The Anonymous Widower

Norfolk Rail Line To Remain Closed As £68m Upgrade Project Overruns

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the BBC.

This is the first three paragraphs.

A major railway upgrade project has been delayed, meaning a Norfolk branch line will go longer without a service.

Network Rail is spending £68m to replace Victorian signalling equipment with a computer-based system between Norwich, Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft .

The project was due to be complete by 31 March, but the deadline will now be pushed back to allow for more testing.

As only Berney Arms station will be without a service, this probably isn’t a major disaster for the thousand passengers, who use the station in a year, but the story does have a very familiar ring.

Network Rail + Signalling = Overrun

Either they’ve found a very serious problem or the planning wasn’t the best!

The Possible Reinstatement Of The Reedham Chord

There used to be a direct Yarmouth to Lowestoft Line, but now it is possible to use the Wherry Lines, with a reverse at Reedham station.

Network Rail are talking about reinstating the Reedham Chord to create a more direct route between East Anglia’s largest North-Eastern towns. This is said about the Reedham Chord in Direct Yarmouth Services in the Wikipedia entry for Lowestoft station.

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.

This is a Google Map of the Reedham area.

Note.

  1. Reedham station is in the North-West corner of the map.
  2. The single-track line to Yarmouth and the double-track line to Lowestoft, run together to form a triple-track railway to the East of Reedham station.
  3. There are a large number of cross-overs in the triple-track section to the East of Reedham station, so that trains can easily go between either platform at Reedham and Yarmouth or Lowestoft.
  4. The line to Yarmouth goes straight away to the East.
  5. The line to Lowestoft curves South to cross the River Yare.
  6. The Reedham to Lowestoft tracks appear to have been relaid, as far as the bridge.

Will the new track layout and signalling, allow trains between Lowestoft and Yarmouth to perform a fast reverse in either platform at Reedham station?

This approach has advantages over the reinstallation of the Reedham Chord.

  • Reedham station won’t need to be relocated.
  • All trains between Lowestoft and Yarmouth will stop at Reedham station.
  • There would be no need to build the Reedham Chord.

I also suspect, that not building the Reedham Chord is the more affordable option.

Do Class 755 Trains Have a Fast Reverse Procedure?

Greater Anglia have a number of routes, that will be run by new Class 755 trains, where the trains will need to be reversed at either end.

  • Cambridge and Ipswich
  • Colchester and Peterborough
  • Colchester Town and Sudbury
  • Ipswich and Felixstowe
  • Ipswich and Lowestoft
  • Norwich and Lowestoft
  • Norwich and Sheringham
  • Norwich and Stansted Airport
  • Norwich and Yarmoiuth

When Stadler designed the Class 755 trains for Greater Anglia, did they propose simple automation, so that trains could be reversed in the minimum time at these numerous terminals?

A simple system could be as follows.

  • On arrival in a station, the driver would put the train into a standby mode, when it was safely stopped.
  • The driver would then walk through the train to the second cab.
  • Whilst the driver is changing ends, the conductor is opening and closing the train doors and supervising the loading and unloading of passengers.
  • On arrival in the second cab, the driver would wake up the train and check everything.
  • After the doors are closed and having received the all clear from the conductor and a green light from the signals, the driver would proceed.

At all times, the driver and conductor, would have emergency remote controls to immobilise the train, if something is not what it should be.

Modern automation is certainly able to design a very safe system, that would save time at every reverse.

What I have described here, is much less ambitious than the system I described in Crossrail Trains Will Have Auto-Reverse.

This auto-reverse system will be used at Paddington on Crossrail, by the Class 345 trains, to allow the driver to change ends on a two-hundred metre long train, whilst it is reversing to return to the East.

Testing The Signalling With The New Class 755 Trains

Obviously, adequate testing must be done with all trains that will use the  new signalling on the Wherry Lines between Norwich, Lowestoft and Yarmouth.

This article on the BBC is entitled ScotRail Class 385 Fishbowl Windscreen Safety Concern.

This is the first three paragraphs.

Aslef has warned that modifications must be made to ScotRail’s new Class 385 electric trains – or its drivers will refuse to work them.

The train drivers’ union is concerned that the curved windscreen is causing reflections of other signals at night.

Drivers identified the problem on a recent evening test run between Glasgow Central and Paisley Gilmour Street.

Testing of the ~Norfolk signalling will cover a myriad of possible problems, against the whole route and all possible trains.

But there is one problem, that is probably delaying the project.

The Class 755 trains have not been certified yet! So starting of the testing can’t be started.

Conclusion

This delay is more complicated, than initial reports suggest.

On the other hand, I wouldn’t be surprised if Network Rail have produced a track and signalling solution, that will allow a direct service between Lowestoft and Yarmouth, with a reverse at Reedham.

Typical timings appear to be.

  • Between Reedham and Yarmouth – 14-16 minutes
  • Between Reedham and Lowestoft – 24-26 minutes

Given that the Class 755 trains have the following characteristics.

  • They are 100 mph trains.
  • They are optimised for fast stops.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a sub-forty minute time between Lowestoft and Yarmouth.

Using the current times between Ipswich and Lowestoft and Norwich and Yarmouth, it also looks like a sub-three hour scenic route is possible between Ipswich and Norwich.

 

January 11, 2019 - Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. […] Norfolk Rail Line To Remain Closed As £68m Upgrade Project Overruns, I asked if the new Class 755 trains had a fast reverse procedure, as Greater Anglia’s […]

    Pingback by Roaming Around East Anglia – Reedham Station « The Anonymous Widower | March 8, 2019 | Reply

  2. […] I describe these options in Norfolk Rail Line To Remain Closed As £68m Upgrade Project Overruns. […]

    Pingback by A Trip On The East Suffolk Line In A New Stadler Class 755 Train « The Anonymous Widower | December 4, 2019 | Reply


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