The Anonymous Widower

East West Rail Makes ‘Powerful Case’ For Direct Services From Ipswich And Norwich To Oxford

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Rail Technology Magazine.

This is the first two paragraphs.

A direct rail link between Ipswich, Norwich and Oxford could unlock £17.5bn for the East Anglia community, according to a case for investment from the East West Rail Consortium (EWRC).

A new report publishing by the consortium outlines the benefits of new East West rail services, including the creation of 120,000 jobs and connecting high-value economies with fast rail links.

This report on the East-West Rail web site is entitled Eastern Section Prospectus and gives full details of their proposals.

Proposed Train Services

The East West Rail Consortium (EWRC) is proposing three phases of train services.

Initial Service Pattern

An hourly direct EWRC service to/from Ipswich, with a good connection at Cambridge to/from Norwich.

The current Ipswich to Cambridge service will be extended from Cambridge to Oxford and Reading.

Intermediate stations between Cambridge and Reading would include.

  • Cambridge South for Addenbrookes Hospital
  • Sandy
  • Bedford
  • Milton Keynes
  • Bletchley
  • Bicester
  • Oxford
  • Didcot Parkway

Selective journey times would include.

  • Ipswich to Bedford – 1 hour 26 minutes
  • Ipswich to Milton Keynes – 1 hour 55 minutes
  • Ipswich to Oxford – 2 hours 19 minutes
  • Ipswich to Reading- 2 hours 43 minutes

At Cambridge, there would be a same- or cross-platform interchange with Greater Anglia’s forthcoming service between Norwich and Stansted Airport, which will replace the current service between Norwich and Cambridge before the end of 2020, when new Class 755 trains will have entered service.

Selective journey times would include.

  • Norwich to Bedford – 1 hour 22 minutes
  • Norwich to Milton Keynes – 1 hour 51 minutes
  • Norwich to Oxford – 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Norwich to Reading- 2 hours 40 minutes

There would be a change of train at Cambridge station.

The report says this about infrastructure improvements.

Improved journey times could be provided by undertaking incremental linespeed enhancements between Cambridge and Ipswich/Norwich.

It doesn’t look like there will be too much disruption to train services, whilst the improvements are undertaken.

Interim Service Pattern

An hourly direct EWRC service to/from Norwich will be added to the Ipswich-Cambridge-Oxford-Reading service.

This will obviously mean that there will be two trains per hour (tph) between Cambridge and Oxford/Reading.,

But it will also mean.

  • Two tph between Norwich and Bedford/Milton Keynes/Oxford/Reading.
  • Two tph between Ipswich and Bedford/Milton Keynes/Oxford/Reading.

One of the Ipswich/Norwich trains will be direct and one will require a change at Cambridge.

I would expect that good connections would be arranged at Norwich, so that Cromer, Great Yarmouth, Lowestoft,and Sheringham had good coinnections to EWR.

Currently, East Anglia has two services to the Midlands/North

  • Liverpool and Norwich- 1 tph
  • Birmingham and Stansted Airport – 1 tph

These will be changed to the following.

  • Liverpool and Norwich
  • Birmingham and Stansted Airport
  • Liverpool and Stansted Airport
  • Birmingham and Norwich

All services would have a frequency of one train every two hours.

There would also be a cross-platform interchange at Peterborough between the two services, thus giving an hourly services on all four routes.

As Greater Anglia are planning to run an hourly Colchester to Peterborough service via Manningtree, Ipswich and Bury St. Edmunds, effectively this gives all these places an hourly service to Liverpool and Birmingham with a change at Peterborough.

The report recommends these infrastructure improvements.

  1. Additional platform capacity at Cambridge.
  2. Double-tracking of Trowse Swing Bridge.
  3. Signalling upgrades between Norwich and Brundall
  4. Signalling upgrades between between Ely and and Ely North Junction to reduce headways.
  5. Additional platform capacity at Norwich.
  6. Improved journey times and improved connections to/from Sheringham.

As with the initial service pattern, the infrastructure works with the exception of the double-tracking of Trowse Swing Bridge don’t seem to be major undertakings.

Long-Term Service Pattern

The long-term service pattern would be as follows.

  • The hourly Reading/Oxford service to Ipswich would be extended to Manningtree.
  • The hourly Reading/Oxford service to Norwich would be extended to Great Yarmouth.

There must be a good reason for not extending the Ipswich service to Colchester, as the Peterborough and Ipswich service will be extended to this terminal in 2020.

The report says this about infrastructure improvements.

A package of infrastructure enhancements across the region, building on those delivered for the interim phase.

It looks like nothing major will be undertaken.

Smaller Projects

The report details a series of smaller projects, that will be undertaken East of Cambridge. Many of these would be done even if East West Rail were not.

Chippenham Station

The report recommends building a new station at Chippenham Junction, which is to the East of Newmarket, close to the junction of the A11 and the A14 . The station is referred to in the report as A14 Parkway station.

This Google Map shows the location of the proposed station.

Note.

  1. The A14 going across the top of the map.
  2. The junction between the A14 and the A11 in the top-right corner.
  3. The triangular Chippenham Junction, pointing North to Ely, South to Newmarket and East to Bury St. Edmunds and Ipswich.

Having lived in that area for nearly thirty years, I believe that this is a much-needed station.

  • Stations in the area, with the exception of Cambridge North are short of car parking.
  • There would be two tph to/from Bury St. Edunds and Ipswich.
  • There would be one tph to Cambridge, Cambridge North, Cambridge South , Ely and Peterborough.

I suspect that there could be shuttle trains to provide extra services to Cambridge and Ely.

A shuttle train could run between A14 Parkway, Cambridge South, Ely and back to A14 Parkway, calling at all intermediate stations.

Double-Tracking

The report says that some single-track sections may need to be converted to double-track.

The major section of double-tracking would be between Coldhams Lane and Chippenham Junctions on the Cambridge Branch of the Ipswich-Ely Line.

A new chord would be built at Colhams Lane Junction, so that trains could run between Ely and Bury St. Edmunds via Newmarket.

This Google Map shows the area.

 

Note.

  1. The Cambridge to Norwich line running North South at the left of the map.
  2. The curve of the Cambridge Branch of the Ipswich-Ely Line at the bottom of the map.
  3. The extensive open space of Coldhams Common.

I have a feeling that building the chord will be a difficult planning process.

Electrification

The report says that there could be some additional electrification.

Ely North Junction

The report recommends that this junction is grade separated.

Ely North Station

The report recommends building a new Ely North station, which would be about one-and-a-half miles from Ely station.

Existing Stations

The report says this about existing stations.

Expansion of Cambridge, Norwich, Reedham, Kings Lynn and Manningtree
stations with remodelling of the station throat layouts.

I don’t think any modifications will be that difficult.

Felixstowe Tram-Train

This was said in the report.

Introduction of a tram-train service on the Felixstowe branch, with doubling between Derby Road and Felixstowe and street running through
Ipswich.

I was rather surprised. But why not?

The tram-train could even go down to the sea-front.

I explore this more in Could There Be A Tram-Train Between Ipswich And Felixstowe?.

Haughley Junction

Thr report recommends that this junction is grade separated.

This is one the most important projects to improve rail services in East Anglia.

Linespeed Increases To 100 mph

Greater Anglia’s fleet of Class 745, Class 755 and Class 720 trains are all 100 mph trains and the Great Eastern Main Line is a 100 mph route, all the way from London to Norwich.

It would seem that to improve services, that where possible linespeeds are increased to 100 mph.

  • The Breckland Line between Ely and Norwich, currently has a linespeed of around 75-90 mph and is double-track and  fairly straight across flat countryside.
  • The Ipswich-Ely Line between Ely and Ipswich, has a linespeed of up to 75 mph, and is mainly double-track and fairly straight across flat countryside.
  • The Cambridge Branch of the Ipswich-Ely Line is mainly single track and would probably be more difficult to upgrade.

Knowing the lines and East Anglia well, I suspect that these lines could be substantially given a linespeed of 100 mph.

Stansted Airport Station – Additional Platform

Stansted Airport station needs more capacity and may require the doubling of the tunnel under the runway.

Warren Hill Tunnel

The report recommends that Warren Hill Tunnel at Newmarket is doubled and that from Coldham Lane Junction to Chippenham Junction is also doubled.

This Google Map shows  the Western portal of the tunnel.

Note.

  1. The road  across the top is Old Station Road.
  2. The dark shadow at right angles to the road is the cutting leading to the tunnel.
  3. There seems to be plenty of space to widen the cutting.

And this Google Map shows  the Eastern portal of the tunnel.

Note.

  1. The road is the Bury Road.
  2. The cutting leading to the tunnel portal is in the top left of the picture.
  3. The actual portal appears to be under the Bury Road.

This page on the Newmarket Local History web site, gives details about railways in Newmarket. The site says that the tunnel is exactly a kilometre in length and built on a curve.

I can see that doing these tunnel works will not be without opposition from the Racing Industry at Newmarket.

I shall talk about this more later.

The Freight Locomotive Of The Future

Before discussing freight, I will describe the freight locomotive of the future.

Rail Operations Group have just ordered ten Class 93 locomotives from Stadler.

  • These are a tri-mode locomotive able to use electric, diesel or battery power.
  • They will probably be able to haul the heaviest freight train at 100 mph, using electric power.
  • They will be slower under diesel power, but they can use battery power for extra grunt.
  • They will also find applications in hauling 100 mph passenger trains on partially electrified lines.

Other manufacturers will follow Stadler in developing similar hybrid locomotives, which will haul larger freight trains faster and with less pollution, than the current generation of locomotives.

Freight

Part of the EWRC’s  freight plan  is to make it easier to get the massive number of freight trains between Felixstowe and the Midlands and the North.

This is an extract from the report.

Note that doubling of Warren Hill Tunnel at Newmarket and redoubling between Coldham Lane Junction and Chippenham Junction is included in the infrastructure requirements.

It is assumed that most freight would operate via Newmarket, with a new north chord at Coldham Lane Junction, rather than pursuing further doubling of the route via Soham.

I indicated , these points earlier.

  • ,Building a chord across Coldhams Common will not go down well with the residents of Cambridge.
  • The plans for a double-track railway through Newmarket will not go down well with the Racing Industry.

I would also suspect that the logistics of building a second tunnel at Warren Hill, could be a nightmare, given the twenty-four hour nature of horse-racing.

So why have EWRC decided to route most freight trains through Newmarket?

Currently, freight trains going to/from Felixstowe use one of four routes.

  • They go via London and cross the city on the crowded North London or Gospel Oak to Barking Lines.
  • They go to Peterborough and take a cross-country route to Nuneaton, which is slow and has a notorious level crossing in the centre of Oakham.
  • They go to Peterborough and take a diversion route through Lincoln.
  • They go to Peterborough and up the East Coast Main Line, which is increasingly crowded.

None of these are perfect routes for freight trains.

Looking into the future, by the late 2020s, the following will have happened.

  • An increasing number of freight trains will be running to/from Felixstowe.
  • High Speed Two will have opened, which will release paths for freight trains on the electrified West Coast Main Line.
  • Hybrid Electric/diesel/battery freight locomotives  will be commonplace and hauling most long-distance inter-modal freight trains.
  • The East West Rail Link will have opened between the West Coast Main Line and Cambridge.

It appears to me, that there could be a plan to create extra routes for freight trains to/from Felixstowe, using the East West Rail Link.

  • Services between Felixstowe and West Coast Main Line destinations like Birmingham, Carlisle, Glasgow, Liverpool and Manchester, will use the East West Rail Link between the West Coast Main Line and Cambridge.
  • Services between Felixstowe and Midland Main Line destinations like Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield, will use the East West Rail Link between the Midland Main Line and Cambridge.
  • Services between Felixstowe and South Western and Western destinations like Bristol, Southampton and Wales, will use the East West Rail Link between the Great Western Main Line and Cambridge.

Services between Felixstowe and East Coast Main Line destinations like Doncaster, Edinburgh, Leeds and Newcastle will still use the traditional route via Ely and Peterborough.

It seems to me, that as many as two freight trains in every hour in both directions will need to take the route between Felixstowe and the East West Rail Link through Bury St. Edmunds, Newmarket, Cambridge and Cambridge South stations.

This number of freight trains would make it essential, that there is a double-track railway from Chippenham Junction to Cambridge.

The Coldhams Chord also seems to be an important part of the plans of the EWRC.

This is to allow freight trains between Peterborough and Felixstowe to use the upgraded double-track route through Newmarket.

Once on the electrified Fen Line at Coldhams Junction, freight trains with a hybrid locomotive could use the electrification to Ely.

At Ely, the trains would then be able to take the Peterborough-Ely Line to continue on their way.

These points should be noted.

  • Currently freight trains between Felixstowe and Peterborough, have to cross the double-track Fen Line at Ely and it could be that operationally it would be easier, if they used the route via Coldhams Lane junction.
  • The level crossing at Ely station is being sorted.
  • The Fen Line between Cambridge and Ely is an electrified double-track and except at Waterbeach station, it would probably be relatively easy to add additional tracks.
  • Cambridge North station appears to have a double-track by-pass line for freight trains.
  • For some years, I’ve believed that the thirty miles of the Peterborough-Ely Line should be improved and electrified, as this would give a valuable electrified diversion route, if the East Coast Main Line were to be closed South of Peterborough.

So if a freight train were to be hauled by a hybrid locomotive, it would surely be able to use electrification between Peterborough and Coldhams Lane Junction.

The distance between Coldhams Lane Junction and Haughley Junction, where the electrification from Ipswich ends is forty miles. The terrain is also very undemanding.

I would be very surprised if in a few years, a powerful hybrid locomotive couldn’t haul the heaviest freight train on this route.

Conclusion

The East West Rail Link will have far reaching consequences for Norfolk, Suffolk and North Essex.

  • Most towns and cities with perhaps a population of upwards of 30,000 will have a two trains per hour service to Cambridge, Bedford, Milton Keynes, Oxford and Reading.
  • Some services will be direct, but many will involve a same- or cross-platform change at a station like Cambridge, Ipswich or Norwich.
  • East Anglia will have much better hourly connections to Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham and Sheffield.
  • There will be much improved capacity for freight trains to/from Felixstowe.

I feel very positive about what has been said.

February 20, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The New Escalators At Limehouse Station

Limehouse station now has a smart pair of escalators on the Westbound platform.

Are escalators going to be added to the Eastbound platform and the c2c platforms?

February 20, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Institutional Investors ‘See Energy Storage As Most Interesting Renewable’ Option

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Energy Storage News.

This is the first two paragraphs.

A new poll has identified energy storage as the most promising technology for institutional investors keen on renewable assets, amid plans by many to ramp up allocations.

Nearly two-thirds of all asset owners and managers quizzed by the firm chose batteries and other energy storage technologies as the renewables subsector with the greatest potential.

I suggest you read the rest.

The last paragraph talks of Arlington Energy building a portfolio of 1GW of energy storage and gas peaker projects and has raised £200million for starters.

If I was an engineer involved in the development of nuclear power, I would be seriously thinking of looking for a new challenge.

 

February 20, 2019 Posted by | Finance, World | , | Leave a comment

What’s This Dirty Rotten Beast Doing On The GOBlin?

I photographed this dirty rotten beast at Blackhorse Road station on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line at 10:30 this morning.

Isn’t this very much a load of pollution in the face of all those, who had to put up with all the disruption whilst the line was electrified.

By the way, it is exhaust smoke above the train and not a tree on the nearby Wetlands!

The Class 70 locomotive is supposed to meet EU Tier IIIa emission regulations.

Pull the other one!

The freight train was going from Garston F.L.T. to Lonfon Gateway Freightliner.

As neither of these terminals are electrified, the train has to be diesel-hauled.

But surely, the diesel shouldn’t be throwing out this level of pollution.

February 20, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Spain – Luxembourg Rail Motorway Service Launched

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

This is the first paragraph.

A ‘rail motorway’ service carrying unaccompanied lorry trailers 1 219 km between Barcelona and Luxembourg was launched on February 19. 

This is the fifth such service to be operated across France and will be operated five times a week, with a sixth service to be added in April.

One of these services takes unaccompanied lorry trailers between Calais and a terminal near Perpignan, so you might wonder why this service doesn’t start in the UK.

The only place, that it could serve in the UK would be Barking, due to our antique loading gauge not being able to accept piggyback trailers.

So we can’t really link the UK to this freight network.

There is an excellent discussion on Rail Forums, which goes through the issues.

Barking

Barking is probably not the best place for a terminal for unaccompanied lorry trailers.

It is close to the heavily-congested M25, but surely trains of unaccompanied trailers could be assembled in other parts of the UK and taken to Barking.

But rail lines connecting Barking to the North include the North London and Gospel Oak to Barking Lines, both of which would need drastic gauge enhancement to take the traffic. As these routes are crowded London commuter routes, this work would go down like a whole squadron of lead balloons.

Specialist Freight

If you stood by the Gospel Oak To Barking Line for twenty-four hours, you would see some specialist freight trains going through, often carrying cars or vehicle components.

I think there will be growth in this sector, perhaps for high-value or perishable cargo, in purpose-built trains. But it would only take a few trucks off the roads.

There is also the problem, that a lot of specialist cargo is only one way.

  • Minis go from Oxford to Europe.
  • Ford cars and vans go from Europe to the UK.
  • Perishable fruit and vegetables go from Southern Europe to the UK.
  • Scotch whisky and seafood would go from Scotland to Europe.

I am certain, there is a profitable market niche here to pair compatible cargoes.

High Speed Parcel Traffic

Could we also see a network of overnight high speed parcel trains linking Europe’s major conurbations and commercial centres?

Conclusion

Neither specialist freight or high speed parcel trains will make much of a dent in the number of trucks, that will continue to clog the motorways to the Port of Dover.

 

 

February 20, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments