people of Ely will like the idea of a new station.

Conclusion

The extra freight traffic and the published plans of the Greater Anglia franchise will mean, that substantial work will have to be done at Ely.

  • Network Rail have a long term ambition of dualling the whole route between Ely and Kennett including Hawk Bridge over the Great Ouse, which would certainly ease the problems of the freight trains.
  • A new Ely North station may be created.
  • Closing the level crossing and creating an underpass for traffic at Ely station, would be an obvious thing to do, but could this be done without closing the railway for several months? Construction companies could always use the technique they did at Silver Street station in the 1990s, to get the North Circular Road under that station.
  • Eventually, there will be a need for a chord at Ely Dock Junction, so that trains can go direct from Cambridge to the Ipswich to Ely Line without a reverse in Ely station.

I’ll be interested to see what Network Rail propose.

 

January 28, 2017 - Posted by | Travel | , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] I looked at this in Are The Trains In Ely Finally To Be Sorted? […]

    Pingback by Greater Anglia’s Ten Point Wish List « The Anonymous Widower | February 9, 2017 | Reply


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