The Anonymous Widower

Ashington Blyth and Tyne Line Reopening Mulled Over In Six ‘Quick Win’ Rail Projects For Northern Transport

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

This is the first paragraph.

A series of ‘quick wins’ have been identified to fix the “current crisis” in the north’s transport network in a report by the IPPR.

What are the quick wins?

This page on the IPPR website gives access to the report which is entitled Quick Wins For The North’s Transport Network.

These quick wins are given in the report.

Reopening Of The Ashington, Blyth And Tyne Railway For Passenger Services

This summary is given.

North of Newcastle, and along the North East coast, there is an area with great potential but numerous challenges. This area contains several small and medium-sized towns: Blyth (population 37,000) and Ashington (population 28,000) are the largest (Centre for Towns 2017). The public sector dominates in terms of employment (education, health and public administration provide one-quarter of jobs), and the areas’ private sector is largely in the ‘everyday economy’ of retail (5,900 jobs) and food and beverage services (4,130 jobs) (ONS 2018c). The Port of Blyth handles 2 million tonnes of freight each year, and there are some significant development sites for renewable energy in the area (Port of Blyth 2018).

The history of the area is a vital consideration for its transport infrastructure. The area boomed during the industrial revolution as coal mining and port towns grew – Ashington was once considered the world’s largest coal-mining village (Whitfield 2018). The Ashington-Blyth and Tyne railway line once connected a number of Northumberland settlements between Ashington and Newcastle – it was not a single route, but a small network, built in 1840 to link the collieries to the River Tyne, and was opened up to passengers in 1841 (NCC 2015). But in 1964, passenger services were withdrawn under the ‘Beeching Axe’,although it has remained open for freight.

This idea has been talked about for years and I wrote about it in Northumberland Unveils £3.5m Rail Project To Bring Back Passenger Services.

This is a project, where it is probably time to stop talking and get the planning started, before updating the railways.

Surely, if it can be done for £3.5m, it must be good value. I suspect it will cost more, but not as much as Network Rail’s estimate of £191m.

Leeds/Bradford Airport Parkway Rail Station

Consider.

  • Leeds Bradford Airport handles four million passengers per year.
  • It has no direct rail access.
  • It has direct services to airports like New York.
  • It connects via hub airports like Heathrow and Schipol to a wide number of destinations.
  • It could capture more of the localo air passengers with better connections.

The proposal is to build a Parkway station the Harrogate Line, between Horsforth station and Bramhope Tunnel.

  • It would be a 1.3 kilometre drive in a shuttle bus to the Airport.
  • The station would serve as a Park-and-Ride station for Leeds, Harrogate and other destinations.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note.

  1. The Airport is in the North-West corner.
  2. Horsforth station is in the South-East corner.
  3. The Harrogate Line runs North South from Horsforth station.

The new Park-and-Ride station could be built on any convenient location near to the Airport.

It looks to be a simple plan, that has been costed at £23m.

Consider these points about the Harrogate Line.

  • It is only thirty-six miles.
  • Services take around seventy minutes between Leeds and York via Harrogate
  • It appears to be double-track
  • The operating speed is sixty mph between Leeds and Harrogate.
  • It doesn’t appear to be very busy.

I suspect it would be a good idea to iimprove this line, so that Northern’s Class 170 trains can stretch their legs.

If there was a Park-and-Ride station at Leeds Bradford Airport would First TransPennine want to run a service to the Airport?

I can see this plan, stimulating a lot of rail improvements between Leeds and York.

Supporting The Development Of Hydrogen Trains

The IPPR report says this.

Transport for the North plans to work toward the roll-out of hydrogen trains.

Consider.

  • The North has a lot of routes, where hydrogen-powered trains could be used.
  • Alstom are converting trains to hydrogen-power at Widnes in the North-West.
  • Hydrogen is or can be produced by petro-chemical companies in the North.

I feel that increasingly, the North will have another big problem, for which hydrogen could be a solution.

Currently, there is a massive expansion of offshore windpower, which will produce a lot of electricity at awkward and random times, when it won’t have an obvious use.

So it will need to be stored!

One sensible method energy storage is to use the electricity to electrolyse water or brine to produce hydrogen and other gases. The hydrogen is then stored and can be burnt or used in a fuel cell to generate heat and/or electricity.

I can see a lot of innovation being employed to create hydrogen filling stations for users, such as companies with large fleets of smaller vehicles, railway companies, emergency power sup lies and other applications.

Unlike the production of hydrogen using steam-reforming of methane, electrolysis using renewable energy doesn’t produce any carbon dioxide.

Tees Valley Rail Interventions

The report talks of these interventions.

  • Darlington station upgrade.
  • Middlesbrough station upgrade.
  • Teesport To Northallerton gauge clearance.

One of the main reasons for doing this, is that it will improve access to Teesport, which will bring wide benefits to the North.

Integration Of Traffic Management To Improve Air Quality

This is from the report.

Air quality is a major health problem across the world – especially in major cities. Vehicle emissions are the major contributor to this problem – particulate matter and nitrogen oxides cause numerous health problems, including asthma and lung cancer. Road transport accounts for at least 50 per cent of these emissions – and this is likely to be an underestimate (Cox and Goggins 2018). Clearly the volume of traffic is the principal cause, but so is the ‘stop/start’ of traffic flows, which tends to further increase emissions (O’Brien et al 2014). Exhaust fumes aren’t the only source – 60 per cent of particulate matter emissions come from the tyres and brakes.

Suggestions to reduce emissions include.

  • Freight priority schemes
  • Bus or cycle priority at signals to encourage transport modal change.
  • Change signal timings to improve air quality
  • Inform the public to change travel plans when air quality is poor.
  • Low emission zones

Some of these measures will go down like a lead balloon.

Tees Crossing

This is from the report.

Roads are essential for the internal operation of Tees Valley’s economy and in order to connect it to the wider North. Passenger rail connectivity remains poor and light rail is non-existent. The economy’s residential and employment centres are highly dispersed across its geography. A modern bus network might relieve pressure, but the deregulated and underfunded network has seen passenger numbers fall and services cut (Brown 2018). The level of freight activity in Teesport and Hartlepool mean that these ports are highly dependent on the road network as well as rail.

The proposed solution js to build another road bridge across the Tees.

Conclusion

It seems a package of sensible measures, but opposition to some may ean they are not implemented.

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 19, 2019 - Posted by | Transport | , , ,

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