The Anonymous Widower

Could High Speed Two Trains Serve Stoke-on-Trent?

The city of Stoke-on-Trent lobbied hard for High Speed Two to call, but it is going through closer to the West Coast Main Line, which is a few miles to the West.

Current Services

Stoke-on-Trent station is on the Stafford to Manchester branch of the West Coast Main Line.

It is served by two trains per hour (tph) between Euston and Manchester Piccadilly via Milton Keynes Central (1tph), Stoke-on-Trent, Macclesfield (1tph) and Stockport. The fastest journey time is one hour and 24 minutes.

Possible Routes Using High Speed Two

It should be noted that to serve Stafford on the West Coast Main Line, High Speed Two trains will use the West Coast Main Line, rather than High Speed Two between Lichfield and Crewe.

This map clipped from the High Speed Two web site, shows the two routes between Lichfield and Crewe.

Note.

  1. The straighter route is the new High Speed Two route.
  2. The bendy route is the West Coast Main Line.
  3. The two routes split to the North of the city of Lichfield in the South-East corner of the map.
  4. Stafford can be seen between the two routes.
  5. Stoke-on-Trent can be seen to the North-East of the routes.
  6. The new route through Crewe station is shown in orange.

To give an idea of scale, the West Coast Main Line is about forty miles long between the two junctions at Lichfield and Crewe.

Possible Ways High Speed Two Could Serve Stoke-on-Trent Station

There are several ways that High Speed Two trains can serve Stoke-on-Trent station.

London Euston And Stoke-on-Trent Direct

The simplest way is to run a direct service between London Euston and Stoke-on-Trent

  • It would use High Speed Two from Euston to Lichfield, where it would take the Trent Valley Line.
  • It would proceed to Stoke-on-Trent via Rugeley Trent Valley and Stone.

I estimate that the service would take one hour and two minutes.

The service could either turnback at Stoke-on-Trent or go on to Crewe, Manchester or some other convenient terminus.

Manchester services might even call at Macclesfield and Stockport, as the current services do now!

Times between London and Manchester by various routes could be.

  • Current via Stoke-on-Trent, Macclesfield and Stockport – Two hours and seven minutes.
  • Planned using High Speed Two – One hour and seven minutes.
  • High Speed Two and current route to Manchester – One hour and forty-one minutes

Manchester will get three tph from London and one from Birmingham, so perhaps one of the four services should go via Stoke-in-Trent.

 

 

 

 

January 23, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

‘Total Loss’ Feared After Fire Reportedly Damages Eviation Alice Electric Plane Prototype

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the Engineering News page of IMechE.

It’s not what you call a flying start!

Even-Boeing had problems with the batteries on the Dreamliner.

January 23, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , | 1 Comment

Could The Northern Section Of The Bakerloo Line And The Watford DC Line Be Combined?

The Bakerloo and Watford DC Lines to the North of Queen’s Park station annoy me.

There are two very different classes of trains.

Which are different sizes and ideally need different platform heights for step-free access between train and platform.

Often, you need to step up and down into the trains.

The pictures show a typical steps on Bakerloo Line and Class 710 trains.

They give a new meaning to Mind The Gap.

It would be so much easier, for passengers in wheelchairs or those pushing buggies or trailing heavy cases for there to be no step between train and platform.

I once remarked to a station guy, not in the first flush of youth, as he manhandled a ramp into place, that what he was doing must be the worst part of his job. He smiled and agreed.

Surely in this day and age, we can create a railway, where everything is as efficient as possible.

These are a few of my thoughts.

Could The Two Lines Be Run By A Unified Fleet Of Trains?

If the two lines were to be run using the same trains, this would give advantages.

  • All trains could be maintained together.
  • Platform-to-train access would be much easier to make step-free.
  • Staff would only deal with one type of train.
  • A certain amount of automatic train control could be used to increase frequencies.

Obviously, a National Rail-size train couldn’t use the Bakerloo Line tunnels, but a train built for the Underground could use the current Watford DC Line into Euston.

Siemens are designing a New Tube For London and this will be used on the Bakerloo Line.

I suspect, that they could design a train that would easily run into Euston.

Would An Underground Train Provide Enough Capacity Into Euston?

The current trains on both lines have the following capacity and length.

  • The 1972 Stock on the Bakerloo Line are 113 metres long and have a capacity of 851 passengers
  • The Class 710 trains on the Watford DC Line are 82 metres long and have a capacity of 678 passengers.

Now there’s a surprise! The smaller Underground trains hold more passengers.

This picture shows the spare platform length at Euston, after a Class 710 train has just arrived.

I don’t think capacity or platform length will be a problem!

What Would Be The Frequency Into Euston?

Consider.

  • The current Watford DC Line service into Euston uses a double-track line terminating in Platform 9 at Euston station.
  • The service frequency on this route, has recently been increased from three trains per hour (tph) to four tph.
  • The Overground is soon to start to run six tph on routes with a similar track layout.

I believe that a six tph service could be run between Euston and Watford Junction stations.

What Would Be The Frequency In The Bakerloo Line Tunnel To Elephant & Castle And Lewisham?

Note that I’m assuming an extended Bakerloo Line runs to Lewisham, although, it could run to Hayes station.

Dear Old Vicky (aka the Victoria Line) handles a train every hundred seconds or thirty-six tph.

I can’t see any reason, why all parts of the Watford Junction to Lewisham route can’t be designed to handle this frequency.

If six tph went to Euston, then this would mean the service South of Queen’s Park station would be as follows.

  • Up to thirty tph or a train every two minutes between Queen’s Park and Lewisham stations.
  • It would connect the National Rail stations of Paddington, Marylebone, Charing Cross, Waterloo, Elephant & Castle, New Cross Gate and Lewisham.
  • A high capacity pedestrian link to Crossrail at Paddington, will be ready to open with Crossrail.
  • Connections to the Central, Circle, District, Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan, Northern, Piccadilly and Victoria Lines of the Underground.
  • Oxford Circus would have a high-capacity cross-platform interchange between the Bakerloo and Victoria Lines, both running in excess of thirty tph.

It would be a much needed capacity upgrade to the Underground.

Would Stations On The Combined Line Be Made Step-Free?

The combined route will have a total of 34 existing stations and four new stations.

I suspect the new stations will be step-free.

Of the existing stations, the following are fully or partially step-free.

  • Watford Junction
  • Bushey
  • Carpenders Park
  • Harrow & Wealdstone
  • Wembley Central
  • Willesden Junction
  • Queen’s Park – Scheduled to be made step-free.
  • Paddington – Will be step-free, when Crossrail opens.

The Bakerloo Line must be one of the worst lines for step-free access on the London Underground.

But then it has some of the oldest and least-capable trains and has been neglected for decades.

The station most in need of step-free access is probably Oxford Circus, where the Bakerloo and Victoria Lines have a cross-platform step-free interchange.

I lay out ideas for this station in Thoughts On Step-Free Access At Oxford Circus Station.

Upgrading The Lines

I think that Transport for London have a unique opportunity with the upgrading of the Bakerloo Line to Extension From upgrade the line as a series of separate projects, phased to be delivered in a continuous stream, rather than as one big launch, which was tried and failed with Crossrail.

Extension From Elephant & Castle To Lewisham Or Hayes

This project can be built independently, just like the Battersea Power Station Extension of The Northern Line. I detailed the latest thinking on this extension in TfL Moots Bakerloo Line To Hayes.

  • It is the only project that needs substantial tunnelling.
  • It probably needs a depot to be relocated.
  • Lewisham station would need some rebuilding.
  • It would need more trains to be delivered before it opens.

It could even be the last project to be delivered, which would allow time for the trains.

January 23, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 3 Comments

Use Of A Bi-Mode Class 755 Train On The Sudbury Branch Line

I took these pictures today on a visit to the Sudbury Branch Line in Suffolk.

The two stations shown are Marks Tey, where the branch joins the Great Eastern Main Line and Sudbury, which is the Western terminus of the branch.

Both stations have short platforms.

To simplify this description, I will identify the four cars of the Class 755 train as follows.

  • Driver East Car – Driver car with passengers on the Marks Tey end of the train.
  • Passenger Car – The passenger car, which also has the bike space and the Universal Access Toilet.
  • PowerPack – The smaller car that powers the train.
  • Driver West Car – Driver car with passengers on the Sudbury end of the train.

This Google Map shows Marks Tey station.

The short and gently curving, Sudbury Branch Line platform is on the North side of the station.

To make it easy for passengers to get in and out of the train, Greater Anglia seem to have devised a cunning plan.

  • The Class 755 trains run with the end with the Driver East and Passenger Cars are towards Marks Tey and Colchester stations.
  • The driver stops the train in the station, so that the two passenger cars, are in the same place as a two-car diesel multiple unit, like a Class 156 train, would be.
  • The two pairs of wide double doors and the level step-free access, encourage passengers to enter the train.
  • Interestingly, the PowerPack Car of the train is at the narrowest part of the platform and is this deliberate to encourage passengers to enter through the doors facing them on the platform.
  • The Driver West Car doesn’t come into the platform.
  • At busy times, when the Driver West Car will need to be used, passengers will walk through the PowerPack Car.
  • Bicycles can be wheeled between the platform and the space in the Passenger Car.

The method of operation has avoided any expensive lengthening of the short and curvy platform.

This second Google Map shows Sudbury station.

At least the single platform is straight.

A similar procedure is used at Sudbury station to that at Marks Tey.

  • The driver stops the train in the station, so that the Driver West and Passenger Cars either side of the PowerPack Car are in the station.
  • Passengers have two sets of doors and level access to get into and out of the train.
  • Bicycles can be wheeled between the platform and the space in the Passenger Car.
  • There is no direct access to the Driver West Car at the Marks Tey end of the train, but passengers can walk through the train.

Lengthening of the platform is not necessary.

Important Routes With Few Passengers

Suppose you have a route that at certain times of the day needs a three-car train, but at other times two-cars or even only one car.

I can think of the case of a large industrial site like a nuclear facility or power station, that has lots of passengers, when people are going to and from work and students are going to and from school and college, but at other times of the day, passenger numbers are low.

The conductor indicated to me, that the design of the train allows the doors on the PowerPack to be locked, thus restricting movement.

This could save operating costs if thought out properly.

Wheelchair Passengers To And From Sudbury

The conductor indicated that this was a problem for some directions.

  • London to Sudbury  is just a walk or push between platforms.
  • Sudbury to Ipswich and Norwich is just a walk or push between platforms.
  • Sudbury to London is take a train to Colchester from Marks Tey and use the lifts to change direction for London.
  • Ipswich and Norwich to Sudbury is take a train to Witham and use the lifts to change direction for Marks Tey.

The local MP is Pritti Patel and she has been pushing hard for a step-free bridge with lifts, which would solve the problem.

Sudbury And Colchester Town

Greater Anglia have proposed that the Sudbury service be extended to Colchester Town station.

There may be problems running on the busy Great Eastern Main Line between Marks Tey and Colchester, but at least there appears to be a freight loop just to the North of Marks Tey, on the London-bound track.

Some things would help.

  • Redesign of the junction to allow a faster turnout.
  • The extra power of the Class 755 trains.
  • Electrification of Platform 3 at Marks Tey station.
  • Full digital in-cab signalling on the Great Eastern Main Line.

It might even be worthwhile putting in a simple flyover for Sudbury-bound trains.

Could Battery Power Be Used On The Sudbury Branch Line?

Class 755 trains have been designed, so that diesel engines in the ~PowerPack Car can be replaced with batteries, which can be charged from electrification.

If and when a suitable battery module is developed, then it could just be slotted in.

Some form of charging would be needed and the proposal to change the service into s Sudbury and Colchester Town service, would allow the trains to be charged on the main line.

The German Solution

I can’t help feeling that the Germans or the Welsh would use a different solution.

In Could There Be A Tram-Train Between Ipswich And Felixstowe?, I discuss the East-West Rail Link’s idea of running tram-trains between Ipswich and Felixstowe.

  • It would have a frequency of four trains per hour.
  • It would probably start in the forecourt of Ipswich station.
  • It could either go to Felixstowe station or perhaps through the High Street and down to the Sea Front.
  • It would go via Portman Road, Ipswich Town Centre, Ipswich Hospital, before joining the Felixstowe Branch Line to the East of the town.

The reason for this proposal, is to get more freight trains into the Port of Felixstowe.

Now look at this Google Map of North Colchester.

Note.

  • Colchester station in the middle of the map on the Great Eastern Main Line, which runs East-West.
  • A junction to the East of the station, where the lines from Colchester Town, Clacton and Walton join the Great Eastern Main Line.
  • Colchester Hospital at the top of the map.

Without doubt,, the Germans would create a tram-train network based on Colchester station.

  • Sudbury and Marks Tey could be served in the West, by perhaps building a third track alongside the Great Eastern Main Line
  • Marks Tey and Sudbury would be on battery power.
  • Colchester Hospital and perhaps the football ground and a Park-and-Ride could be served in the North, by adding tracks to the junction East of Colchester.
  • Colchester Town could be served in the South, using the existing tracks.

The network would certainly connect a lot of important places to the main station.

  • It would improve access to Colchester Hospital.
  • It would solve the step-free problem at Marks Tey.
  • It could open up much needed new housing developments.

With 100 mph tram-trains or trains able to work as trams, it could reach places using the various routes in the area, like Clacton, Harwich and Walton.

Stadler have already designed 100 mph diesel trains, that work in Zwickau in Germany, alongside and share tracks with the city’s trams.

It seems that if you have a specification, Stadler will make it.

Conclusion

Greater Anglia are going to have fun with these trains.

Their level access is liked by passengers.

The short car length, allows the trains to call in curvy platforms.

January 23, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 15 Comments