The Anonymous Widower

Could Greater Anglia Run A Comprehensive Service For East Anglia?

Consider.

  • In the last fifty years, there have been direct trains between London Liverpool Street and Lowestoft stations.
  • In the last forty years, there have been direct trains between London Liverpool Street and Peterborough stations.
  • Greater Anglia currently run an hourly train between London Liverpool Street and Ipswich stations, with stops at Stratford, Shenfield, Chelmsford, Hatfield Peverel, Witham, Kelvedon, Marks Tey, Colchester and Manningtree
  • Frequencies on both routes were not high and less than four trains per day (tpd), but they must have been a demand for these services.
  • Greater Anglia promised to run a Lowestoft service, when they successfully reapplied for the franchise.
  • Greater Anglia have 38 Class 755 trains, of which 14 are three-cars and 24 are four-cars.
  • Class 755 trains can run in twoses and possibly threeses. (Suffolk dialect for twins and triplets!)

Could these elements be assembled to provide a comprehensive East Anglia service?

  • A pair of Class 755 trains would leave Liverpool Street for Ipswich.
  • They would takeover some of the paths of the hourly Liverpool Street and Ipswich service and run possibly about four or five tpd, according to demand.
  • Between Liverpool Street and Ipswich the trains could stop at Stratford, Shenfield, Chelmsford, Hatfield Peverel, Witham, Kelvedon, Marks Tey, Colchester and Manningtree
  • The services would splitgoing North and join going South at Ipswich
  • One train would go to Peterborough with stops at Needham Market, Stowmarket, Elmswell, Thurston, Bury St. Edmunds, Soham, Ely, Manea, March and Whittlesea.
  • The other would go to Lowestoft with stops at Woodbridge, Melton, Wickham Market, Saxmundham, Darsham, Halesworth, Brampton, Beccles and Oulton Broad South.

Note.

  1. The Class 755 trains would use electricity, where electrification exists.
  2. They would use diesel on lines without electrification.
  3. They would be able to hold 100 mph, so wouldn’t delay other trains.
  4. Seventeen towns would get new direct services to and from London.
  5. A Class 745 train is 236.6 metres long, whereas a pair of four-car Class 755 trains is only 161.4 metres.
  6. A three-train formation of Class 755 trains is only 5.5 metres longer than a single Class 745 train.

I am fairly sure no new substantial infrastructure would be required.

I have some further thoughts.

Example Timings

These timings to and from London are based on current timings of the Class 745 and 755 trains.

  • Ipswich – 60 mins
  • Stowmarket -70 mins
  • Bury St. Edmunds – 88 mins
  • Soham – 108 mins
  • Ely – 117 mins
  • March – 136 mins
  • Peterborough – 158 mins
  • Woodbridge – 75 mins
  • Melton – 80 mins
  • Wickham Market – 86 mins
  • Saxmundham – 97 mins
  • Darsham – 104 mins
  • Halesworth – 113 mins
  • Brampton – 119 mins
  • Beccles – 128 mins
  • Oulton Broad South – 138 mins
  • Lowestoft – 146 mins

Notes.

  1. Times to and from Ipswich are based on typical services at the current time.
  2. I have assumed that there are no stops South of Ipswich.
  3. Saxmundham is the closest station to Sizewell and could be important in bringing in construction workers for Sizewell C.

I think some of the times like those to and from Bury St. Edmunds, Ipswich, Lowestoft, Saxmundham and Woodbridge could create popular routes.

Battery-Electric Trains

Consider.

These sections of lines are not electrified on the routes I have talked about.

  • Haughley Junction and Ely – 38 miles
  • Ely and Peterborough – 30.5 miles
  • Westerfield and Lowestoft – 38 miles

As there is electrification at Ely, Haughley, Peterborough and Westerfield and South to London, I am fairly certain the route could be run by battery-electric trains.

Electrification To Sizewell C

In the January 2023 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article, which is entitled Rail Set To Support Sizewell C Construction.

It details how sidings will be built to support the construction, with up to four trains per day (tpd), but the electrification word is not mentioned.

This is surprising to me, as increasingly, big construction projects are being managed to emit as small an amount of carbon as possible. High Speed Two is being built this way and I suspect Rolls-Royce’s SMR design will minimise carbon emissions during manufacture and construction. It will be very surprising if Sizewell C doesn’t follow High Speed Two’s example. After all, it may be an isolated site, but in Sizewell B, it’s got one of the UK’s biggest carbon-free electricity generators a couple of hundred metres away.

The writer of the Modern Railways article, thinks an opportunity is being missed.

I feel the following should be done.

  • Improve and electrify the East Suffolk Line between Ipswich and Saxmundham Junction.
  • Electrify the Aldeburgh Branch Line and the sidings to support the construction or agree to use battery-electric or hydrogen zero-carbon locomotives.

One of the collateral benefits of electrifying from Ipswich to Saxmundham Junction, is that it will make it easier for battery-electric Class 755 trains to work Ipswich and Lowestoft services.

  • If the trains were to leave Saxmundham Junction going North with a full battery, they should be able to travel to Lowestoft and return.
  • Battery-electric Class 755 trains could bring in workers from Ipswich or Lowestoft and further afield.
  • It could even leave behind a zero-carbon branch line to Sizewell, Leiston and Aldeburgh, with two tph to Ipswich.

Sizewell C could be a superb demonstration project for low-carbon construction!

The Lowestoft-Great Yarmouth Conurbation

The Wikipedia entry for Lowestoft says this about the town.

The estimated population in the built-up area exceeds 70,000. Its development grew with the fishing industry and as a seaside resort with wide sandy beaches. As fishing declined, oil and gas exploitation in the North Sea in the 1960s took over. While these too have declined, Lowestoft is becoming a regional centre of the renewable energy industry.

Whilst the Wikipedia entry for Great Yarmouth says this about the town.

Great Yarmouth, often called Yarmouth, is a seaside town and unparished area in, and the main administrative centre of, the Borough of Great Yarmouth in Norfolk, England; it straddles the River Yare and is located 20 miles (30 km) east of Norwich. A population of 38,693 in the 2011 Census made it Norfolk’s third most populous. Its fishing industry, mainly for herring, shrank after the mid-20th century and has all but ended.[3] North Sea oil from the 1960s supplied an oil-rig industry that services offshore natural gas rigs; more recently, offshore wind power and other renewable energy industries have ensued.

Wikipedia also said this about the population of the wider Great Yarmouth.

The wider Great Yarmouth borough had a population of around 92,500, which increased to 97,277 at the 2011 census.

Taken together they are one of the largest conurbations in East Anglia.

The main means of transport between the two towns is by road.

Surely, two towns of over 70,000 people, who are only a few miles apart need a rail connection.

Onward From Lowestoft To Great Yarmouth

If the comprehensive East Anglia service, I’m discussing is to be truly comprehensive, it must serve the Norfolk Broads and Great Yarmouth.

This would also improve the connectivity between two of the largest coastal towns in East Anglia, that I indicated in the last section.

This OpenRailwayMap shows a cunning plan proposed by Network Rail to connect Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth.

Note.

  1. Great Yarmouth is in the North East corner of the map.
  2. Two lines lead West from Great Yarmouth station, with the more Northerly route going direct to Norwich and the more Southerly one going to Norwich via Berney Arms and Reedham.
  3. Lowestoft is in the South East corner of the map.
  4. Two lines lead West from Lowestoft station, with the Northern route going to Norwich via Reedham and the Southern one going to Ipswich via Oulton Broad South.
  5. The route of a coastal railway connecting the two towns is also shown.

Network Rail’s cunning plan is indicated on this second  nap from OpenRailwayMap.

Note.

  1. Reedham station is in the North-West corner of the map on the line to Norwich.
  2. To the East of the station is a triangular junction.
  3. The track from the North-East corner of the junction is the line to Great Yarmouth.
  4. The track from the Southern corner of the junction is the line to Lowestoft.
  5. Unfortunately, the South-Eastern leg of the junction was removed in 1880.

In Norfolk Rail Line To Remain Closed As £68m Upgrade Project Overruns, I said this.

Network Rail are talking about reinstating the Reedham Chord to create a more direct route between East Anglia’s largest North-Eastern towns. This is said about the Reedham Chord in Direct Yarmouth Services in the Wikipedia entry for Lowestoft station.

In January 2015, a Network Rail study proposed the reintroduction of direct services between Lowestoft and Yarmouth by reinstating a spur at Reedham. Services could once again travel between two East Coast towns, with an estimated journey time of 33 minutes, via a reconstructed 34-chain (680 m) north-to-south arm of the former triangular junction at Reedham, which had been removed in c. 1880. The plans also involve relocating Reedham station nearer the junction, an idea which attracted criticism.

This sounds a good plan to me.

  • It would allow direct services between Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth.
  • It would allow direct services between Ipswich and Great Yarmouth with a reverse at Lowestoft in about two hours.
  • With possible charging at Lowestoft and/or Great Yarmouth, a scenic route could be created between Ipswich and Norwich for battery-electric Class 755 trains. If that doesn’t get people out of their cars then nothing will!
  • Various leisure, tourism and work-related opportunities  would be created.

Never in the field of railway engineering would such a small chord have given so much.

Sizewell C Issues

Sizewell C will be a massive project and I also suspect that like High Speed Two, it will be built in a manner that will be zero-carbon where possible.

We already know from the Modern Railways article, that four tpd will shuttle material to a number of sidings close to the site. This is a good start.

Since Sizewell A opened, trains have regularly served the Sizewell site to bring in and take out nuclear material. These occasional trains go via Ipswich and in the last couple of years have generally been hauled by Class 88 electro-diesel locomotives.

It would be reasonable to assume that the Sizewell C sidings will be served in the same manner.

But the route between Westerfield Junction and Ipswich station is becoming increasingly busy with the following services.

  • Greater Anglia’s London and Norwich services
  • Greater Anglia’s Ipswich and Cambridge services
  • Greater Anglia’s Ipswich and Felixstowe services
  • Greater Anglia’s Ipswich and Lowestoft services
  • Greater Anglia’s Ipswich and Peterborough services
  • Freight services serving the Port of Felixstowe, which are expected to increase significantly in forthcoming years.

But the Modern Railways article says this about Saxmundham junction.

Saxmundham junction, where the branch meets the main line, will be relaid on a slightly revised alignment, retaining the existing layout but with full signalling giving three routes from the junction protecting signal on the Down East Suffolk line and two in the Down direction on the bidirectional Up East Suffolk line. Trap points will be installed on the branch to protect the main line, with the exit signal having routes to both running lines.

Does the comprehensive signalling mean that a freight train can enter or leave the Sizewell sidings to or from either the busy Ipswich or the quieter Lowestoft direction in a very safe manner?

I’m no expert on signalling, but I think it does.

  • A train coming from the Lowestoft direction needing to enter the sidings would go past Saxmundham junction  on the Up line. Once clear of the junction, it would stop and reverse into the branch.
  • A train coming from the Ipswich direction needing to enter the sidings would approach in the wrong direction on the Up line and go straight into the branch.
  • A train leaving the sidings in the Lowestoft direction would exit from the branch and take the Up line until it became single track. The train would then stop and reverse on to the Down line and take this all the way to Lowestoft.
  • A train leaving the sidings in the Ipswich direction would exit from the branch and take the Up line  all the way to Ipswich.

There would need to be ability to move the locomotive from one end to the other inside the Sizewell site or perhaps these trains could be run with a locomotive on both ends.

The advantage of being able to run freight trains between Sizewell and Lowestoft becomes obvious, when you look at this Google Map, which shows the Port of Lowestoft.

Note.

  1. The Inner Harbour of the Port of Lowestoft.
  2. The East Suffolk Line running East-West to the North of the Inner Harbour.
  3. Lowestoft station at the East side of the map.

I doubt it would be the most difficult or expensive of projects to build a small freight terminal on the North side of the Inner Harbour.

I suspect that the easiest way to bring the material needed to build the power station to Sizewell would be to do the following.

  • Deliver it to the Port of Lowestoft by ship.
  • Tranship to a suitable shuttle train for the journey to the Sizewell sidings.
  • I estimate that the distance is only about 25 miles and a battery or hydrogen locomotive will surely be available in the UK in the next few years, that will be able to provide the motive power for the return journey.

In The TruckTrain, I wrote about a revolutionary freight concept, that could be ideal for the Sizewell freight shuttle.

Great Yarmouth Racecourse

Great Yarmouth Racecourse is one of my favourite racecourses and I believe it is one of the attractions in Great Yarmouth, that would benefit from an improved rail service between Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth, as it would almost double those with efficient public transport access to the racecourse.

The walking distance between Great Yarmouth station and the racecourse is walkable for many and I remember doing it since C died.

With the train connection to Lowestoft and perhaps a courtesy bus from the station, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that a Lowestoft-Yarmouth rail connection being very good for the racecourse. Especially as road traffic between the two towns can be not the best.

Finishing At Norwich

There are operational reasons to carry on to Norwich, where Crown Point, is the home base for the Class 755 trains.

But it would also link a lot of places that are dependant on tourism and are also heavily involved in East Anglia’s energy industry.

Onward From Peterborough To Lincoln

If the Lowestoft service can extend to Great Yarmouth, an extension of the Peterborough service to Lincoln via Spalding and Sleaford might be possible.

But with LNER also serving Lincoln from Kings Cross, I doubt the route would carry many passengers to and from London.

Conclusion

A service from London, that splits into two trains at Ipswich for Lowestoft and Peterborough has possibilities.

 

 

 

December 27, 2022 - Posted by | Sport, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

9 Comments »

  1. GA have too many 755’s but not enough to provide 2×4 car diagrams that split at Ipswich. Also both routes have the risk of importing delays onto the GE mainline which in reality post CrossRail is a two track railway to Stratford now that has to mix it with Felixstowe traffic. The other issue with the 755’s is they can’t fully fuel them up as the power pack car then exceeds the RA levels on some routes so they have recycle them back to Crown Point for refuelling more frequently. What should happen is a guarantee connection policy at Ipswich indeed every interchange station in the UK along the lines of teh way Europe manages to do but we are too obsessed pursuing PPM not the passenger experience.

    Personally in any sane world Stadler would have been given an order for several 100 of these in exchange for setting up build facilities in the UK like CAF have done so they could be deployed on all “diesel” under the wires working.

    PS: These are the most powerful EMUs in the UK the 3 cars have an extraordinary 3500hp! Id also say they have the best passenger saloon layout and most comfy modern seats and i like sitting in the raised section above the articulated bogie for a better view.

    Comment by Nicholas Lewis | December 27, 2022 | Reply

    • I agree with what you say about the 755s and without doubt they and the 745s are the two best 100 mph trains in the UK.

      According to a senior Greater Anglia driver who spent time in Switzerland helping with the design, the 755s have been designed so that there can be a 125 mph version. After all Norway has 125 mph electric FLIRTS. Four-car bi-mode 125 mph FLIRTS would be ideal replacements for four-car HSTs.

      They would also be good for CrossCountry’s routes.

      Greater Anglia’s 755s are supposed to be fitted with batteries at their first major service. With a range of about 80 miles, some of Greater Anglia’s rural routes could go electric.

      There could also be a hydrogen version, according to a Dutch driver, who drove the smaller version of the 755, which is called a GTW.

      I think Stadler show that good design sells your product.

      Comment by AnonW | December 27, 2022 | Reply

      • Further reinforces my view these should have been mass produced in UK or at least assembled but we get the nonsense of each TOC specifying bespoke requirements and thus we don’t get the benefits of long run production and deployment

        Comment by Nicholas Lewis | December 28, 2022

  2. Power outputs for class 755 are 3,500 hp on electric but on diesel rather lower.
    3 car 745/3 with 2 x Deutz engines 1,290 hp and 4 car 755/4 with 4 x Deutz engines 2,570 hp.Still very generous for both as probably don’t go much above 90 mph on diesel power anyway.I think the limit on Haughley junction to Cambridge is only 75 mph.

    Comment by Hugh Steavenson | December 27, 2022 | Reply

  3. A new Reedham Chord makes sense. I am old enough to remember the direct Lowestoft to Yarmouth South Town line, it was always busy and yet it was closed, presumably to make way for road building around Great Yarmouth.
    There appears to be no buildings on the chord and enough space to keep the footpath.
    In theory the Lowestoft to Yarmouth direct trains should take between 35 and 40 minutes, quicker than driving!

    Comment by Chris Reynell | December 28, 2022 | Reply

    • Network Rail have researched the Reedham Chord extensively and give a time of 33 minutes.

      I suspect that there’s more to it, than just a Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth service.

      Would the Ipswich and Lowestoft service extend to Great Yarmouth?

      Lowestoft-Yarmouth could be a big source of workers for Sizewell C and the A12 isn’t the best of roads. Just as Sellafield get workers trains, will Sizewell?

      There will also be the need to bring in large components for the power station. Some castings will come from Le Creuset in France. Great Yarmouth would be able to handle them, to will they be brought in on special shuttle trains?

      There’s also the problem of the Trowse Bridge being replaced. Would another crossing help in moving the 755s back to Crown Point every night?

      It maybe that replacing Ipswich and Lowestoft with Ipswich and Yarmouth, gives better train diagrams and the revenue is worth it.

      What Lowestoft and Tarmouth need, is a tram from South Lowestoft to Yarmouth racecourse.

      Comment by AnonW | December 28, 2022 | Reply

      • Hopefully there be upgrades to the East Suffolk Line eg a passing loop at Wickham Market or even re-doubling Saxmundham to Woodbridge when Sizewell C is built?
        If so, this could boost the case for Ipswich to Yarmouth via the Reedham Chord as the East Suffolk Line will be more resilient. Perhaps one or two each day could be the direct trains to/from London as mentioned above.
        Workers trains would be useful, as the roads around Leiston were too busy when Sizewell B was under construction.

        Comment by Chris Reynell | December 28, 2022

  4. My project management experience tells me that Sizewell’s biggest problems will be.

    1. Finding enough skilled workers and the places where they can live. This is easier, than it used to be in the early days of North Sea oil and gas as there are more women with the required skills either locally or partners of other workers. Sizewell C will be competing with offshore wind, but it will be able to offer the advantage of an onshore job.

    2. Bringing in aggregates and other bulk materials. It might be easier to bring them in from Lowestoft or Great Yarmouth by ship, as that section of railway isn’t very busy. If they bring them in from the South, they’ll disrupt Felixstowe and Norwich traffic.

    3. Some heavy components might be best brought in by ship to Great Yarmouth and then shuttled in by train.

    The article in Modern Railways talks about relaying the junction.

    They will also want to be seen to have lowest possible-carbon construction.

    Comment by AnonW | December 28, 2022 | Reply

  5. Class 745 and 125 mph:-Stadler have built 29 EC250 Giruno trains for SBB which are capable of 250 kph(155 mph),These are a further derivative of the F.L.I.R.T. family of which classes 745 and 755 are a part.Stadler’s own catchy acronym for these trains is S.M.I.L.E.

    Comment by Hugh Steavenson | December 30, 2022 | Reply


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