The Anonymous Widower

Darlington Station – 28th October 2020

I went to Teesside to have a look round yesterday.

These are my thoughts on Darlington station.

Platform 1 And Platform 4

These pictures show the two main platforms at Darlington station.

Note.

  1. They are affectively a very wide island platform.
  2. Platform 1 handles all trains going South and East to Middlesbrough and Saltburn.
  3. Platform 4 handles all trains going North and West to Bishop Auckland.
  4. The platforms are well over 200 metres long.
  5. Both the main platforms have a second track, between the current track and the walls of the station.
  6. Both main platforms have a large clock.
  7. Platform 1 has some innovative seating.
  8. Uniquely, there is a London Rail Map on the London-bound Platform 1. Every London-bound platform needs a copy of this map, but they are very rare.

They appear to handle all the current services easily.

There is certainly a lot of space to improve the station.

Station Structure

The station stricture is probably best described as grand, stylish and Victorian and it appears to be in good condition.

  • The tracks through the station are enclosed in two large brick walls.
  • A roof of the period, is supported on the walls and a number of perhaps forty cash-iron columns.

These pictures give a flavour of the station.

There must be few better station structures than Darlington in the UK and as it is Listed Grade II*. I would expect this is recognised by English Heritage.

The Southern Bay Platforms

There are two bay platforms at the Southern end of the station.

There were bay platforms at the Northern end, but these have now been removed.

I wonder, if these two bay platforms could be invaluable in the expansion of services both on the Tees Valley Line and generally in the area.

Current plans envisage the following.

  • Four trains per hour (tph) between Saltburn and Darlington.
  • Two tph between Darlington and Bishop Auckland.

One obvious way to achieve this objective would be to do the following.

  • Run two tph between Saltburn and Bishop Auckland. These trains would run as now with Saltburn services using Platform 1 and Bishop Auckland services using Platform 4 at Darlington station.
  • Run two tph between Saltburn and Darlington. These trains would use Platform 2 at Darlington station.

The advantages of this are.

  • To get to Middlesbrough or Saltburn, you would go to the island Platform 1/2, as you do now.
  • To get to Bishop Auckland, you would go to Platform 4, as you do now.
  • If battery trains were to be used the bay platforms would be ideal for a Vivarail Fast Charge system

There would probably need to be some changes to the tracks serving Platform 1 and 2.

Other possibilities might include.

  • Darlington might also be a useful terminal for a service to Whitby via Middlesbrough.
  • Using the station as a Northern terminus for an Express Parcels Service from London.

Lengthened platforms able to take a five-car Class 802 train, could be useful for service recovery.

The Western Pedestrian Entrance To The Station

Darlington Town Centre lies to the West of the station and these pictures show what probably was a very grand entrance to the station connected to it by a subway.

This Google Map shows the size of the entrance.

It is one of those buildings that would be described by a certain breed of estate agent, as having development potential.

  • There are no lifts to the subway.
  • It could be turned into a retail experience.
  • Does the clock tell the right time?
  • Buses were signposted in this direction, but there appeared to be little information.

Surely, it could be turned into an asset to both the railway and the town.

The Southern Approaches To The Station

These pictures show the Southern approach to the station.

The Tees Valley Line to and from Middlesbrough and Saltburn joins to the South of the station and trains going to Bishop Auckland have to cross over the two tracks of the East Coast Main Line.

This Google Map shows the track layout just to the South of the station.

Note.

  1. The Southern ends of the platforms can just be seen at the top of the map.
  2. Platforms are numbered 1 to 4 from West to East.
  3. The two avoiding lines going past the East side of the station.
  4. The yellow train is one of Network Rail’s Mobile Maintenance Trains.

The Mobile Maintenance Train was parked in the same place yesterday, as this picture shows.

The second Google Map shows Darlington South Junction, where the Tees Valley Line from Middlesbrough joins the East Coast Main Line.

These two maps indicate the problem of train operation at Darlington.

A train between Bishop Auckland in the West and Middlesbrough and Saltburn in the East, can sneak down the Southbound East Coast Main Line and take the Tees Valley Line to continue on its way.

But a train going the other way, needs to cross both tracks of the East Coast Main Line on the flat, which means precision working by drivers and signallers, to avoid causing delays to both main line and local trains.

I suspect all the following are true.

  • The number of London and Scotland expresses will increase.
  • London and Scotland expresses will be running faster.
  • The number of freight services on the route will increase.
  • The number of services between Bishop Auckland and Saltburn will increase from the current hourly only service.
  • High Speed Two will eventually start to run services between London and Birmingham, and at least as far North as Newcastle

All will make the need for improvements South, and probably North, of Darlington station increasingly important.

Could it be that the simplest solution would be to create a dive-under?

  • It would only need to be single-track.
  • It could probably be built without affecting current services, as was the Acton dive-under.
  • There would appear to be plenty of space.

It would only need to allow trains from the Eastern branch of the Tees Valley Line to access Platform 4 at Darlington station.

High Speed Two Is Coming

High Speed Two is coming to Darlington and I wrote about that in £100m Station Revamp Could Double Local Train Services.

This was my conclusion about what will happen to services at Darlington in that post.

I think that this will happen.

  • The Tees Valley Line trains will be greatly improved by this project.
  • Trains will generally run at up to 140 mph on the East Coast Main Line, under full digital control, like a slower High Speed Two.
  • There will be two high speed platforms to the East of the current station, where most if not all of the High Speed Two, LNER and other fast services will stop.
  • There could be up to 15 tph on the high speed lines.

With full step-free access between the high speed and the local platforms in the current station, this will be a great improvement.

So what will the step-free access be like?

The young assistant in WH Smith told me that a hole will be made in the wall on the East side of the current Platform 1.

It does seem that a new bridge could reach over all the platforms with an entrance for the Town Centre in a refurbished Western entrance.

Passengers would arrive by high speed train every few minutes from the South, Newcastle or Scotland.

  • Those for the Town Centre would walk across the bridge and exit the station in a refurbished Western entrance.
  • Those needing onward local train travel would descend into the current station to catch another frequent train.
  • Hopefully, there would be space somewhere for a bus station.

It would be a real gateway station for Darlington.

 

 

October 29, 2020 - Posted by | Transport | , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. A very under used facility by the look of it. Plenty of room for a new commuter station and a high speed by-pass. There is a brick Gresley A4 adjacent to the road past Darlington. Pity there is no real A4 in the station precincts!

    Comment by jagracer | October 29, 2020 | Reply

    • Come back this evebing, as there will be a lot more.

      Comment by AnonW | October 29, 2020 | Reply


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