The Anonymous Widower

Call For ETCS On King’s Lynn Route

The title of this post, is the same as that on an article in Edition 849 of Rail Magazine.

The article is based on this document on the Fen Line Users Aoociation web site, which is entitled Joint Response To Draft East Coast Main Line Route Study.

In addition to ETCS, which could improve capacity on the East Coast Main Line, they would also like to see journey time reductions using trains capable of running at 125 mph or faster on the King’s Lynn to Kings Cross route.

The Fen Line

The Fen Line runs between Ely and King’s Lynn stations.

  • It is mainly single -track with a double-track section at Downham Market station.
  • The line has an operating speed of 90 mph.
  • The line is electrified.
  • All stations have two platforms.
  • Looking at the line from my virtual helicopter, I suspect that redoubling would be possible.
  • Passenger numbers are increasing at stations on the line.
  • There are several level crossings.

It also would appear that because of the complicated nature of timetabling trains on the East Coast Main Line to the South of Hitvhin, that there are often delays on the Fen Line, as there is only one passing place at Downham Market.

I therefore agree with the opinions expressed on the Fen Line Users Association, that restoring double-track could help reduce delays on the Fen Line.

The Cambridge Line

The Cambridge Line connects Cambridge to the East Coast Main Line at Hitchin.

  • It is double-track throughout.
  • It is fully electrified.
  • It has a 90 mph operating speed.
  • Kking’s Lynn to Kings Cross services use the line.
  • Currently four trains per hour (tph) run between Cambridge and Kings Cross.
  • This will be increased by two tph, when Thameslink is fully operational.

King’s Lynn to Kings Cross services use this line.

The Current Timetable

Trains seem to take around an hour and forty minutes to go from Kings Cross to King’s Lynn, where they take under ten minutes to turnround and then they take around an hour and forty minutes to return to Kings Cross. I suspect, it isn’t the easiest service for an operator to mrun, as a train could be sitting in Kings Cross for thirty minutes.

How Could The Service Between King’s Lynn and Kings Cross Be Improved?

From the Rail Magazine article, the views of the Fen Line Users Association and the details of the route, the following could help.

ERTMS And ETCS

ERTMS and the closely related;  ETCS sre digital systems that enable trains to run faster and closer together, which could increase the capacity of the line and reduce journey times.

The Wikipedia entry for the East Coast Main Line says this about recent and future development of the signalling.

A new Rail Operating Centre (ROC), with training facilities, opened in early 2014 at the “Engineer’s Triangle” in York. The ROC will enable signalling and day-to-day operations of the route to be undertaken in a single location. Signalling control/traffic management using ERTMS is scheduled to be introduced from 2020 on the ECML between London King’s Cross and Doncaster – managed from the York ROC.

I would think it likely that if the whole route from King’s Lynn and Kings Cross were digitally signalled, there would be advantages.

  • It would help the merging of trains at Hitchin.
  • It would help in managing trains on the single-track sections of the Fen Line.

The Rail Magazine article mentions flighting trains on the single-track sections, where two or more trains in the same direction, went though in succession.

It would also allow closer spacing and higher frequencies on the East Coast Main Line.

All trains using the route, including freight trains, would need to be fully equpped for digital signalling.

Improving The Fen Line

The biggest improvement would come by redoubling the line between Littleport and King’s Lynn.

  • Trains could pass anywhere on the Fen Line.
  • It might also be possible to avoid complicated operating procedures.
  • Timetabling should be easier.
  • Extra services would be possible.
  • Delays should be reduced, as there would be less knock-on effects from problems on the East Coast Main Line.

But on the flat lands of the fens, it might also be possible to increase the operating speed.

Improving Ely

Ely is a mess, where trains always seem to be waiting for something.

Hopefully, improvements are on the way, as I wrote in Are The Trains In Ely Finally To Be Sorted?

According to an e-mail and comments on this post, Ely North Junction needs improvement.

This Google Map shows the junction.

Note.

  1. Ely station is to the South West.
  2. starting at the top-left and going clockwise, lines go to Peterborough, Ely and Norwich.
  3. The last set of lines are sidings.

There would appear to be two solutions.

  • Extra lines and flat junctions can be added. Flat junctions mean that trains have to cross each other.
  • From what I’ve read digital signalling is very good at handling junctions, by making sure trains present themselves correctly, so this may be a better solution.

Either solution could be make to work very well!

Improving The Cambridge Line

There don’t appear to be any projects on the Cambridge Line, but I suspect that Network Rail are looking for small things, that will save minutes here and there.

125 Mph Trains

Who’d have thought forty or fifty years ago, that someone would seriously suggest running trains capable of 125 mph to King’s Lynn?

The Class 387 trains are 110 mph trains and I have recorded one at that speed on the East Coast Main Line.

Would a 125 mph train, be able to use that speed South of Hitchin?

If it could then.

  • It could cruise on the fast lines with all the fast trains to and from the North.
  • It would cut a couple of minutes  from the journey time.

Once digital signalling is operational, the trains could be closer together, which would increase line capacity.

There are several fast electric multiple units, that have been built in recent years or are on order.

  • Bombardier Class 387 – 110 mph – In service.
  • Bombardier Aventra – 110 mph -In development for West Midlands Trains.
  • CAF Class 397 – 125 mph – In development for TransPennine Express.
  • Hitachi Class 801 – 125 mph On test for service entry this year.
  • Siemens Class 350 – 110 mph – In service.

Bombardier are also showing ideas for a 125 mph bi-mode Aventra to various train operating companies, which I wrote about in Bombardier Bi-Mode Aventra To Feature Battery Power.

To build a 125 mph bi-mode train, you probably start with a 125 mph electric train.

So have Bombardier designed a 125 mph version of the Aventra?

It would appear, that Bombardier, Hitachi and possibly CAF and Stadler will be offering 125 mph electric multiple units, with a bi-mode version if needed, for lines without electrification.

But there are several routes in addition to Kings Cross to King’s Lynn

  • St. Pancras to Corby
  • Euston to the West Midlands
  • Liverpool/Manchester to Edinburgh/Glasgow
  • Leeds/York to Edinburgh/Glasgow.
  • Waterloo to Bournemouth/Southampton/Weymouth

Train travel could be getting faster?

Conclusion

The ultimate benefit would come if trains could do a round trip in under three hours.

This would probably need a journey time of perhaps an hour and twenty-four minutes between Kings Cross and King’s Lynn. It is certainly not possible now, but it might be with the following.

  • 125 mph-capable trains.
  • Digital signalling on the East Coast Main Line and on the Cambridge and Fen Lines.
  • 125 mph running, where possible on the East Coast Main Line.
  • Improvements at Ely.
  • Full double-tracking of the Fen Line.
  • If possible, 100 mph running on the Cambridge and Fen Lines.

A three-hour round trip would allow the current service of one tph to be run with just three trains.

If both of the twice-hourly fast services between Kings Cross and Cambridge were extended to King’s Lynn, instead of the current one, this would mean that the following service could be possible with just six trains.

  • Two tph
  • Stops at Cambridge, Cambridge North, Waterbeach, Ely, Littleport, Doenham Market and Watlington.
  • Ten x 23 metre cars or Twelve x 20 metre cars.
  • Possibly a bistro.

There is improvement to come between Kings Cross, Cambridge and King’s Lynn, if the financial case stacks up.

 

 

 

April 8, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 9 Comments

Ticketing On Heathrow Southern Railway

This article on City AM is entitled New Elizabeth Line Services Are Coming To Heathrow’s Terminal 5 After Airport Strikes Deal With The Government and TfL. It contains this paragraph.

Heathrow has also announced that it is introducing Oyster and contactless payments for all rail services going into the airport. From May 2018, new ticket readers will be installed at Heathrow, so anyone using Heathrow Express and TfL Rail will be able to use an Oyster or contactless.

When I passed through Heathrow a couple of weeks ago, there was evidence of new ticket gates being installed.

Heathrow Southern Railway’s Proposed Services

Heathrow Southern Railway are proposing four services to the West of Terminal 5 at Heathrow.

  • Heathrow Express from Terminal 5 to Woking, Guildford and Basingstoke, with an additional stop at Farnborough Main.
  • Crossrail from Terminal 5 to Staines
  • A service from Terminal 5 to Waterloo with stops at Staines, Clapham Junction and possibly Ashford, Felham, Twickenham, Richmond and Vauxhall.
  • A service from Terminal 5 to Weybridge with stops at Egham, Virginia Water, Chertsey and Addlestone.

Some of the stations like those between Feltham and Waterloo already accept contactless ticking, but surely all of them must if Heathrow Southern Railway is built, as you’ll be able to use contactless ticketing at Heathrow, but not at say Woking or Basingstoke.

Onward From Basingstoke, Guildford And Woking

A proportion of travellers from places like Bournemouth, Exeter, Portsmouth, Salisbury and Southampton will use Heathrow Southern Railway to get to the airport, with an appropriate change at Basingstoke, Guidford or Woking.

Will these travellers want to use contactless ticketing?

Conclusion

There will be a lot of discussions about ticketing on the Heathrow Southern Railway.

These ticketing issues, help to make it very understandable, why MTR, a partner in South Western Railway, want to join the Heathrow Southern Railway, as I wrote about in MTR Vying To Join Heathrow Southern Rail Bid.

Travellers want the ticketing system with the least hassle and as London is proving, contactless ticketing with bank cards works well!

 

 

 

April 8, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment