The Anonymous Widower

Kent On The Cusp Of Change – Victoria As A Highspeed Terminal

The Kent On The Cusp Of Change article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways has made me ask  questions about services into St. Pancras International station.

Is There Enough Capacity For Continental Services At St. Pancras International Station?

Platforms 5-10 at the station are allocated to Continental services.

Under Eurostar (High Speed 1) in the Wikipedia entry for the station this is said.

Seventeen pairs of trains to and from Paris Gare du Nord every day, ten pairs of trains to and from Bruxelles-Midi/Brussel-Zuid for Brussels and the European Union de facto capital, and one train to and from Marne-la-Vallée for Disneyland Resort Paris. Extra services run to Paris on Fridays and Sundays, with a reduced service to Brussels at weekends. Additional weekend leisure-oriented trains run to the French Alps during the skiing season, and to Marseille via Lyon and Avignon in the summer.

So it looks like on a typical day, there are  just under thirty pairs of trains between St.  Pancras International station and the Continent. So on a typical operational day from 0700 to 2200, that means it’s approximately two trains per hour (tph).

I feel that with perhaps some changes to the operation of the passenger and train cleaning and victualling systems, that six platforms could easily handle up to six tph.

So I doubt, that there is too much of a problem increasing the number of Continental services from St. Pancras International station.

Is There Enough Capacity For Highspeed Services At St. Pancras International Station?

Platforms 11-13 at the station are allocated to Southeastern‘s Highspeed services, which are run by Class 395 trains.

Is There Enough Capacity On High Speed 1 Between Ebbsfleet International And St. Pancras International Stations?

Under Services in the Wikipedia entry for High Speed 1, this is said.

High Speed 1 was built to allow eight trains per hour through to the Channel Tunnel. As of May 2014, Eurostar runs two to three trains per hour in each direction between London and the Channel Tunnel. Southeastern runs in the high peak eight trains per hour between London and Ebbsfleet, two of these continuing to Ashford. During the 2012 Olympic Games, Southeastern provided the Olympic Javelin service with up to twelve trains per hour from Stratford into London.

I think the key figures here are the ability to handle eight tph for the Channel Tunnel and the twelve tph that was achieved during the Olympics.

Let’s fast forward to 2024 when Paris could be hosting the Olympic Games.

Given too, that by then, Continental services to Germany, the Netherlands and other parts of France could have expanded and there must be a strong possibility, that the full eight Channel Tunnel paths will be needed.

So that would leave just four train paths for the Highspeed services.

I suspect that whoever is running the Highspeed services will want to develop them with services to other destinations like Hastings and Eastbourne and more frequent services to the existing destinations in Thanet.

This leads me to the conclusion, that more capacity is needed for Highspeed services into London.

Some extra capacity can probably be created by improving the signalling and operational methods, but will that be enough.

The Problems With The Highspeed Services

Every time, I use the Highspeed services, they work well, but they do have problems.

  • The only London terminal is St. Pancras International station.
  • The interchanges at Stratford International station to the Underground is a long walk.
  • The interchange at Stratford International station to Crossrail will be equally poor.
  • The frequency of services are not what passengers demand these days.
  • The services need to connect to Hastings and Eastbourne.
  • Passengers complain about the cost.

Expanding the Highspeed services would solve some of these problems, but if the Continental services of Eurostar and other operators expand, there could be a capacity problem before the mid-2020s.

The Two London Terminal Solution

Network Rail and the train operating companies (TOCs) seem to have come up with a cunning plan.

In the Kent on the Cusp of Change article and in one in the May 2017 Edition, Modern Railways, the magazine reports that consideration is being given to reopening the Fawkham Junction link, that used to be used by Eurostar trains to access Waterloo station from the Channel Tunnel.

Trains would not now go to Waterloo, as there are other plans for the expansion of the station.

But it would be fairly simple for trains to go via Swanley and Bromley South stations into Victoria station.

In the next few sections, I will outline why I think this station could and probably will be used as a second London terminal for Highspeed services.

Extra Highspeed Terminal Capacity In London

As I indicated earlier, I think that within the next few years, there may be a capacity problem between London and Ebbsfleet and opening a second terminal at Victoria would add extra train psths on the surface through South L:ondon.

A Second Highspeed Terminal In London

Services to Victoria with its Underground connections, that are currently being improved dramatically, would be welcomed by many travellers, who want to go to places like Kensington and Westminster or perhaps avoid the long walks at Stratford International station to the Underground or Crossrail.

Crossrail 2 will also call at Victoria, if it’s ever built.

Services Between Victoria And Thanet Could Go Highspeed

All or some of the services between Victoria and the Thanet area would be able to go Highspeed and use the Class 395 trains.

The Highspeed services would use the reinstated Fawkham Junction link and High Speed One between stops at Ebbsfleet International and Ashford International stations.

Suppose All Services Between Victoria And Thanet Used Class 395 Trains

Surely, this would have tremendous advantages for Network Rail and the operator in that, all of the stations and tracks, to the East of Ashford International station,  could be updated, so that they efficiently handled twelve-car Class 395 trains.

In a Network Rail document about the East Kent lines, Network rail says this.

Increase speed to rolling stock and signalling capability.

As the East Kent Re-Signalling Project seems to be improving the signalling, the faster Class 395 trains would set the desired operating speed.

As I indicated earlier, if the new batch of Class 395 trains could have a faster capability on third-rail routes.

What Times Could Class 395 Trains Achieve On Classic Routes?

As an illustration of the operating speed on the East Kent lines, Ashford International to Ramsgate stations takes thirty-six minutes for a journey of about thirty-five miles with only one stop.

Network Rail probably know how to reduce this important journey by at least ten minutes, which would benefit Highspeed and Classic services.

Currently, London Victoria to Ashford International stations takes just under an hour and a half via Maidstone East and another ten stops.

This document from Network Rail has two projects, that will improve times on the Chislehurt to Ashford section of this route.

  • Journey Time Improvement – Reduce impact of Permanent Speed Restrictions
  • Maidstone signalling interlocking renewal – Renewal of interlocking and external equipment

The document indicates they could be completed in 2019.

The Class 395 trains are a modern train with bags of grunt and probably the ability to execute a station stop in double-quick time.

So with the track improvements to allow higher speeds between London Victoria and Ashford International station, I suspect that it might be possible to trim perhaps twenty minutes from the journey time.

Could Network Rail be aiming for an hour between Victoria and Ashford International stations on the Classic route, via Bromley South, Swanley and Maidstone East stations?

If they could manage the magic hour, then Hastings could be within perhaps 95 minutes of Victoria in a Class 395 train with either diesel or battery power.

This would be a few minutes faster than the current faster times to Cannon Street on the Hastings Line.

It would certainly be a good interim alternative, until trains can go between High Speed One and the Marshlink Line.

What Times Could Class 395 Trains Achieve Using High Speed One Between Victoria and Ashford International Stations?

I estimate that Victoria to Ebbsfleet International using the Fawkham Junction link and Class 395 trains could be in the order of thirty minutes.

As Class 395 trains take nineteen minutes between Ebbswfleet International and Ashford International stations, I believe it would be reasonable to assume between Victoria to Ashford International stations will tqke forty-nine minutes or just twelve minutes longer than the current time between St. Pancras and Ashford International stations.

Victoria To Fawkham Junction

If the Fawkham Junction link were to be reinstated, a number of the trains between Victoria and Thanet would take the Chatham Main Line after passing Swanley station and then take the Fawkham Junction link to Ebsfleet International station.

Other than the Fawkham Junction link, no substantial new infrastructure would be required, but if line improvements increased the speed between Victoria and Fawkham Junction, the Class 395 trains could certainly take advantage.

I suspect that each Class 395 train, would just take over the path of the Classic service it replaced.

There might even be a bonus, in that all fast trains through Bromley South and Swanley became Class 395 trains, w3hich might aid the timetabling.

Class 395 Trains At Victoria Station

There are various reports on the Internet of Class 395 trains running into Victoria station, sometimes as a twelve-car train.

Class 377 trains also appear to run as twelve-car trains to Ramsgate.

So I think we can assume that Class 395 trains can run into Victoria.

Conclusion

I think that it is possible that Victoria can be used as a second terminal for Highspeed services from Thanet into London.

See Also

These are related posts.

To know more read Kent On The Cusp Of Change in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.

 

 

July 1, 2017 - Posted by | Travel | , , , ,

16 Comments »

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