The Anonymous Widower

Kent On The Cusp Of Change – Track Improvements

The Kent On The Cusp Of Change article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways talks mentions a few track improvements.

Ashford Spurs

This enables more Continental trains to call at Ashford International station. I discussed it in Ashford Spurs.

The Link Between High Speed One And The Marshlink Line

This is needed to get the Highspeed trains from St. Pancras to Hastings, I I discussed in Highspeed to Hastings.

The Modern Railways article says this about the creation of the link.

It will be an uphill struggle to fund necessary layout changes at Ashford International during Control Period 6 (2019-2024). A realignment of the track would be needed to join the track serving the London end of platform 2 (which is accessible from the Marshlink route) to the Ashford spurs that link through to High Speed 1.

This diagram from Wikipedia shows the lines through Ashford International station.

Note how the two main tracks of High Speed One use a flyover to get out of the way of Ashford International station. The Ashford Spurs connect the lines through the two platforms to High Speed One.

This Google Map shows the London end of Ashford International stations.

There are three island platforms, which are as follows from the bottom.

  • Platform 1 and 2 for third-rail domestic services and the Marshlink Line
  • Platform 3 and 4 for Continental services
  • Platform 5 asnd 6 for Highspeed domestic services.

The two lines visible beyond platforms 5 and 6 are High Speed One on the flyover.

At the London end of the station, there is already the following links to High Speed One from the station.

  • Platform 3 to London for Continental services
  • Platform 4 from London for Continental services
  • Platform 5 to London for Highspeed services
  • Platform 6 from London for Highspeed services

It could be quite complicated connecting even one of Platform 1 and 2 to High Speed One.

But at least as these pictures show, there is plenty of space.

Note.

  1. The pictures were taken from a Highspeed train leaving Platform 5 for London.
  2. The first picture was taken just to the London side of the bridge shown in the Google Map.
  3. The domestic Platforms 1 and 2 are on the far side, in this first picture.
  4. The

I do feel that after some of the engineering on Crossrail and Thameslink, that an affordable solution is possible.

In addition to the space, I don’t think any trains thunder through here at high speed, as they use the flyover for that.

I also feel that Hitachi might be the key here.

As I said in Highspeed to Hastings, I believe that batteries not diesel will be used to power the trains on the Marshlink Line.

So if necessary, battery power could be used to power the trains between High Speed One and Platforms 1 and 2.

Hitachi could probably do the change between power sources under the wires of High Speed One, so this would mean that there would be no extra overhead electrification at Ashford International station.

As most of the train frequencies between High Speed One and Ashford International station are not by any means high, I wonder if there is a simple solution in there somewhere.

The most difficult connection would be to get trains from London across three tracks.

  • The Highspeed line from Platform 5 to London
  • The Continental line from London to Platform 4.
  • The Continental line from Platform 3 to London

A single track unelectrified dive-under or even a flat junction might be possible to connect High Speed One to Platforms 1 and/or 2.

Connecting Platforms 1 and/or 2 to High Speed One to London is much easier, as no other lines need to be crossed.

I also wonder if the funding problem and probable subsequent delay of building a link could lead to an interim solution to give Hasting the service it needs.

Network Rail’s Options For The Link Between High Speed One And The Marshlink Line

This document from Network Rail gives their options for the link.

  1. High Speed One To Platform 2
  2. High Speed One To Marshlink via Platform 3

As the second option would leave Continental services with just one bi-directional platform, I think it is unlikely to be used, as what happens if a train fails in the platform?

This diagram from the Network Rail document shows the traqck layout for the first option.

Note the only track work would appear to be two or three new cross-overs, which are shown as being electrified with both third-rail and overhead line.

Note the following.

  1. The trains that will be working the Marshlink Line and High Speed One will have either diesel or battery power for the Marshlink Line.
  2. Modern trains like Hitachi’s Class 800 trains can change from one mode to the other at linespeed, raising and lowering the pantograph as necessary.
  3. Automation can aid the driver in selecting the best power source.

So could we see the cross-overs built without electrification to save money and probably time as well?

I suspect this could be possible, although there may be operational reasons to add third-rail electrification.

Network Rail say this about their scheme with dual-power cross-overs.

Although this seems a fairly simple proposal, the technicalities of installing the crossovers, power supplies and signalling enhancements add significantly to the challenges of the scheme, which would cost in the region of £15-35M.

Surely, as the trains will have a dual-power capability for the Marshlink Line, this would reduce the challenges and cost of the scheme.

, The Fawkham Junction Link

The Fawkham Junction link will enable Highspeed services to use another terminal in London, which will probably be Victoria.

I discussed this link in Fawkham Junction Link.

General Track Improvements

This document from Network Rail is the Route Specification for the South East and it details two projects, that will improve times on the lines between Victoria and shford International station.

  • 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 document also  uses this phrase in several places.

Increase speed to rolling stock and signalling capability

As the East Kent Re-Signalling Project seems to be improving the signalling, it does appear that one of the keys to better services in Kent may well be faster trains.

It should be noted, Network Rail have been particularly successful in upgrading the speed of the Midland Main Line in recent years, so with a faster third-rail train available, they might be able to speed up services on the East Kent Lines.

An Interim Solution For A Highspeed Service To Hastings

As I said earlier connecting the Marshlink Line to High Speed One might be delayed because of funding.

Network Rail’s planned improvements will deliver journey time improvements between Victoria and Ashford International stations and along the lines in East Kent, provided some faster trains are procured.

There is not much point in having tracks with a capability in excess of 110 mph, if the trains can’t make use of it.

But these trains, be they Ultimate Class 395 trains or a product from another manufacturer, will be needed to bridge the electrification gap of the marshlink line.

Once the modifications at Ashford are complete, these trains will be able to use High Speed One.

Conclusion

Track improvements are a key to making the new Southeastern franchise a lot better.

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 2, 2017 - Posted by | Travel | , , ,

18 Comments »

  1. You’ve probably already seen it; here are a couple of diagrams on page 24 of the Kent Route Study technical appendix that show two layout options for marshlink connection in Ashford.

    https://16cbgt3sbwr8204sf92da3xxc5m-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Kent-Route-Study-Technical-Appendix-Draft-for-Consultation.pdf

    Comment by matbest | July 2, 2017 | Reply

    • Thanks for that, Mat. I have replied to you by e-mail and will be updating the post.

      Comment by AnonW | July 3, 2017 | Reply

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