The Anonymous Widower

Beeching Reversal – Consett-Newcastle Connection

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts. There used to be a direct line between Newcastle and Consett, which was the Derwent Valley Railway, which connected Consett to the Tyne Valley Line.

I would assume that the basis of the plan, is to reinstate this route and build a new station at Consett.

The Former Route

I will show the route starting from the Tyne Valley Line.

Connection To The Tyne Valley Line

This Google Map shows the MetroCentre with the Tyne Valley Line running along its North side.

Note.

  1. The River Tyne running along the North side of the map.
  2. MetroCentre station on the Tyne Valley Line is by the North-East corner of the MetroCentre.
  3. The River Derwent meanders its way to the River Tyne, to the West of the MetroCentre.
  4. The Derwent Valley Line used to come through this area to join the Tyne Valley Line.

I have a feeling that much of the route of the Derwent Valley Line lies under the new roads.

This map clipped from the Wikipedia entry for the Derwent Valley Line, shows how, the line connected to the Tyne Valley Line.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note.

  1. The Scotswood Railway Bridge is the dark-coloured bridge in the North-West corner of the map.
  2. The Tyne Valley Line runs East-West across the map.
  3. Swalwell station must have been in the area of the junction on the A1.

As the old route appears to be blocked, another route must be found to connect to the Tyne Valley Line.

Perhaps there would be enough space to squeeze a railway line alongside the River Derwent.

Between Swalwell And Nine Arches Viaduct

The Nine Arches Viaduct is an iconic feature of the line. This image of the bridge was taken from a Google Map.

This second image shows it as a map.

 

Note that I have arranged the map, so that the path that uses the route of the Derwent Valley Line runs between the South-West and North-East corners of the map.

This third Google Map has the Nine Arches Viaduct in the South-West corner and Swalwell in the North-East corner.

Note the tadpole-shaped green space by the bridge.

Between Nine Arches Viaduct and Lintz Green

This Google Map shows this section.

Note.

  1. The Nine Arches Viaduct is in the North-East corner.
  2. Lintz Green is in the South West corner.

On the Derwent Valley Railway, there were stations at Lintz Green and Rowlands Gill.

The History section in the Wikipedia entry for the Derwent Valley Railway, explains why a more direct route wasn’t taken in this area.

Between Lintz Green And Ebchester

This Google Map shows this section.

Note.

Lintz Green is at the Eastern edge of the map.

Ebchester is in the South-West corner.

On the Derwent Valley Railway, there were stations at High Westwood and Ebchester.

Between Ebchester and Consett

This Google Map shows this section.

Note.

  1. Ebchester is at the Northern edge of the map in the centre.
  2. Consett is in the South of the map.
  3. Shotley Bridge Hospital is an NHS hospital.

On the Derwent Valley Railway, there were stations at Shotley Bridge, Blackhill and Consett.

Consett Station

A new station would have to be built in Consett.

Consett is a town of around 25,000 and is shown in this Google Map.

Note that the red arrow shows the rough location of the original station near Annfield Plain. The station and the tracks were demolished in the 1980s to make way for new roads.

How thinking on transport has changed in forty years!

Is This Route Feasible?

Google gives the distance between the Metrocentre and Consett as 11.5 miles and Wikipedia says that Consett is about 900 feet above sea level.

To put the altitude into perspective, this is higher than Merthyr Tydfil, but not as high as Buxton, so I feel that trains could ascend to Consett, as steam trains did in far-off Victorian days, when they carried over half a million passengers every year, according to Wikipedia.

I would say, that although restoring the route could be challenging, it would not be filed under Impossible.

These are a few other thoughts.

Would The Route Carry Freight?

If we’re talking about long freight trains with lots of containers or many trucks of coal, the answer is probably a negative.

But rail freight is changing, I can see many towns in the UK getting a high speed parcels service using modified electric multiple units.

  • Rail Operations Group and others are planning to experiment with this type of service.
  • With on-line shopping, 25,000 residents can generate a lot of deliveries and returns.
  • The average guy on the Consett omnibus, is getting more worried about carbon emissions.

But trains like these could fit in with the passenger service on the route and could even unload at a well-designed passenger terminal in Consett.

The route would also have to be able to take maintenance and construction trains, just like the London Underground and the Tyne and Wear Metro do!

Would The Route Be Single- Or Double-Track?

Consider.

  • The original Victorian route was double-track.
  • The more trains on the route, the greater the need for a full double-track railway.
  • Would the Nine Arches Viaduct accommodate a double-track.
  • Single-track railways are easier to construct and more affordable.

Hopefully a serious study, will give an answer.

How Would Trains Go Between MetroCentre and Newcastle Stations?

Currently, there are three trains per hour (tph) between MetroCentre and Newcastle stations.

The Tyne and Wear Metro generally runs on the principle of five tph, so a one or two tph service between Consett and Newcastle would fit in well with the Tyne and Wear Metro, even if it was not their service.

This Google Map shows MetroCentre station.

Could a third platform be fitted here to run a shuttle service to Consett?

Trains between MetroCentre and Newcastle stations, go via Dunston station, Norwood Junction and the King Edward VII Bridge.

Note.

  1. Norwood Junction also allows trains to go between The Tyne Valley Line and the East Coast Main Line in both North and South directions.
  2. The comprehensive track layout to the South of Newcastle allows access to everywhere.

The Consett trains could even be run on a Back-to-Back basis to Ashington and Blyth.

Would The Line Be Zero-Carbon?

I feel strongly, that all new or reopened railways should be zero-carbon.

But whether it should be electrified is another matter and depends on the rolling stock.

Battery Electric Trains To Consett

If the route to Consett is to be zero-carbon, then the obvious choice for the route are battery electric trains.

  • To run these successfully, there would probably need to be some electrification along the Tyne Valley Line, as far as the junction with the new Derwent Valley Line, so trains started the climb to Consett with full batteries.
  • If necessary, some parts of the Derwent Valley Line could be electrified, to assist the trains up the hill.
  • Coming down from Consett, they could use Newton’s friend, with regenerative braking charging the batteries.
  • Intriguingly, between MetroCentre and Hexham is under twenty miles, so why not run these services using similar battery electric trains.

I also think, that if the electrification were to be 25 KVAC, then it could enable battery electric trains like Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train or CAF’s proposed Class 331 train with batteries, to run between Newcastle and Carlisle stations.

The Tyne And Wear Metro’s New Trains

I believe that the new trains being built by Stadler for the Tyne and Wear Metro, will be very similar to the Class 777 trains for Merseyrail.

The Class 777 trains are known to have this features.

  • A capacity of 484 passengers.
  • An operating speed of 75 mph.
  • A weight of 99 tonnes.
  • Ability to use 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • A small battery to be used for hotel power, when there is no electrification.
  • Some will be fitted with batteries to allow route extension on unelectrified lines, like between Ormskirk and Preston, which is 15.3 miles.
  • In the future, they will be able to use 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

The new Tyne and Wear trains appear to be different to the Class 777 trains in the following ways.

  • A different length, with five cars instead of four.
  • Ability to use 750 VDC overhead instead of 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • Longitudinal instead of transverse seating.

These facts should also be born in mind.

Stadler built the Class 399 tram-trains for Sheffield, that can use both 750 VDC and 25 KVAC overhead electrification from the same pantograph.

Parts of the Tyne and Wear Metro use tram-train operation under the Karlsruhe model, which is also used in Sheffield.

Could The Tyne And Wear Metro’s New Trains Work Between Newcastle And Consett Stations?

I feel if the following conditions were to be met, that the Tyne And Wear Metro’s new trains, would be able to work the route.

  • Batteries with sufficient range to work the route were fitted.
  • Ability to use both 750 VDC and 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • Sufficient electrification were erected to power the train and charge the batteries on their journey between Newcastle and MetroCentre stations.

It is my view, that the trains could be ideal for the route.

They could also work between Newcastle and Hexham, with slightly larger batteries than their Liverpool cousins.

What Size Batteries Would Be Needed For A Service To Consett?

I will do a calculation based on the Class 777 train figures.

  • The train weight is 99 tonnes.
  • Each of 484 passengers weighs 80 Kg with baggage, bikes and buggies.
  • This adds up to 38.7 tonnes giving a train weight of 137.7 tonnes.

Using Omni’s Potential Energy Calculator gives a value of 103 kWh to lift the full train the 900 feet to Consett.

In an article in the October 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled Celling England By The Pound, Ian Walmsley says this in relation to trains running on the Uckfield Branch, which is not very challenging.

A modern EMU needs between 3 and 5 kWh per vehicle mile for this sort of service.

The new Tyne and Wear Metro trains have five cars, so assuming 3 kWh per vehicle mile, would need the following energy to power the train to Consett.

5* 3 * 11.5 = 172.5 kWh

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a 400 kWh battery on the train.

On the flat, it would do about twenty-seven miles, which would mean the train could provide a service between Newcastle and Hexham.

Incidentally, the distance between Newcastle and Ashington is under twenty five miles of which a couple of miles are electrified.

Conclusion

Newcastle and Consett would appear to be an ideal route to reopen.

It would require.

  • A dozen miles of new track. much of which would be on an dismantled alignment.
  • An appropriate number of new stations.
  • Some electrification between Newcastle and MetroCentre stations.
  • A number of the new Stadler trains for the Tyne and Wear Metro to be fitted with batteries.

A service of one or two tph could be provided.

In addition, the following could be possible.

  • The Newcastle and Hexham service could be run by the same battery electric trains.
  • The Consett and Newcastle service could be run Back-to-Back with the proposed Newcastle and Ashington service.

This scheme has collateral benefits.

 

 

December 10, 2020 - Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , ,

7 Comments »

  1. […] See Beeching Reversal – Consett-Newcastle Connection […]

    Pingback by Restoring Your Railway: Successful Bids « The Anonymous Widower | December 10, 2020 | Reply

    • I very much feel, that the Consett and Ashington lines should go back-to-back across the city, as that would be an efficient use of rolling stock.

      It would also electrify, the Newcastle and Hexham service.

      That Labour MP needs to get real!

      Comment by AnonW | December 10, 2020 | Reply

      • I wonder if she would be so opposed if it was a Labour MP proposing the reopening.

        I’m not sure that that line is suitable for metro services, as they’re intended more for sub/urban services within the conurbation, which that line isn’t – there isn’t really much population at all between Blaydon and Consett.

        There are large numbers of old railway lines in Co Durham which are now cycle/footpaths, which should be relatively straightforward to convert back. The cycle path can be kept if they’re single track. If the Leamside line is being revived and connected with S Hylton, they might be better off reviving the line connecting that with Consett, via Stanley and the N edge of Chester le Street. That would be a longer way round for getting from Consett to Newcastle, but would serve a much larger catchment.

        Comment by Peter Robins | December 11, 2020

  2. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=15&lat=54.85873&lon=-1.73560&layers=6&b=1 This is the 1900 map for the railways in the area. The steam ore trains of The fifties and sixties are legendary, as they fought up the grades to Consett.

    Comment by jagracer | December 10, 2020 | Reply

  3. […] at Ferryhill has been successful. Another bid in the same area to restore rail services between Consett and Newcastle has also been […]

    Pingback by 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 « The Anonymous Widower | December 10, 2020 | Reply

  4. […] Consett-Newcastle Connection Ferryhill restoration […]

    Pingback by Beeching Reversal: Fifty Disused Rail Lines On Track To Reopen « The Anonymous Widower | December 10, 2020 | Reply


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