The Anonymous Widower

Plans For £100m Coventry To Nottingham Rail Link Announced

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

A £100m scheme to reconnect three Midlands cities by rail could be running by 2025, subject to funding, according to a regional transport group.

Midlands Connect said it had completed a strategic business case for a direct link between Coventry, Leicester and Nottingham.

The article also says this about the route.

The group said there was a “strong case” for the project and it had narrowed it down to two – one which called at the Warwickshire town of Nuneaton and one which ran direct between the three cities.

In A Potential Leicester To Coventry Rail Link, which I wrote in February 2019, I talked about this link and came to the conclusion it was feasible.

But things have moved on in those two years and these are my updated thoughts.

Via Nuneaton Or Direct

This Google Map shows the rail layout to the South of Nuneaton station.

Note.

  1. The multi-track electrified railway running North-West and South-East is the Trent Valley section of the West Coast Main Line.
  2. Branching off to the South-West is the Coventry and Nuneaton Line.
  3. Branching off to the South-East is the line to Leicester.

Nuneaton station is off the map to the North on the West Coast Main Line.

Unfortunately, services to Coventry and Leamington Spa call in Platform 1 on the Western side of the station and services between Leicester and Birmingham call in platforms 6 and 7 on the Eastern side.

This probably rules out a clever solution, where perhaps an island platform, has Birmingham and Leicester services on one side and Coventry and Leicester services on the other.

This Google Map shows Nuneaton station.

Note.

  1. Platform 6 and 7 form the island platform on the North-East side of the station.
  2. Birmingham trains call in Platform 6.
  3. Leicester trains call in Platform 7.

The track layout for Platforms 6 and 7 appears comprehensive with crossovers allowing both platforms to be used for services to both cities.

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

The only possibility would appear to be a single track dive-under that connected Platform 6 and/or 7 to the Coventry and Nuneaton Line on the other side of the West Coast Main Line.

I feel that costs would rule it out.

I suspect that a direct solution cutting out Nuneaton might be possible.

This Google Map shows the three routes diverging to the South of Nuneaton station.

It might be possible to connect the Coventry and Leicester Lines, but the curve might be too tight.

The alternative could be to build a dive-under that would connect Platform 1 to the Leicester Line.

  • It would appear that it could be the easiest and most affordable option.
  • Trains would reverse in Nuneaton station.

It is certainly a tricky problem, but I do believe there is a simple cost-effective solution in there somewhere.

Nuneaton Parkway Station

This page on Coventry Live gives some information about the proposed Nuneaton Parkway station.

There is also a proposed station, to be called Nuneaton Parkway, situated off the A5 between Hinckley and Nuneaton.

This Google Map shows the area where the A5 crosses the Birmingham-Peterborough Line, that runs between Hinckley and Nuneaton..

This must surely be one of the best sites to build a new Parkway station in the UK.

  • The triangular site is a waste transfer station operated by Veolia Environmental Services UK.
  • It has a direct connection to the A5, which could be easily improved, with perhaps a roundabout.
  • Doing a crude estimate from the Google Map, I calculate that the site is about sixteen hectares, which is surely a good size for a Parkway station.
  • There’s even quite a lot of new housing within walking and cycling distance.

It would also appear that the station could be built on this site without major disruption to either road or rail traffic.

The Stations And Timing

This document on the Midlands Connect web site, gives their aims for the service.

  • Coventry and Leicester – 38 minutes from 54 minutes with one change.
  • Coventry and Loughborough – 50 minutes from 88 minutes with otwo changes.
  • Coventry and East Midlands Parkway – 56 minutes from 104 minutes with otwo changes.
  • Coventry and Nottingham – 70 minutes from 108 minutes with otwo changes.

The service would have a frequency of two trains per hour (tph).

If the train did the same station stops as the current services between Coventry and Leicester, it could stop at all or a selection of the following intermediate stations.

  • South Wigston
  • Narborough
  • Hinckley
  • Nuneaton
  • Bermuda Park
  • Bedworth
  • Coventry Arena

The total time would appear to be around fifty minutes, with 28 minutes for Leicester to Nuneaton and 22 minutes from Nuneaton to Coventry. Although the BBC article says that Coventry and Leicester would drop from the current 54 minutes to 38 minutes.

Currently services between Leicester and Birmingham New Street stations are run by CrossCountry.

  • One tph – Birmingham New Street and Cambridge or Stansted Airport
  • One tph – Birmingham New Street and Leicester

Note that not all intermediate stations receive a two tph service.

Would a two tph service between Leicester and Coventry enable all the stations on the route to have a two tph service?

The Current Leicester And Nottingham Service

Currently the following services run between Leicester and Nottingham.

  • 1 tph – EMR InterCity – Direct
  • 1 tph – EMR InterCity – Via Loughborough, East Midlands Parkway and Beeston
  • 1 tph – EMR Regional – Via Syston, Sileby, Barrow-upon-Soar, Loughborough, East Midlands Parkway, Attenborough and Beeston

Note.

  1. Timings vary between 23 and 49 minutes.
  2. Four tph between Leicester and Nottingham would be a Turn-Up-and-Go service that would attract passengers.
  3. The BBC article is indicating a Coventry and Nottingham time of 70 minutes, which would indicate a Leicester and Nottingham time of 32 minutes, which would appear to be in-line with the EMR Intercity service that stops at Loughborough, East Midlands Parkway and Beeston.

It looks to me that a fourth semi-fast service between Leicester and Nottingham would not be a bad idea.

But Midlands Connect are proposing two extra tph between Coventry and Nottingham.

A Coventry And Nottingham Service

Consider.

  • An two tph service would fit in well and give a Turn-Up-and-Go service between Leicester and Nottingham.
  • The Coventry and Nottingham time of 70 minutes indicates that the train would need to be to EMR InterCity standard.
  • If there is an allowance of twenty minutes at either end of the route, this would indicate a round trip of three hours.

This standard of service would need an operational fleet of six five-car Class 810 trains or similar for a frequency of two tph.

I very much feel that there should be electrification of the Midland Main Line between Leicester and either East Midlands Parkway or Derby.

This would mean that the Coventry and Nottingham route would break down as follows.

  • Coventry and Nuneaton – 19,2 miles – No electrification
  • Nuneaton and Leicester – 18.8 miles – No electrification
  • Leicester and East Midlands Parkway – 19.1 miles – Possible electrification
  • East Midlands Parkway and Nottingham – 8.4 miles – No electrification

Note that electrification is already available  at Coventry and Nuneaton.

The Coventry and Nottingham route would appear to be possible with battery-electric trains, after the route between Leicester and East Midlands Parkway is electrified.

An Improved Birmingham And Cambridge Service

If Nottingham and Coventry needs a fast two tph service stopping at the major towns and cities in between, surely Birmingham and Cambridge need a similar service.

  • It could call at Nuneaton, Leicester, Melton Mowbray, Oakham, Stamford, Peterborough, Ely and Cambridge North.
  • Some services could be extended to Stansted Airport.
  • It would have a frequency of two tph.

The Birmingham and Cambridge route would break down as follows.

  • Birmingham and Nuneaton – 21 miles – No electrification
  • Nuneaton and Leicester – 18.8 miles – No electrification
  • Leicester and Peterborough – 40 miles – No electrification
  • Peterborough and Ely – 30.5 miles – No electrification
  • Ely and Cambridge – 14.7 miles – Electrified.

Note that electrification is already available  at Birmingham, Nuneaton and Peterborough.

The Birmingham and Cambridge route would appear to be possible with battery-electric trains, if Leicester station were to be electrified.

Midland Connect’s Proposed Leeds and Bedford Service

I wrote about this service in Classic-Compatible High Speed Two Trains At East Midlands Hub Station.

It would run between Leeds and Bedford stations.

It would use the Midland Main Line between Bedford and East Midlands Hub stations.

It would use High Speed Two between East Midlands Hub and Leeds stations.

It would stop at Wellingborough, Kettering, Market Harborough, Leicester, Loughborough and East Midlands Hub stations.

  • The service frequency could be hourly, but two trains per hour (tph) would be better.
  • Leicester and Leeds would take 46 minutes.

Obviously, it wouldn’t run until the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two opens, but it could open up the possibility of Coventry and Leeds in under ninety minutes.

Driving takes over two hours via the M1.

Conclusion

This looks to be a very feasible and fast service.

It also illustrates how extending the electrification on the Midland Main Line can enable battery-electric trains to provide connecting services.

Enough electrification at Leicester and a few miles North of the station to fully charge passing trains would probably be all that is needed.

 

 

 

May 27, 2021 - Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. Download of planned proposals by Midlands Connect available here
    https://www.midlandsconnect.uk/publications/reconnecting-coventry-leicester-and-nottingham-by-rail/

    Comment by Fenline Scouser | May 27, 2021 | Reply

    • Thanks for that!

      I don’t know about you but I think we need more services like this one.

      I note they’re talking about 2 tph between Coventry and Nottingham. To get the speed they want, they’re going to need 6 Hitachi 810 trains.

      Comment by AnonW | May 27, 2021 | Reply


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