The Anonymous Widower

How Feasible Is A High Speed Line Between Birmingham And Nottingham?

In Red Wall Commuters To Get Rail Revolution, I indicated that the Department of Transport is considering creating three new high speed lines in the Midlands and the North of England.

One is proposed between Birmingham and East Midlands Parkway, which is described in the original article in The Sunday Times like this.

A 42-mile line from Birmingham to East Midlands Parkway, just south of Nottingham. This is expected to cut journey times between the two cities from 72 minutes to 27 minutes.

There is a currently, a CrossCountry service between Nottingham and Birmingham New Street stations.

  • The frequency is two trains per hour (tph)
  • Trains are generally three- or four-car formations of Class 170 diesel trains.
  • All trains stop at Tamworth, Burton-on-Trent and Derby.
  • Some trains stop at Wilnecote, Willington, Spondon, Long Eaton and Beeston
  • The services take upwards of seventy-one minutes.

Note.

  1. The frequency between Birmingham New Street and Derby is four tph.
  2. Trains reverse at Derby which takes seven minutes.
  3. Three tph stop at Burton-on-Trent.

I feel that the current service is very much a compromise, which is trying to handle three services.

  • A fast train between Birmingham and Nottingham.
  • A fast train between Birmingham and Derby.
  • A local service between Nottingham and Derby.

High Speed Two will be providing a non-stop service between Birmingham Curzon Street and East Midlands Hub stations.

  • The frequency will be three tph.
  • There will also be an hourly train between Birmingham Interchange and East Midlands Hub station.
  • The services will take twenty minutes or slightly less from Interchange.

The services will only get you to East Midlands Hub station.

In addition after High Speed Two opens Midlands Connect are planning to run a direct service between Nottingham and Birmingham Curzon Street stations.

  • The frequency will be one tph.
  • The service will use High Speed Two Classic Compatible trains.
  • The only stop will be East Midlands Hub station.
  • The service will take thirty-three minutes.

So how does a new high speed line connect Birmingham and Nottingham in twenty-seven minutes?

Consider.

  • The route between Birmingham New Street and North Stafford Junction is 35.9 miles
  • At North Stafford junction a double-track freight line leads to the East.
  • The freight line passes to the North of East Midlands Airport and South of Long Eaton station before joining the Midland Main Line at Trent junction to the North of East Midlands Parkway station.
  • Trains can pass straight into Nottingham via Beeston.
  • Nottingham is just 6.7 miles to the East of Trent junction and East Midlands Parkway is just a mile South of Trent junction.
  • South Stafford junction to Trent junction is probably about seven miles.

I believe that this is the route that will be upgraded to create a high speed line between Birmingham and Nottingham.

  • Part of the route between Tamworth and Burton-on-Trent was upgraded to 125 mph running by British Rail.
  • Between Birmingham New Street and North Stafford Junction is used by CrossCountry services between Birmingham and Derby and Nottingham.
  • I believe that the route can be fully electrified and upgraded, so that most of the route could be suitable for 125 mph running.
  • The Midland Main Line is already capable of handling trains at 125 mph.

This should make it possible for services to run between Birmingham New Street and Nottingham in the required twenty-seven minutes.

I will answer a few questions.

Could The Trains Serve Birmingham Curzon Street In Birmingham?

In Birmingham Airport Connectivity, I said this

But look at this map clipped from the High Speed Two web site.

Note.

  1. The blue dot shows the location of Curzon Street station.
    The West Coast Main Line running into New Street station, is just to the South of Curzon Street station.
    New Street station can be picked out to the West of Curzon Street station.

This Google Map shows a close-up of the current Curzon Street station site.

The same pattern of rail lines going past the Curzon Street site into New Street station can be picked out.

Surely, a connection could be made to allow trains from a couple of platforms in Curzon Street station to terminate trains from the West Coast Main Line.

Possible services could include.

  • London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street via Watford Junction, Milton Keynes, Rugby and Coventry
  • Cardiff and Birmingham Curzon Street via Bristol Parkway, Swindon, Oxford and Milton Keynes.
  • Cambridge and Birmingham Curzon Street via Bristol Parkway, Bedford and Milton Keynes.

There are a lot of possibilities to give High Speed Two much bigger coverage.

I also suspect that the proposed Nottingham and Birmingham service could terminate in Birmingham Curzon Street.

Could High Speed Two Classic Compatible Trains Run Between Birmingham And Nottingham?

As High Speed Two Classic Compatible Trains would have the same loading gauge as current trains, I don’t see why not.

Could A London Euston And Nottingham Service Be Run With A Reverse At Birmingham Curzon Street?

These are prospective times for High Speed Two.

  • London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street – 45 minutes
  • London Euston and East Midlands Hub – 52 minutes

Note that East Midlands Hub and Nottingham could take at least twenty minutes.

And this is a current timing.

  • London St. Pancras And Nottingham – 95 minutes

It is possible calculate the time for London Euston to Nottingham with a reverse at Birmingham.

  • London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street – 45 minutes
  • Reverse at Birmingham Curzon Street – 3 minutes
  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Nottingham – 27 minutes

This would give a time of 75 minutes between London Euston and Nottingham.

It does look to me, that the fastest route between London and Nottingham, will be to to go via Birmingham and the proposed new high speed route.

So the answer to the question in the title of this section is a Yes!

Could A London Euston And Sheffield Service Be Run With A Reverse At Birmingham Curzon Street?

These are prospective times for High Speed Two.

  • London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street – 45 minutes
  • London Euston and East Midlands Hub – 52 minutes
  • London Euston and Sheffield – 87 minutes

And these are current timings.

  • London St. Pancras And Derby- 85 minutes
  • London St. Pancras And Sheffield- 118 minutes
  • Birmingham New Street And Derby- 33 minutes
  • Birmingham New Street And Sheffield- 75 minutes

It is possible calculate the time for London Euston to Sheffield with a reverse at Birmingham.

  • London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street – 45 minutes
  • Reverse at Birmingham Curzon Street – 3 minutes
  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Sheffield – 75 minutes

This would give a time of 123 minutes between London Euston and Sheffield.

I wonder what time could be achieved between London Euston and Sheffield could be achieved with improvements to the following lines.

  • The CrossCountry Route between North Stafford junction and Derby station.
  • The Midland Main Line between Derby and Sheffield.

I would expect that the improvement to these routes would include.

  • At least almost full electrification.
  • Removal of level crossings.
  • Full digital signalling.
  • Upgrading to 140 mph running.

I could see the following service improvements.

  • A substantial reduction of the times between Birmingham and Sheffield.
  • Derby and Burton-on-Trent would get a fast service to London Euston via High Speed Two.
  • Derby and Burton-on-Trent would get a fast service to Birmingham probably with a frequency of 4 tph.
  • CrossCountry services between Birmingham and Sheffield would be faster.

Derby and Burton-on-Trent would get a much better train service.

Could Burton-on-Trent, Derby, Nottingham And Sheffield Be served By Trains Splitting And Reversing At Birmingham Curzon Street?

These are prospective frequencies for High Speed Two.

  • Burton-on-Trent – No trains
  • Chesterfield  1 tph
  • Derby – No trains
  • East Midland Hub – 7 tph
  • Nottingham – 0 tph
  • Sheffield – 2 tph

Suppose there were two tph between London and Birmingham Curzon Street, that split into two trains in Birmingham.

  • One train could go to Nottingham and call at Tamworth and Burton-on-Trent.
  • The other train could go to Sheffield and call at Tamworth, Burton-on-Trent, Derby and Chesterfield.

This would give the following frequencies from London on High Speed Two.

  • Burton-on-Trent – 2 tph
  • Chesterfield  – 2  tph
  • Derby – 2 tph
  • Nottingham – 2 tph
  • Sheffield – 2 tph

Note that I am ignoring the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two in this analysis.

Could We Go For The Full Burton?

In the previous sections, I suggested serving Nottingham and Sheffield from Euston using High Speed Two with a reverse at Birmingham Curzon Street, where the train would split into two trains, with one train going to Sheffield and the other going to Nottingham.

But could the split be at a rebuilt Burton station?

Consider.

  • Burton station could become an Eastern terminus of Birmingham’s Cross-City Line.
  • Burton station could become the Western terminus of the Ivanhoe Line to Leicester.
  • If the Cross Country Route is upgraded, Burton station would have fast connections to Birmingham, Derby, Chesterfield, Sheffield and Leeds,
  • If the new Birmingham and Nottingham route is created, this would mean fast connections to Nottingham and possibly Lincoln.

Burton-on-Trent could become the passenger rail hub for the Mid Midlands.

I

November 14, 2021 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , ,

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