The Anonymous Widower

A Visit To Stevenage Station’s New Fifth Platform

These pictures show the new fifth platform at Stevenage station.

These are a few thoughts.

The New Spacious Platform

As the pictures show, the platform is spacious with plenty of shelter, which probably indicates that it has been designed to handle more than the current two trains per hour (tph).

Why Is Train-and-Platform Not Step-Free?

Look at this picture.

Surely, with a new platform and trains specifically-designed for the route, passengers in wheelchairs, pushing buggies or trailing heavy cases should be able to just stroll in?

If as is likely this route goes to Transport for London because of their policy of allowing those needing assistance to just turn up, this could become a problem in the future. Especially, if a more intensive service was run on this route between Moorgate and Stevenage, where turnround times have been reduced!

Track Layout

It looks like the new Platform 5 at Stevenage station is directly connected to the Down Line of the Hertford Loop, so that trains from London come straight in from the Down Platform  2 at Watton-at-Stone station. My return train appeared to run the other way until crossing over to the Up Line before it arrived back at Watton-at-Stone station.

Google Maps have not been updated in the area, so I’m not sure of the full track layout.

Following freight trains through Watton-at-Stone, it would appear that they use these platforms at Stevenage station.

  • Platform 1 – Going South
  • Platform 4 – Going North

As would be expected, it looks like it is possible for a freight train to pass through Stevenage to and from the Hertford Loop, with a train in Platform 5.

How Many Trains Per Hour Can Run Between Moorgate And Stevenage?

The timetable has appeared to have been setup, so that a very relaxed two tph can run very reliably between Moorgate and Stevenage stations.

Currently, there are four tph from Moorgate on the Hertford Loop, which alternate between terminating at Hertford North station or the new platform in Stevenage station.

So, if a commuter going home to Stevenage missed his train, they’d be thirty minutes late for supper.

Perhaps not a disaster, but as I indicated in Stevenage Station’s New Fifth Platform Opened A Year Early, Stevenage has an important hospital and increasingly trains for the North are calling at the station.

I suspect, that Network Rail and Great Northern will be investigating, if the two tph to Hertford North station can be extended to Stevenage.

Certain things must be in their favour.

  • It is generally accepted, that a well-designed single platform can turn back up to four, and in some cases, six tph.
  • The new Class 717 trains have better performance than the former Class 313 trains.
  • The route is now run exclusively by the new fleet of trains.
  • There are turn-back platforms at Hertford North and Gordon Hill stations.

But the biggest factor, must be that the Hertford Loop along with the rest of the Southern part of the East Coast Main Line, is going to be equipped with ERTMS digital signalling.

I can certainly see a day in the not-to-distant future, when at certain times in the day four tph run between Moorgate and the new fifth platform at Stevenage.

Freight Trains Through The Hertford Loop

According to Real Time Trains, during yesterday about ten freight trains ran through the Hertford Loop.

In addition, there appear to be up to two-three paths in some hours, which were not used.

In the future, after ERTMS digital signalling has been added to the route and more freight services are equipped, I can see increasing numbers of freight services on the Hertford Loop.

More Passenger Services On The Hertford Loop

In the past, whilst returning from the North to London, during periods of disruption caused by track and catenary problems, engineering works or other incidents, the train has taken some unusual routes. In one instance, the InterCity 125 used the Hertford Loop.

These are timings of trains between Finsbury Park and Stevenage stations.

  • Moorgate services – 51 minutes
  • Thameslink – Cambridge and Brighton – 19 minutes
  • Great Northern – Cambridge Express – 16 minutes

To help with the bottleneck of the Digswell Viaduct, it is likely that the Cambridge Expresses will be 140 mph trains, so they can mix it with all the LNER, East Coast Trains, Hull Trains and the other high speed trains between Kings Cross and Hitchin, as I wrote in Call For ETCS On King’s Lynn Route.

Perhaps, other tricks can be employed using Stevenage station and the Hertford Loop Line.

  • Could some services go non-stop on the Hertford Loop Line instead of over Digswell?
  • Could some services split and join in the long platforms at Stevenage?
  • Could some services from the North turnback at Stevenage?

I obviously don’t know all the technicalities, but it does seem that the recent works at Stevenage and the upcoming ERTMS signalling may open up possibilities.


This looks to be a major improvement at Stevenage!

Except for the lack of step-free access!




August 5, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Beeching Reversal – East Didsbury – Stockport

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

This project has been puzzling me.

Search Google for “East Didsbury and Stockport Rail Link” and all you find is grandiose plans for billion pound extensions to the Manchester Metrolink.

Having researched a lot of the proposed Beeching Reversal projects, it appears to me, that the ones likely to be built, will give a lot of benefit for millions, not billions of pounds.

I just wonder, if in this project, Manchester is stealing an idea from Birmingham – the four-poster station!

This Google Map shows Smethwick Galton Bridge station.

This extract from the Wikipedia entry, describes the station.

The station was opened in September 1995 as part of the Jewellery Line scheme to reopen the line between Smethwick and Birmingham Snow Hill station. It was built as an interchange station between two lines, and the platforms on both lines opened at the same time.


  1. The four lift towers with stairs, that connect the four platforms, have pyramid roofs.
  2. The station is fully step-free.
  3. The rail lines are at different levels.

These pictures show the station.

It is a very practical architectural idea and the world needs more four-poster stations to connect rail lines where they cross at different levels.

Could A Four-Poster Station Link East Didsbury And Stockport?

These are my thoughts.

The Location

This Google Map shows the general area, where the station could be built.

It is a spaghetti of motorways and rail lines with a lumpy sauce of new housing called Barnes Village in the middle.

Note, where the two rail lines cross in the South-West corner of the map.

This second Google Map, shows an enlarged image of the location, where the two rail lines cross.


  1. The Styal Line runs North-South.
  2. The line running East-West is the Mid-Cheshire Line between Altrincham and Stockport stations.

I suspect most travellers joining the rail network at this point, would walk or cycle in from nearby locations or turn up in a taxi.

The Styal Line

The Styal Line has the following characteristics.

  • It is an electrified double-track line.
  • It connects Manchester Piccadilly and Wilmslow stations.
  • There is a spur that serves Manchester Airport station.
  • East Didsbury station, is the station North of where the two lines cross.
  • Gatley station, is the station South of where the two lines cross.
  • It is the route of trains to and from Manchester Airport.

These trains go through East Didsbury and Gatley stations in trains per hour (tph)

  • 1 tph – Northern – Liverpool Lime Street and Crewe
  • 1 tph – Northern – Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Airport
  • 1 tph – Northern – Manchester Airport and Blackpool North
  • 1 tph – Northern – Manchester Airport and Cumbria
  • 1 tph – Trains for Wales – Manchester Airport and Chester
  • 1 tph – TransPennine Express – Manchester Airport and Redcar Central
  • 1 tph – TransPennine Express – Manchester Airport and Newcastle
  • 1 tph – TransPennine Express – Manchester Airport and Glasgow Central or Edinburgh

Freight trains also use the route.

This means that currently, there are eight tph between the Castlefield Corridor (Deansgate, Manchester Oxford Road and Manchester Piccadilly) and Manchester Airport, all of which go through the location, where the four-poster station could possibly be built.

So could the new station, be used to take pressure off the overloaded Castlefield Corridor?

The Mid-Cheshire Line

The Mid-Cheshire Line has the following characteristics.

  • At this point it is a single-track without electrification.
  • It connects Stockport and Altrincham stations.

Re-Doubling Of The Mid Cheshire Line Between Stockport and Altrincham And Associated Station Reopenings is another of the Beeching Reversal projects and envisages the following.

  • Re-doubling the route.
  • Possible electrification
  • Reopening some stations.

This is the only passenger service that uses the route.

  • 1 tph – Northern – Manchester Piccadilly and Chester

Up to two-three freight tph, also use the route.

In the related post, I said this about the desired frequency of services between Manchester and Chester stations.

It could be argued that two tph between Manchester Piccadilly and Chester are needed now and that four tph should be the preferred frequency.

There certainly needs to be four tph going through the proposed four-poster station.


I am being drawn to the conclusion, that this station if it were to be built, would help a lot of problems with Manchester’s railways.

  • It would allow a sort out of train services to Manchester Airport.
  • It would connect Stockport and Manchester Airport.
  • It would connect Stockport and East Didsbury.
  • It could help a solution to the problem of the Castlefield Corridor.

The station should be built.

August 5, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

A Residential Vanadium Flow Battery

The title if this post is rgw same as that of this article on PV Magazine.

This is the introductory sub-title.

Flow battery manufacturers typically pursue utility scale storage projects but German start-up VoltStorage is targeting the household market.

The article gives a good summary of the flow batteries, that are available.

It also gives the size of the battery as having a continuous power rating of 1.5 kW and nominal energy of 6.2 kWh. It also comes with a ten year warranty.

I think VoltStorage, could be one to watch.


August 5, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage | , | Leave a comment