The Anonymous Widower

Red Wall Commuters To Get Rail Revolution

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

This is the first paragraph.

Nearly £100 billion will be spent on England’s railways outside London, including the construction of three new high-speed lines that will cut journey times in half.

The paper is also predicting that the Birmingham and Leeds leg of High Speed Two will be scrapped.

The three new high speed lines are.

  • Birmingham and East Midlands Parkway
  • Leeds and Sheffield
  • Manchester and Crewe.

I have felt for some time, that timings between London and Yorkshire can be upgraded almost to High Speed Two levels by upgrading the Midland Main and the East Coast Main Lines.

I shall be doing some calculations, when the schemes are announced on Thursday.

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

48 Comments »

  1. This announcement appears to be based upon work undertaken by the National Infrastructure Commission, a report of which was published about 12 months ago. It is rather wordy taking in a number of scenarios and budgetary options so I settled for this link to the maps. Presumably the upcoming proposals may be a little clearer but if you want a starting point you could do a bit of preparation.
    https://nic.org.uk/studies-reports/rail-needs-assessment-for-the-midlands-and-the-north/rna-final-report/#tab-maps

    Comment by fammorris | November 14, 2021 | Reply

  2. It certainly looks like the aim of Birmingham and Nottingham in 27 minutes is possible. High Speed Two is claiming twenty minutes between Birmingham Curzon Street and the East Midlands Hub. But it must take at least seven minutes on the tram from Toton to the centre of Nottingham.

    The Sheffield and Leeds time is in line with Northern Powerhouse Rail.

    Comment by AnonW | November 14, 2021 | Reply

    • Toton Lane Park and Ride to Nottingham Train Station is 31 minutes

      Comment by fammorris | November 14, 2021 | Reply

  3. […] Red Wall Commuters To Get Rail Revolution, I indicated that the Department of Transport is considering creating three new high speed lines in […]

    Pingback by How Feasible Is A High Speed Line Between Birmingham And Nottingham? « The Anonymous Widower | November 14, 2021 | Reply

  4. It seems the full HS2 eastern branch has been replaced by two sections of the original branch but while most people go on about speed the major upgrade HS2 was meant to bring was its increased gauge to even allow duplex trains to be able to run .

    Well building two sections will mean that Leeds will not get the benefits of increased gauge which is already used on the new Eurostar trains which are taller than U.K. trains and thus cities like Leeds will never get through Eurostar services unless the full route is built!

    If you miss just one bridge or tunnel then you don’t have the benefit of increased gauge !

    Hopefully MPs will resist this cutting of HS2 as all it promised comes to nought for eastern side of England compared to benefits to Manchester which will have a full HS2 or more accurately WCML2

    Comment by Melvyn | November 14, 2021 | Reply

    • With regard to Eurostar trains running to regional destinations, originally there were to have been a number of shortened Class 373 formations, unfortunately they never went ahead with the project but just to prove that Leeds was accessible take a look at the photo in the accompanying link.
      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regional_Eurostar

      Comment by fammorris | November 14, 2021 | Reply

    • I’m actually wondering what the point of the increased gauge on HS2 is. The trains ordered so far are all ‘classic compatible’, so don’t make use of it. And, as you say, if the line is discontinuous, the bigger trains can’t run on it either. Something else where HS2 has not been properly thought through.

      Comment by Peter Robins | November 17, 2021 | Reply

      • You have a point! In an ideal world, it would surely be best if the main lines all ran the same trains, as this would surely give advantages of efficiency and procurement.

        Also design is getting better, so that we can give passengers more space in the same size train. Just look how much better a Class 803 is than a Class 390 for legroom.

        Avanti are buying some new Class 807 electric trains. Surely, these should be based on the forthcoming High Speed Two Classic Compatible Trains, so that the manufacturer can get the test miles in early!

        As an example of testing in early. Hitachi are developing battery electric trains. I wouldn’t be surprised that the batteries in the Class 803 trains for emergency hotel power are the same as those they will be using for traction in their battery-electric and tri-mode trains. Rushing them up and down the East Coast Main Line will give them a good testing of their mechanical integrity.

        Train procurement has been poor compared to how say British Airways buy their planes.

        Comment by AnonW | November 17, 2021

  5. There’s an item on this is today’s Times as well. Seems to be authoritative, and other media have picked up on it. Talks of completing 23 miles of HS2 S from Leeds, which would seem to be the planned section from Clayton, i.e what was originally planned to be the route from Sheffield. No mention of the line N from Crewe to Wigan either, so it would seem that’s been shelved too. E Midlands will be annoyed at having wasted much time/money on development of Toton, but assuming electrification of MML to Derby and Nottingham goes ahead, they won’t be too badly off.

    More of an issue is the downgrading of NPR, which will be an upgrade of “existing parts of the route while building some new sections”. Think we need some more details on that.

    So we end up with an HS2, hardly any of which is in N England. HM’s opposition shouldn’t have much difficulty questioning how this can be claimed to be “levelling up”.

    Comment by Peter Robins | November 15, 2021 | Reply

    • there’s a further article in today’s Times, along with a leading article. According to this, the HS2 spur to Wigan will go ahead, but the new transpennine NPR will be limited to a a new Huddersfield-Manchester line. Bradford will not be included, and Manchester will not get an underground station. Quotes a “northern Tory MP”: “catastrophically badly handled”, calling the government “complete idiots”, and “The whole thing’s derisory”. If that’s what the Tories think, I shall be interested to see the response of the Labour metro mayors! The leading article ends “There is no need for vast sums to be spent now on the eastern leg or northern powerhouse. Work could begin slowly and alternative finance initiatives explored. But the full HS2 network should be built for the coming century. If not now, when?”

      Comment by Peter Robins | November 17, 2021 | Reply

      • All of the leaking that has emerged out of the debate for rail improvements for the Midlands and the North looks more and more like Option 2, less a few features, of the Integrated Infrastructure Commission’s November 2020 report.
        Given it’s taken a year for the DfT to digest and for the Government to reach a conclusion you wonder about the reasons for such delays.
        The likelihood that Bradford, a town larger than Nottingham will remain semi-detached from the nation’s transport system is breathtaking.

        Comment by fammorris | November 17, 2021

      • yes, you’re right. I’ve just looked at the NIC’s work again, and what’s being reported does look much like option 2 (upgrades + 25%). Much depends on the details (as usual) to see exactly what in the way of upgrading/NPR is proposed. I hope this will indeed be published tomorrow.

        I would imagine the added (and unbudgeted) expense for Covid is the main reason for the delay – trying to get more money out of the Treasury.

        Comment by Peter Robins | November 17, 2021

  6. Another aspect of this that occurs to me is that, if the E leg stops at E Midlands, there’ll be less need for ‘pure’ HS trains; only for London-Brum, eventually London-Manchester and Brum-Man. Trains to Crewe and E Midlands will all have to be the so-called ‘classic compatible’ ones. The plans also make electrification of MML N of E Midlands a certainty: there’s no point having an stand-alone HS line into Leeds if trains can’t run on the intermediate lines.

    Comment by Peter Robins | November 15, 2021 | Reply

    • I also wonder, if simulations have shown that an upgraded East Coast Main Line can deliver services to Leeds with a similar time from Kings Cross as High Speed Two.

      Comment by AnonW | November 15, 2021 | Reply

      • well, I don’t think the rail network should be planned purely on journey times to London. 🙂

        I quite liked Greengauge21’s idea of upgrading the Nottingham-Newark line, creating a proper jcn at Newark, and running classic compatibles through Nham and on to the ECML to Leeds that way. Should be faster than MML through Sheffield to Clayton.

        Comment by Peter Robins | November 15, 2021

      • I thought the underlying benefit of HS2 construction was to free up conventional tracks to freight and relying on the ECML with its upgrades to get from Kings Cross to Leeds shouldn’t be regarded as a metric for a long term improvement to the rail network let alone the North of England.

        Comment by fammorris | November 17, 2021

      • there’s another Times article today, which quotes a ‘rail industry source’, commenting that the existing lines are mixed use and subject to delays, which can easily snowball. So, the more high-speed trains use legacy lines, the more likely they are to be delayed. Creating a separate high-speed line isn’t just about capacity, but reliability too.

        Comment by Peter Robins | November 19, 2021

      • Clearly the consultants and advisors

        Comment by fammorris | November 19, 2021

  7. As to Bradford, the rail layout is so awful, I suspect the only solution is to tunnel under the city.

    Comment by AnonW | November 17, 2021 | Reply

    • it’s not actually all that far – 500m or so, depending on where exactly you start/finish. Compare that with all the tunnels that are being created on the S portion of HS2.

      Comment by Peter Robins | November 17, 2021 | Reply

      • Sad to say, but if as I read it, the Wikipedia article is anything to go by Bradford seems not to have had a clear enough objective in its lobby for a Bradford Crossrail
        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bradford_Crossrail

        Comment by fammorris | November 17, 2021

      • Bradford District’s latest plan is at https://www.bradford.gov.uk/planning-and-building-control/planning-policy/bradford-district-local-plan/. This doesn’t mention any Crossrail, but was relying on NPR to provide welcome inward investment. Warrington’s also was depending on NPR investment. I think the main problem here is that local authorities don’t have any funds for this sort of investment. Bradford’s situation is a bit like Windsor’s, with 2 separate and unconnected stations. Windsor has a plan for connecting them via a tunnel, but that too has gone nowhere.

        Comment by Peter Robins | November 17, 2021

  8. I have Scottish friends in both Edinburgh and Glasgow. You can always make jokes about the two cities not talking or disagreeing.

    And then there’s the rivalry between the various boroughs in Manchester. So do Bradford and Leeds have problems about a joint philosophy, which is surely needed.

    Comment by AnonW | November 17, 2021 | Reply

  9. I’ve been monitoring the Commons statement on https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-59331826 and it’s better than I feared. We’ll have to wait for the full plan to be published, but NPR W of the Pennines is to be built, presumably joining the existing line at Diggle. NR can now move ahead with plans for Diggle-Huddersfield and Leeds-Church Fenton. MML electrification is being restarted, I hope asap, and there’s talk of 400 miles of electrification. As the BBC’s transport correspondent points out, the statement leaves open the possibility of HS being extended to Leeds at some point in the future.

    Comment by Peter Robins | November 18, 2021 | Reply

    • full plan now at https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-59331826 – a little light reading for us 🙂

      Comment by Peter Robins | November 18, 2021 | Reply

    • the IPR makes it clear that the high-speed line Man-Pennines will join at the E end of the current tunnel. Interestingly, HS2 Ltd not NR is being asked to come up with detailed proposals for both this and the connection to Warrington. So it seems both these spurs are now considered part of HS2. The plan confirms that the Fiddlers Ferry line will be upgraded/electrified to take the Warrington line on to Liverpool.

      I can’t find any mention of any high-speed Leeds-Sheffield line, other than vague talk of reviewing options, and a mention of the possibility of electrification N of Sheffield. So it seems the Times had this wrong. The main promise for Leeds seems to be ECML improvements, with the target of cutting journey times to London by 20 mins.

      Comment by Peter Robins | November 18, 2021 | Reply

      • I’m still digesting it all. But I did talk about using the Fiddlers Ferry Line in this post.

        Northern Powerhouse Rail – A New Line Between Liverpool And Manchester Via The Centre Of Warrington

        Comment by AnonW | November 18, 2021

      • I can’t either. It was definitely mentioned in the Sunday Times. I think, that this line, which is favoured by the Sheffield Region will go as they have planned it and as a 125 mph line.

        Comment by AnonW | November 19, 2021

      • I’ve just been looking at a map of the Standedge area, and, if the plan is to have a new line to Marsden, I’m wondering if the plan is to use the other, currently disused, rail tunnels. I remember NR thought about reopening them a few years back, so I’m thinking this would be a cheap option.

        Comment by Peter Robins | November 19, 2021

    • I’ve been thinking some more about this proposed HS line Picc-Marsden, and I’m struggling to see the point. Assuming they use Standedge tunnels, the distance by crow to Diggle is <10 miles, and the S part of that is densely populated. If they're not building a tunnel or demolishing lots of properties, I can't see any obvious route other than the existing line to Guide Bridge/Stalybridge. N of Stalybridge, there is scope for an additional higher-speed line, but this is only a few miles, and I doubt whether trains would have long enough to get up much speed before they have to slow down again. So what's the point? High-speed lines only come into their own over long distances.

      Comment by Peter Robins | November 21, 2021 | Reply

      • I have just looked at the map of Standedge in detail. I can see this tunnel and possibly a mile or so either side being converted into a line with a speed of at least 100 mph. As the train will have both battery energy and kinetic energy, if the track and the train were designed as a pair, that we might see six or seven miles of 100 mph running.

        All it would need would be to get the geometry right.

        I also wonder if one or both of the disused tunnels could be converted into tunnels for the freight trains and slow passenger trains.

        If they could then that could be done first, so that there would be some capacity, whilst the main tunnel is rebuilt as a high speed line.

        If Hitachi replaced two diesels with batteries, is it reasonable to assume that this would give a range of 10 km.

        I shall be writing a detailed post.

        Comment by AnonW | November 21, 2021

      • 100mph is not high-speed. HS2 is supposed to run at twice that. Looking at the current max speeds on OpenRailwayMap, Picc-Guide Bridge is mainly 40mph, on to Stalybridge mainly 50mph. There may be scope to increase that a bit, but it’s nothing like 200mph. N of Standedge, it’s mainly 75-85mph.

        Comment by Peter Robins | November 21, 2021

      • Have a look at this I hope it helps
        https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/nov/19/government-planning-to-put-hs2-on-stilts-through-manchester

        Comment by fammorris | November 21, 2021

      • not really. That’s just what AB fears will happen. 🙂 I would have the same problem with the stilts: where are you going to put them? Run them over people’s houses? The exact details of HS2b aren’t fully defined yet, so may well change. Work won’t start until 2035 (which with the current track record probably means 2040). Work on this new Manchester E is not scheduled until 2040. By that time, the current government will be a distant memory.

        Comment by Peter Robins | November 21, 2021

      • Further to the link in my last reply, you only have to read the following to understand what an ill-informed bunch of characters are preparing the IRP.
        “Several of the busiest through stations on Europe’s high speed networks, including the main stations in Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Zurich, Milan and Rome, operate on the same principle, with hundreds of high speed through-trains each week reversing in their platforms during their journeys,” the government’s Integrated Rail Plan said.
        Factually it’s utter rubbish in the case of Stuttgart as well as ignoring the over 5 miles long cross city tunnel recently built in Zurich. Couple that with a lack of understanding of peripheral routes around some major European cities and the gradual reassignment of through traffic to stations (as in Rome) to more suitably sited stations and it shows what (insert your own descriptor) we have in charge of this document.

        Comment by fammorris | November 21, 2021

      • yes, that was my reaction too. To me, the terminus stations are one of the main flaws with HS2. There’s the same problem in Brum. I see a lot of talk about improving connections with S Wales and the SW. The best way to do that is to run through trains from E Midlands/Manchester on to the main line to Bristol, not to force people to change to another station.

        HS2 has attracted the most attention, but I’m just as concerned by the lack of any urgency with electrification. MML (which should have been finished by now) is now scheduled for the early 2030s, and the full TPU for mid 2030s. The whole network is supposed to be decarbonised by 2040 – how are they going to achieve that at this rate?

        Comment by Peter Robins | November 21, 2021

      • Couldn’t agree more. It makes you wonder how the Cross Country operation will function under aegis of the Williams – Schapps Grate British Railways contract model

        Comment by fammorris | November 21, 2021

  10. I see responsibility for NPR has now been pulled from TfN https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/ministers-take-northern-powerhouse-rail-22215469

    Comment by Peter Robins | November 19, 2021 | Reply

  11. As to reusing the Standedge tunnels, these tunnels are well within rain of the battery range on the new upgrade to TPE’s Class 802 trains which is under development. So Network Rail could use the solution they did on the Borders Railway with the dodgy tunnel and use slab track. The trains could go through at 100 mph on battery power. More affordable, but extremely reliable.

    Comment by AnonW | November 19, 2021 | Reply

  12. I have read the spec for the HS2 Classic-Compatible Trains in detail.

    Click to access HS2-HS2-RR-SPE-000-000007_P11_TTS_Main_Body__External_.pdf

    I think the trains are built for a two minute reverse, but I can’t find it on a quick look.

    Comment by AnonW | November 21, 2021 | Reply

  13. I’ve been quite surprised at how strongly worded some of the reaction has been. Did you see https://www.londonchamber.co.uk/news-and-insights/news/press-releases/lcci-responds-to-the-department-for-transport-s-in/ – a body one would normally expect to be full of cradle-to-grave Tories.

    Comment by Peter Robins | November 21, 2021 | Reply

  14. There is one big thing missing in the IRP. How do you decarbonise freight? I thought we’d here something about this at the time of COP26. But we didn’t!

    Freightliner have disclosed that they are looking at 100 % hydrogen locomotives to follow on their experiment with the dual-fuel Class 66 locomotive.

    It is a massive world-wide problem.

    I think one of the locomotive companies is up to something. Whoever builds a viable hydrogen-powered locomotive would make a fortune and there are some big companies who could – Alstom, CAF, Siemens, Stadler and Talgo have the electric locomotive technology, Rolls-Royce have the technology to build a 2.5 MW hydrogen-powered generator and Rolls-Royce subsidiary; MTU have the experience to integrate everything.

    I think someone is playing their cards very close to their chest.

    Could Stadler’s Class 68 locomotives be converted to hydrogen? I think they could.

    Comment by AnonW | November 21, 2021 | Reply

  15. https://twitter.com/MattCartoonist/status/1461411552788205568 made me chuckle

    Comment by Peter Robins | November 21, 2021 | Reply

  16. Interesting to compare the IPR with the German coalition agreement, signed yesterday. Following Austria’s example, substantially more to be spent on rail than on road; emphasis with roads on maintenance. Rail freight’s share to increase from 19% now to 25% in 2030. 75% of track to be electrified by 2030, compared with 61% now. This is in line with the recommendations of the Rail Alliance https://www.allianz-pro-schiene.de/themen/infrastruktur/elektrifizierung-bahn/ which has a graph showing how the current rate needs to be dramatically increased, and a map of which lines should be prioritised.

    Compare that with the IPR, which doesn’t address the needs of the great majority of the country (the Sunday Times headline is well wide of the mark). The rail industry here has been campaigning for years to have a similar step-change in electrification, but the British government seems to have no decarbonisation plan at all. With the exception of devolved Scotland, of course, which has a quite plausible goal of decarbonising by 2035.

    Comment by Peter Robins | November 25, 2021 | Reply

    • The Midland Main Line is to be electrified. But I also feel that Wabtec and/or Stadler are up to something with the decarbonisation of freight by using hydrogen. A lot of our freight routes would be terrible difficult and expensive to electrify. I’m just about to leave Exeter St. David’s for Okehampton in a four-car train.

      Comment by AnonW | November 25, 2021 | Reply


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