The Anonymous Widower

Roaming Around East Anglia – What Trains Will Run On The East-West Rail Link?

In my discussions at Newmarket and as I passed through stations like Ipswich, Norwich and Stowmarket, I got to thinking what type and size of train will be used by the East-West Rail Link.

Bi-Mode Trains

The trains will undoubtedly be some form of bi-mode train, as electrification of the whole route has been ruled out.

But the ability to use electrification would undoubtedly be useful, as parts of the route and some stations already have 25 KVAC overhead wires.

  • Reading to Didcot
  • Milton Keynes to Bletchley
  • Around Bedford
  • Around Sandy
  • Cambridge North to Cambridge
  • Around Norwich
  • Haughley Junction to Manngtree

With a few other sections likely to be electrified, I suspect that automated pantograph control would be useful.

Operating Speed

Wikipedia states this about the operating speed of the Western section.

In May 2014, Network Rail announced that the line will be opened to 125 mph (200 km/h) running, the current top speed for InterCity services. It is proposed that CrossCountry services, along with Chiltern Railways and London Northwestern Railway services will use the route.

If it is a 125 mph line in places, then surely the trains will have this speed capability.

The 125 mph East-West Rail Link would also open up some fast 125 mph routes, from the South West and South Wales to the East Coast Main Line.

Train Length

The following stations East of Cambridge will be seved by East-West Rail Link trains.

  • A14 Parkway
  • Attleborough
  • Brandon
  • Bury St. Edmunds *
  • Cambridge *
  • Cambridge North *
  • Dullingham
  • Ely *
  • Elmswell
  • Ipswich *
  • Kennett
  • Manningtree *
  • Needham Market *
  • Newmarket
  • Norwich *
  • Stowmarket *
  • Thetford
  • Thrston
  • Wymondham

I am fairly sure that stations marked with an asterisk can already take trains with at least eight cars.

It doesn’t appear that there are any stations to the East off Cambridge, that will have a serious restriction on train length.

I would suspect that five, six or eight cars will be used.

I would also suspect that all platforms would be capable of taking two hundred metre long trains. London Overground was caught out, by making the initial platform length too short and it would be tragic, if the East West Rail Consortium made the same mistake.

Will The Trains Be Walk-Through?

The first long-distance walk-through trains will start to appear this year.

As they offer more passenger space, I think that the trains will be walk-through.

Conclusion

I am pretty sure that the trains for the East-West Rail Link will be 125 mph-capable bi-modes of whatever length the East West Rail Consortium thinks is needed.

Consider.

  • Many of the Eastern stations already take two hundred metre trains.
  • Reading and possibly Oxford can take two five-car Class 800 trains, which have a length of 260 metres.
  • Intermediate stations like Bedford, Cambridge and Milton Keynes all have long platforms.
  • Other stations will be newly built or like Newmarket will need rebuilding of the platforms.

I think we might see the East-West Rail Consortium, buying the longest trains, they could possibly need.

Trains from the Hitachi Class 800-family must be in the running for the order, but I feel that this order could be ideal for the 125 mph bi-mode Aventra with batteries, which has been proposed to Cross-Country. I wrote about this train in Bombardier Bi-Mode Aventra To Feature Battery Power.

 

March 3, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Roaming Around East Anglia – Stowmarket Station

After Newmarket, I travelled on to Norwich, changing trains at Stowmarket station.

It was an easy change, as I waited about half-a-dozen minutes after arriving from Newmarket for the Norwich train.

The station is Grade II Listed, has the capability to handle the long London-Norwich expresses and probably only needs a step-free footbridge to be ready for the East-West Rail Link.

March 3, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | 1 Comment

Roaming Around East Anglia – Newmarket Station

I went to Newmarket station for two reasons; to assess if the East West Rail Consortium’s plans for Newmarket were feasible and also to see a friend, who trains racehorses in the town, to tell him about the plans.

I should say, that I haven’t been to Newmarket for perhaps six years and it struck me that the town was much more crowded with traffic, with a lot of full car-parks. Around the station, there were lots of cars parked. How many were owned  by commuters going to Cambridge.

The Plans Of The East West Rail Consortium For Newmarket

In this document on the East West Rail Consortium web site, this is said.

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.

So would it be possible to create a double-track railway through Newmarket station?

These are pictures that I took of the station.

It does appear that there is space for another track on the other side of the current track to the platform.

Newmarket station has some positive attributes.

  • It is in the centre of the town.
  • There is enough shelter and storage for cycles.
  • The platform will be long enough for Greater Anglia’s new four-car Class 755 trains.
  • There is a wide, spacious platform.

But these are outweighed by these drawbacks.

  • The vehicle access is terrible.
  • There is no Kiss-and-Ride facility.
  • Car parking is in the surrounding streets and as it’s free, the local roads will get choked, especially when Greater Anglia’s larger trains are introduced later this year.
  • The East West Rail Link will introduce a two trains per hour (tph) through the station.
  • Will the platform at Newmarket be long enough for the East West Consortium trains, which will be running between Ipswich and Oxford? Probably not!
  • There is no coffee kiosk, shop or toilets.

But above all it is not a destination station., that gives a good impression for visitors and tourists, who could make up a proportion of travellers.

The East West Rail Consortium are planning a parkway station on the A14 to the North of Newmarket and this will surely solve the problem of traffic and parking, that blocks the local streets,

But I believe that Newmarket needs a station, that will attract visitors.

My pictures, show the previous station building still standing next door to the current station.

  • This could be converted into a first-class station with excellent passenger facilities.
  • There could be a large taxi rank.
  • There could be passenger drop-off and pick-up facilities.
  • There is space for a bus connection to the race-course on race-days.
  • Limited car-parking of a short-term nature.
  • A two-hundred metre  long platform could be built to accommodate the longest-possible trains.

This Google Map, shows the combined site of the current and previous stations.

Both stations are effectively side-by-side, with the current station to the East.

The large area behind the stations is parking for horse-boxes during the numerous sales at Tattersalls. For much of the year, it is virtually empty.

I’m pretty sure, that with some management, the area could serve both its current purpose and as a forecourt to a landmark station,, that would enhance the town and the racing industry.

I don’t think that a second platform would be needed for the following reasons.

  • Adding the step-free access to the seond platform would cost a seven figure sum.
  • Commuters into Cambridge would be encounraged to use the A14 Parkway station.
  • Probably only on race days, would there be large enough numbers of passengers to need to accommodate two trains in the station at the same time..

However space could be left, if a second platform were to be needed in the future.

Conclusion And Recommendations

The current Newmarket station is totally inadequate for the current service of one three-car train per hour in both directions.

Greater Anglia’s new Class 755 trains could be a car longer and will certainly attract more passengers to use Newmarket station, as new trains always do!

I feel that in the next couple of years, possible additional trains, more passengers and lack of car parking will create problems at Newmarket station.

I would recommend the following actions.

A14 Parkway Station

Work should start as soon as is practical for the A14 Parkway station, proposed by the East West Rail Consortium.

This station would have the following Greater Anglia services.

  • Peterborough and Colchester – 1 tph
  • Ipswich and Cambridge – 1 tph

These two services would give the following frequencies to these places.

  • Bury St. Edmunds – 2 tph direct
  • Colchester – 1 tph direct and 2 tph with a change at Ipswich
  • Diss – 1 tph with a change at Stowmarket
  • Ipswich – 2 tph direct
  • London – 1 tph with a change at Cambridge and 1 tph with a change at Ely
  • Newmarket – 1 tph direct
  • Norwich – 1 tph with a change at Cambridge, 1 tph with a change at Ely and 2 tph with a change at Stowmarket
  • Peterborough – 1 tph direct and 1 tph with a change at Cambridge
  • Stansted Airport – 2 tph with a change at Cambridge
  • Stowmarket – 2 tph direct

A14 Parkway station sitting at the junction of two of the busiest roads in East Anglia; the A11 and A14, and two important rail routes,would be one of the most important stations in the East.

The station could only be named after Ancient Britain’s most famous queen, who by repute once lived in the area.

Upgrade Newmarket Station

Hopefrully, the A14 Parkway station would ease the problems at Newmarket station and this would enable work to progress on the design of an upgraded Newmarket station, that would serve the town, the racing industry and the towns tourist attractions.

Improved Train Services To/From Cambridge

Once the East West Rail Link opens between Cambridge and Oxford, the current service between Ipswich and Cambridge, could eventually be replaced with a service between Manningtree and Oxford or possibly Reading, that calls at Ipswich, Stowmarket, Bury St. |Edmunds, A14
Parkway, Newmarket, Cambridge, Cambridge South, Bedford, Bletchley, Milton Keynes, Bicester, Oxford and several smaller intermediate stations.

The three Cambridge stations of Cambridge, Cambridge North and Cambridge South will also increasingly be connected to the surrounding stations like A 14 Parkway, Bury St. Edmunds, Cambourne, Ely, Kings Lynn, March, Newmarket and Peterborough. Services will be at a frequency of at least two tph, with some as high as four tph.

In addition, there could be new services to Haverhill and Wisbech.

Newmarket will get a share of these services and I wouldn’t be surprised to see these frequencies from Newmarket station to the three Cambridge stations.

  • Cambridge – 4 tph direct
  • Cambridge North – 2 tph direct and 2 tph with a change at Cambridge
  • Cambridge South – 2 tph direct and 2 tph with a change at Cambridge

Cambridge is becoming one of the most important cities in Europe and Newmarket can benefit by holding on to big sister’s skirts.

West Suffolk And London Services

If you look at the sizeable towns in Suffolk, the following ones that are rail connected, do not have a direct train service to London.

  • Beccles
  • Bury St. Edmunds
  • Felixstowe
  • Halesworth
  • Lowestoft
  • Newmarket
  • Sudbury
  • Woodbridge

Greater Anglia’s new Class 755 trains, will be running three trains per day, between Liverpool Street and Lowestoft, which will reduce this list to just.

  • Bury St. Edmunds
  • Felixstowe
  • Newmarket
  • Sudbury

If Felixstowe is discounted as it is on a  branch line busy with freight trains and Sudbury because it is on a single track branch line, we are left with just.

  • Bury St. Edmunds
  • Newmarket

Add in the proposed A14 Parkway station and is it feasible to run a service between London Liverpool Street and Bury St. Edmunds via Cambridge, Newmarket and A14 Parkway.

I calculate that a round trip would be possible in around four hours, thus making three trains per day possible.

I suspect, there would be capacity problems on the Southern section of the West Anglia Main Line, but if this were to be four-0tracked as is proposed, this would ease that problem.

So a service between West Suffolk and London, is probably one for the future.

A Final Conclusion

Newmarket can benefit from East West Rail, but the two parties must agree objectives that don’t cause problems for the other.

 

 

 

March 3, 2019 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , , | 3 Comments

Roaming Around East Anglia – Coldhams Common

I took the spacious three-car Class 170 train from Cambridge to Newmarket.

This Google Map shows the area, where the Cambridge to Ipswich Line via Newmarket leaves the main Cambridge to Ely route.

The Cambrifge-Ipswich line is the loop at the bottom of the map crossing the green space of Coldhams Common.

These are pictures, I took as my train passed.

The East West Rail Consortium have plans for this rail line.

In this document on their web site, this is said.

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.

So would it be possible to fit, the required chord between the two railway lines?

I suspect that a double-track chord would be preferred and there might be some extra tracks between Cambridge and Ely.

This Google Map shows the area in more detail.

Note the level crossing shown in my pictures.

The main problems in the way of a double-track chord that would allow trains to pass between the routes to Ely and Newmarket, would appear to be the industrial Buildings and the level crossing that gives access across the rail line.

But I don’t think that this will be the major problem, as industrial premises can always be relocated, especially if the compensation is good.

I estimate that it is likely, that two heavy freight trains in every hour in both directions should be passing across the quiet green space of Coldhams Common.

Would this be acceptable to the nearby residents and the users of the Common?

  • The East West Rail Consortium are well funded and I suspect they have a cunning plan here, that could put a double track railway through this sensitive area.
  • If the landowner of these industrial buildings happened to be Network Rail, that would surely help, as they would co-operate.
  • There also appears to be very little housing alongside the Cambridge-Ipswich rail line.

I could see a solution, where more of the industrial buildings than needed were removed and some of the land given over to extend Coldhams Common.

March 3, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

Roaming Around East Anglia – Cambridge Station Square

Cambridge station now has a station square with a hotel, a pub, several coffee shops, a convenience store and a taxi rank, which is a big difference from when I left Suffolk ten years ago.

It is so much better than the crowded space squeezed between the car parking.

As a pedestrian, I like it! I was able to walk to everything I would need like a coffee, some gluten-free snacks, a bed, a decent meal, bus or a taxi.

The only thing missing is a proper tram to take you to the City Centre.

How many towns and cities need a station square like this in the UK?

March 3, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Roaming Around East Anglia – London Overground’s Luxurious Metro Trains

I spent Friday and Saturday roaming around East Anglia, ending up at the football at Portman Road.

These pictures show one of London Overground’s Class 317 trains, which I used to start my journey between Hackney Downs and Cheshunt stations.

Some questions?

  • Are then any other inner-city metro trains, where there are comfortable seats and tables for four?
  • How are passengers going to react, when it is replaced with a high-capacity Class 710 train, with longitudinal seating?
  • Will the wi-fi and charging points of the new trains compensate.

One factor that will help the changeover, is that most on the line are Class 315 trains, which need to be delivered to the scrapyard.

The Class 317 trains will surely find a good home.

March 3, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments