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.

Conclusion

This looks to be a major improvement at Stevenage!

Except for the lack of step-free access!

I

 

 

August 5, 2020 - Posted by | Transport | , , , ,

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