The Anonymous Widower

Is The Eastern Leg Of High Speed Two Under Threat?

This page on the High Speed Two web site is entitled HS2 Phase 2b Eastern Leg.

These are the opening three paragraphs.

Earlier this year the government made clear in its response to the Oakervee Review its commitment to Phase 2b of HS2, ensuring we boost capacity, improve connectivity between our regions and share prosperity.

As part of this, the government plans to present an Integrated Rail Plan for the North and Midlands by the end of the year, informed by an assessment from the National Infrastructure Commission, which will look at how to deliver HS2 Phase 2b, Northern Powerhouse Rail, Midlands Rail Hub and other rail programmes better and more effectively.

In the meantime, the government has asked HS2 Ltd to pause work on the Eastern Leg. We recognise that this causes uncertainty and our Eastern Leg community engagement teams remain in place to support you.

The page then says that the work on the Western Leg should proceed, with the aim of a Western Leg Bill in early 2022.

In Northern Powerhouse Rail – Significant Upgrades Of The East Coast Main Line From Leeds To Newcastle (Via York And Darlington) And Restoration Of The Leamside Line, I showed that the current and future upgrades to the East Coast Main Line, required by the East Coast Main Line, Northern Powerhouse Rail and High Speed Two, will greatly reduce the times on services from London Kings Cross to Doncaster, Yorkshire, the North East and Scotland.

I said this on timings on the East Coast Main Line.

  • London Kings Cross and Doncaster could be around an hour.
  • London Kings Cross and Leeds could be around one hour and thirty minutes, using the current Doncaster and Leeds time, as against the one hour and twenty-one minutes for High Speed Two.
  • London Kings Cross and York could be around one hour and twenty-three minutes, using the current Doncaster and York time, as against the one hour and twenty-four minutes for High Speed Two.
  • Timings between York and Newcastle would be the same fifty-two minutes as High Speed Two, as the track will be the limitation for both services.
  • High Speed Two’s timing for York and Newcastle is given as fifty-two minutes, with York and Darlington as twenty-five minutes.
  • London Kings Cross and Darlington could be around one hour and forty-nine minutes
  • London Kings Cross and Newcastle could be around two hours and sixteen minutes.
  • London Kings Cross and Edinburgh would be under three-and-a-half hours, as against the proposed three hours and forty-eight minutes for High Speed Two.

LNER’s Azuma cavalry will hold the fort for as long as is needed.

I’ll now look at how various stations, will be affected if the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two is not built, until a couple of decades in the future.

Leeds

Current Long Distance Services At Leeds Station

Leeds station has the following long distance services in trains per hour (tph)

  • CrossCountry – 1
  • LNER – 2
  • TransPennine Express – 5

It is a bit thin compared to say Birmingham or Manchester.

Northern Powerhouse Rail And Leeds

Northern Powerhouse Rail has plans for Leeds with these services to other Northern cities.

  • Hull – two tph in 38 minutes
  • Manchester – six tph in 25 minutes
  • Newcastle – four tph in 58 minutes
  • Sheffield – four tph in 28 minutes.

From what they have written, the following could also be possible.

  • Bradford – six tph in a few minutes
  • Liverpool – four or more tph in 51 minutes
  • Manchester Airport – four or more tph in 35 minutes

It is an ambitious plan.

High Speed Two And Leeds

High Speed Two is planning to run the following trains to Leeds in every hour.

  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Leeds – 200 metre train
  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Leeds via East Midlands Hub – 200 metre train
  • London Euston and Leeds via Old Oak Common and East Midlands Hub – 200 metre train
  • London Euston and Leeds via Old Oak Common and East Midlands Hub – 400 metre train
  • London Euston and Leeds via Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange and East Midlands Hub – 400 metre train

Timings will be as follows.

  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Leeds – 49 minutes.
  • London Euston and Leeds – One hour and 21 minutes.

There will be about 1000 seats per hour between Birmingham Curzon Street and Leeds and 2500 seats per hour Between London Euston and Leeds.

High Speed Two And Leeds Via Manchester

This report on the Transport for the North web site, is entitled At A Glance – Northern Powerhouse Rail.

This map shows Transport for the North’s ideas for connections in the West linking Crewe, Liverpool, Manchester, Manchester Airport, Warrington and Wigan.

A black line goes East from Manchester to link it to Leeds via Huddersfield and Bradford.

  • This is proposed as a route shared between High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail.
  • High Speed Two are promising that London Euston and Manchester will be timed at one hour and eleven minutes.
  • London Euston and Manchester will have a frequency of three tph and will all be 400 metre High Speed Two Full Size trains, with about a thousand seats.
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail have an objective of a twenty-five minute journey time between Manchester and Leeds.

I would also build the Manchester and Leeds route with the following characteristics.

  • As a full-size tunnel capable of taking High Speed Two Full Size trains and the largest freight trains.
  • Intermediate and underground stations at Huddersfield and Bradford.
  • It could be built as a base tunnel, like the similarly-sized Gotthard base tunnel in Switzerland.
  • The Swiss tunnel has a maximum operating speed for passenger trains of 125 mph.

If it can be built for a reasonable cost and in a reasonable time-scale, it could be a way of doing the following.

  • Creating a straight 150 mph plus route across the Pennines, with a capacity of 18 tph.
  • Running high-capacity fast trains between London Euston and Leeds via Manchester Airport and Manchester.
  • Running freight trains between the two sides of the Pennines.
  • Creating a high frequency route between Liverpool and Hull via Manchester Airport, Manchester, Huddersfield and Bradford and Leeds.

The passenger service between Liverpool and Hull could be the world’s first high speed metro.

If the London Euston and Manchester trains, were to be extended to Leeds, London Euston and Leeds would take one hour and thirty-six minutes, which would only be fifteen minutes slower, than is promised for the route going via the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two.

London Kings Cross And Leeds

When the in-cab digital signalling is complete between London Kings Cross and Leeds, I am fairly confident that with a few other improvements and more zoom from the Azumas, that a London Kings Cross and Leeds time of one hour and fifty minutes will be possible.

But will two nine-car or pairs of five-car trains per hour (tph), be enough capacity? Especially, as pairs of five-car trains will split and join to serve a wider catchment area, which will harvest more passengers.

LNER will in a couple of years have an extra path every hour into Kings Cross.

I would feel that best use of this path would be to run between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh via Leeds and Newcastle.

  • Leeds and Newcastle could be the only intermediate stops.
  • Leeds would be the ideal place to change to Northern Powerhouse Rail for anywhere in the North of England.
  • My estimates, say it could run between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh in around three-and-a-half hours.
  • It would run non-stop between London Kings Cross and Leeds, Leeds and Newcastle and Newcastle and Edinburgh.

It would increase capacity, between the four major destinations on the route; London Kings Cross, Leeds, Newcastle and Edinburgh.

It could start running, once the digital signalling and current improvements to the East Coast Main Line are complete.

London St. Pancras And Leeds

I discussed, Northern Powerhouse Rail’s plan for Sheffield and Leeds in Northern Powerhouse Rail – Connecting Sheffield To HS2 And On To Leeds.

This could see the following new infrastructure.

  • Electrification between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield station of the route shared by the Midland Main Line and High Speed Two.
  • Electrification through Sheffield and on to Leeds, via the Wakefield Line
  • New stations for High Speed trains at Rotherham and Barnsley Dearne Valley.

I could see East Midlands Railway taking advantage of this route, with their new Class 810 trains and running a regular Leeds and St. Pancras service.

  • It would call at Wakefield Westgate, Barnsley Dearne Valley, Rotherham and Meadowhall. between Leeds and Sheffield stations.
  • It would take twenty-eight minutes between Leeds and Sheffield, if it met Northern Powerhouse Rail’s objective.
  • Perhaps one of the two tph between London St. Pancras and Sheffield could be extended to Leeds.

As the current time between London St. Pancras and Sheffield, is a few minutes under two hours, I can see a time of comfortably under two-and-a-half hours between London St. Pancras and Leeds.

A Summary Of Journey Times Between London And Leeds

I can summarise my estimates, between London and Leeds.

  • High Speed Two – Direct via Eastern Leg – One hour and twenty-one minutes.
  • High Speed Two – via Manchester – One hour and thirty-six minutes.
  • East Coast Main Line – via Doncaster – One hour and thirty minutes.
  • Midland Main Line – via Derby and Sheffield – Two hours and twenty minutes.

The direct High Speed Two route is the fastest., but others could be viable alternatives for some passengers.

Bradford

Consider.

  • Under current plans Bradford won’t be getting any high speed service from High Speed Two.
  • The best it can get under current plans is several direct services per day, between Bradford Forster Square and London Kings Cross in perhaps two hours.
  • The layout of the city and its two stations doesn’t give good connectivity.

Bradford, Harrogate, Huddersfield and Skipton could probably be served by trains to and from London Kings Cross that join and split at Leeds.

But if Northern Powerhouse Rail goes for a tunnel between Manchester and Leeds with Bradford as an underground station, it could be served by High Speed Two services going between London Euston and Leeds via Manchester.

I would estimate that if London Euston and Leeds via Manchester took around one hour and thirty-six minutes, London Euston and Bradford could take around an hour-and-a-half.

Darlington

I can summarise my estimates, between London and Darlington.

  • High Speed Two – Direct via Eastern Leg – One hour and forty-nine minutes.
  • High Speed Two – via Manchester and Leeds – Two hours and six minutes.
  • East Coast Main Line – via Doncaster – One hour and forty-nine minutes.

Improvements on the East Coast Main Line, needed to enable and speed-up High Speed Two services to York, Darlington and Newcastle; will speed up East Coast Main Line services to Darlington.

Edinburgh

I can summarise my estimates, between London and Edinburgh.

  • High Speed Two – Direct via Western Leg – Three hours and Forty minutes.
  • High Speed Two – via Manchester and Leeds – Three hours and forty-eight minutes.
  • East Coast Main Line – via Doncaster – Three hours and thirty minutes.

Improvements on the East Coast Main Line, needed to enable and speed-up High Speed Two services to York, Darlington and Newcastle; will speed up East Coast Main Line services to Newcastle.

Harrogate

Consider.

  • Under current plans Harrogate won’t be getting any high speed service from High Speed Two.
  • The best it can get under current plans is several direct services per day, between Harrogate and London Kings Cross in perhaps two hours.

Bradford, Harrogate, Huddersfield and Skipton could possibly  be served by trains to and from London Kings Cross that join and split at Leeds.

Huddersfield

  • If Huddersfield is served by underground platforms beneath the current Huddersfield station, a lot of what I said for Bradford would apply to Huddersfield.
  • The timings would probably be around an-hour-and-a-half from London Euston.

Bradford, Harrogate, Huddersfield and Skipton could possibly be served by trains to and from London Kings Cross that join and split at Leeds.

Hull

Hull is an interesting destination.

  • Reaching Hull from the current High Speed Two network will need a change at Leeds or another station.
  • Using Northern Powerhouse Rail’s objectives on timings, London Euston and Hull via Manchester on High Speed Two, would be a few minutes under two-and-a-half hours.
  • I strongly feel, that London Kings Cross and Hull via Selby could be reduced to below two hours.

Hull would also make a superb Eastern terminal station for both Northern Powerhouse Rail and a High Speed Two service from London via Manchester and Leeds.

You pays your money and takes your choice.

Middlesbrough

Reaching Middlesbrough from the proposed High Speed Two network will need a change at York or another station.

But a time of two hours and twenty minutes, should be possible using the East Coast Main Line via Doncaster.

Improvements on the East Coast Main Line, needed to enable and speed-up High Speed Two services to York, Darlington and Newcastle, will speed up East Coast Main Line services to Middlesbrough.

Newcastle

I can summarise my estimates, between London and Newcastle.

  • High Speed Two – Direct via Eastern Leg – Two hours and seventeen minutes.
  • High Speed Two – via Manchester and Leeds – Two hours and thirty-four minutes.
  • East Coast Main Line – via Doncaster – Two hours and sixteen minutes.

Improvements on the East Coast Main Line, needed to enable and speed-up High Speed Two services to York, Darlington and Newcastle; will speed up East Coast Main Line services to Newcastle.

Nottingham

I will compare average speeds on the Midland Main Line between London St. Pancras and Nottingham and on the East Coast Main Line, between London Kings Cross and Leeds.

Currently.

  • London St. Pancras and Nottingham services, over the 126 mile route, take one hour and fifty minutes. which is an average speed of 69 mph.
  • London Kings Cross and Leeds services, over the 186 mile route, take two hours and thirteen minutes, which is an average speed of 94 mph.

Note.

  1. The two routes are of similar character and are fairly straight with large sections of 125 mph running and quadruple tracks.
  2. The East Coast Main Line to Leeds  is fully electrified, whereas the Midland Main Line is only partially electrified.
  3. Both routes have a small number of stops.
  4. In a few years time, services on both routes will be run by different members of the Hitachi AT-300 train family.

I don’t feel it would be unreasonable to assume that a London St. Pancras and Nottingham service could be run at an average speed of 94 mph, if the Midland Main Line were upgraded to the same standard as the East Coast Main Line.

This could mean a time of around one hour and twenty-one minutes between London St. Pancras and Nottingham, or a saving of twenty-nine minutes.

Is that possible?

  • The new Class 810 trains, will have four engines instead of the normal three for a five-car AT-300 train. Will they be able to be closer to the 125 mph line-speed on diesel power, where it is available on the Midland Main Line.
  • The trains will be able to use electrification between London St. Pancras and Market Harborough.
  • There have been hints, that more electrification may be installed on the Midland Main Line.
  • Hitachi have announced a battery electric version of the AT-300 train called a Regional Battery Train, where one or more of the diesel engines are replaced by battery packs.
  • The new trains will be ready to accept in-cab ERTMS digital signalling, so they could be able to run at up to 140 mph, if the track were to be upgraded.

I certainly feel, that substantial time savings could be possible between London St. Pancras and Nottingham.

Eighty-one minutes would be very convenient, as it would comfortably allow a three hour round trip, which would mean just six trains or more likely pairs of trains would be needed for the current two tph service.

Eighty-one minutes would not be the fifty-two minute service promised by High Speed Two!

But!

  • The new trains are planned to be introduced from 2023.
  • Who knows, when High Speed Two will arrive at the East Midlands Hub station?
  • They won’t need any new substantial infrastructure to replace the current trains.

I also suspect the new trains will have more seats, but, the capacity of the Class 810 train, has not been published.

Nottingham could also be served by a high speed service from London Kings Cross via Grantham, which I estimate would take about one hour and twenty minutes.

Sheffield

A lot of what I said for Nottingham can be applied to Sheffield.

  • Currently, London St. Pancras and Sheffield services, over the 165 mile route, take two hours, which is an average speed of 82.5 mph.
  • High Speed Two is promising a journey time of one hour and twenty-seven minutes.
  • An average speed of 90 mph, would mean a journey time of one hour and fifty minutes.
  • This would allow a four hour round trip, which would mean just eight trains or more likely pairs of trains would be needed for the current two tph service.

It would be very convenient for the operator.

It looks like if pairs of trains were to be run on both the Nottingham and Sheffield routes, that twenty-eight trains would be needed to run both services.

This fits well with a fleet size of thirty-three trains.

The only caveat, is that to get the required journey times, it might be necessary to rebuild and electrify the tracks, between Sheffield and Clay Cross North Junction.

  • These tracks will be shared with the future Sheffield Branch of High Speed Two.
  • It would only be 15.5 miles of double-track to rebuild and electrify.
  • It could be rebuilt to allow 140 mph running. Several minutes could be saved!

The electrification could allow Hitachi’s Regional Battery trains to be able to run the Sheffield service.

These trains would certainly be a way of avoiding the tricky electrification of the Derby and Clay Cross section of the route, which goes through the World Heritage Site of the Derwent Valley Mills.

Sheffield could also be served by a high speed service from London Kings Cross via Doncaster, which I estimate would take about one hour and thirty minutes.

Skipton

Consider.

  • Under current plans Skipton won’t be getting any high speed service from High Speed Two.
  • The best it can get under current plans is several direct services per day, between Skipton and London Kings Cross in perhaps two hours.

Bradford, Harrogate, Huddersfield and Skipton could possibly  be served by trains to and from London Kings Cross that join and split at Leeds.

Sunderland

Reaching Sunderland from the proposed High Speed Two network will need a change at York or another station.

But a time of two hours and thirty minutes, should be possible using the East Coast Main Line via Doncaster.

Improvements on the East Coast Main Line, needed to enable and speed-up High Speed Two services to York, Darlington and Newcastle, will speed up East Coast Main Line services to Sunderland.

York

I can summarise my estimates, between London and York.

  • High Speed Two – Direct via Eastern Leg – One hour and twenty-four minutes.
  • High Speed Two – via Manchester and Leeds – One hour and forty-two minutes.
  • East Coast Main Line – via Doncaster – One hour and twenty-four minutes.

Improvements on the East Coast Main Line, needed to enable and speed-up High Speed Two services to York, Darlington and Newcastle; will speed up East Coast Main Line services to York.

I believe strongly, that York would be about as fast from London, by either of the direct routes, but both would serve different intermediate destinations.

Conclusion

My first conclusion is a surprising one, but the promised timings from High Speed Two and the current timings in the timetable make it clear.

To achieve the required timings for High Speed Two, major improvements must be made to existing track and these improvements will mean that existing services will be competitive with High Speed Two on time.

These improvements fall into this category.

  • Improving the East Coast Main Line between York and Newcastle, will make East Coast Main Line services to York, Darlington, Durham and Newcastle competitive with High Speed Two services.
  • Improving the East Coast Main Line between York and Newcastle, may also mean that London Kings Cross and Edinburgh will be faster than the High Speed Two service between London Euston and Edinburgh.
  • Electrifying the route shared between Sheffield and Clay Cross North Junction, will speed up London St. Pancras and Sheffield services and make them more competitive with High Speed Two.

I suspect there may be similar mutual improvements on the Western leg of High Speed Two.

Other smaller conclusions from my analysis of the improvements include.

  • These improvements will create some extra capacity on the East Coast and Midland Main Lines, by removing bottlenecks and improving line speeds.
  • Electrification, even if it is only partial or discontinuous, will improve services on the Midland Main Line.
  • Some places like Harrogate, Middlesbrough and Skipton will never be served directly by High Speed Two, but are easily served by East Coast Main Line services from London Kings Cross.
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail is very much part of the North-South capacity for England.
  • In-cab ERTMS signalling will play a large part in increasing capacity and line speeds.

Perhaps in our planning of High Speed Two, we should plan all the routes in the North and Midlands in a much more holistic way.

If we look at the capacity between London and the North, I feel that with the addition of Phase 1 of High Speed Two to Birmingham in 2029-2033 and hopefully Phase 2a soon afterwards, that Phase 2b will not be needed for reasons of speed and capacity until years later.

So, I would pause most construction of the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two until Phase 1 and Phase 2a are complete.

I would make exceptions for the following.

  • Improvements to the shared section of the East Coast Main Line and High Speed Two, between York and Newcastle.
  • Building a high speed connection between Leeds and York for the use of Northern Powerhouse Rail and the East Coast Main Line.
  • Rebuilding and electrification of the shared section of the Midland Main Line and High Speed Two, between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield.
  • Improve and electrify the route between Sheffield and Leeds.

But I would continue with the design, as I feel that East of Leeds is very much sub-optimal at the present time.

The route of the Eastern leg of High Speed Two would be safeguarded.

 

 

 

 

December 7, 2020 - Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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