The Anonymous Widower

Could We See Between London And Much Of The North By Train In Under Two Hours?

I shall write about each route in order starting from Euston and working East.

Avanti West Coast And Euston

These are services from Euston, that I feel could be under two hours.

London Euston And Liverpool Lime Street

On Thursday, I went to Liverpool by train.

  • My train took two hours and thirteen minutes between London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street stations.
  • There were stops at Stafford, Crewe and Runcorn.
  • The Class 390 train was travelling at 125 mph for a lot of the way.
  • The distance between the two terminals is 193.6 miles.
  • The start to stop average including the stops was 87.3 mph.

So could London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street be achieved in the magic two hours?

A few thoughts.

Average Speed

To do the journey in this time  would need an average speed of 96.8 mph.

Accelerating And Stopping

Ideally, the train will run as fast as it can only changing speed for the station stops.

  • The train will accelerate from stop to cruising speed at Euston, Stafford, Crewe and Runcorn or four times.
  • The train will decelerate from cruising speed to stop at Stafford, Crewe, Runcorn and Liverpool Lime Street or four times.

Effectively, the train goes through four complete station stops, although one will be split between the two ends of the journey.

These figures are from Wikipedia and the Internet

  • The acceleration of the Class 390 train is 1.0 mph/sec which means that it takes 125 seconds to get to 125 mph.
  • The deceleration of a Class 390 train is 2.0 mph/sec, which means that it takes 63 seconds to stop from 125 mph.
  • The acceleration of a Class 801 train is 1.6 mph/sec which means that it takes 78 seconds to get to 125 mph.
  • The deceleration of a Class 801 train is 2.2 mph/sec, which means that it takes 57 seconds to stop from 125 mph.

These figures would appear to show, that a Class 801 train can decelerate and accelerate at a stop in nearly a minute faster than a Class 390 train.

So how can we increase the acceleration and deceleration? The two obvious ways are more power and less weight.

Form the Internet, I estimate that the average car in a Class 390 train is around 52 tonnes, as opposed to 41 tonnes for the Hitachi trains.

So does this weight difference explain some of the difference in acceleration and deceleration times?

Consider.

  • The Class 390 trains have all the extra weight of the tilt mechanism. More weight means slower acceleration.
  • Avanti West Coast’s new Class 807 trains have no diesel engines or batteries. Have the trains been put on a diet?
  • They also have a reprofiled nose. Is it more aerodynamic?

So if these trains can save time on the four accelerate/decelerate cycles compared to the Class 390 trains, they must be getting nearer to the magic two hours.

If two minutes a stop can be saved that would save eight minutes on the journey between London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street.

140 Mph Running

The time to do a mile at various speeds are as follows.

  • 100 mph – 36 seconds
  • 125 mph – 29 seconds
  • 140 mph – 26 seconds

So running at 140 mph, as opposed to the current 125 mph would save three seconds for every mile.

To save five minutes would mean the train would have to run for a hundred miles at 140 mph instead of 125 mph.

As Stafford is 133.5 miles from London, it could be that full digital signalling should be installed on the West Coast Main Line all the way to Stafford or even Crewe, which is 158 miles from London.

This schematic map of the West Coast Main Line was clipped from Wikipedia.

Note.

  1. Trains between London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street take the Trent Valley Line through Nuneaton and Lichfield Trent Valley and stop at Stafford, Crewe and Runcorn.
  2. Trains between London Euston and Manchester take a variety of routes and all go via Stockport.
  3. One train per hour (tph) between London Euston and Glasgow Central takes the Trent Valley Line and goes non-stop between London Euston and Warrington Central.
  4. Norton Bridge Junction just to the North of Stafford has recently been remodelled.

I believe there is potential to enable up to at least a hundred miles of 140 mph running to the South of Crewe. Especially as most of the track South of Crewe is quadruple track.

This should enable the shaving of five or more minutes off the time of any train capable of 140 mph running that uses the Trent Valley Line through Nuneaton, Lichfield Trent Valley and Stafford.

Norton Bridge Junction

Norton Bridge junction, which is five miles North  used to be a bottleneck, but it has now been remodelled.

I wrote about it in The New Norton Bridge Junction In Action.

The new junction has probably been designed so that it can save a few seconds for trains going between Stafford and Crewe, whether or not they stop at either or both stations.

Non-Stop Between London Euston and Runcorn

If you look at the times of a London Euston and Glasgow Central train via the Trent Valley Line , it travels the 174.7 miles between London Euston and Weaver Junction non-stop in one hour and forty minutes. This is an average speed of 104.8 mph.

By comparison, my train on Thursday took one hour and forty-seven minutes with the two stops at Stafford and Crewe.

So there is at least six minutes to be saved by going non-stop.

 

Two Trains Per Hour Between London Euston And Liverpool Lime Street

Wikipedia says this about an additional service.

Subject to approval by the Office of Rail and Road, an additional hourly service will be introduced between London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street with a stop at Liverpool South Parkway from December 2022.

I have a few thoughts and questions on extra services between London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street,

  • In my view the second service is much needed.
  • I also think, that a later train back to London is needed.
  • Does the Wikipedia statement mean that only one train will stop at Liverpool South Parkway?
  • Does Runcorn need two tph to and from London?
  • Would the platforms at Liverpool South Parkway be lengthened to accept eleven-car Class 390 trains?

I feel that if a train stopped at both Liverpool South Parkway and Runcorn, this would make a two-hour journey more difficult to achieve.

London Euston And Liverpool Lime Street In Two Hours

The new Class 807 trains will be delivered by 2022. Because of the pandemic, I’ll assume that of the ten trains on order, some, but not all, will be available by the December 2022 timetable change.

The time savings needed for a two-hour journey will come from four improvements.

  1. The increased performance of the Class 807 trains.
  2. Full digital signalling South of Crewe.
  3. The track improvements already completed like Norton Bridge Junction.
  4. Cutting out stop on the second service.

There may also be time savings to be obtained at the intermediate stops, by better working practices.

I doubt that the full digital signalling will have been installed, but all trains will be capable of 125 mph running.

Avanti West Coast probably have a good idea of the time they could achieve without digital signalling and I feel that they could be about five minutes over two hours with the Class 807 trains.

As the eleven-car Class 390 trains are too long for Liverpool South Parkway station, could we see the following service?

  • 1 tph – Class 390 train – London Euston And Liverpool Lime Street via Runcorn, Crewe and Stafford.
  • 1 tph – Class 807 train – London Euston And Liverpool Lime Street via Liverpool South Parkway.

Note.

  1. The Class 390 train would run the existing timetable in two hours and thirteen minutes.
  2. The Class 807 train would be a two-hour express service if possible.
  3. Going from three stops to one could save the express at least seven minutes, as I showed earlier by looking at train timings South of Weaver Junction.
  4. There would be time savings of at least two minutes on the express service due to the better performance of the Class 807 train.

To save the final four minutes, there would need to be at least eighty miles of 140 mph running, as each mile saves three seconds.

I am fairly certain, that London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street can be regularly achieved in two hours.

London Euston And Warrington Bank Quay

The hourly London Euston and Glasgow Central expresses seem to take one hour and forty-five minutes for the non-stop trip of 182.1 miles, which is an average speed of 104 mph.

As this service is non-stop, I believe that this service would get the maximum benefit from digital signalling and this service will only get faster, as more and more of the route allowed 140 mph-running.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see almost ten minutes lopped off this service by signalling and other improvements.

I am fairly certain, that London Euston and Warrington Bank Quay can be regularly achieved in well under two hours, by a Class 390 train.

London Euston And Wigan North Western

The hourly London Euston and Glasgow Central expresses seem to take one hour and fifty-six minutes for the single-stop trip of 193.9 miles, which is an average speed of 100.3 mph.

As this service just a single stop at Warrington Bank Quay, I believe that this service would get the maximum benefit from digital signalling and this service will only get faster, as more and more of the route allowed 140 mph-running.

As with Warrington Bank Quay, I wouldn’t be surprised to see almost ten minutes lopped off this service by signalling and other improvements.

I am fairly certain, that London Euston and Wigan North Western can be regularly achieved in comfortably under two hours, by a Class 390 train.

London Euston And Preston

The hourly London Euston and Glasgow Central expresses seem to take two hours and eleven minutes for the two -stop trip of 209 miles, which is an average speed of 95.7 mph.

As this service just stops at Warrington Bank Quay and Wigan North Western, I believe that this service would get the maximum benefit from digital signalling and this service will only get faster, as more and more of the route allowed 140 mph-running.

As with Warrington Bank Quay and Wigan North Western, I wouldn’t be surprised to see almost ten minutes lopped off this service by signalling and other improvements.

I am fairly certain, that London Euston and Preston can be regularly achieved in just under two hours, by a Class 390 train.

London Euston And Blackpool North

Avanti West Coast have indicated that their new Class 807 trains will run between London Euston and Blackpool North.

Consider.

  • I am fairly certain that a Class 390 train will be able to run between London Euston and Preston in under two hours, once digital signalling is installed South of Crewe.
  • Currently, Class 390 trains take twenty minutes between Preston and Blackpool North stations.
  • The Class 807 trains have better acceleration and deceleration and should be able to execute faster stops than the Class 390 trains.

I wonder if Avanti West Coast, Hitachi, Network Rail and Rock Rail have thought up a cunning plan to run Class 807  trains between  London Euston And Blackpool North, in under two hours.

Trains would go via the Trent Valley.

Trains might only stop at perhaps Milton Keynes Central, Warrington Bank Quay, Wigan North Western and Preston.

Trains would run at up to 140 mph using digital signalling, in as many places as possible.

Is the performance of the Class 807 trains sufficient to achieve London Euston and Blackpool North in under two hours via the Trent Valley?

London Euston And Manchester Piccadilly via Wilmslow

Consider.

  • Most trains between London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly via Wilmslow seem to take around six or seven minutes over two hours.
  • I believe that if the 158 miles between London Euston and Crewe were to be digitally signalled, then this could save up to eight minutes by allowing trains to run at 140 mph rather than the current 125 mph.

This could be enough to bring the London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly via Wilmslow below two hours.

I am not surprised at this, as the trains were built for 140 mph and because there is no digital signalling, they are limited to 125 mph, which slows the trains by six or seven minutes.

London Euston And Manchester Piccadilly via Stoke-on-Trent

Everything I said about trains between London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly via Wilmslow probably apply, except that the services via Stoke-on-Trent are a few minutes slower.

But I do feel, that this could be enough to bring the London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly via Stoke-on-Trent below two hours.

East Midlands Railway And St. Pancras

These is only one service from St. Pancras, that is not comfortably under two hours.

London St. Pancras And Sheffield

A typical service between London St. Pancras And Sheffield takes a few minutes over two hours..

  • There are two tph
  • There are stops at Leicester, Loughborough, East Midlands Parkway, Long Eaton, Derby or Chesterfield depending on the service.
  • The Class 222 trains travel at 125 mph for most of the way.
  • The distance between the two terminals is 164.7 miles.
  • The start to stop average including the stops is 81 mph.

I would suspect that East Midlands Railway’s new bi-mode Class 810 trains will be able to easily break the two-hour barrier.

  • They have four diesel engines so they can cruise at 125 mph on diesel.
  • They have electric power for South of Market Harborough.
  • Some diesel engines will be changed for batteries.

As electrification increases on the Midland Main Line, these trains will use less and less diesel.

I also suspect that digital signalling will start to creep into the route, starting from Bedford, where it is used on Thameslink.

LNER And King’s Cross

These are services from King’s Cross, that are or I feel will be under two hours.

London King’s Cross And Doncaster

A typical service between London King’s Cross And Doncaster takes around one hour and thirty-seven minutes.

  • There are four tph
  • There are stops at Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham, Newark and Retford depending on the service.
  • The Class 80x trains travel at 125 mph for most of the way.
  • The distance between the two stations is 156 miles.
  • The start to stop average including the stops is 96.5 mph.

Digital signaling is being installed on this section of the East Coast Main Line and I suspect that this will reduce timings between London King’s Cross And Doncaster.

A simple estimate based on the maximum operating speed, indicates a time of one hour and twenty-six minutes should be possible.

But as a Control Engineer, I believe that digital signalling will lead to faster running over the Digswell Viaduct and through the flat crossing at Newark.

The timing will certainly be under one hour and thirty minutes between London King’s Cross And Doncaster.

London King’s Cross And York

A typical service between London King’s Cross And York takes around one hour and forty-eight minutes.

  • There are two tph
  • There are stops at Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham, Newark, Retford and Doncaster depending on the service.
  • The Class 80x trains travel at 125 mph for most of the way.
  • The distance between the two stations is 188.5 miles.
  • A non-stop service takes one hour and fifty-two minutes, which is a start to stop average including the stops is 101 mph.

If my crude estimate of time savings because of digital signalling South of Doncaster can be applied, this would imply a reduction in journey time of at least eleven minutes.

London King’s Cross And Leeds

A typical service between London King’s Cross And Leeds takes around two hours and thirteen minutes.

  • There are three tph
  • There are stops at Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham, Newark, Doncaster and Wakefield Westgate depending on the service.
  • The Class 80x trains travel at 125 mph for most of the way.
  • The distance between the two terminals is 185.9 miles.
  • This is a start to stop average including the stops is 83.9 mph.

If my crude estimate of time savings because of digital signalling South of Doncaster can be applied, this would imply a reduction in journey time of at least eleven minutes, which would put a time between London King’s Cross and Leeds of around two hours.

London King’s Cross And Bradford Forster Square

LNER run some services on this route

  • The services take thirty minutes between Leeds and Bradford Forster Square stations.
  • The services do not reverse at Leeds.

Given that two hours should be possible between London Kings Cross and Leeds, it would appear that two hours and thirty minutes should be possible between Leeds and Bradford Forster Square stations.

London King’s Cross And Bradford Interchange

Grand Central run some services on this route

  • The services call at Doncaster, Wakefield Kirkgate, Mirfield, Brighouse and Low Moor
  • The services take two hours and fifty-four minutes between London King’s Cross and Bradford Interchange stations.
  • The services take one hour and seventeen minutes between Doncaster and Bradford Interchange stations.

The services are run by Class 180 diesel trains, which will have to be replaced to decarbonise the route.

I suspect that Hitachi will have a train for this route, that could use diesel or batteries to the North of Doncaster.

  • My estimate for the best time between King’s Cross and Doncaster is one hour and twenty-six minutes.
  • The current time between Doncaster and Bradford Interchange stations is one hour and seventeen minutes.

This gives a best time of perhaps two hours and forty-three minutes between Doncaster and Bradford Interchange stations.

The route to Bradford via Leeds is perhaps fifteen minutes faster, but it serves different stations.

London King’s Cross And Harrogate

LNER has been running to Harrogate for some time.

  • There is one train per two hours (tp2h)
  • The service calls at Stevenage, Grantham, Doncaster, Wakefield Westgate and Leeds.
  • some services reverse at Leeds.
  • The service takes two hours and fifty-five minutes between London King’s Cross and Harrogate stations.
  • The service takes thirty minutes between Leeds and Harrogate stations.

Given that two hours should be possible between London Kings Cross and Leeds, it would appear that two hours and thirty minutes could be possible between London King’s Cross and Harrogate stations.

London King’s Cross And Huddersfield

In LNER Expands To Huddersfield, I described LNER’s new service to Huddersfield.

  • There will be one train per day (tpd)
  • The service will call at Peterborough, Newark North Gate, Doncaster, Wakefield Westgate, Leeds and Dewsbury.
  • The service will split and join with the London King’s Cross and Skipton service at Leeds.
  • The service will reverse at Leeds.
  • The service take two hours and fifty-five minutes between London King’s Cross and Huddersfield stations.
  • The service will take twenty-five minutes between Leeds and Huddersfield stations.
  • Improvements are planned, which include electrification, between Dewsbury and Huddersfield

Given that two hours should be possible between London Kings Cross and Leeds, it would appear that two hours and thirty minutes could be possible between London King’s Cross and Huddersfield stations.

London King’s Cross And Hull

The fastest Hull Trains service between London King’s Cross And Hull takes around two hours and thirty minutes.

  • There are seven tpd
  • There are stops at Stevenage, Grantham, Retford, Doncaster, Selby, Howden and Brough depending on the service.
  • The Class 80x trains travel at 125 mph for most of the way.
  • The distance between the two terminals is 205.3 miles.
  • This is a start to stop average including the stops is 82.1 mph.

If my crude estimate of time savings because of digital signalling South of Doncaster can be applied, this would imply a reduction in journey time of at least eleven minutes, which would put a time between London King’s Cross and Hull of around two hours and twenty minutes.

London King’s Cross And Middlesbrough

LNER have announced a Middlesbrough service, which I wrote about in LNER’s Middlesbrough And London Service. Starts On December 13th.

  • There will be one tpd in both directions
  • Intermediate stops will be at Thornaby and York.
  • The Middlesbrough and London service will leave Middlesbrough from Platform 1 at 07:08 and arrive in King’s Cross at 10:22.
  • The London and Middlesbrough service will leave King’s Cross at 15:25 and arrive in Middlesbrough in Platform 2 at 18:18.

There appear to be some curiosities in the timetabling of these trains, which I may explore later.

I would assume that is because LNER want a competitive time of three hours between King’s Cross and Middlesbrough.

These are Southbound times between Eaglescliffe and King’s Cross in the morning.

  • Grand Central –  Two hours and thirty-nine minutes
  • LNER – Three hours and two minutes

Is this because the Class 180 train is a genuine 125 mph train on diesel and the Class 800 train is not?

If my crude estimate of time savings because of digital signalling South of Doncaster can be applied, this would imply a reduction in journey time of at least eleven minutes, which would put a time between London King’s Cross and Middlesbrough of around three hours.

Conclusion

Of the cities and towns in the North, that I have discussed only Bradford, Harrogate, Huddersfield, Hull and Middlesbrough, are ones that will be difficult to be provided with a two-hour journey time to and from London. But all should be possible in close to or under two hours and thirty minutes.

 

 

October 17, 2021 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

7 Comments »

  1. I feel more effort should go into improving speed profiles on existing sections. So taking Liverpool Lime St once you pass Weaver Jcn EPS isn’t deployed very far. The section down to Runcorn is good for 125mph not 100mph not much can be done with Runcorn because of curvature and if everything stops little point on evening trying for 5-10mph EPS enhancement after Runcorn PSR is 80mph again geometry down to Speke is good for 125mph. PSR then is a mixture of 70/80 till dropping to 30PSR c4miles from Lime St. Again EPS across these sections could give 10-20mph extra if EPS is deployed. So just by applying EPS it ought to be possible to gain 3-4mins without spending a fortune on ETCS (don’t forget that was Railtracks idea nearly 25 years ago).

    Im guessing they haven’t deployed EPS as you have to move to absolute geometry track management which is a lot more expensive for maintenance because its a single train per hour but if its two it becomes less of an issue an ultimately a city like Liverpool shouldn’t have an airport for domestic traffic if the train service was fast enough and a high frequency.

    Comment by Nicholas Lewis | October 17, 2021 | Reply

  2. Thanks! That all adds to my belief, that with the new trains and their better acceleration, that London Euston and Lime Street can be a two-hour trip.

    I also think, that Liverpool Airport could be turned into an airport for hydrogen and electric aircraft to create a zero-carbon route between London and Northern England and Ireland and the Isle of Man, if there was a proper connection between Liverpool South Parkway and the Airport.

    Comment by AnonW | October 17, 2021 | Reply

    • Connectivity between transport modes need a radical overhaul in this country so end to end journey transfer to public transport is made easier and thus people are prepared to make the switch.

      Comment by Nicholas Lewis | October 17, 2021 | Reply

      • I couldn’t agree more, let’s plan key stations for combined bus, coach and taxi interchanges. Outside the metropolitan areas in this country, bus and coach services are in a perilous state – they need something to stimulate their revival.

        Comment by Alan L Morris | October 17, 2021

  3. Agreed! I do believe that smaller zero-carbon airliners will open up new air routes and they need good connections at both ends.

    Perhaps even Teesside Airport could attract services.

    Comment by AnonW | October 17, 2021 | Reply

  4. I agree with the view that improving the track may be a better route to speed improvement.

    Sub 2 hours for that length is interesting but reliability (see 1960’s video “Pain Train” online) and extra tph running to “clock face” schedules at the termini (Swiss/Japanese model) is a better goal.

    I wonder if you could develop a visual analysis of distance/time/population to target routes for more significant improvement in times rather than marginal gains of a few mins

    Comment by milest | October 20, 2021 | Reply

  5. […] Could We See Between London And Much Of The North By Train In Under Two Hours?, I looked at the effect of improvements on the East Coast Main Line and concluded that timings […]

    Pingback by Hull Trains Is Back And Stronger Than Ever « The Anonymous Widower | October 27, 2021 | Reply


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