The Anonymous Widower

Why GA Uses Locomotive-Hauled Trains And Why The Class 755 Trains Are Coming

The first part of the title of this post is the same as that of an article in Rail Magazine, which is well worth a read.

Some interesting points.

  •  Norwich-Sheringham had 200,000 passengers per year in 1996; it is 600,000 now.
  • Competition between Yarmouth and Norwich is the X1 bus with wi-fi and charging sockets and a fifteen minute frequency.
  • Level crossing accidents are a problem.
  • Locomotive-hauled stock is not a cheap option.
  • When Norwich City are at home, extra capacity is needed.

The article certainly shows why they chose the fleet of Class 755 trains with 24 x four-car and 14 x three-car units.

  • A three-car or four-car train can be rostered accordingly.
  • The trains will probably have charging sockets, 4G and wi-fi.
  • There are enough trains for increased frequencies on all services.
  • I suspect that, as the trains will probably carry a high-proportion of leisure passengers, there will be adequate space for buggies, bicycles, large cases and wheel-chairs.

I’ll look at the routes where Class 755 trains will be used.

Norwich To Yarmouth

Currently, this is a two train per hour (tph) service, which takes 33-37 minutes with four or five stops. Three trains are probably needed to run the service, although Greater Anglia do combine it with the Lowestoft services.

Note the following.

  • The current timing are such, that they can be achieved by a 75 mph Class 150 train.
  • The new Class 755 trains are 100 mph trains and probably have a much shorter station dwell time.
  • Norwich to Yarmouth is not an easy drive in a car.
  • There are generous turnround times at Norwich and Yarmouth.
  • The Wherry Lines are being resignalled, according to this article in Rail Engineer, which is entitled Atkins awarded £29m resignalling contract in Anglia.

I would not be surprised to see the Norwich to Yarmouth service speeded up such that a Class 755 train could do a complete round trip in an hour.

  • This would allow a four tph service to be run by just four trains.
  • The trains could alternate between the two possible routes to give all stations at least a two tph service to both Norwich and Yarmouth
  • Four tph would be a true Turn-Up-And-Go service.
  • Would the trains be three-car or four-car units?

How would such a service rejuvenate Yarmouth?

Norwich To Cromer And Sheringham

Currently, this is an hourly service, that takes just under an hour with seven stops. This service needs two trains.

Note the following.

  • The Bittern Line is double-track from Norwich to Hoveton and Wroxham station.
  • From there it is single-track, with passing opportunities at North Walsham and Cromer stations.
  • A new station could be built at Rackheath for an eco-town development of 5,000 houses.
  • The line has recently been resignalled.
  • As with Norwich to Yarmouth, the current timings are such, that they can be achieved by a 75 mph Class 150 train.

I am fairly certain that the extra performance of the Class 755 trains, will allow a two tph service between Norwich and Sheringham.

This two tph service would need four trains.

Norwich To Lowestoft

Currently, this is an hourly service, that takes 35-47 minutes with either one or six stops.

Note the following.

  • The line is double-track.
  • As  with Norwich to Yarmouth, the current timings are such, that they can be achieved by a 75 mph Class 150 train.
  • All the Wherry Lines will be resignalled.

I suspect that two tph may be possible with Class 755 trains, by means of some innovative timetabling.

It might be possible that if a train went fast one way with just one stop and slow the other with six stops, that it could do a round trip to Norwich in an hour.

A two tph service run like this could need just two trains, with the fast trip in probably something under twenty-five minutes.

Four tph might even be possible, if passenger numbers could support this frequency.

Four tph To Lowestoft And Norwich

Note that four tph to both Yarmouth and Lowestoft could mean six tph to Norwich stopping at Brundall Gardens and Brundall.

Norwich station can use platform 4, 5 and 6 for services to Lowestoft, Sheringham and Yarmouth, so there is no capacity problem, as three platforms can surely handle ten tph with modern signalling.

Lowestoft To Yarmouth

There must be lots of good reasons concerning commerce, tourism, leisure and families to connect the two biggest towns in the East of England by rail. Great Yarmouth is slightly bigger with a population of 70,000 to Lowestoft’s 60,000.

Because no connection exists, I’d always thought that to provide one was difficult, as it would envisage building a large bridge across the water in the area. But I have just read a section entitled Direct Yarmouth Services in the Wikipedia entry for Lowestoft station. This is said.

In January 2015, a Network Rail study proposed the reintroduction of direct services between Lowestoft and Yarmouth by reinstating a spur at Reedham. Services could once again travel between two East Coast towns, with an estimated journey time of 33 minutes, via a reconstructed 34-chain (680 m) north-to-south arm of the former triangular junction at Reedham, which had been removed in c. 1880.The plans also involve relocating Reedham station nearer the junction, an idea which attracted criticism.

Surely if Network Rail has suggested this link in this study on their web site, it must be fairly easy to reinstate, as they don’t want to start any more fiascos.

There are several possible reasons.

  1. Has the Todmorden Curve shown that these links generate traffic and revenue for Network Rail? Perhaps, they’ve even got the maps out and looked for similar curves to Todmorden.
  2. Does this link give an extra route between Norwich and Ipswich, that makes it easier for passengers to do certain journeys without changing trains?
  3. There is a significant number of journeys betwen Lowestoft and Yarmouth by rail and road.
  4. Does it make it easier for trains to serve Lowestoft and Yarmouth?
  5. Perhaps reorganising the rail lines and station at Reedham realises a sizable piece of land for development.
  6. Do Network Rail want to create a record for reopening the oldest closed railway line? 135 years has probably not been beaten.

This map shows the area of the proposed junction.

Reedham Station And JunctionNorwich is to the West, Yarmouth to the North East and Lowestoft is to the South.

Despite being removed in 1880, the line of the third side of the junction is still visible.

But there is opposition as this article in the Great Yarmouth Mercury details. Perhaps, the locals don’t want any more housing?

The article mentions a cost of a billion pounds, which would make it a no-no!  However the Todmorden scheme cost less than ten million pounds for a similarly-sized curve.

Currently, the fastest Lowestoft to Yarmouth journey takes about eighty minutes with a change at Norwich.

But these times are also possible.

  • Reedham to Yarmouth – 16 minutes
  • Reedham to Lowestoft – 26 minutes

I suspect canny locals know that some trains connect well, so do the trip in under an hour.

It would appear though that if the Reedham chord was relaid, that Yarmouth to Lowestoft could be achieved in about fifty minutes.

I suspect that even if the Reedham Chord is not relaid, Greater Anglia may have plans to incorporate this service into the pattern of trains on the Wherry Lines.

They’ve certainly even got enough trains to run a shuttle using a three-car Class 755 train between Lowestoft and Yarmouth with a reverse at Reedham station. An hourly service would need only one train.

Norwich To Stansted Airport

Greater Anglia have said that this new hourly service will replace the current service from Norwich to Cambridge.

Current timings on this route are.

  • Norwich to Cambridge- 70 minutes
  • Cambridge to Stansted Airport – 30 minutes

A round trip should be possible in four hours.

Note the following.

  • Four trains would be needed to run an hourly service, if the round trip could be under four hours.
  • The new Class 755 trains are 100 mph trains and probably have a much shorter station dwell time.
  • Some sections of the line are electrified.

If this service could be run at two tph, this would need eight trains.

Ipswich To Lowestoft

Currently, this is an hourly service, that takes a few minutes under an hour and a half with nine stops.

Looking at the timetable for the 11:17 from Ipswich, the various sections of the journey take.

  • Ipswich to Lowestoft – 86 minutes
  • Turnround at Lowestoft – 24 minutes
  • Lowestoft to  Ipswich – 89 minutes
  • Turnround at Ipswich – 41 minutes

Which gives a round trip time of four hours.

This is from the Wikipedia entry for the East Suffolk Line and describes the infrastructure.

The line is double-track from Ipswich to Woodbridge and from Saxmundham to Halesworth with the rest of the route being single track, apart from a short passing loop at Beccles. The line is not electrified, has a loading gauge of W10 between Ipswich and Westerfield and W6 for all other sections, and a line speed of between 40-55 mph.

Also note the following.

  • The current four hour round trip means that four trains are needed for the service.
  • Up and down trains pass at XX:25 at Beccles station and at XX:54-57 at Saxmundham station.
  • The turnround times at Ipswich and Lowestoft are long, so that the timetable works and the trains can pas at Beccles and Saxmundham.
  • As with Norwich to Yarmouth, the current timings are such, that they can be achieved by a 75 mph Class 150 train.
  • The new Class 755 trains are 100 mph trains and probably have a much shorter station dwell time.

Given some track improvements, removal of a couple of level crossings and some clever  timetabling, I suspect that the Class 755 trains could probably travel between Ipswich and Lowestoft in around an hour.

Turning these trains in thirty minutes would give a three hour round trip and reduce the number of trains required to three.

The real benefit comes if the line could be upgraded such that the Class 755 trains could do the round trip in two hours, which would reduce the number of train required to two.

I suspect that there is extensive work being done to find a method to get a time of under an hour between Ipswich and Lowestoft.

When they’ve cracked that problem, they’ll probably move on to increasing the services on the line to two tph.

If they can crack both problems, two tph between Ipswich and Lowestoft running in around an hour, would need just four trains.

Ipswich To Felixstowe

Currently, the service is hourly and a single train does a round trip in an hour.

The track is being improved and I fairly sure that two tph are possible, which would need two trains.

Ipswich to Cambridge

Currently, the service is hourly and a single train does a round trip in three hours.

Note the following.

  • Three trains are needed to run the hourly service.
  • The current three-car trains can get very crowded.
  • As with Norwich to Yarmouth, the current timings are such, that they can be achieved by a 75 mph Class 150 train.
  • The new Class 755 trains are 100 mph trains and probably have a much shorter station dwell time.
  • Some sections of the line are electrified.
  • Haughley Junction is going to be improved.

I feel that the Ipswich to Cambridge time can be reduced to under an hour by the new trains.

This would have the following effects.

  • Reduce the number of trains required for an hourly service to two.
  • It would probably be possible to run a two tph service with four trains.

The reduced journey time, may also allow the service to start at Cambridge North station and reverse at Cambridge to give a much needed connection from Cambridge North station to the East.

Improvements At Ipswich Station

Ipswich station will need extra platform capacity to handle extra services to Cambridge, Felixstowe and Lowestoft.

Colchester Town To Sudbury

Greater Anglia have said that this new route will replace the current service on the Gainsborough Line.

Current timings on this route are.

  • Colchester Town to Marks Tey – 14 minutes
  • Marks Tey to Sudbury – 20 minutes
  • Turnround at Sudbury – 5 minutes
  • Audbury to Marks Tey -19 minutes
  • Marks Tey to Colchester Town – 16 minutes.
  • Turnround at Colchester Town – 5 minutes

This gives a round trip of 79 minutes, with a Marks Tey to Marks Tey time of 44 minutes.

Note the following.

  • One train would be needed to run an hourly service, if the round trip could be reduced between an hour.
  • As with Norwich to Yarmouth, the current timings are such, that they can be achieved by a 75 mph Class 150 train.
  • The new Class 755 trains are 100 mph trains and probably have a much shorter station dwell time.
  • Some sections of the line are electrified.
  • The Gainsborough Line has an operating speed of 50 mph.
  • A new platform will be needed at Colchester Town station.

I think is is highly likely that the Class 755 train will be able to do the round trip in under an hour.

If the time spent on the branch could be reduced to under thirty minutes, then two tph on the route are possible, which would need two trains.

Colchester To Peterborough

Greater Anglia have said that this new hourly service will replace the current service from Ipswich to Peterborough.

Current timings on this route are.

  • Colchester to Ipswich – 20 minutes
  • Ipswich to Peterborough – 99 minutes

A round trip should be possible in four hours.

Note the following.

  • Four train would be needed to run an hourly service, if the round trip could be under four hours.
  • The new Class 755 trains are 100 mph trains and probably have a much shorter station dwell time.
  • Some sections of the line are electrified.

If this service could be run at two tph, this would need eight trains.

Summary Of Class 755 Train Services

This is a summary of the routes, their frequencies and trains needed

  • Norwich to Yarmouth – Four tph needs four trains.
  • Norwich to Sheringham – Two tph needs four trains.
  • Norwich to Lowestoft – Four tph needs four trains.
  • Lowestoft to Yarmouth – Hourly needs one train.
  • Ipswich to Lowestoft – Two tph needs four trains.
  • Ipswich to Felixstowe – Two tph needs two trains.
  • Ipswich to Cambridge – Two tph needs four trains.
  • Colchester Town to Sudbury – Two tph needs two trains.
  • Colchester to Peterborough – Hourly needs four trains.
  • Norwich to Stansted Airport – Hourly needs four trains.

The two routes that required large numbers of trains are Colchester to Peterborough and Norwich to Stansted Airport, which are the longest.

Because of the number of four-car trains ordered, I think the following routes will be run by four-car trains.

  • Norwich to Yarmouth
  • Norwich to Lowestoft
  • Ipswich to Lowestoft
  • Ipswich to Cambridge
  • Colchester to Peterborough
  • Norwich to Stansted Airport

These six routes would each need four trains or a total of twenty-four trains. How many have Greater Anglia ordered?

The other routes would need nine three-car trains.

Infrastructure Required

The infrastructure required to run all these trains includes

  • The Wherry Lines are being resignalled, This may not be needed, but it will certainly make things easier.
  • Some platforms may need to be lengthened.
  • Ideally, all the station platforms will be adjusted so that their height fits the Class 755 trains.
  • The Reedham Chord may be reinstated to allow direct Lowestoft to Yarmouth services.
  • Track improvements might night be needed on the Esst Suffolk Line.
  • Ipswich station will need extra platform capacity to handle extra services to Cambridge, Felixstowe and Lowestoft.
  • Colchester Town will need a second platform for the service to Sudbury.

No electrification is required, although to perhaps extend the wires for a few hundred metres in a few places might ease operation.

  • From Norwich to where the Bittern and Wherry Lines divide.
  • From Ipswich to where the East Suffolk and Felixstowe Lines divide.
  • At Marks Tey along the Gainsborough Line.

This will allow the Class 755 trains to run on electricity for longer.

Conclusion

I’m probably very wide of mark, but iI do feel there is scope with the large number of Class 755 trains ordered by Greater Anglia to improve trains in East Anglia by a large amount.

 

September 5, 2017 - Posted by | Travel | , , , ,

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