The Anonymous Widower

How Will Abellio East Midlands Railway Maximise Capacity On The Midland Main Line?

In this post, I will try and get a feel to how Abellio East Midlands Railway, will maximise capacity on the Midland Main Line.

The Current Service

There are currently two trains per hour (tph) to both Nottingham and Sheffield and one tph to Corby from London.

Ignoring the Corby service, which will be using electric trains, intermediate calls have these frequencies, from South to North.

  • Bedford – One tph
  • Wellingborough – One tph
  • Kettering – One tph
  • Market Harborough – Two tph
  • Leicester – Four tph
  • Loughborough – Two tph
  • East Midlands Parkway – Two tph
  • Long Eaton – One tph
  • Beeston – One tph
  • Derby – Two tph
  • Chesterfield – Two tph

As the new bi-mode trains will be more modern, with probably shorter dwell times at each station, I suspect that when Abellio East Midlands Railway implement their ultimate timetable, there will be more stops, without degrading journey times.

These are fastest times.

  • London and Nottingham is one hour forty minutes
  • London and Sheffield is two hours

I feel that round trips to both destinations will be four hours with some speed increases and shorter station dwell times.

  • The current two tph to Nottingham and Sheffield needs eight trains to each destination.
  • This is a total of sixteen trains.

As each train could be two five-car trains working as a ten-car train, train numbers for the current service could be as high as thirty-two trains.

A first look seems to indicate that there .will be no overall increase in train frequency, although, as I said earlier, the performance of the new trains should allow extra station stops.

It also indicates to me, that any increases in frequency between London and Nottingham/Sheffield will need extra trains.

The Electrified High Speed Line South Of Kettering

Midland Main Line services South of Kettering are as follows.

  • Two tph to London and Nottingham
  • Two tph between London and Sheffield
  • One tph between London and Corby.

From December 2021, there will be two tph between London and Corby.

The maximum number of services between London and Kettering on the electrified section currently envisaged is only six tph or one train every ten minutes.

As the Class 700 trains on Thameslink are capable of using digital signalling and all the new trains will also be similarly equipped, I wouldn’t be surprised that the theoretical capacity of the electrified fast lines could be higher than the proposed six tph. |Especially, when digital signalling is installed.

The number of trains in the fleet, is much more of a limit on services, than the capacity of the Midland Main Line.

If all trains were ten cars, the following numbers of trains would be needed.

  • Current two tph – 32 trains
  • Increase to three tph – 48 trains
  • Increase to three tph – 64 trains

Are there enough passengers to fill all these trains?

Does St. Pancras Have Enough Capacity?

St. Pancras station has four platforms for Midland Main Line services.

  • The platforms are long enough to take two five-car Class 222 trains,.
  • They would surely accommodate a ten-car formation of the new Hitachi trains.
  • Each platform can probably handle three or four tph, giving a total capacity of 12-16 tph.

As four tph to Nottingham and Sheffield and two tph to Corby is only a total of ten tph, there is enough platform capacity for several years to come.

If there is a problem, it is that the large numbers of passengers would overwhelm the stairs and escalators between the ground level of the station and the platforms.

I am certain, that just like the Eurostar platforms at St. Pancras, the Midland Main Line platforms will need better passenger access and facilities.

Will it even be enough, when up to six tph, all of which could be 240 metres long, start to arrive in December 2021?

What could be done to help solve the capacity problem at St. Pancras station in the future?

Better Access To The Midland Main Line Platforms

Consider.

  • Space is limited to add extra escalators, lifts and places to wait
  • St. Pancras is a Grade I Listed Building.
  • As I don’t travel through the station in the Peak, the escalators seem to always be going the wrong way.

Improving the current access will be very difficult.

This Google Map shows the Northern End of the station.

Note.

  1. The Midland Main Line platforms are the two island platforms on the left.
  2. The Southeastern HighSpeed platforms are the two island platforms on the right.
  3. The Eurostar platforms are the three island platforms in the middle.

Could a second entrance to some of the platforms be built here?

It would be very difficult, unless the extension was future-proofed when it was built.

Underground Improvements

Getting between the Midland Main Line platforms and the Underground is an obstable course.

As a Londoner, who’s had the operation to have the Underground Map implanted in my brain, I generally go to the Midland Main Line platforms at St. Pancras by taking one of the following.

A bus from close to my house to outside the station.

  • A Metropolitan Line train from Moorgate
  • A Northern Line train from Angel.
  • A Piccadilly Line train from Manor House
  • A Victoria Line train from Highbury & Islington

The last four need a bus to get to the Underground.

I usually come back home, by spending just over a tenner on a black cab!

Crossrail 2

Crossrail 2 should improve matters, but will it ever be built?

Will The New Brent Cross Thameslink Station Allow Cross Platform Interchange Between Midland Main Line and Thameslink Services?

Consider.

  • The proposed Brent Cross Thameslink will be just North of Cricklewood station.
  • Midland Main Line services through the station would be six tph.
  • Thameslink services through the station would be fourteen tph
  • The West London Orbital Railway could be built to connect the station to High Speed Two and Heathrow

Would it take the pressure off St. Pancras?

It might do, if a cross-platform interchange could be arranged.

Could Some Midland Main Line Services Use Thameslink?

Consider.

  • The obvious service to go through Thameslink would be the two tph service between Corby and St. Pancras.
  • Thameslink is currently setup to handle 24 tph, but it has been designed for 30 tph.
  • The Corby service will stop at Kettering, Luton and Luton Airport Parkway, to the North of London.
  • It could perhaps terminate at the soon-to-be-rebuilt Gatwick Airport station in the South.

It might work!

Especially, if Kettering station were to be rebuilt to have cross-platform interchange between Corby sewrvices and the bi-mode ones going further North.

Splitting And Joining Trains

In Rock Rail Wins Again!, I gave this simple example of how the splitting and joining capability of Hitachi AT-300 trains can be used.

A ten-car train might leave St. Pancras as two five-car units running as a pair. It could split at East Midlands Parkway station and one train could go to Nottingham and the other to Derby. Coming South the two trains would join at East Midlands Parkway.

I feel that Derby, East Midlands Parkway and Leicester are ideal stations on the Midland Main Line, where services could be split and joined.

  • They have at least four platforms.
  • The platforms are long and straight.

The two terminals at Nottingham and Sheffield could also probably be used to enable services to serve more destinations.

Shorter trains must have advantages on some routes.

  • Capacity is better matched to demand.
  • Platforms may not need to be extended.
  • Services can be run by a driver and a conductor.

Will Abellio East Midlands Railway use splitting and joining to increase the coverage of their services?

Great Western Railway’s Class 800, 801 and 802 trains have the capability to split and join and the operator doesn’t seem to use it. Although, they do split and join Class 387 trains.

Extended Services To And From The North And East

The ability to split and join, that could be used to extend services to the North And East.

Serving Barnsley, South Yorkshire And Leeds

Consider.

I wonder if there are paths and need for a London and Sheffield service to split at Sheffield with, the two five-car trains going to different destinations.

  • Leeds via Rotherham, Barnsley Dearne Valley and Wakefield Westgate, is one possibility.
  • Could a service go to Huddersfield?
  • Hull is probably too far.

One tph could terminate at Sheffield and one splitting and one tph could split and serve other destinations.

Advantages could include.

  • Barnsley and Rotherham get a direct hourly service to London.
  • South Yorkshire and Leeds have a direct hourly service to the East Midlands.
  • Sheffield and Leeds have an hourly fast service.

I’m sure Abellio have a very workable plan to improve services North of Sheffield.

Serving Lincolnshire And Nottinghamshire

Consider.

  • Splitting and joining at Nottingham may allow an increase in direct services to and from Lincoln.
  • Perhaps parts of North Lincolnshire could be well-served by a fast train from Nottingham.
  • Would Mansfield and Worksop benefit from a direct service from London on the Robin Hood Line, after a reverse at Nottingham.

The five-car trains give the flexibility to do the previously unthinkable.

Conclusion

There is a lot of developments that can or will happen with Midland Main Line services.

August 1, 2019 - Posted by | Transport | , , , , , ,

4 Comments »

  1. “What could be done to help solve the capacity problem at St. Pancras station in the future”. Knock it down and start again? Perhaps that is what they should have done in the first place.

    Comment by JohnC | August 1, 2019 | Reply

    • I agree with you! It’s all fur-coat and no knickers! It is as if the station was designed by someone, who had never used a train.

      Comment by AnonW | August 1, 2019 | Reply

  2. Anyone who has seen the opening credits of Ronnie Barker Porridge will have seen how empty and unused St Pancras Station was before the coming of HS1 and its re-build for Eurostars .

    Demolition was planned but a campaign by Sir John Betjeman saved the Station and now success seems to be its problem!

    One option would be to transfer electric services to Corby to Thameslink with extension of Thameslink to Corby thus moving these services downstairs to the through platforms .

    As for access to St Pancras International it along with Kings Cross Station next door suffers from a lack of access at Northern end with access to St Pancras International made more difficult by the location of taxi waiting area an obstacle I have had to deal with when I have walked along Goods Way and with the development of railway lands will become more difficult for more people living and working in this area north of the stations.

    Will need to see how Crossrail 2 is planned and whether a second entrance to Thameslink platforms at opposite end materialise ?

    Comment by Melvyn | August 1, 2019 | Reply

  3. […] How Will Abellio East Midlands Railway Maximise Capacity On The Midland Main Line?, I calculated that the current timetable to Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield would need thirty-two […]

    Pingback by Bombardier Doesn’t Seem Too Disappointed On Missing Out On The Abellio East Midlands Railway Order « The Anonymous Widower | August 1, 2019 | Reply


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.