The Anonymous Widower

Transport Secretary Urged Not To Derail Aylesbury Spur Plans

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on The Bucks Herald.

This is the sub-heading of the article.

Leader of Buckinghamshire Council, Martin Tett has written to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps urging him to confirm Government support and funding for the much needed Aylesbury link section of East-West rail.

I think this Aylesbury link needs very careful thinking.

There are certainly a lot of issues to consider.

The Aylesbury Link

The Great Central Main Line used to run from London Marylebone station to the East Midlands and North.

Much of the route closed in the 1960s and the only section with a regular passenger service is that that run by Chiltern Railways, between Marylebone and Aylesbury Vale Parkway station.

North of Aylesbury Vale Parkway this rail link connects to the East-West Rail Link.

It was originally proposed to run a service between Aylesbury and Milton Keynes.

High Speed Two

High Speed Two is the herd of elephants in the room and it could have multiple effects all over the country.

Is High Speed Two For London, The Midlands, The North And Scotland Or For The Whole UK?

The answer surely, is that High Speed Two is for the whole UK.

Train Services Between Wales and the West Of England And The North Of England And Scotland

Consider.

  • North Wales is well served by a change at Crewe for passengers from the North and Scotland.
  • Mid Wales is served by a change at Crewe or in Birmingham.
  • South Wales, Bristol and the West and South-West of England are well-served by high speed trains from London Paddington and Reading.

Could South Wales, Bristol and the West and South-West of England, be better connected to the North and Scotland?

One of the ways to improve these services could be with a connection between High Speed Two and East-West Rail Link to allow trains to connect to the Great Western Railway at Didcot Junction.

Train Services Between East Anglia And The North Of England And Scotland

One of the ways to improve these services could be with a connection between High Speed Two and East-West Rail Link to allow trains to connect to and from Cambridge and East Anglia.

A High Speed Two Station At Calvert

Calvert is a village surrounded by landfill and wildlife sites to the South of where High Speed Two and East-West Rail Link cross to the North of Aylesbury.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note.

  1. Calvert is the village in the middle of the map.
  2. The light-coloured area to the South-East of the village is one of London’s biggest landfill sites.
  3. The single-track railway to Aylesbury runs along the North-East side of the landfill.
  4. To the North of the village, this railway connects to the East-West Rail Link.

This Google Map shows the junction between the two railways in greater detail.

Note.

  1. The Northern part of Calvert is in the South-East corner of the map.
  2. The East-West Rail Link crossing across the North of the map
  3. The railway to Aylesbury running SE-NW across the map, to the East of the village of Calvert.
  4. The chord connecting the two railways, which allows trains to and from the South to connect to the East.

This map from High Speed Two shows the route of the new railway through the area.

Note.

  1. High Speed Two is shown in yellow (cutting) and embankment (red).
  2. High Speed Two appears to run either on the same route or alongside the route to Aylesbury.

The Oakervee Review into High Speed Two, says this on Page 53, about a new station at Calvert in Buckinghamshire.

The Review also heard evidence from a number of informed stakeholders suggesting there should be a new station near Calvert, where HS2 would cross East-West Rail proposals to improve connectivity along the OxfordCambridge corridor. Previously, due to the impact on speed, no interim station had been planned between London and Birmingham Interchange.

The Review concluded that the DfT should consider making passive provision for a future HS2 station near to Calvert. If it is decided that a HS2 station should be built near to Calvert, passive provision will help prevent any disruption to HS2 services. There could be merit in developing an HS2 station in the future here if local plans support a significant residential and commercial development in this region, and if there is passenger demand to justify the cost of developing a station here. Without this coordinated planning, the experience of HS1 stations risks being repeated. The Review notes that the cost of developing a future station near Calvert could be shared with others including potentially the East West Rail Company.

I must admit, that I like the concept of a new station at Calvert.

  • The double-track High Speed Two and the single-track Aylesbury Link run alongside each other and a station wouldn’t be a very expensive one.
  • High Speed Two Trains will be very powerful and should be able to do a quick stop perhaps losing about two minutes.
  • The important Milton Keynes Central station would get a good High Speed Two service, with a change at Calvert.
  • Trains between Oxford and Cambridge could serve Calvert station.

It might also be possible for one of High Speed Two’s Classic Compatible trains to join High Speed Two at the station with a reverse.

This could enable a service between say Cardiff and Edinburgh.

  • Intermediate stops could be Newport, Bristol Parkway, Swindon, Oxford, Bicester Village, Calvert, Birmingham Interchange, Crewe, Preston and Carlisle.
  • It might even join and split at Swindon and Carlisle, with a second Classic Compatible train going between Penzance and Glasgow, which stopped at Plymouth, Exeter, Bristol Temple Meads, Bath, Swindon, Oxford, Bicester Village, Calvert, Birmingham Interchange, Crewe, Preston and Carlisle.
  • It would need extra two-hundred metre long platforms at Swindon, Oxford, Bicester Village and Calvert.

If this train ran hourly, there would certainly be a need for an hourly feeder train between Aylesbury and Milton Keynes.

But as yet, it hasn’t been decided to provide provision at Calvert for a possible High Speed Two station.

Rolling Stock For The East-West Rail Link

In July 2019, I wrote Tender Set To Be Issued For East West Rail Rolling Stock.

I analysed if battery electric trains could run services on the East West Rail Link.

I said this.

Consider.

    • All the major stations except Oxford have electrification.
    • Sections of the route are electrified.
    • The route is not very challenging.
    • The longest section without electrification is around forty miles.

All this leads me to believe that a battery-electric train with a range of forty miles could handle the route, if there was the means to charge the train at Oxford.

Possibly the easiest way to achieve the charging station at Oxford station, would be to electrify between Didcot Junction and Oxford stations.

Since then Hitachi have released the Hitachi Regional Battery Train, whose specification is shown in this infographic.

I believe this train could work the East-West Rail Link and also between Aylesbury and Milton Keynes.

I also believe, that other manufacturers could provide battery electric trains for the route.

These or similar trains would also be suitable for the decarbonisation of Chiltern’s diesel multiple units, that run the suburban services.

Conclusion

High Speed Two could have a station at Calvert.

If it does, there will certainly be a need between Aylesbury and Milton Keynes.

To be continued…

February 16, 2021 - Posted by | Transport | , , , , ,

5 Comments »

  1. At one point I was an advocate for a HS2 station at Aylesbury (also serving MK and Oxford as you mention) but there are several reasons this isn’t a good idea.

    Firstly, if you’re going from MK, Aylesbury or Oxford to London, it would still be faster to use an existing service, and if you’re headed north, you can already change to HS2 at Birmingham International or Moor St./Curzon St. without much difficulty.

    More importantly, HS2 train’s aren’t designed to do quick stops at small stations. Just look at the size of the proposed Birmingham Interchange station. A single stop at this point on the route would add at least 10 mins to the journey between London and Birmingham, at which point it wouldn’t be viable. You could have some fast trains that don’t stop but this would be a nightmare to timetable and youd need multiple lines for miles in either direction to allow services to slow down and speed up without coming across each-other. HS2, for all its flaws, will have a higher frequency of trains than almost any other high speed line in the world and it achieves this largely because there are no stops between OOC and Birmingham.

    Comment by JMo | February 17, 2021 | Reply

  2. I feel very strongly, that HS2 should serve the whole UK and a connection at Calvert could be one way of enabling High Speed services to South Wales and the South West and West of England.

    I only said that provision should be made for a station, but a junction might be better, whereby one train per hour went off via Oxford to the South West.

    I should add, that I believe, the next generation of LNER trains, running on ERTMS between London and Leeds will give HS2, a good run for its money, so perhaps we should improve the ECML and MML to handle the East and integrate HS2 and the WCML to serve the West.

    There has not been enough holistic thinking.

    Comment by AnonW | February 17, 2021 | Reply

    • I agree on the final point and I’d love the end result to be a complete HS network, but even provision for a station at Calvert would be a waste of money in my view (just my view). If youre headed from the north to south Wales or the south-west, you can change at either Birmingham or OOC- a station at Calvert wouldn’t save you much time. HS2 also cant afford to lose any TPH to other branches- the demand is for London and branching off a high-speed line at it’s fastest point would again require miles of four-tracking. A more sensible option would be to have the Birmingham Curzon St. station as a through station, with services continuing to the south-west from there, but unfortunately I don’t think provision for this has been kept?

      Agree on the LNER point, will be interesting to see, but I fear it’ll just be used as an excuse to scrap that spur of HS2. To be honest, I can’t see any new high speed lines being built in the next 50 years.

      Comment by jmo | February 18, 2021 | Reply

  3. I agree about Birmingham and the layout of the lines in the City would allow trains from Milton Keynes to terminate in Curzon Street, which is much bigger than it needs to be for HS2.

    LNER have put in for ten new trains. I wouldn’t be surprised to find that these turn out to be based on the HS2 Classic Compatible design, but with the ability to run on Hydrogen power to Inverness and Aberdeen. A fleet of ten would be ideal for North of Scotland services and they’d use electric power until perhaps Perth and Dundee.

    If a Class 91 and eight coaches has done London and Edinburgh in 3.5 hours, I would expect that a modern train based on high speed locomotive technology from say Hitachi or Talgo could be close to three hours with ERTMS and track improvements.

    There will also be at least a full path available between Edinburgh and London to LNER. How about a two-stopper at Newcastle and Leeds, to give the low-cost airlines a good kicking for the third hourly service.

    It would make the ghost of Sir Nigel pleased. If Talgo built the train and it had one of their duck noses, they could be called Mallards.

    Comment by AnonW | February 18, 2021 | Reply

  4. The proposal for services from Aylesbury to Milton Keynes has been around for years. Indeed I think I recall there being a few services, maybe Saturdays only from Aylesbury to Milton Keynes before certain lines became disused – so maybe this was 20 years ago.

    If the Government says No then you seriously have to question any Government rail commitment, not just in Buckinhamshire and East-West but maybe Northern ones and others.

    A service to Milton Keynes would be very useful particularly if linked to Marylebone – High Wycombe – Aylesbury services.

    Comment by TW | February 18, 2021 | Reply


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