The Anonymous Widower

The Shape Of Train Services To Come

Today, I went to Lincoln, which as I reported in LNER To Put Lincoln On The Rail Map, is now a city, that has five trains per day to and from London.

It actually appears that from the timetable change on December 15th, 2019, the LNER timetable will be as follows.

  • On Mondays to Saturdays, there will be six trains per day (tpd) in both directions.
  • On Sundays, there will be five tpd in both directions.
  • Services stop at Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham and Newark Northgate.
  • All direct services are under two hours, by at least a couple of minutes.
  • Indirect services with a change at Newark are generally no more than ten minutes over two hours, with some under two hours.
  • All direct trains would appear to be five-car Class 800 trains.

I can’t see any cause for passenger complaint.

On The 10:06 To Lincoln

Today is a Friday and I had expected more people on this direct service to Lincoln Central station.

As this was the first direct Friday service at this time to Lincoln, perhaps the word has been slow to get around?

The train arrived on time in Lincoln, although it had been a few minutes late at Grantham.

I asked several people, including a knowledgeable journalist, if Lincoln had ever had a two-hourly service from London and all said the answer was never!

On The 13:23 From Lincoln

This train was very close to maximum capacity with only a few empty seats.

The only problem was a young Lady, although I hasten to add she didn’t behave like a lady, who was sitting on the other side of the carriage.

She was constantly shouting into her phone and using the F-word to boot.

An elderly gentleman politely asked her to calm it down and it made no difference.

I did say to the very large guy, who looked like a prop forward opposite me, that will you ram her phone down her throat or shall I? All it got was a few laughs all round.

Perhaps her mother, didn’t wash her mouth out with soap often enough?

Catering

The train had a buffet and we had a visit from the trolley on the way to Lincoln.

Coming back, there was no trolley, but the train might have been too busy to get it through.

First Class

Five-car Class 800 trains have forty-five First Class and two hundred and seventy Standard Class seats.

Given that some train companies are reducing the number of First Class seats, I wonder if LNER will follow suit on the service to and from Lincoln and perhaps replace them with Second Class seats.

Performance And Train Times

The journey is effectively in two parts.

  • 120 miles between Kings Cross and Newark, which is electrified.
  • 16 miles between Newark and Lincoln, which is not electrified.

A two hour trip between Kings Cross and Lincoln is an average of around sixty-eight mph.

The current two hour schedule is not a convenient time for an operator running a service. Something more under two hours would make timetabling easier.

Suppose, the train took an hour and forty minutes to do the trip and that twenty minutes were to be allowed for turnround and any short delays of a few minutes. This would enable a two-hourly clockface timetable, with a train both ways every two hours.

This would need an overall average speed of 81 mph, including all the stops.

Would this average speed be possible?

In the next few aub-sections, I’ll discuss various factors.

The Class 800 Trains

Consider.

  • The Class 800 trains have fast acceleration and deceleration.
  • Each stop currently takes about two minutes and probably with better systems and staff training could be improved.
  • Most of the time on the electrified East Coast Main Line, the trains are running at speeds in excess of 110 mph and at times up to 125 mph.
  • The trains can run at 140 mph with in-cab digital signalling, as their cousins; the Class 395 trains do on High Speed One.
  • Between Newark and Lincoln, the trains will be slowed by the maximum linespeed.
  • The trains will be running on diesel between Newark and Lincoln.
  • The next generation of AT300 trains are being designed for the Midland Main Line.

These trains will only get better.

In Thoughts On The Next Generation Of Hitachi High Speed Trains, I laid out my thoughts about how they will develop.

One development will be battery-electric trains and these will use battery power between Newark and Lincoln. This will mean that the trains would only need one diesel engine for emergencies like overhead line failure.

The 140 mph East Coast Main Line

Digital in-cab signalling is planed to be installed on the East Coast Main Line between London and Doncaster.

This will allow the following.

  • Closer control of the trains.
  • 140 mph running, where track and traffic allow.
  • More trains per hour (tph)

It was originally planned to be operational by 2020.

It should be noted that High Speed Two is planned to run at eighteen tph. Surely, the slower East Coast Main Line could allow an increase in frequency.

I estimate that this higher speed running could save upwards of ten minutes between Kings Cross and Newark.

Improvements Between Newark And Lincoln

Wikipedia says this about the line between Newark and Lincoln.

The line between Newark and Lincoln is currently only cleared for 50–70-mile-per-hour (80–100 km/h) speeds. Nottinghamshire County Council has paid for a study into 90-mile-per-hour (140 km/h) running.

From my helicopter, the line looks to be all double-track, fairly straight, in good condition, with signs of recent improvements. But there are also up to a dozen level crossings.

With improvements, I suspect that a 90 mph linespeed will be possible.

Summing Up Performance

My mathematical nous, feels that with the digital signalling and other improvements, that the required four hour round trip would be possible.

If this can be achieved, then just two trains would be needed to run a one train every two hours and between Kings Cross and Lincoln.

Other Services

The Wikipedia entry for LNER, says this about the services to Lincoln and other new destinations in the North.

An expanded service to Lincoln began on 21 October 2019 when four terminating services at Newark Northgate were extended into Lincoln. This is in addition to the sole one train per day service, which in all, now provides five out and back workings to and from London King’s Cross. LNER also plans for December 2019 timetable change that a sixth return service to London from Lincoln will be introduced and 5 extra services on a Saturday will begin from 7 December 2019. From December 2019, LNER will introduce a Harrogate to London service 6 times a day. LNER expects to introduce two-hourly services to Bradford and a daily service to Huddersfield in May 2020 when more Azuma trains have been introduced. The Middlesbrough service is expected to begin in December 2021 after infrastructure work required to run the service is completed.

That looks like a comprehensive increase in service to Bradford, Harrogate, Huddersfield and Middlesbrough

Conclusion

LNER seem to have made a good start on the increased service levels to Lincoln.

Harrogate would appear to be next!

It will be interesting to follow both places, to see if they benefit from an improved train service.

But I can certainly see a day in the not too distant future, when LNER’s or other operator’s Azumas and other 140 mph trains are running to multiple destinations via the East Coast Main Line.

 

 

October 25, 2019 - Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. LNER is a good advertisement for a state-run railway. The real test will come if, as rumoured, the OLR takes over Northern.

    Comment by JohnC | October 26, 2019 | Reply

    • I am not sure the operator makes that much difference, as in most cases there is a good plan that everyone is working to. LNER are working to Virgin’s plans, the Azumas have been fully debugged by Great Western and there is no large late project courtesy of Network Rail.

      Northern have been dropped into a deep hole mainly dug by others. Network Rail, CAF and Carillion for a start. The late delivery of the Class 769 trains hasn’t helped.

      Comment by AnonW | October 26, 2019 | Reply


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