The Anonymous Widower

Should The Borders Railway Be Extended To Carlisle Before The Opening Of High Speed Two?

The UK and Governments seem to be moving on extending the Borders Railway.

This article on the BBC is entitled Borders Railway Extension Study Supported.

This is the first two paragraphs.

The UK government has announced its backing for a feasibility study into extending the Borders Railway.

It could see the line from Edinburgh to Tweedbank taken to Hawick and Newcastleton and then on to Carlisle.

The promoters of High Speed Two have insisted that the High Speed Rail Line, is a line for all the UK.

By High Speed Two Between London And Carlisle

High Speed Two will have one train per hour between London and Glasgow, which will use the West Coast Main Line, to the North of Crewe.

This page on The Guardian is entitled How Will HS2 Change Journey Times To And From London?

The current time between Euston and Preston is two hours and eight minutes, which High Speed Two will reduce to one hour and twenty-four minutes.

Currently, the fastest trains between Preston and Carlisle take an hour and five minutes, so Carlisle is reached in three and a quarter hours.

I think it is a reasonable assumption to make that when High peed Two opens, Carlisle could be reached in two and a half hours, either direct or with a change at Preston.

West Coast Main Line Improvements

At the present time, the maximum speed on the West Coast Main Line, which is used by all trains between Preston, Carlisle and Glasgow is 125 mph.

But Virgin’s Class 390 trains could run at 140 mph with digital in-cab signalling. This improvement could reduce the time between Preston and Carlisle to an hour.

It is likely that before High Speed Two opens to Crewe in 2027, the Class 390 trains will be replaced.

As the West Coast Main Line and High Speed Two, will have the same operator, It would surely be sensible to replace the Pendolinos, with the High Speed Two classic-compatible rolling stock.

This is said in Wikipedia about High Speed Two rolling stock.

Alstom, one of the bidders for the contract to build the trains, proposed in October 2016 tilting HS2 trains to run on HS2 and classic tracks to increase overall speeds when running on classic tracks.

I wouldn’t be surprised  to see the following.

  • A single class of trains on High Speed Two handling all services.
  • Classic services on the West Coast Main Line using High Speed Two rolling stock.

This approach has advantages.

  • One type of train, must be more economic to operate.
  • There would be timing improvements on West Coast Main Line services, due to the faster trains running under digital signalling.
  • Trains could be introduced on West Coast Main Line services first.

, The trains might cost more, as Wikipedia points out.

But this will be a very large and important order for whoever wins the contract to build trains for High Speed Two and the West Coast Main Line!

So expect the bidders to submit some very innovative solutions for these trains!

No-one would change the fleet on the West Coast Main Line for a new fleet of faster trains, without doing the following.

  • Removing some or all of the known problems with junctions and stations on the route.
  • Installing digital signalling on the whole route and all trains.
  • Introducing 100 mph freight locomotives and trains.

What would happen to timings to Carlisle?

I think the following would not be impossible, with new trains, digital signalling and selective route improvements.

  • London and Carlisle in three hours using the West Coast Main Line.
  • London and Carlisle in two hours using the High Speed Two to Crewe and then the West Coast Main Line.

Considering, that these trains could probably go between Carlisle and Glasgow in an hour, there could be some impressive times to Glasgow.

Extending The Borders Railway To Carlisle

As I said in the previous section, there will be a lot of improvement in the times between London and Carlisle in the next few years, with times possibly dropping to around two hours in 2027, when High Speed Two opens to Crewe.

Before 2027, it looks like there will be a steady reduction in journey times between London and Carlisle.

This will mean that increasingly  the residents of the Borders will go to Carlisle, when they want to go South.

So I come to the conclusion, that it is absolutely essential, that the Borders Railway be extended to Carlisle as soon as is possible.

Improving The West Coast Main Line North Of Carlisle

To make best use of the new trains between Carlisle and Glasgow, there will probably be improvements to the West Coast Main Line through and to the North of the City.

The old MOD Depot at Longtown has been proposed as a new freight depot and this too will also require improvements, to the West Coast Main Line.

As the rebuilt Borders Railway will join the West Coast Main Line in the Longtown area, it looks to me, that a proper plan, would incorporate the Borders Railway connection in the West Coast Main Line improvements, that probably must be done.

Conclusion

High Speed Two will turn Carlisle into an important rail hub with links all over the Borderlands.

I believe it is essential that the Borders Railway should be extended to Carlisle as soon as possible and certainly before 2027.

With good planning, the Southern section could even be done as part of West Coast Main Line improvements for High Speed Two.

 

 

 

April 3, 2019 - Posted by | Transport | , ,

2 Comments »

  1. Pertaining to this post (and supportive of your logic) I wondered if you had read this article…..
    http://www.railtechnologymagazine.com/Comment/hs2-cutting-through-cumbria-

    Comment by Mark | April 3, 2019 | Reply

  2. I actually think, that the dwell times of the new trains will be very short and a stop at Carlisle will not be the penalty it is with a Pendelino.

    Comment by AnonW | April 3, 2019 | Reply


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