The Anonymous Widower

Cambridge Should Have A Metro System Like Barcelona

This was the title on this article in the Cambridge News.

This map shows the proposition.

It is probably a reasonable aspiration for the city, but the plan proposed would be very expensive, as the proposer suggests a tunnel under Cambridge.

In Making Sense Of The New East Anglia Franchise, I had a section entitled A Cambridge Metro. Some of this post is an update of the previous one.

So what do we know is actually happening?

Cambridge’s £750Million City Deal

This article in the Cambridge News is entitled Three new train stations and £750m City Deal projects to fuel Cambridge public transport revolution.

These rail improvements are mentioned in the article.

  • New stations at Addenbrooke’s, Cherry Hinton and Fulbourn.
  • Cambridge to Kings Lynn service increase from one to two trains per hour (tph)
  • Two tph to Stansted.
  • March to Wisbech rail reinstatement.
  • Cambridge to Ipswich service increase to two tph
  • East Coast Main Line rail capacity improvements between Huntingdon and Peterborough
  • A new station at Alconbury on the East Coast Main Line.
  • Reinstate the ‘Newmarket west curve’ to allow direct services to run between Ely and the new station at Soham to Newmarket and Cambridge.
  • Double tracking of railway line between Ely and Soham.

Cambridge is bursting and needs more local transport systems and the City Deal and other funding recognises that!

 

Services Through Cambridge

Within a few years, all of these services will arrive at one or all of Cambridge, Cambridge North and the proposed Cambridge South stations.

  • Greater Anglia from Ipswich
  • Greater Anglia from Liverpool Street
  • Greater Anglia from Norwich
  • EastMidlands Trains and CrossCountry from Peterborough
  • Greater Anglia and Crossountry from Stansted Airport
  • East West Rail Link from Bedford, Milton Keynes and Oxford
  • Great Northern from Kings Cross
  • Great Northern from Kings Lynn
  • Thameslink from Brighton
  • Thameslink from Maidstone East
  • Thameslink from St. Pancras

Cambridge is taking over the world. Or at least making it a much better place!

Cambridge Crossrail?

These services could be organised, so they ran more efficiently.

Consider.

  • Perhaps they could call at Cambridge South, Cambridge, Cambridge North and Ely stations in an appropriate order as they pass through the City in a North-South direction.
  • It might be better if services from the South were run back-to-back with services from the North.
  • Greater Anglia are already proposing a Norwich-Stansted Airport service.
  • Great Northern already run a Kings Lynn-Kings Cross service.
  • Cambridge has four bay platforms for terminating trains.
  • Cambridge North station  will have a South-facing bay platform.
  • Ely station has had a South-facing bay platform

I think it very likely that after a meeting in one of Cambridge’s excellent real ale hostelries, a very adequate core service can be developed through Cambridge.

Could this core service do for Cambridge, what other Cross-City services have done for Berlin, Birmingham, Leipzig, Liverpool, Newcastle and Paris?

On published plans the following will be running in a year or so, between Ely and the site of Cambridge South station.

  • 1 train per hour (tph) between Norwich and Stansted Airport
  • 1 tph between Birmingham and Stansted Airport
  • 1 tph between Kings Cross and Kings Lynn.

In addition Thameslink will have 2 tph between Cambridge North and Brighton via St. Pancras and London Bridge, so the three Cambridge stations could have a 5 tph connection.

The Bombardier Aventra

Greater Anglia have ordered 89 five-car and 22 ten-car Aventras and they obviously have plans to use them all efficiently.

The Aventra has a slightly unusual and innovative electrical layout.

This article in Global Rail News from 2011, which is entitled Bombardier’s AVENTRA – A new era in train performance, gives some details of the Aventra’s electrical systems. This is said.

AVENTRA can run on both 25kV AC and 750V DC power – the high-efficiency transformers being another area where a heavier component was chosen because, in the long term, it’s cheaper to run. Pairs of cars will run off a common power bus with a converter on one car powering both. The other car can be fitted with power storage devices such as super-capacitors or Lithium-Iron batteries if required.

This was published six years ago, so I suspect Bombardier have improved the concept.

It looks like the length and capacity of a ten-car Aventra is equivalent to that of a twelve-car formation of Class 317Class 321 or Class 360 trains.

So on a rough estimate the Aventras are equivalent  to about 200 four-car units.

Currently Greater Anglia have 170 four-car electric trains, ignoring the Class 379 trains, which will be replaced by Stadler Flirts.

Greater Anglia appear to have increased the fleet by the equivalent of thirty four-car trains or another twenty five-car Aventras than they would need to replicate current services.

When you consider that for some of their routes, the faster and quicker-stopping Aventras, should provide current service with fewer trains, you wonder what Greater Anglia are going to do with these spare trains?

Bombardier’s concept of a pair of cars sharing the electrical components, that I indicated earlier, is a good one from an engineering point of view.

It shares the weight of heavy components and would allow a weighty high-capacity energy storage device to be easily installed, to give sufficient range to go between say Ely and Peterborough stations, which is a distance of just twenty-five miles.

In addition, suppose though the train was packaged in a passenger-friendly skin, that made it look more as much like a tram than a train!

You would have a train, that would be equally at home using the electrification on the 100 mph Great Eastern Main Line or running silently through the countryside at a leisurely 40-50 mph using onboard energy storage.

In the following sections, I’ll investigate how Aventras could expand the basic core service around Cambridge.

Turn-Up-And-Go Services

Where I live in Dalston in East London, the London Overground run services at what they call a Turn-Up-And-Go service of four trains per hour (tph).

Merseyrail use this frequency on some of their lines, as do Birmingham and Leeds.

This should be the aim for services to and from Cambridge.

Commuting Into Cambridge

Many travel into Cambridge every day for work.

  • The trains are crowded.
  • Many travel with bicycles.
  • The Cambridge Park-and-Ride is very busy.
  • It is not unknown for commuters to unfold their Brompton in a Park-and-Ride and cycle to work.
  • The City Centre seems grid-locked with traffic and walkers most of the day.

The conclusion is that extra capacity is needed.

Cambridge North Station

Cambridge North station will provide extra capacity in the North of the City and better access to the Science Park.

But extra thought will need to be put into services at the station.

Consider.

There are no plans for a direct service between Cambridge North and Bury St. Edmunds and Ipswich.

  • There is only one tph to Norwich.
  • There is only one tph to Peterborough.
  • Will CrossCountry’s Birmingham to Stansted service stop at both Cambridge and Cambridge North stations?

A chord at Ely Dock Junction would create a route between Suffolk and Cambridge North station.

Rail Lines Into Cambridge

In a few years,  these rail lines will bring passengers to Cambridge.

From the late 2020s, the lines will be joined by the electrified East-West Rail Link..

The Guided Busway

Cambridge has spent a lot of money developing the Guided Busway.

One of the main reasons for developing the Southern section of the Guided Busway was to serve Addenbrooke’s Hospital and the surrounding cluster of health-related companies and research establishments.

Now that Addenbrooke’s is getting a new Cambridge South station, will the  Guided Busway be less important?

Possibly, but the station will probably rule out any extension of the Busway at its Southern end.

The Guided Busway will also call at both Cambridge and Cambridge North stations. Surely, passengers who are using the busway to go North of Cambridge will change transport mode at Cambridge North station.

It looks to me, that when Cambridge North and Cambridge South stations are fully operational, that the busway’s main purpose will be to bring passengers to and from the two new stations.

Services Via The West Anglia Main Line

Services to London Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport on the fully-electrified West Anglian Main Line, consist of the current services.

  • 1 tph fast to Liverpool Street
  • 1 tph semi-fast to Liverpool Street
  • 1 tph to Stansted Airport.

When Greater Anglia receive their Stadler Flirts, the operator will add a one tph Norwich to Stansted Airport service.

All except one of these services are fast services with limited stops and two will only go as far as Stansted Airport.

As the Aventras will be able to cruise at a fast speed and thus keep out of the way of the express Flirts, could we see some extra local services on the line, that will improve local journeys and connections to Bishops Stortford, Cambridge and Stansted Airport?

Commuting, shopping and leisure activities in Cambridge would certainly be easier if your local station had four tph.

Services Via The Cambridge And East Coast Main Lines

Services to London Kings Cross via the fully-electrified Cambridge  Line will consist of the current services.

  • 1 tph fast to London Kings Cross
  • 1 tph semi-fast to London Kings Cross

Thameslink will add the following services.

  • 2 tph to Brighton – Semi-fast stopping at  Royston, Baldock (peak only) Letchworth Garden City, Hitchin, Stevenage
  • 2 tph to Maidstone East – Stopping at  all stations.

These might replace the current semi-fast service to Kings Cross.

Stations like Letchworth Garden City, Baldock and Royston currently get two tph to Cambridge and will get four tph when Thameslink opens.

But surely a Turn-Up-And-Go service of four tph at a lot more stations, would pull more passengers out of the woodwork.

So why not run Aventras from Cambridge to a suitable station to improve the service?

There may be a problem with Greater Anglia running this service, as the Cambridge Line is Great Northern territory, but if that is the case, Great Northern should join the party around Cambridge.

Services To Bedford, Milton Keynes And Oxford

The East West Rail Link and Cambridge South station  could be delivered in the late 2020s.

I will deal with local services on this line later.

Services To Norwich

The one tph from Norwich to Cambridge will be replaced by a one tph Norwich to Stansted Airport service, so in practice those living in Cambridge will only notice a destination change and a new larger train.

North of Ely, the service will actually be two tph, as there is a one tph Norwich-Nottingham service.

This service pattern will be sufficient for a few years, but I can see a time, when there is a need for two tph on the Cambridge-Norwich route, with possibly one extended to Yarmouth.

This service frequency is not sufficient for a commuter route into Cambridge.

As an example, Thetford station has just two tph in each direction between Norwich and Ely, with only one tph going to Cambridge. Miss a train and wait an hour doesn’t attract customers!

The line is not electrified between Ely and Thetford, but the distance is only a small amount over twenty miles, which could be in out-and-back range for an Aventra running on onboard energy storage.

So an Aventra running using onboard power could probably run a four tph Turn-Up-And-Go service from Cambridge as far as Thetford with the following stops to the North of Ely.

What would four tph in addition to the current two tph do to this area?

Services To Peterborough

Cambridge to Peterborough currently has only one tph, with three tph between Ely and Peterborough.

This means that Peterborough with all its connections to the North of England and Scotland, is not a particularly difficult journey, but a rather infrequent journey from Cambridge.

But it needs a Turn-Up-And-Go service of four tph from the two Cambridge stations.

The Ely-Peterborough Line is a major freight artery, but it is not electrified.

However, the section without electrification is just over twenty miles, so an Aventra with onboard storage could manage it with ease and charge the energy storage at both ends.

There are also just two stations on the line at March and Whittlesea.

So why not open a few more stations on the line and give them a decent four tph service between Cambridge and Peterborough?

This Google Map shows the location of the former Peterborough East station.

Surely, with everything going on in the area and need to develop more housing, a station is needed here.

Extension To Wisbech

The track already exists and if ever there was a town that needed a two tph rail link to Cambridge , it is Wisbech, which is less than ten miles from the main Ely-Peterborough Line. Even if the main line isn’t electrified, Wisbech is probably within range of 2020 battery technology from Ely.

The Service To Nottingham

East Midlands Train run a one tph service between Nottingham and Norwich.

Perhaps, as services from Cambridge develop, it might be better for this Nottingham service to terminate at Cambridge.

This would give Cambridge direct access to Nottingham and Leicester, but it would also give the service to Peterborough an increased frequency

If this were to be done, a second Cambridge-Norwich service should probably be added, to restore two tph to Norwich.

Services To Bury St. Edmunds And Ipswich

Network Rail have thought long and hard about what to do with services from Ipswich to Cambridge and Peterborough over the years.

Greater Anglia’s solution is to run the following services using bi-mode Flirts.

  • 1 tph from Ipswich to Cambridge
  • 1 tph from Colchester to Peterborough.

This will give the following.

  • Services quicker by a few minutes.
  • Two tph between Kennett, Bury St. Edmunds, Stowmarket and Ipswich.
  • More capacity.

But the service to Cambridge and Newmarket and Bury St. Edmunds is as now!

  • There is only one tph from Ipswich, Bury St. Edmunds and all the other stations East of Kennett.
  • The service only goes to Cambridge and not Cambridge North or the proposed Cambridge South stations.
  • There is an alternative route with a change at Ely.

Bury St. Edmunds and Newmarket need two tph to both Cambridge stations! And  they need that service now!

Currently trains from Ipswich, Bury St. Edmunds and Newmarket take 79, 42 and 22 minutes respectively to get to Cambridge.

Cambridgeshire County Council also has plans to reopen Fulbourn and Cherry Hinton stations, which with the current trains would probably add five minutes to the current timings.

It would be interesting to find out what trains the timings are based on. Are they based on single-car 75 mph Class 153 trains or the 100 mph Class 170 trains, that work the route today.

Could a new bi-mode Flirt go from Ipswich to Cambridge in an hour as opposed to the current one hour ninteen minutes?

  • Is the current timing based on a single-car 75 mph Class 153 train or a 100 mph Class 170 train, that works the route today?
  • The bi-mode Flirts could run on electricity from Ipswich to Haughley unction.
  • There are eight stops on the route, where a minute or two could be saved.
  • Step-free train access from the platform could be provided
  • Haughley Junction could be improved.
  • Wikipedia quotes the line-speed as 40-75 mph, which surely could be raised.
  • Fast turnbacks with a driver change could be performed at Cambridge and Ipswich.

It might just be possible to do Ipswich to Cambridge in an hour.

I can’t believe that this is not an aspiration of Greater Anglia.

It would give.

  • A headline-grabbing one hour trip between Ipswich and Cambridge.
  • ,Currently, Greater Anglia probably use two Class 170 trains on the route, so two trains could give a 2 tph service.
  • Ipswich to Bury St. Edmunds would get a three tph service.

But there would still be a need to change at Cambridge to get to Cambridge North and Cambridge South stations.

A Cambridge Eastern Metro

In the plans for the Cambridge region in the Cambridge News, these two points are made.

  • Reinstate the ‘Newmarket west curve’ to allow direct services to run between Ely and the new station at Soham to Newmarket and Cambridge.
  • Double tracking of railway line between Ely and Soham.

Obviously, these assume that there is a new station at Soham.

This Google Map shows the triangular junction on Newmarket Heath, where the Newmarket West Curve has been lifted.

 

The railway from Bury St. Edmunds splits into two, with one branch curving round the British Racing School and going North to Ely and the other curving South to go in a short tunnel under Newmarket to get to Newmarket station.

The reinstatement of the West Curve would enable a service to run between Ely and Cambridge stopping at the following stations.

  • Soham – New station
  • Fordham – New station
  • Newmarket
  • Dullingham
  • Fulbourn – New station
  • Cherry Hinton – New station

I have added another station at Fordham.

I estimate Ely to Newmarket will take 13 minutes making the journey time 35 minutes between Ely and Cambridge, as opposed to 16 minutes by the direct route.

This route could open up various route possibilities in addition to being a longer route between Ely and ambridge.

  • It certainly gives Newmarket a better service to Cambridge.
  • Services could terminate the other side of Ely at Kings Lynn, Peterborough, Thetford or Wisbech.
  • With reverses at Cambridge and Ely, a loop service would connect Newmarket and the East of Cambridge to Cambridge North station.
  • The loop service could be extended to Cambridge South station.

I’m sure Greater Anglia have better ideas based on how passengers travel.

A Rebuilt Newmarket Station

Network Rail had a plan to rebuild Newmarket station with an island platform to give interchange between Ely and Peterborough services via the Newmarket West Curve and those going East to Bury St. Edmunds and Ipswich.

Could a train going from Peterborough and Ely to Cambridge via Soham be timed to be in Newmarket station at the same time as one going from Cambridge to Ipswich?

Consider.

  • With two tph on both services in both directions, it would be an efficient way to improve services without buying lots of trains.
  • Perhaps one Ely service would go to Peterborough and the other to Thetford.
  • Ely and Ipswich would have a two extra services in each hour, with just a step across the platform at Newmarket.
  • Newmarket, Fulbourn and Cherry Hinton would have four tph to Cambridge.
  • Newmarket would have two tph to Ely.

There are a lot of possibilities.

Extension To Haverhill

There was a very good railway from the South of Cambridge to Haverhill and onto Sudbury, Marks Tey and |Colchester. But the last train ran on the Stour Valley Railway in 1967.

Greater Anglia have plans for the Eastern end of this route and it will be extended to Colchester Town station with probably two tph to Sudbury.

I suspect that Greater Anglia regret that British Rail closed this line fifty years ago, as two tph running between Colchester Town and Cambridge North stations via Colchester, Marks Tey, Sudbury, Haverhill, Cambridge South and Cambridge stations, wouldn’t be just a nice little earner, but quite a valuable gold-mine.

I believe that Greater Anglia will be running Colchester Town to Sudbury using Aventras with onboard energy storage, away from the overhead wires.

I also believe that by the time the line was extended from Sudbury to Cambridge South, that battery technology will have advanced enough to power a train from Marks Tey to Cambridge South.

Cambridge would gain a new route into the City, using the best that modern British technology can do!

An Aventra Between Marks Tey And Cambridge

After taking on a full load of electricity on the Great Eastern Main Line, a train would just trundle from Marks Tey to Sudbury, Haverhill and on to Cambridge.

  • The route would be nearly all single track.
  • There would be no need for any electrification.
  • Signalling would be conventional.
  • There would be no level crossings.
  • All stations would be single platform, with appropriate facilities.
  • A passing loop might be provided at perhaps Sudbury.
  • Trains might even run on the street in Haverhill, with perhaps three stops in the town.
  • When running on the street, the trains would obey the rules that street-running trams, do in places like Birmingham, Edinburgh and Nottingham.

It wouldn’t look like a conventional railway, but to the operator and the authorities that’s what it would be.

To anybody living or walking in the countryside, it would just be a silent electric vehicle passing at an appropriate speed.

As it’s going to work out of Cambridge, the interior would be geared to the needs of the bicycle-friendly city.

With a range of fifty miles on onboard energy storage, it would have no difficulty with these services.

  • The Cambridge Eastern Metro
  • Marks Tey To Cambridge Via Sudbury And Haverhill.
  • Ey To Thetford
  • Ely to Peterborough
  • Exytension To Wisbech

Where else could these trains take the rail network in Cambridge?

Along The East West Rail Link

All the plans for the East West Rail Link are about long distance services services between Oxford, Milton Keynes, Bedford and Cambridge.

But why if you have a 100 mph electrified railway between two important cities, should it not have a two or even four-train per hour stopping service between the cities.

Modern trains are able to execute a station stop so quickly compared to trains of twenty years ago, that having a stopping train on a main line, isn’t the liability, that it was even a few years ago.

So on the East West Rail Link between Cambridge and Bedford will we be seeing four tph, that stop at all stations in addition to the fast expresses?

In the map that introduced this post, a service to Cambourne is shown.

This Google Map shows the location of Cambourne to the West of Cambridge.

Cambourne is at the top of the map, just South of the A428 road.

The red arrow at the bottom right, indicates the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory,

The East West Rail Link passes to the North of the observatory, which used to use the old track bed, as a track for radio telescopes and then goes to the South of Cambourne.

Perhaps a single track branch line could be built.

Conclusion

A Metro in Cambridge will develop because of these factors

  • Cambridge needs to reach out to the hinterland, as it is growing fast.
  • A high-frequency cross-city line with three important stations in a row will happen.
  • Greater Anglia have bought a lot of five-car Aventras.
  • Aventras will be able to run using onboard energy storage.
  • A lot of the lines radiating from Cambridge have capacity for extra services and are electrified.

But the biggest factor will be that towns and cities around Cambridge will want part of the prosperity.

 

 

March 31, 2017 - Posted by | Travel | , , ,

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