The Anonymous Widower

The New White Hart Lane Stadium Is Open For Business

I took these pictures today of the new White Hart Lane Stadium.

Does it look so impressive inside?

March 25, 2019 Posted by | Sport | , , | Leave a comment

Roaming Around East Anglia – Freight Trains Through Newmarket

The East West Rail Consortium plan to change the route of freight trains to and from Haven Ports; Felixstowe, Harwich and Ipswich to the West of Kennett station.

In this document on the East West Rail Consortium web site, this is said.

Note that doubling of Warren Hill Tunnel at Newmarket and
redoubling between Coldham Lane Junction and Chippenham Junction is included
in the infrastructure requirements. It is assumed that most freight would operate
via Newmarket, with a new north chord at Coldham Lane Junction, rather than
pursuing further doubling of the route via Soham.

How would these changes affect Newmarket and the horse-racing industry in the town?

How Many Freight Trains Are We Talking About?

This table shows the number of freight trains going through Kennett station on the 1st of March 2019.

  • 00  1  1
  • 01  1  0
  • 02  0  1
  • 03  2  1
  • 04  1  1
  • 05  1  1
  • 06  1  2
  • 07  1  1
  • 08  1  0
  • 09  1  0
  • 10  1  0
  • 11  0  0
  • 12  0  0
  • 13  2  2
  • 14  0  2
  • 15  1  1
  • 16  0  1
  • 17  1  1
  • 18  0  1
  • 19  1  1
  • 20  1  0
  • 21  1  2
  • 22  0  2
  • 23  0  0

In the table the first figure is the hour, the second figure is the number of freight trains going West and the third figure is the number of freight trains going East.

This gives a daily total of eighteen trains going West and twenty-one trains going twenty-one trains going East.

But these figures will increase!

At present, Network Rail are adding a passing loop on the Felixstowe Branch Line. This article on Rail Magazine is entitled £60.4m Felixstowe Branch Upgrade Under Way and says this about the upgrade.

Installing the new line will create capacity for up to ten additional freight trains, each the equivalent of 76 lorries.

Not all will come via Kennett, as some will go via London.

The Port of Felixstowe will get larger and other improvements on the route across Suffolk will increase the number of freight trains passing through Kennett station.

I estimate that it is very likely that in a few years there will be two trains per hour (tph) in both directions for every hour of the day.

Rerouting The Trains Through Newmarket

Currently, these freight trains go via Ely, but the plan of the East West Rail Consortium would be to reroute all these freight trains through the Warren Hill tunnel and Newmarket station.

I suspect the reasons for the change of route could include the following.

Accessing The East West Rail Link From Newmarket Is Easy And Quick

If as expected the East West Rail Link joins the London-Cambridge Line just South of Cambridge South station, then the trains would run through Dullingham, Cambridge and Cambridge South stations, when running between the East West Rail Link and Newmarket station.

The East West Rail Link Will Be An Efficient Railway

Drive on a new motorway and the curves are smooth with relaxed gradients.

A new railway will be like that too and less energy will be used to power trains along its length.

Increasing the Capacity Through Ely Is Difficult

There is a very complicated track layout at Ely and increasing the number of trains might be difficult or very expensive.

Freight Trains Will Use The East West Rail Link To Avoid London

Take going between the Haven Ports and Bristol or South Wales.

Currently, these trains tend to go via London and in a couple of years will have to share tracks with London’s intensive Crossrail network between Acton Main Line and Reading stations.

Using the East West Rail Link, the trains would join the Great Western Main Line at Didcot, a few miles West of Reading.

How many services will use the East West Rail Link to by-pass London?

Freight Trains Will Use The East West Rail Link To Get To The West Coast Main Line

Currently, these trains either go via London or take the slow cross-country route via Peterborough to Nuneaton for the West Coast Main Line.

If they use the East-West Rail Link, they can join the West Coast Main Line at Bletchley.

The East-West Rail Link Will Be An Important Freight Link

I think that as the years pass and more freight terminals are created, we will see more freight trains using the East-West-Rail-Link and many of these trains will go through Newmarket.

What Problems Would The Rerouting Create In Newmarket?

I can see these problems.

Noise And Vibration

Four freight trains per hour will create a lot of noise and vibration as they pass through.

Frightening The Horses

This Google Map shows a corner of the gallops at Newmarket.

Note how the railway from the East splits into two, to the West of the band of trees running down the map.

  • The top branch curves away to the North and goes through Soham to Ely.
  • The bottom branch curves away to the South and goes through Warren Hill Tunnel to Newmarket station and then on to Cambridge.

Alongside, the Southern route is the Al Bahatri all-weather gallop, which is an important facility for training racehorses. It can just be picked out as a sand-coloured line.

Currently, nearly all the freight trains take the Northern route to Ely, keeping them away from the Al Bahatri.

But, if the main freight route was through the town, as planned by the East West Rail Consortium, then at least four freight trains per hour would run alongside the gallop. There could also be four passenger trains per hour.

Railway Electrification

It is unlikely, that the railway through Newmarket will be electrified, but under a different government, this could happen.

It might add another dimension to disturbance through the town, as you get pantograph noise and occasional sparks and flashes. I don’t know how horses will react, but from my own experience years ago, they do react to electrical fields.

The Rail Freight Industry

Look at most freight trains on the UK’s railways and the locomotive on the front, is a noisy, smelly and polluting Class 66 or Class 70 locomotive.

You’ll see these American imports, which don’t meet the latest emission regulations, hauling freight trains, even when there are overhead wires for electric haulage.

Why?

Because rail freight companies are so driven by accountants, that they can’t be bothered to obtain more modern diesel locomotives, that are quieter, more powerful and less polluting.

The picture shows a modern Class 68 locomotive at Stratford. These are quieter and meet most of the noise and emission regulations.

Mitigating The Problems

I’ll deal with various methods, that could be used, starting with the easiest.

A Level Railway Through The Town

It looks like the Victorian engineers, who built the railway through the town, built it as level as possible, so that steam locomotives didn’t have to work so hard in the Warren Hill Tunnel, which I don’t think has a chimney for smoke.

Modern engineers will ensure that the railway is as level as possible, with gentle gradients and curves all the way between Kennett and Dullingham stations.

Passenger Trains With Batteries

Greater Anglia’s new Class 755 trains are powered by both overhead electrification and onboard diesel engines. The latter sit in a power pack in the middle of the train.

Not having seen or heard one of these Swiss-built trains in the metal, I can make no comment as to the noise and vibration of these trains, but they should be quieter than the current three-car Class 170 trains.

It does appear that passenger trains built in the last years are much quieter, as they are much more aerodynamically correct and slippery, so they generate less noise.

The new trains have also been ordered for the South Wales Metro. But the Welsh trains will additionally be fitted with batteries to avoid some difficult electrification in the Valleys.

So if the passenger trains prove to be noisy through the town, which I doubt they will be, there will be the option of adding batteries to avoid the use of diesel power.

It is my belief, that technology will ensure that passenger trains will not be a problem.

More Environmentally-Friendly Freight Locomotives

As I said earlier, smelly, noisy and polluting freight locomotives are a big problem.

This is not just a problem for places like Newmarket with special circumstances, but on railways like the London Overground and those in Central Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester,, where suburban electric railways have to accommodate heavy rail freight.

The railway locomotive manufacturers have designed solutions for the problem in recent years.

Stadler, who are an innovative Swiss company have started to manufacture a Class 93 locomotive, which can run on diesel, electric and/or battery power. I’m fairly sure, that one of the design goals of this locomotive is to be able to haul a heavy freight train between Felixstowe and Peterborough, using electric power where it is available and a mix of diesel and battery at other times.

At Newmarket if the new double-track was well-designed and almost level, I suspect that a Class 93 locomotive could haul a train between Kennett and Dullingham stations on battery power.

Locomotives of this type should be compulsory on all freight routes through sensitive areas.

The government must legislate, as left to themselves the rail freight companies will sit on their hands and wallets.

One of the conditions of a double-track railway through Newmarket, should be that only locomotives that meet the latest noise, vibration and pollution standards, like the Class 93 locomotive should be allowed.

Quieter 100 mph Freight Trains

Karl Watts, who is a disruptive innovator and CEO of the Rail Operations Group, has bought the first ten Class 93 locomotives and intends to use them to haul 100 mph freight trains, where the routes allow.

On the electrified Great Eastern Main Line between Ipswich and London, the operating speed is 100 mph. But freight trains trundle up and down at 75 mph, thus slowing all of the passenger services.

Watts plans to use the Class 93 locomotives with new 100 mph container wagons to run freight trains at 100 mph on this and other routes, which would increase the freight and passenger capacity of the line.

New 100 mph freight wagons will be smoother, quieter and used through Newmarket at an appropriate speed would remove a large proportion of the noise and vibration.

Again, it would need investment from the freight companies.

However, modern freight trains hauled by modern hybrid locomotives like the Class 93 could significantly remove noise and vibration.

Lengthen Warren Hill Tunnel

A second bore will be dug to double-track the kilometre long Warren Hill Tunnel.

Some rail tunnels have been extended with covers and this technique might be possible at the Newmarket station end of the tunnel. The techniques exist, so that housing or other developments can be built on top of the railway.

Techniques like this not only suppress noise and vibration, but create much needed housing.

Acoustic Barriers

You see these a lot in Germany to reduce noise and vibration from railway lines in sensitive area, but rarely in the UK.

Conclusion

It will be difficult to put a double-track railway through Newmarket, but I believe that using modern rolling stock and some advanced construction, that a solution can be found.

Newmarket should dig in its heels and only accept the best to force rail freight companies to get their act together.

Government too, should enforce the current regulations on diesel locomotives, which most of the current locomotives do not meet.

March 4, 2019 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Roaming Around East Anglia – Newmarket Station

I went to Newmarket station for two reasons; to assess if the East West Rail Consortium’s plans for Newmarket were feasible and also to see a friend, who trains racehorses in the town, to tell him about the plans.

I should say, that I haven’t been to Newmarket for perhaps six years and it struck me that the town was much more crowded with traffic, with a lot of full car-parks. Around the station, there were lots of cars parked. How many were owned  by commuters going to Cambridge.

The Plans Of The East West Rail Consortium For Newmarket

In this document on the East West Rail Consortium web site, this is said.

Note that doubling of Warren Hill Tunnel at Newmarket and
redoubling between Coldham Lane Junction and Chippenham Junction is included
in the infrastructure requirements. It is assumed that most freight would operate
via Newmarket, with a new north chord at Coldham Lane Junction, rather than
pursuing further doubling of the route via Soham.

So would it be possible to create a double-track railway through Newmarket station?

These are pictures that I took of the station.

It does appear that there is space for another track on the other side of the current track to the platform.

Newmarket station has some positive attributes.

  • It is in the centre of the town.
  • There is enough shelter and storage for cycles.
  • The platform will be long enough for Greater Anglia’s new four-car Class 755 trains.
  • There is a wide, spacious platform.

But these are outweighed by these drawbacks.

  • The vehicle access is terrible.
  • There is no Kiss-and-Ride facility.
  • Car parking is in the surrounding streets and as it’s free, the local roads will get choked, especially when Greater Anglia’s larger trains are introduced later this year.
  • The East West Rail Link will introduce a two trains per hour (tph) through the station.
  • Will the platform at Newmarket be long enough for the East West Consortium trains, which will be running between Ipswich and Oxford? Probably not!
  • There is no coffee kiosk, shop or toilets.

But above all it is not a destination station., that gives a good impression for visitors and tourists, who could make up a proportion of travellers.

The East West Rail Consortium are planning a parkway station on the A14 to the North of Newmarket and this will surely solve the problem of traffic and parking, that blocks the local streets,

But I believe that Newmarket needs a station, that will attract visitors.

My pictures, show the previous station building still standing next door to the current station.

  • This could be converted into a first-class station with excellent passenger facilities.
  • There could be a large taxi rank.
  • There could be passenger drop-off and pick-up facilities.
  • There is space for a bus connection to the race-course on race-days.
  • Limited car-parking of a short-term nature.
  • A two-hundred metre  long platform could be built to accommodate the longest-possible trains.

This Google Map, shows the combined site of the current and previous stations.

Both stations are effectively side-by-side, with the current station to the East.

The large area behind the stations is parking for horse-boxes during the numerous sales at Tattersalls. For much of the year, it is virtually empty.

I’m pretty sure, that with some management, the area could serve both its current purpose and as a forecourt to a landmark station,, that would enhance the town and the racing industry.

I don’t think that a second platform would be needed for the following reasons.

  • Adding the step-free access to the seond platform would cost a seven figure sum.
  • Commuters into Cambridge would be encounraged to use the A14 Parkway station.
  • Probably only on race days, would there be large enough numbers of passengers to need to accommodate two trains in the station at the same time..

However space could be left, if a second platform were to be needed in the future.

Conclusion And Recommendations

The current Newmarket station is totally inadequate for the current service of one three-car train per hour in both directions.

Greater Anglia’s new Class 755 trains could be a car longer and will certainly attract more passengers to use Newmarket station, as new trains always do!

I feel that in the next couple of years, possible additional trains, more passengers and lack of car parking will create problems at Newmarket station.

I would recommend the following actions.

A14 Parkway Station

Work should start as soon as is practical for the A14 Parkway station, proposed by the East West Rail Consortium.

This station would have the following Greater Anglia services.

  • Peterborough and Colchester – 1 tph
  • Ipswich and Cambridge – 1 tph

These two services would give the following frequencies to these places.

  • Bury St. Edmunds – 2 tph direct
  • Colchester – 1 tph direct and 2 tph with a change at Ipswich
  • Diss – 1 tph with a change at Stowmarket
  • Ipswich – 2 tph direct
  • London – 1 tph with a change at Cambridge and 1 tph with a change at Ely
  • Newmarket – 1 tph direct
  • Norwich – 1 tph with a change at Cambridge, 1 tph with a change at Ely and 2 tph with a change at Stowmarket
  • Peterborough – 1 tph direct and 1 tph with a change at Cambridge
  • Stansted Airport – 2 tph with a change at Cambridge
  • Stowmarket – 2 tph direct

A14 Parkway station sitting at the junction of two of the busiest roads in East Anglia; the A11 and A14, and two important rail routes,would be one of the most important stations in the East.

The station could only be named after Ancient Britain’s most famous queen, who by repute once lived in the area.

Upgrade Newmarket Station

Hopefrully, the A14 Parkway station would ease the problems at Newmarket station and this would enable work to progress on the design of an upgraded Newmarket station, that would serve the town, the racing industry and the towns tourist attractions.

Improved Train Services To/From Cambridge

Once the East West Rail Link opens between Cambridge and Oxford, the current service between Ipswich and Cambridge, could eventually be replaced with a service between Manningtree and Oxford or possibly Reading, that calls at Ipswich, Stowmarket, Bury St. |Edmunds, A14
Parkway, Newmarket, Cambridge, Cambridge South, Bedford, Bletchley, Milton Keynes, Bicester, Oxford and several smaller intermediate stations.

The three Cambridge stations of Cambridge, Cambridge North and Cambridge South will also increasingly be connected to the surrounding stations like A 14 Parkway, Bury St. Edmunds, Cambourne, Ely, Kings Lynn, March, Newmarket and Peterborough. Services will be at a frequency of at least two tph, with some as high as four tph.

In addition, there could be new services to Haverhill and Wisbech.

Newmarket will get a share of these services and I wouldn’t be surprised to see these frequencies from Newmarket station to the three Cambridge stations.

  • Cambridge – 4 tph direct
  • Cambridge North – 2 tph direct and 2 tph with a change at Cambridge
  • Cambridge South – 2 tph direct and 2 tph with a change at Cambridge

Cambridge is becoming one of the most important cities in Europe and Newmarket can benefit by holding on to big sister’s skirts.

West Suffolk And London Services

If you look at the sizeable towns in Suffolk, the following ones that are rail connected, do not have a direct train service to London.

  • Beccles
  • Bury St. Edmunds
  • Felixstowe
  • Halesworth
  • Lowestoft
  • Newmarket
  • Sudbury
  • Woodbridge

Greater Anglia’s new Class 755 trains, will be running three trains per day, between Liverpool Street and Lowestoft, which will reduce this list to just.

  • Bury St. Edmunds
  • Felixstowe
  • Newmarket
  • Sudbury

If Felixstowe is discounted as it is on a  branch line busy with freight trains and Sudbury because it is on a single track branch line, we are left with just.

  • Bury St. Edmunds
  • Newmarket

Add in the proposed A14 Parkway station and is it feasible to run a service between London Liverpool Street and Bury St. Edmunds via Cambridge, Newmarket and A14 Parkway.

I calculate that a round trip would be possible in around four hours, thus making three trains per day possible.

I suspect, there would be capacity problems on the Southern section of the West Anglia Main Line, but if this were to be four-0tracked as is proposed, this would ease that problem.

So a service between West Suffolk and London, is probably one for the future.

A Final Conclusion

Newmarket can benefit from East West Rail, but the two parties must agree objectives that don’t cause problems for the other.

 

 

 

March 3, 2019 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , , | 3 Comments

DfT Keen To Encourage Rail Travel For Football Fans

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in Issue 873 of Rail Magazine.

I was moved to send this letter to the magazine.

Was this title on page 17 of Issue 873 serious or an ironic joke?

I am a seventy-one-year-old Ipswich fan and Season Ticket holder, who lives in London, within walking distance of Liverpool Street station on a fine day.

Over the last six or seven years, I have been unable to see Home matches as often, as I would like, as on perhaps half of weekend match days, there have been no trains running on the Great Eastern Main Line, due to the constant maintenance. Or is it a complete rebuilding for 140 mph trains?

To be fair, I have occasionally used the replacement buses, but the problem is that they make the journey well over an hour longer. So on a match day, there is no time left for anything else!

I had to watch the two Ipswich-Norwich matches on television, as on both these Sundays to get to the match by mid-day was impossible and probably needed an overnight stay!

I accumulated my very adequate pension pot, by writing software to schedule resources on complicated projects. Surely, Network Rail, Greater Anglia, the Premier League and the EFL can agree a plan that is better than the current shambles.

Greater Anglia surely have the means to improve the situation arriving in their depots.

Pairs of  four-car Class 755 trains could run reduced services via Cambridge.

  • If the line is blockaded between Ipswich and London, then a direct service could be run between Norwich and London via Ipswich and Cambridge.
  • If the line is blockaded between Ipswich and Norwich, then a direct service could be run between Norwich and London via Cambridge.

Although, this has nothing to do with football, pairs of Class 755 trains would also be useful for running a service between Peterborough and London, when the Southern section of the East Coast Main Line is closed.

I shall add a few extra notes to this on-line version of the letter.

Class 755 Trains

Points about Class 755 trains.

  • They are 100 mph trains on both electric and diesel, and probably have similar performance to the current Class 90 locomotive/Mark 3 coaches that run between Liverpool Street and Norwich.,
  • Capacity of a pair of Class 755 trains is 458 seats, as against the 514 seats of the current stock.
  • The interior will be suitable for services between London and Norwich.
  • The trains and their crews will probably be certified for all of Greater Anglia’s Network.
  • A single train is eighty metres long and a pair would be 160 metres.
  • The trains should fit all important main-line stations on the Greater Anglia Network.

I also suspect that these trains could run into Kings Cross station, either using the East Coast Main Line or the Hertford Loop Line.

They are blockade-busters par excellence.

February 26, 2019 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Doping Bans For 12 Russian Athletes Including 2012 Olympic Champion Ivan Ukhov

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the BBC.

This is the first two paragraphs.

London 2012 Olympic high jump champion Ivan Ukhov is among 12 Russian track and field athletes banned for doping by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Three years of Ukhov’s results, including the 2012 Olympics, have been disqualified, meaning Britain’s Robert Grabarz could be upgraded to silver.

I grew up in the 1960s, where Russian and East German athletes used every trick in the book to win.

Many clean athletes like the incomparable Kathy Cook, never won the medals they deserved, competing against athletes cheating like mad.

Let’s hope the Russians aren’t returning to the bad old days.

 

 

 

February 2, 2019 Posted by | Sport | , , | Leave a comment

Network Rail Are Treating Norwich And Ipswich Fans With Contempt

Over the last few years, I have gone to perhaps half-a-dozen Ipswich-Norwich Derbies.

Last season, I didn’t get to either match, as Network Rail, thought that these days were ideal to do engineering work on the Great Eastern Main Line.

As if, there hasn’t been enough in the time since I’ve moved to London in 2010.

Normally, I would have bought a ticket for the match on February 10th in Norwich at 12:00 in the morning.

But I have just looked up the train times to get there for a match start at that time on a Sunday.

The only service leaves Liverpool Street at 07:08 and arrives in Norwich at 10:12! It also involves an hour on a bus. I would probably arrive back home at around seven in the evening.

I have other things to do, like getting something to eat and as a coeliac, I can’t just pop into the average take-away, unless I wanted to spend another three hours sitting on the toilet.

Why is there no liaison between Network Rail and the two football clubs, so that essential work is done on less important days?

To make things worse, on Saturday the 2nd, they’re getting the buses out again. So that’s another match I’ll miss!

This season it has been easier to watch Away matches than Home ones.

When are Network Rail going to stop treating regular travellers with such downright contempt?

January 27, 2019 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

This Must Be The Football Story Of 2018

This article on SpireFM is entitled Never Mind The FA Cup Final – One Local Village School Has Scooped Gold At A Huge Football Festival For Children Aged 10-12!

This is the first threeof paragraphs.

From football on a village green in the New Forest and dodging ponies to playing at the home of Coventry City.

It’s fair to say it’s been an exciting weekend for Hale Primary!

The team progressed through the county and regional finals to earn a place at the national finals of the Danone Nations Cup, the English leg of the world’s biggest football festival for children aged 10-12.

And they won in a penalty shootout.

December 31, 2018 Posted by | Sport | | Leave a comment

Open Golf Championship’s £69m Boost To Scottish Economy

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the BBC.

This is the first two paragraphs.

The Open golf championship at Carnoustie in July boosted the Scottish economy by £69m this year, according to an independent study.

Researchers at Sheffield Hallam University found the Angus area alone received a £21m cash injection from hosting the event.

It just goes to show the value of big events to a country, region or a city.

I have to ask the opposite  question! – Do some areas of the UK, suffer because they don’t host a big sporting event, arts festival or site or museum of national importance?

 

December 23, 2018 Posted by | Sport, World | , | Leave a comment

Exclusive Footie Shocker

The title of this post, is the same as that at the top of the front page of today’s Sun.

It is not about the latest Premier League star being found in bed with a bevy of young beautiful ladies or losing his money in casinos, but this.

Kante Pays More Tax Than Amazon & Starbucks

As ever The Sun has got straight to the point.

The BBC shows the front page with this comment.

The Sun leads with a story on Chelsea FC footballer N’Golo Kante, who it says has signed a million pound deal which will see him pay more tax than Amazon and Starbucks combined. The 27-year-old chose not to use a scheme to be paid via offshore firms, meaning he will pay £6.7m in tax.

Luckily, I have no need to use companies like Amazon, Facebook and Starbucks.

November 24, 2018 Posted by | Finance, Sport | , , , , | 3 Comments

Are Greater Anglia Buying So Many Class 755 Trains, So They Can Run A Better Service During Constant Works On The Great Eastern?

Yet again, they were rebuilding the Great Eastern Main Line, so I didn’t get to football at Ipswich yesterday.

It’s not that I mind the buses, but it means two things.

  • I have to leave so early, that I can’t do my weekly shop before I go.
  • I also get back so late that I will miss Strictly on the television.

There is also the problem, that Ipswich is one of the worst places to find a gluten-free meal, unless you go to Pizza Express.

I often have my lunch before I travel or take it on the train from Leon or M & S.

For some time now, I’ve suspected that Greater Anglia have ordered a lot more Class 755 trains, than they need, based on a train-for-train replacement basis

It now becomes obvious why!

At weekends, they will link four-car trains together and run four trains per hour on the following routes.

  • Norwich to Cambridge
  • Ipswich to Cambridge

One train in four will continue to and from London after Cambridge.

On the other hand, it could be a plot by Norwich fans in Greater Anglia’s headquarters in Norwich to annoy Ipswich fans!

 

 

September 23, 2018 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment