The Anonymous Widower

Improving The North Throat Of York Station Including Skelton Bridge Junction

On the thirty mile stretch of the East Coast Main Line, between York and Northallerton stations, the route is mainly four tracks.

But three miles North of York there is Skelton Bridge over the River Ouse, which is shown in this Google Map.

Zooming closer, I clipped this second Google Map.

Note.

  1. There are actually two bridges over the River Ouse.
  2. The East bridge is a double-track bridge and is the original stone arch bridge.
  3. The West bridge was added later and I suspect has little architectural merit.
  4. The tracks on both sides of the bridge are extremely complicated.

If you look at the timings, trains seem to take one of two timings between York and Northallerton.

  • 17-18 minutes, which is almost an average speed of 100 mph.
  • 27 minutes, which is 67 mph.

Incidentally, one of Drax’s long biomass trains managed a time of 27 minutes.

Would going faster save any minutes?

  • A 110 mph average would give a time of 16.4 minutes
  • A 120 mph average would give a time of 15 minutes
  • A 125 mph average would give a time of 14.4 minutes
  • A 140 mph average would give a time of 12.9 minutes

On the face of it, it doesn’t appear that there are very large time savings, to be achieved.

On the other hand, if all trains can pass through Skelton Bridge and its complicated junction, without slowing, delays will be minimised and timetables can be faster.

But there is an anomaly in all the express trains that pass through York station. All stop, except those planned for East Coast Trains. In fact, their trains won’t stop between Stevenage and Newcastle.

The obvious solution to the Skelton Bridge problem, is to do what British Rail didn’t have the courage to do, when they electrified the East Coast Main Line in the 1980s. And that is to demolish the bridge and build a stylish modern four-track bridge!

It would eliminate many of the things, that could go wrong and would surely improve reliability. This could help to maintain a higher operating speed.

But would it be allowed by the Planning Authorities and the Heritage Taliban?

Hopefully, it doesn’t matter!

  • I am a Control Engineer and mathematical modeller, who has programmed some immensely complex systems in the last fifty-five years.
  • I have also flown light aircraft on instruments for many hours, where you control the plane according to what Air Traffic Controllers and the instruments tell you.

My experience tells me that, it would be possible to control a busy junction, like Skelton Bridge safely, by a well-programmed computer system helping the driver, arrive at the junction at the right time to go straight through.

I also believe that if modern in-cab digital ERTMS signalling can handle twenty-four tph on Thameslink going to and from scores of stations, then it can handle Skelton Bridge Junction.

In Could ERTMS And ETCS Solve The Newark Crossing Problem?, I proposed a similar solution to the problem at Newark.

November 24, 2021 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , ,

4 Comments »

  1. […] I describe this problem and my solution in Improving The North Throat Of York Station Including Skelton Bridge Junction. […]

    Pingback by Northern Powerhouse Rail – Significant Upgrades Of The East Coast Main Line From Leeds To Newcastle (Via York And Darlington) And Restoration Of The Leamside Line « The Anonymous Widower | November 24, 2021 | Reply

  2. […] I describe this problem and my solution in Improving The North Throat Of York Station Including Skelton Bridge Junction. […]

    Pingback by The Integrated Rail Plan For The North And Midlands And The East Coast Main Line « The Anonymous Widower | November 24, 2021 | Reply

  3. The quickest and probably cheapest answer in open countryside is an additional 2 track bridge on the same side as the newer bridge, a short distance away, keeping existing bridge unless it needs complete replacement instead of a return.

    Comment by MilesT | November 27, 2021 | Reply

    • My feeling is that using ERTMS with ETC through the junction would be the best way. It would also speed up services through Newark and over the Digswell Viaduct.

      Looking at the track layout at York, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some more radical work being done there, as there is lots of space.

      Comment by AnonW | November 27, 2021 | Reply


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