The Anonymous Widower

NR States Ambition To Keep Liverpool Moving During Major Lime Street Work

The title of this post is the same as the title of this article on the Rail Technology Magazine web site.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Liverpool Lime Street will remain “open for business” whilst it undergoes major work this autumn, Network Rail has today reassured passengers in the region.

The latest stage of work will take place between 30 September and 22 October in what is one of the biggest upgrades the station has seen since the 19th century.

The station upgrade is part of a £340 million railway investment in the Liverpool City Region.

This document from Network Rail describes the scope of the project in detail.

These are some extracts from the document.

What Are The Benefits For Passengers?

The Liverpool City Region Railway Upgrade Plan will deliver for passengers:

  •  A bigger and better railway network with longer and faster trains
  •  More reliable railway infrastructure
  • Better facilities for passengers, especially at stations
  • Increased capacity/additional services

What Will This Mean In Practice?

  • Three extra services per hour, in and out of Lime Street station, such as the planned new First Transpennine Express
    services from Liverpool to Glasgow in 2019.
  • Better east-west connectivity to and from Liverpool.
  • New services to Chester via Liverpool South Parkway and the opportunity to develop more routes into North Wales in the future.
  • New station facilities and interchange at Newton-Le-Willows.
  • A new station at ‘Maghull North’ to support growth in passenger demand.
  • New signalling which will improve the reliability of the network and speed up decision making to minimise disruption.
  • Works to facilitate the running of new trains on the Wirral and Northern lines.

Liverpool Lime Street Station

Liverpool Lime Street station will be getting a major upgrade consisting of the following.

  • Two new platforms between the current platforms 7 and 8.
  • Platform lengthening.
  • Improved signalling and electrification.
  • More shops.

This should enable another three trains per hour to be handled.

It’s over fifty years since I first arrived in Lime Street to go to Liverpool University and the station has changed a lot in those years. Network Rail are saying, that this upgrade will cope with the doubling of passenger number expected before 2043.

Using Liverpool South Parkway Station As A Relief Terminus

The upgrade will mean that at times during the works, trains into Liverpool will not be able to access Lime Street. So some trains will terminate at Liverpool South Parkway station from where passengers can take Merseyrail’s Northern Line to the City Centre.

How many of our large cities can cope, when the main station is closed?

  • Glasgow proved they can, when Queen Street station was closed.
  • London is managing biow, with mahor works going on at Waterloo.
  • Manchester’s ability to cope will surely be greatly improved when the Ordsall Chord opens.
  • Birmingham seemed to manage during the rebuilding of New Street station.
  • Newcastle has the Metro to help.
  • Sheffield has a second station at Meadowhall.

Would Leeds be the city to struggle?

Liverpool will probably cope well, as there are various rail routes into the City, that avoid Lime Street, most of which have four trains per hour.

I always remember the Liverpool Bus Strike of around 1967. Liverpudlians just walked, as did most of the students like me, who needed to get into the University.

I don’t think, it will come to walking this time, as Network Rail have promised quality buses.


There is a lot of work to do, but after the example of Waterloo, it is likely to go fairly well to plan.

But there will be a few hiccups.

August 17, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Crossrail To Heathrow, Reading And Southend

Crossrail To Heathrow

In the Wikipedia entry for Crossrail, there is a section called Extensions.

This is said under a sub-section called Heathrow Express.

The RUS also proposes integrating Heathrow Express services from Heathrow Terminal 5 into Crossrail to relieve the GWML and reduce the need for passengers to change at Paddington.

Note RUS refers to Network Rail’s Route Utilisation Study of 2011 and GWML is the Great Western Main Line.

Currently, Heathrow Express takes fifteen minutes to go between Paddington and Heathrow Central stations, with Heathrow Connect taking thirty-two minutes with five stops.

The journey time calculator on the Crossrail site, says the trains will take twenty-three minutes with six stops. But as I said in Are Crossrail And Bombardier Having Us On?, Crossrail’s journey time estimates aren’t very good to say the least.

I think until the Crossrail trains reach Heathrow next May 2018, any speculation I make of the time they take between Paddington and Heathrow Central will be very wide of the mark.

However, this can be said of Heathrow Express and Crossrail to Heathrow.

  • As the RUS says Heathrow Express services use four paths per hour on the GWML in both directions and these paths would be released for other services if Heathrow Express used the dedicated Crossrail tracks.
  • Most Heathrow Express passengers will not be going to Paddington or the surrounding area of the station.
  • When fully developed Crossrail will connect Canary Wharf, the City of London, the West End and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, to name just four important destinations, directly to Heathrow Airport.
  • If Crossrail works as it says on the box, every travel guide and expert, will recommend you use your contactless bank card to travel on this wonderful new airport train.
  • I would suspect, that given Heathrow’s expansion plans, that the Heathrow branch of Crossrail has a capacity in excess of ten trains per hour (tph).
  • The accommodation and comfort level in Crossrail’s Class 345 trains is high and well suited for an airport service.

I think that Heathrow Express will be increasingly deserted by passengers, in favour of the cheaper and more convenient Crossrail.

So could the two services be integrated together?

In theory, Heathrow Express could use the Crossrail tracks to Paddington, but there would be problems.

  • Heathrow Express trains would have to leave the Crossrail tracks to get into Paddington.
  • Would Crossrail want non-stop trains speeding through suburban stations like Southall, with their high suicide rates?

So then why not create a Heathrow Express, that used the Crossrail tracks and stopped at say Old Oak Common (for HS2), Paddington, Bond Street, Farringdon (for Thameslink), Liverpool Street and Canary Wharf?

  • Heathrow Express would have to buy new trains compatible with the platform-edge doors in Crossrail’s tunnels.
  • Where would the trains be turned back? Perhaps a turnback facility could be built at Liverpool Street at a cost of several hundred million pounds!
  • It would still speed through suburban stations.
  • Trains moving at different speeds would reduce the capacity of Crossrail.
  • As Crossrail and Heathrow Express will use the same platforms at stations, how do you stop people without expensive special tickets using Heathrow Express?

Heathrow will continue to argue to keep Heathrow Express, but in practice in the future, it will be as outdated a concept as trains pulled by steam engines.

So one of two things will happen.

  • Heathrow Express will continue as now, using two valuable platforms at Paddington and the four equally valuable paths per hour on the GWML.
  • It will be discontinued.

I believe that in some date in the future, only three rail services will serve Heathrow.

The two Crossrail services would probably be run back-to-back, so that fewer trains were turned back at Heathrow.

The two Crossrail branches to Heathrow and Reading would merge easily to the West of Hayes and Harlington station and there would be no complications caused by Heathrow Express trains crossing to and from the fast lines.

Crossrail To Reading

Just over a month ago, Transport for London (TfL) ordered four extra Crossrail trains and announced extra services to Heathrow and Reading. I discussed this in Crossrail Expands Before It Opens

I said this.

Four new Class 345 trains are being ordered, which will mean that in the Off Peak the following will happen.

  • Trains between Whitechapel and Paddington will increase from 16 tph  to 20.
  • Trains between Paddington and Shenfield will increase by two tph
  • Trains between Paddington and Abbey Wood will increase by two tph
  • Trains between Paddington and Reading will double from two tph to four.
  • Trains between Paddington and Maidenhead will increase from four tph to six
  • From December 2019, six tph will call at Heathrow Terminal 5.

I also found this quote in the article on Global Rail News, that was the source for the increased services.

The increased service frequency will be achieved, in part, by replacing five Great Western Railway services with Elizabeth line trains.

So could we be seeing a degree of co-operation between TfL, Crossrail and Great Western Railway, whereby the following services are provided?

  • Slow stopping services are run by Crossrail on the two slow lines.
  • Fast and semi-fast services are run by Great Western Railway on the two fast lines.

This would be operationally simple and might even create extra paths into London for more long-distance services.

The problem are the local stopping trains to Oxford (2 tph) and Bedwyn (1 tph). Will they run on the slow or fast lines between Paddington and Reading?

Consider the service to Bedwyn.

  • A five-car Class 800 train could run the service.
  • Small modifications at Bedwyn would probably be needed to allow the Class 800 train to use the turnback.
  • The train would run using electricity until the wires ran out near Newbury and then diesel.
  • The service could run semi-fast or non-stop between Paddington and Reading.
  • Nine-car Crossrail Class 345 trains would probably need a lot of platform lengthening, in addition to the electrification to be used to Bedwyn.

And the stopping service to Oxford.

  • A five-car Class 800 train could run the service.
  • A planned new bay platform at Oxford station would handle the service.
  • The train would run using electricity until the wires ran out near Didcot and then diesel.
  • The service could run semi-fast or non-stop between Paddington and Reading.
  • Niine-car Crossrail Class 345 trains would probably need some platform lengthening, in addition to the electrification, to be used to Oxford.

If the two services are considered together, they could join and split at Reading to save paths on the fast lines.

I think that on balance to use a pair of Class 800 trains would be better than to extend Crossrail past Reading.


  • A second service to Bedwyn could be easily added.
  • A large number of long-distance trains call at Reading station.
  • Reading has been designed for easy interchange between fast and slow services.
  • Crossrail will be providing at least four tph between Paddington and Reading that stop at all stations.
  • Reading has services into Waterloo.

I’m certain that the train companies can find a very efficient solution.

I can see a situation, where Great Western Railway aren’t going to need many Class 387 trains in the Thames Valley.

Crossrail To Oxford

This may seem a bit over the top, but analysis might show, that the best way to create more capacity between Reading and Oxford, might be to extend two Reading Crossrail services each hour to Oxford, when the electrification to Oxford is complete.

Crossrail To Southend

Just as it appears there is co-operation between Crossrail, Great Western Railway and TfL, could similar co-operation between Crossrail, Greater Anglia and TfL, result in improved services on the Shenfield to Southend Line? I wrote about this in Crossrail Tests Its Trains In Southend.

The Long Distance Class 345 Train

Adding Oxford and/or Southend to Crossrail services, may need a sub-class of Class 345 train to be created, due to the length of the journey. Toilets would be the obvious addition.





August 17, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 3 Comments

How A Sketch On A Piece Of Paper Became An £85m Rail Bridge

The title of this post is the same as an article on inews, which describes the design process for the bridge over the Irwell in Manchester, which is the centrepiece of the Ordsall Chord.

It is a fascinating insight into the design of what could become Manchester’s new icon.

August 17, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment