The Anonymous Widower

A Trip On The East Suffolk Line In A New Stadler Class 755 Train

Today, I took a round trip between Ipswich and Lowestoft stations, along the East Suffolk Line, in one of Greater Anglia’s new Class 755 trains.

These are my observations and comments.

Stations

The stations vary between the very good and the very basic.

  • I don’t think that any station has a step-free bridge to cross the line.
  • Many stations are just a single platform.
  • Crossing the line often involves a nearby level crossing.
  • Westerfield, Woodbridge, Saxmundham, Darsham, Halesworth and Beccles have two platforms.
  • Lowestoft and Ipswich are both step-free from the street to the platforms.
  • There also appears to be step-free access between the new trains and the platforms.

Overall, from what I could see from the train, each stop was fairly efficient, although I do think that when the drivers and train staff, fully get to grips with the trains, that there is time to be saved on each of the ten stops.

Consider.

  • These trains have much better acceleration and deceleration, than the trains for which the timetable was written.
  • The trains have level access between train and platform. At Lowestoft, I saw an electric wheelchair roll out of the train at a smart speed.
  • These trains set the Gold Standard for step-free access.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see at least a minute and possibly two minutes saved at each station.

That would reduce the current journey time of one hour and thirty minutes between Lowestoft and Ipswich by perhaps ten minutes.

Level Crossings

Consider.

  • Over the years, Greater Anglia and its predecessors right back teyond British Rail have been plagued by accidents at level crossings.
  • Network Rail would like to close them all,
  • But there are always a lot of local objections especially in rural counties like Suffolk.
  • Removal is often expensive, as a new toad of several miles needs to be constructed.

I noticed perhaps ten crossings on my trip.

A big problem is that at many stations on the East Suffolk Line, there is a level crossing and it is often the only way to cross the line.

This Google Map shows Saxmundham station.

This is typical of the line. But here at Saxmundham, there is probably enough space to squeeze in a step-free bridge like this one, that won the Network Rail/RIBA Footbridge Design Competition.

There are lots of rural stations like Saxmundham in the country, so why should suburban stations get all the investment?

How long will it be before one of the new Class 755 trains hits a vehicle on an East Anglian level crossing?

Other Traffic

The only other trains that I saw on the route were Greater Anglia trains going the other way, which we passed in stations like Beccles and Saxmundham.

Checking on realtrimetrains.co.uk, there appears to have been no trains other than the Lowestoft and Ipswich service all day.

It appears that although parts of the route are only single track, that a well-designed timetable operated by well-trained and well-performing staff can provide a reliable hourly service.

Line Speed

I brought my personal dynamometer car with me and the train trundled along at a very easy and leisurely 55-60 mph, which is around the operating speed of the line of 55 mph.

Consider.

  • The train gave me the impression, that all those 2,920 kW in the diesel engines could go a bit faster.
  • The timetable was probably designed around a Class 156 train, which has just 425 kW per car, as opposed to the 730 kW per car of the Stadler train.
  • I estimate that the Stadler train is about sixty percent heavier per car, but it does have a lot of electrical gubbins to carry around.
  • The weight of the Stadler train does appear to be lighter per car than a Class 170 train.

I would expect that a well-driven Class 755 train has the power and speed to skip from station to station along the East Suffolk Line at several minutes faster than the timetable.

The line is 49 miles long and trains typically take 90 minutes between Lowestoft and Ipswich. That is an average speed of just under 33 mph.

The leg between Saxmundham and Darsham is just over four miles long and it takes nine minutes. This is an average speed of 27 mph.

Consider

  • The acceleration of a Class 755 train is 0.9 m/s², which means to get up to a line speed of 60 mph takes thirty seconds.
  • Four miles at 60 mph takes four minutes.
  • Driver assistance software can tell the driver exactly where to start slowing for the next station.

It might be possible to do the Saxmundham and Darsham leg in perhaps three or four minutes less than the current timetable.

How much time could be saved on the whole route between Lowestoft and Ipswich?

Trains Needed

Look at a typical Off Peak pattern.

  • An Off Peak train is the 1007 from Lowestoft, which arrives at Ipswich at 1136.
  • This train returns from Ipswich at 1217, which arrives in Lowestoft at 1343.
  • It then leaves Lowestoft for Ipswich at 1407.

The train takes four hours to do a round trip on the route, with forty-one minutes wait at Ipswich and twenty-four minutes wait at Lowestoft.

As trains are scheduled from Lowestoft at 1107, 1207 and 1307, four trains will be needed to provide the service.

This is very inefficient.

I feel that it is totally possible for the new trains to run between Lowestoft and Ipswich in around an hour and fifteen minutes, which would mean a saving of between one-two minutes on each leg of the journey.

Suppose though the trains could achieve this time, with an allowance of fifteen minutes to turn the trains at the two end stations.

This would mean that the round trip is now three hours and only three trains will be needed to provide the service.

The Possibility Of A Half-Hourly Service

The current timetable waits for awkward times in each of the end stations.

But my proposed hour and fifteen minute journey with a fifteen minute turnround could offer the possibility of a half-hourly service.

  • Suppose two trains left Ipswich and Lowestoft at identical times on the hour.
  • They would arrive at their destination an hour and fifteen minutes later at a quarter past the hour.
  • By the half-hour, they would be ready to return to the other station.
  • They would arrive back at the start at a quarter to the hour and fifteen minutes they would be ready to repeat the cycle.

The only problem would be to make sure all trains met each other at a place, where they could pass.

The half-hourly service would need six trains. or two more than the current service.

I don’t think that any major engineering works will be needed, although , there might be a need to adjust a passing loop or the signalling.

This is probably only one of many possibilities to provide a half-hourly services.

A Service Between Ipswich And Leiston And Aldeburgh

As I passed this branch the orange army was clearing the track of years of tree and other plant growth.

I’ve always thought that this would be a good idea and I wrote about it in A Station For Leiston.

  • A half-hourly service would need two trains.
  • It would add extra capacity between Ipswich and Saxmundham.
  • It would certainly be needed if Sizewell C is built.
  • Much of the route is double-track between Saxmundham and Ipswich.

It should also be noted that Sizewell has a high-capacity electricity grid connection and with the growtyh of offshore wind, Sizewell might be the ideal place for a large energy storage facility,

Cambridge And Lowestoft?

I took a train recently between Cambridge and Norwich and I noticed it went on to Cromer and Sheringham.

This was just Greater Anglia’s way of scheduling the trains for their convenience.

But could the same joining be done between these two services.

  • Lowestoft and Ipswich
  • Ipswich and Cambridge

It would do the following.

  • Make better use of Platform 1 at Ipswich.
  • Improve train utilisation.
  • It might encourage day trippers to the coast to use the trains.
  • It would improve the link from East Suffolk to Stabsted Airport.
  • Create a comprehensive service, that connects all the major towns in Suffolk.
  • It would connect these Suffolk towns; Lowestoft, Beccles, Saxmundham, Woodbridge, Ipswich, Needham Market, Stowmarket, Bury St. Edmund’s and Newnarket.
  • It would serve the proposed A14 Parkway station.
  • It would be an excellent feeder sewrvice for the East-West Rail Link.

It would be a true TransSuffolk railway.

Could There Be A Lowestoft And Great Yarmouth Service?

There has been talk of a new service between Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth stations.

There are two options to provide a service.

  • Reinstatement of the Reedham Curve that was closed in 1880.
  • By reversing the train in Reedham station.

I describe these options in Norfolk Rail Line To Remain Closed As £68m Upgrade Project Overruns.

As the second option does not need any extra infrastructure, I think it is more likely.

This was my conclusion about the route with a reverse.

Typical timings appear to be.

  • Between Reedham and Yarmouth – 14-16 minutes
  • Between Reedham and Lowestoft – 24-26 minutes

Given that the Class 755 trains have the following characteristics.

  • They are 100 mph trains.
  • They are optimised for fast stops.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a sub-forty minute time between Lowestoft and Yarmouth.

It would appear that one train could run an hourly shuttle between Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth.

A Scenic Route Between Norwich And Ipswich

Using the current times between Ipswich and Lowestoft and Norwich and Yarmouth, it also looks like a sub-three hour scenic route is possible between Ipswich and Norwich.

It could be East Anglia’s version of the Cumbrian Coast Line.

Onboard Catering

The East Suffolk Line service currently takes ninety minutes.

I feel that this service is one that could benefit from a coffee service from a trolley.

The service could be provided by Greater Anglia or as on the Settle & Carlisle Line, by the local Community Rail Partnership.

Conclusion

The arrival of Class 755 trains on the East Suffolk Line could be the start of something special!

 

December 4, 2019 Posted by | Food, Transport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pret A Manger Comes To Dalston On Friday

It appears that Pret a Manger’s new Dalston branch opens on Friday.

But search the Internet and not everybody is happy.

Pret is accused of the gentrification of Dalston.

December 3, 2019 Posted by | Food | , | 2 Comments

There’s Something About Felixstowe

I turned up at the station and the bar there had no decent real ale or low-alcohol beer.

In the end, I bought a hot chocolate in a cafe, which didn’t take cards. Luckily, I had some cash!

Felixstowe seems stuck in the 1960s. And boy, was it dull!

November 25, 2019 Posted by | Food | , | 2 Comments

China’s Biggest Worry Is Pork Not Protests

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

In the year of the Pig, apparently swine flu is rampant in China and half the pig population has gone in the last fifteen months.

It’s a thoughtful article by |Edward Lucas.

Over the years crises like this have brought governments down and with the price of pork rising fast China may see some serious unrest.

This situation is one to watch!

November 20, 2019 Posted by | Food, World | , , , | Leave a comment

Home-Made Cabbage Soups Could Help Combat Malaria

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in The Times.

The article comes from this page on the Imperial College web site, which is entitled Scientists And Schoolkids Find Family Soups Have Antimalarial Properties.

This is the introduction.

London schoolchildren have found that some of their families’ soup recipes have antimalarial properties, with the help of Imperial scientists.

Researchers from Imperial College London helped the schoolchildren test their family soup broths for activity against the malaria parasite.

There is also this quote from one of the researchers; Professor Jake Baum.

We may have to look beyond the chemistry shelf for new drugs, and natural remedies shouldn’t be off our watch list, as artemisinin shows.

I also wonder, if natural remedies of this type, which are generally administered by a trusted relative or friend, come with a degree of care and concern, that is often lacking in healthcare.

We should also remember, that aspirin is not a modern drug, but was known to the ancient Egyptians.

 

November 19, 2019 Posted by | Food, Health | , , | 1 Comment

Rescued By Timpsons

Putting my boots back to go to the Football at around five, one of the laces gave up the ghost.

Timpsons? Surely, they could help.

But I would have to hurry, as it shut at six o’clock. I suppose the good peoiple of Manchester have to get up early to work in the satanic mills, so shops close early.

I eventually found a Timpsons in the Arndale Centre and for a few pounds, I got some new laces.

As the price included fitting, that must be three cheers for Timpsons!

As I left the Arndale Centre, many shops were closing.

Could the decline in High Street sales be partly because opening hours no longer fit the times, when the public now want to shop?

I regularly shop for everyday needs in the evening, if the television is rubbish and will go out for a snack supper to say a Leon or Carluccio’s and then perhaps pop-in to a Marks and Spencer to get food for a few days or perhaps some clothes from Eastfield. Usually shops in Inner London close at nine or ten.

My local M & S foodhall in Dalston, which is shutting at ten tonight, is just two bus stops away.

Perhaps, more people need to live in City Centres to revive them?

 

 

November 5, 2019 Posted by | Food, World | , , , , | 3 Comments

Fibreglass Giraffes Help Stop Elephants Rampaging Across Delicate Tea Crops

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in The Times.

Tea plantations in Assam have an elephant problem and this weird solution seems to work.

October 31, 2019 Posted by | Food, World | , , , | Leave a comment

An Oasis In A Gluten-Free Desert

I took this picture, this morning in Mark’s and Spencer’s cafe in Ipswich.

It was the only place, I could find a gluten-free breakfast in the town.

Note that Christmas must be coming, as it’s a turkey feast sandwich.

October 24, 2019 Posted by | Food | , , , | Leave a comment

Tortillas From Kings Cross Square

If you are arriving at Kings Cross station and feel a little peckish, it is often worthwhile to check out the offerings in Kings Cross Square in front of the station.

I found these delicious gluten-free tortillas last week.

October 14, 2019 Posted by | Food | , , | Leave a comment

A Quick Pasta Supper For One

A few months ago Marks & Spencer started selling an Italian made gluten-free passta, that is named prosciutto & ricotta cappelletti.

Marks recommend serving it with your favourite sauce or melted butter.

So I used one of my favourite sauces adapted from Serial Cooking – Quick Pasta For One. The idea came from a recipe from Lyndsey Bareham in The Times.

These pictures show the stages.

Note.

  1. I split frozen peas down into small one-portion pots.
  2. The yogurt is a small pot of Honey & Ginger West Country Luxury Yoghurt from Marks & Spencer.
  3. I generally drink Adnams beer!

I shall cook the second half of the pasta in a few days, which will be the fifth time, I’ve had the meal in three weeks.

 

October 14, 2019 Posted by | Food | , , , , | Leave a comment