The Anonymous Widower

Electrification Plans For Line Between Fife And Clackmannanshire

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Rail Technology News.

This is the introductory paragraph.

The next stage of development work is due to begin for Network Rail engineers between Alloa and Longannet, which could see passenger services return between Clackmannanshire and Fife.

The article also makes these points.

  • As part of the Scottish Government’s decarbonisation plan, it is hoped the former freight line will be electrified.
  • Engineers will be conducting survey work and site and geological investigations.
  • Three new stations are also hoped to be introduced at Clackmannan, Kincardine and Longannet.
  • The work is also hoping to bring a two trains per hour (tph) passenger service between Alloa and Longannet.

There will be a lot of surveying and planning before work starts.

Existing Rail Routes And Services In The Area

These are the current routes and services in the area.

Alloa Station

Alloa station was closed in October 1968, when Harold Wilson was Prime Minister and re-opened in 2008.

Wikipedia says this about the re-opening.

Under Scottish Executive funding, the line between Stirling and Alloa was reopened to both passenger and freight traffic, with a key benefit being a reduction in congestion on the Forth Railway Bridge.

The basic train service is an hourly service to Stirling and Glasgow run by a Class 385 train.

Journey times are as follows.

  • Alloa and Stirling – 9-15 minutes
  • Alloa and Glasgow Queen Street – 45 minutes

Trains seem to take about twelve minutes to turnround at Alloa station.

This Google Map shows Alloa station.

Note.

  1. The station currently only has one platform.
  2. A second line is already laid through the station and although, it is not electrified, the gantries are positioned to electrify the second track.
  3. The two tracks merge into one to the West of the station.
  4. All passenger trains currently use the Southern platform.

This picture shows the station, just before the electric train services started.

The station also must have one of the largest station shops in the UK, which is an Asda superstore.

The Kincardine Line

The Kincardine Line is the one proposed for electrification.

  • It is currently, a freight-only route, that was re-opened to serve Longannet power station.
  • At Alloa station, it is an extension of the route from Stirling.
  • It may be connected to the new Talgo factory at Longannet, that I wrote about in A Spaniard In The Works!, as the factory will surely need electrified rail access, if any electric trains for the UK are to be built or serviced there.
  • The line passes through Clackmannan, Kincardine and Longannet.

As the route used to handle long coal trains, could it handle a 200 metre long classic-compatible high speed train, that Talgo might build for High Speed Two at Longannet?

The Fife Circle Line

According to Wikipedia, the Fife Circle Line is the local service North from Edinburgh, that goes in a long loop through Fife.

This map from Wikipedia shows the stations on the Fife Circle Line.

Note.

  1. The route is double-track.
  2. The route is not electrified.
  3. The train service is generally two trains per hour (tph) in both directions.
  4. The distance from Dalmeny to Glenrothes with Thornton via Cowdenbeath is 22.3 miles
  5. The distance from Dalmeny to Glenrothes with Thornton via Kirkcaldy is 21.4 miles
  6. Trains appear to wait between three and seven minutes at Glenrothes with Thornton before returning to Edinburgh by the alternate route.

The map doesn’t show the connection with the Kincardine Line at Dunfermline Town station.

This Google Map shows the Fife Circle Line, through Dunfermline Town station.

Note.

  1. Dunfermline Town station at the top of the map, is indicated by a station sign.
  2. The Northbound Fife Circle Line to Cowdenbeath leaves the map in a North-Easterly direction.
  3. The Southbound Fife Circle Line to Rosyth and Dalmeny, runs behind the building that looks strangely like a signpost and leaves the map in a Southerly direction
  4. There is a junction, called Charlestown Junction, where the Kincardine Line joins the Fife Circle Line.

This Google Map shows Charlestown junction.

Note.

  1. The Fife Circle Line is double-track.
  2. The Kincardine Line is only single-track.
  3. Trains must enter and leave the Kincardine Line from a Northerly direction.
  4. There is a cross-over between Charlestown junction and Dunfermline Town station.

The Google Map shows Dunfermline Town station to a larger scale.

It looks like fitting in an additional platform could be difficult.

Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train

I am introducing this train into the discussion, as the train might be an alternative to electrifying the Kincardine Line.

This infographic from Hitachi, describes the train.

Note that 90 kilometres is fifty-six miles.

From what Hitachi have said, it is likely that Class 385 trains, as used by ScotRail could be fitted with batteries and become a version of the Regional Battery Train.

  • They could be three or four cars.
  • They could work in pairs.
  • They would have a 100 mph operating speed.

Even on battery power, they might save time, against the current diesel units working services in Scotland.

Regional Battery Trains And The Fife Circle Line

This map shows the rail system to the West of Edinburgh.

All lines except for the route through South Gyle and Edinburgh Gateway stations are electrified.

A train going round the Fife Circle Route would do the following legs.

  • Edinburgh and South Gyle – 4.5 miles – All but one mile electrified.
  • South Gyle and Dalmeny – 5 miles – Not electrified.
  • Dalmeny and Glenrothes with Thornton via Cowdenbeath – 22.3 miles – Not electrified
  • Glenrothes with Thornton and Dalmeny via Kirkaldy – 21.4 miles – Not electrified
  • South Gyle and Dalmeny – 5 miles – Not electrified.
  • Edinburgh and South Gyle – 4.5 miles – All but one mile electrified.

This gives the following  totals

  • Not electrified via Cowdenbeath – 28.3 miles
  • Not electrified via Kirkcaldy – 27.4 miles
  • Round trip – 62.7 miles
  • Electrified – 7 miles

It would be very tight for a Regional Battery Train to do a round trip of 62.7 miles consistently with a range of just 56 miles, with only seven miles of electrification at the Edinburgh end.

But if charging at Glenrothes with Thornton were added, this would enable the trains to start out on the near thirty miles without electrification with full batteries from both ends. They would be unlikely to run out of power halfway.

Regional Battery Trains And The Levenmouth Rail Link

In Scottish Government Approve £75m Levenmouth Rail Link, I wrote about the five-mile long Levenmouth Rail Link, and how it could be run by battery trains.

Since I wrote that post, Hitachi have announced their Regional Battery Train.

  • If these were used on the route, they would join the Fife Circle at Thornton North Junction.
  • I estimate that the track distance that is not electrified between Leven and Edinburgh via Thornton North junction, is about thirty-five miles, whether the trains go via Glenrothes with Thornton and Cowdenbeath or Kirkcaldy,

As with the Glenrothes with Thornton service, if there was charging at at both ends, the route would be within comfortable range of Hitachi’s Regional Battery Trains.

Regional Battery Trains And The Kincardine Line

Rough distances by road along the Kincardine Line are as follows.

  • Alloa and Longannet – 8 miles
  • Alloa and Dunfermline Town – 15 miles
  • Alloa and Glenrothes with Thornton via Dunfermline Town – 30 miles

This would surely mean that Regional Battery Trains could work all these routes.

  • Trains would leave Alloa with full batteries after charging on the electrification from Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling.
  • Longannet and Dunfermline Town could be served by a return trip from Alloa on batteries.
  • Charging at the Fife end would only be needed for the Glenrothes with Thornton route.

Some might think, that this would mean the Kincardine Line needn’t be electrified. But I feel Talgo will want an electrified route to their factory, so trains can move in and out under electric power.

The Design Of The Kincardine Route

These are my thoughts on various topics, taken vaguely from West to East.

Alloa Station

Alloa station already has two tracks, but as the plans envisage two tph between Alloa and Longannet, I am fairly certain a second platform will be needed at Alloa.

There is certainly space, but the station would also need a bridge for passengers.

Perhaps, the architects will use something like this bridge design.

This step-free bridge won the Network Rail/RIBA Footbridge Design Competition, but has yet to be deployed on the UK rail network.

Will the two tph service between Alloa and Longannet continue West to Stirling?

I suspect the track layout with a passing loop at Cambus to add to the one at Alloa station will give sufficient track capacity, so I suspect there will be two tph between Longannet and Stirling.

Would both services terminate at Glasgow or would one go to Glasgow, with the other to Edinburgh?

Clackmannan Station

The small town of Clackmannan has a population of about 3,500 and used to be served by Clackmannan and Kennet station, which closed in 1930.

This Google Map shows the town of Clackmannan.

Note.

  1. The Kincardine Line runs between the North West and South-East corners of the map, through the centre of the town.
  2. The original Clackmannan and Kennet station was to the South-East of this map.

This second Google map shows an enlargement of part of the town.

It would appear that there is space for a station.

  • Only a single platform would be needed.
  • What is the plan for the development site?

It could be designed as a walkway station, as has been proposed for Magor and Undy station in Wales.

Kincardine Station

The Kincardine Line runs between the small town of Kincardine and the River Forth and Kincardine station closed in 1930.

This Google Map shows the railway alongside the river.

Note.

  1. Kincardine Bridge crossing the Firth of Forth.
  2. The bridge can be used by pedestrians and cyclists.
  3. The Kincardine Line running along the river.
  4. It is not a long walk between the town centre and the railway.
  5. The blue dot to the South of the road junction marks the start of the Fife Coastal Path, which is over a hundred miles long.

Will the station be built in this area?

Longannet Station

Longannet power station was at the time of closure in 2016, the third-largest coal-fired power station in Europe.

This Google Map shows the site.

Note.

  1. The actual power station is in the middle.
  2. To the West is the coal store.
  3. The Kincardine Line comes along the river and then loops North of the power station, before curving down to the river to go to the East.
  4. There appears to be two triangular junctions either side of the coal store with a loop around the store to allow delivery of coal.

This second Google Map shows between the power station and the coal store.

Note.

  1. The Kincardine Line running West-East across the map.
  2. The triangular junction connecting it to the loop line around the coal store.
  3. The coal conveyor that used to move coal from the store to the power station.

I’d certainly like to see the plans for the site, as it is one with a lot of potential.

  • There is space for a large rail-connected factory for Talgo.
  • The station could be placed at the most convenient place.
  • There is space for a two platform station to make sure a two tph service is possible.
  • There could be lots of housing and industrial units.
  • there could be waterside housing.
  • There could be a convenient rail service to Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling.

It could be a big development for the Central Belt of Scotland.

Onward To Dunfermline

I have followed the route to Dunfermline Town station in my helicopter and it doesn’t seem the most difficult of lines to reopen.

  • Unlike many lines like this, there doesn’t appear to be too many bridges or level crossings.
  • The connection to the Fife Circle Line looks to be adequate.

I have these thoughts.

  • Cn this section of the line, could more stations be added?
  • As the Fife Circle Line is not electrified, would battery electric trains be ideal?
  • Would turnround facilities be needed at Dunfermline Town stations.

But at the moment, the plan is only to go as far as Longannet.

Thoughts On The Stations

The stations would generally be very simple.

  • Alloa would be a two-platform station.
  • Longannet might need provision for a passing loop and a second platform, so extension to Dunfermline wouldn’t be difficult.
  • All other stations could be single platforms.
  • All stations would be step-free.

Only two-platform stations would need footbridges.

Final Thoughts On Electrification

Consider.

  • All services on the Fife Circle Line, Kincardine Line and the Levenmouth Rail Link could be run using Hitachi’s proposed Regional Battery Train, with a few charging facilities at selected stations.
  • Talgo will need an electrified line to Longannet
  • As Alloa and Dunfermline Town is only about 15 miles, a Regional Battery Train could run a return trip without recharging.

It would appear that only the single-track between Alloa and Longannet needs to be electrified.

Conclusion

This looks to be a good scheme.

September 6, 2020 - Posted by | Transport | , , , , , ,

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