The Anonymous Widower

Improving The Train Service Between Rose Grove And Colne Stations

The East Lancashire Line is the line that runs across the town of Burnley on the spectacular Bank Top Viaduct.

  • One train per hour in each direction runs between Blackpool South station on the coast and Colne station in the hills.
  • The five stations on the route; Burnley Barracks, Burnley Central, Brierfield, Nelson and Colne, are all single-platform stations.
  • Only Burnley Central station is more than rudimentary.
  • All station have platforms long enough for two Class 150 trains working as a four-car unit.
  • The line joins the cross-Pennine Calder Valley Line at Gannow Junction to the East of Rose Grove station.

In the Wikipedia entry for Colne station, this is said.

The remainder of the branch from Gannow Junction (near Rose Grove) to Nelson was also reduced to single track in December 1986 and so the entire line from there is now operated as a 6 1⁄2 miles (10.5 km) “long siding” with no intermediate passing loops (this restricts the service frequency that can operate along the branch, as only one train can be on the branch at a time).

It would thus appear that without track and/or signalling works, the service along the line will be restricted to an hourly train.

Track Improvements

To make improvement of the line more difficult, the line crosses Burnley town centre on the High Bank Top  Viaduct.

This second picture was taken from a train crossing the viaduct.

North of Burnley Central station, the terrain gets more rural and if needed the installation of a passing loop would be easier, than on the Bank Top Viaduct.

Station Improvements

I have been in a four-car train on the line, so I feel it could be theoretically easy to double the capacity by running four-car trains instead of the current two-car Class 150 trains.

This picture was taken of a pair of two-car diesel units, that took me between Colne and Blackpool South stations.

  • Most platforms seem to be long enough, but more shelters and ticket machines are needed.
  • Only Burnley Central station has booking office and a warm waiting room.
  • By hint of the simplicity of the stations, several are step-free.

Improvements to the stations are needed, but no station needs substantial rebuilding.

Signalling Improvements

The signalling of the line between Rose Grove and Colne stations would appear to rely on only one train being on the line at any one time.

In order to have more than one train on the branch a more sophisticated signalling system is needed.

Service Improvements

The November 2017 Edition of Modern Railways indicates that the Sunday service on this line will increase from two-hourly to hourly.

I was on the line on a sunny Sunday a few years ago and the four-car train was packed with families going to Blackpool for the day.

If anything this Sunday improvement will hasten the need for the doubling of service frequency between Blackpool South and Colne.

Could Two Trains Per Hour Work Between Rose Grove And Colne Stations?

The signalling would have to be improved for safety reasons, as the current safety system of one train on the branch would be inadequate.

If trains left Rose Grove and Colne stations on the half hour, then trains would call at Burnley Barracks station at the following times.

  • xx:03 – Service U1 going up
  • xx:17 – Service D1 going down
  • xx:33  – Service U2 going up
  • xx:47 – Service D2 going down

Time for Burnley Central would be as follows.

  • xx:06 – Service U1 going up
  • xx:14 – Service D1 going down
  • xx:36 – Service U2 going up
  • xx:44 – Service D2 going down

Times for Brierfield would be as follows.

  • xx:09 – Service D1 going down
  • xx:11 – Service U1 going up
  • xx:39 – Service D2 going down
  • xx:41  – Service U2 going up

Times for Nelson would be as follows.

  • xx:06 – Service D1 going down
  • xx:14 – Service U1 going up
  • xx:56 – Service D2 going down
  • xx:44  – Service U2 going up

Times for Colne would be as follows

  • xx:00 – Service D1 starts to go down
  • xx:20 – Service U1 arrives
  • xx:30 – Service D2 starts to go down
  • xx:50 – Service U2 arrives

Note.

  1. The trains take twenty minutes for the trip.
  2. U1, U2 are two services going up to Colne.
  3. D1, D2 are two services going down from Colne.

It would appear that a passing loop would be needed between Burnley Central and Brierfield stations. Looking from my helicopter at this section of line, a lot is in open country and there would appear to be space for a long passing loop.

Rolling Stock Improvements

The current rolling stock is inadequate and staff and passengers on the line have told me, that the route between Blackpool South and Colne stations, needs four-car services at times.

Because the Western end of the route will be electrified between Preston and Blackpool and Liverpool, there is a strong case for bi-mode trains, be they refurbished ones like Class 769 trains or new trains. Northern has new Class 195 trains on order, but they are pure diesels.

Given that the route may get extra electrification between Preston and Blackburn, if the Calder Valley Line is improved, Class 195 trains are probably not an ideal solution.

Class 769 Trains Between Blackpool South And Colne Stations

Current plans will see electrification of the route between Preston and Kirkham and Westham stations.

This would mean that nearly ten miles of the Blackpool South to Colne route will be electrified.

So would it be sensible to call for Bedpan Specials or Class 769 trains, which could make use of the electrification?

Consider.

  • According to a technical specification that I’ve seen, the trains have been designed to handle the Buxton Line, which is stiffer than the hill up to Colne.
  • The trains are four cars.
  • I believe, that three Class 769 trains would replace the current trains, which could then be appropriately scrapped or refurbished.
  • If more electrification is added between Blackburn and Blackpool South, the trains will take advantage.

I also believe that with a passing loop and modern signalling, that the extra performance of the Class 769 trains might make it possible to run two trains on the route with careful planning and precise driving.

But above all, the Class 769 trains are affordable and are probably available within a year.

An interesting observation, is that Northern have increased their order by three trains recently. So have they decided to use them on the Blackpool South to Colne service?

How Would A Re-Opened Skipton To Colne Rail Link Affect The East Lancashire Line Services?

There has started to be increased speculation lately, that the rail link between Skipton and Colne will be reopened. Chris Graying even mentioned this line in the House of Commons.

If the rail link were to be reopened, it would create another route across the Pennines between Lancashire and Yorkshire.

  • It would be unlikely to be a high-capacity or high-speed link.
  • There is electrification at both ends.
  • The line would be ideal for bi-mode trains like a refurbished Class 769 train or a new Class 755 train.
  • Colne could be upgraded to a single-platform through station.

Two trains per hour between Leeds and Preston through a scenic part of the Pennines would be a major development asset.

It could actually improve services on the Lancashire side of the border,, as services would no longer have to be turned back at Colne, but would do this at either Skipton or Leeds.

 

December 13, 2017 - Posted by | Travel | , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. […] The route needs to be improved and I wrote about this in Improving The Train Service Between Rose Grove And Colne Stations. […]

    Pingback by A Walk Between Burnley Barracks And Burnley Manchester Road Stations « The Anonymous Widower | December 13, 2017 | Reply

  2. […] discussed this in Improving The Train Service Between Rose Grove And Colne Stations and came to the conclusion, it was possible with a passing loop between Burnley and Brierfield […]

    Pingback by A Walk Between Burnley Manchester Road And Burnley Central Stations « The Anonymous Widower | December 13, 2017 | Reply


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