The Anonymous Widower

Should Thameslink Be Extended To Corby?

I ask this question as someone who created his pension pot from writing the algorithms to allocate resources in the planning of projects and because I know that the number of train paths on the Midland Main Line is very tight for the number of services required.

This document on the Network Rail web site has this paragraph.

Electrification of the MML north of Bedford to Kettering and Corby is scheduled to be completed by December 2019.

The Wikipedia entry for Corby station has a section entitled Future, where this is said.

It is planned that a half-hourly London St Pancras to Corby service will operate from December 2019 using new Class 387 trains, once the Midland Main Line has been electrified beyond Bedford as part of the Electric Spine project. Network Rail has also announced that it plans to re-double the currently singled Glendon Junction to Corby section as part of this scheme.

So how will the second service in each hour be provided?

Bedford To St. Pancras

Looking at Bedford, it would appear the following trains run to London.

  • East Midlands Trains in 39-40 minutes
  • Thameslink in 57-59 minutes at a frequency of four trains per hour (tph).
  • A Limited-Stop Thameslink in 52 minutes.

As Thameslink has now fully introduced an all-Class 700 train service, could we be seeing a faster service?

Bedford To Corby

The current hourly service between St. Pancras and Corby stops at Bedford and takes thirty-four minutes between Bedford and Corby with stops at Wellingborough and Kettering.

A modern electric train like a Class 700 train, might be able to do the return trip from Bedford to Corby in under an hour. If a Class 700 train can’t do it, then a Class 387 train certainly could.

This would mean that one way to provide the extra service between St. Pancras and Corby would be to extend one of the four tph Bedford to Brighton services to Corby.

This approach would give the following advantages

  • No extra train path is needed South of Bedford.
  • Corby, Kettering and Wellingborough would get a choice of service.
  • Corby, Kettering and Wellingborough would have a direct link to Crossrail.

But there would be disadvantages.

  • The Thameslink service would be a few minutes slower.
  • The Class 700 trains don’t have tables, cup-holders, wi-fi and power sockets.
  • The Class 700 trains are only 100 mph trains and probably not fast enough.

The obvious solution is to run the service with a faster electric train, which addresses the deficiencies of the Class 700 trains.

The Ultimate Solution

The Midland Main Line  between Bedford and Glendon Junction for Corby is at least three tracks, with in most places space for a fourth.

I believe the following improvements should be made to the route between Bedford and Glendon Junction.

  • All the tracks between Bedford and Corby should be upgraded to be as fast as possible, so that 110 or 125 mph trains to Corby could make full use of their speed, without using the two Fast Lines.
  • Wellingborough station should have the fourth platform restored.
  • Extra stations, including a Parkway station, could be added if required.

Thameslink would acquire a number of 110 or 125 trains and replace the four tph service between Brighton and Bedford, with a four tph service between Brighton and Corby.

Class 387 trains would probably be acceptable. Especially, as Govia Thameslink Railway uses these trains on Cambridge services.

The consequences of doing this would be.

  • The current one tph path between St. Pancras and Corby on the Fast Lines would be released.
  • Platform needs at St. Pancras would be reduced.
  • No extra Slow Line paths would be needed.
  • Bedford would get the same four tph service to London all day.
  • Corby, Kettering and Wellingborough would get four tph to St. Pancras.

Twelve faster trains would be needed to provide a full four tph service between Corby and St. Pancras.

Alternatively, you could extend just two opf the four tph from Brighton tom Bedford to Corby!

This would mean.

  • Bedford would get the same four tph service to London all day.
  • Corby, Kettering and Wellingborough would get two tph to St. Pancras.

Six faster trains would be needed.

Conclusion

I am led to the conclusion, that by providing some extra 110 or 125 mph trains for Thameslink, that the service on the Midland Main Line can be improved significantly.

It also leads me to believe that the specification of the Class 700 trains was created by someone with worse vision than George Shearing.

The trains lack a lot of features like wi-fi and power sockets.

But more importantly, they lack the 110 mph capability of trains like the |Class 350, Class 387 and Class 379 trains, which enables them to run efficiently with express services cruising at 125 mph.

 

 

 

 

October 18, 2017 - Posted by | Travel | , , ,

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