The Anonymous Widower

Increasing Capacity On Waterloo Suburban Services

A new franchise is taking over the services out of Waterloo station to the South West.

There is an informative article in Rail Technology Magazine, which is entitled First MTR joint venture awarded South Western franchise.

I wrote about the suburban services in An Analysis Of Waterloo Suburban Services Proposed To Move To Crossrail 2.

The Services Proposed To Move To Crossrail 2

These suburban termini and their routes are proposed  to be connected to Crossrail 2.

The times are for a typical one-way journey from Waterloo, which usually has a frequency of two trains per hour (tph).

But consider.

I would think it is highly likely that a Class 707 train could do a round trip to Chessington South, Epsom and Hampton Court stations, within an hour. For the purpose of this calculation, I’ll assume that trains to Shepperton take two hours for the round trip.

So this would mean that to execute the current 2 tph, would need the following number of five-car trains, which would work as a ten-car unit.

  • Chessington South –  2×2 = 4 trains
  • Epsom – 2×2 = 4 trains
  • Hampton Court – 2×2 =  4 trains
  • Shepperton – 4×2 = 8 trains

So a total of 20 new five-car Class 707 trains would be needed to run these four services at a frequency of 2 tph, stopping as they do now!

As they can’t do the round trip in an hour with the current stock, they need to use more trains. And drivers and depot space!

Services to Windsor and Eton Riverside

Services between Waterloo and Windsor and Eton Riverside stations currently take 54 minutes.

I don’t think it is unreasonable to expect that a Class 707 train could do the round trip in two hours.

So that means that just eight trains are needed to run the ten-car 2 tph service to Windsor.

Services On The Hounslow And Kingston Loop Lines

These seem to be timed as follows.

  • Hounslow Loop – 85 minutes – 20 stops.
  • Kingston Loop – 79 minutes – 22 stops

Consider.

  • The services are probably timed for 75 mph trains.
  • 100 mph Class 707 trains with a faster station-stop performance could save a minute at each stop.
  • All the platforms on the loop have only recently been updated for ten-car trains.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Class 707 trains, run round the Hounslow and Kingston Loop Lines in under an hour.

This would enable clockface services, simplify train scheduling and please passengers, signallers and the train operating company.

Other Services

There are other services that would benefit from Class 707 trains.

These are two examples of services out of Waterloo

  •  Weybridge via Hounslow and Virginia – 75 minutes – 20 stops.
  • Guildford via Epsom – 71 minutes – 17 stops

Would a Class 707 train, bring these journeys under the magic hour including a turnback?

Waterloo Station

When the former International platforms at Waterloo station has been upgraded in the Summer, it will have five new Platforms 20-24.

To gain efficient access to the new Platforms, Network Rail are replacing the Eurostar tracks, with lines that enable trains to take a sneaky quick route in and out of Platforms 20-24.

These pictures show the lines going from Platforms 1 and 2 at Vauxhall station to the former Eurostar Platforms.

It looks like when it’s finished Platform 1 at Vauxhall will be the up platform towards Waterloo and Platform 2 will be the down platform.

Currently Platform 2 at Vauchall seems to handle services that come through Putney and Clapham Junction stations, with services going the other way using Platform 3.

According to Services in the Wikipedia entry for Putney station, typical off-peak service at  the station is.

This means that there are 12 tph in both directions from Putney to Waterloo via Clapham Junction and Vauxhall.

It does look that after all the work is finished, these services will go into the rebuilt Platforms 20-24.

Will the various services be given their own platforms in Waterloo?

It would be a  way of increasing passenger throughput in the station at busy times, as commuters would know that their trains always used the same platform. Simple and efficient!

It could be done with all services and I think this is done to a certain extent now.

Conclusion

South West Trains new fleet of thirty Class 707 trains is sized to run the services to Chessington South, Epsom, Hampton Court, Shepperton and Windsor and still leave a couple of spares for breakdowns and maintenance.

This calculation shows that you can sometimes replace a large number of 75 mph trains with a significantly smaller number of 100 mph units and still attain the same service frequency.

As they have just lost the franchise, I feel a little bit sorry for Stagecoach. But not that sorry!

 

March 29, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Improvements To South Kensington Tube Station

Transport for London have announced that they are looking for a partner to improve South Kensington tube station.

It’s all described in this article in the Construction Enquirer, which is entitled TfL invites bids for South Ken tube station revamp.

The following improvements are mentioned.

  • Improve the retail and commercial units of the station.
  • Refurbish the buildings at 20-34 Thurloe Street.
  • Restore the Grade II Listed entrance to its original state.
  • Provide step-free access to the District and Circle line via a new station entrance on Thurloe Street.
  • Bring a disused Eastbound platform back into use.
  • Improve the gate line and emergency exits.

There will also be some extra development on TfL’s land.

This Google Map shows the layout of the station.

And this map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the layout of the lines.

 

TfL are hoping work can start next year.

 

 

 

 

March 29, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

An Overview Of Headbolt Lane Station

Headbolt Lane station is Merseyrail’s solution to connecting the single-track Kirkby Branch of the Northern Line to the double-track Kirkby Branch Line from Wigan  Wallgate station in an efficient manner.

At present at Kirkby station, the following happens.

  • The two lines meet head-on at Kirkby station, which is less than satisfactory, with a walk along a shared platform to change trains.
  • The service between Liverpool and Kirkby is a Turn-Up-And-Go four tph.
  • The service between Kirkby and Wigan Wallgate and Manchester is just one tph.
  • Also, I’m also not sure of the quality of the facilities at Kirkby station.

, So hopefully a new station at Headbolt Lane would offer advantages.

  • It would be a better-equipped station.
  • Interchange would be cross-platform.
  • The trains would be timed to be in the station at the same time.
  • The trains can double as waiting rooms, whilst waiting for passengers.
  • Ideally the frequencies on both branches would be the same at four tph.

I reckon that the current trains would take about the same four minutes to go from Kirkby to Headbolt Lane as they do between Fazakerley and Kirkby, as the distances are similar. So as the current trains seem to stop quickly at stations according to the timetable, perhaps a time of ten minutes between Fazakerley and Headbolt Lane is on the cards..

So given the need for the driver to change ends at Headbolt Lane station, it looks like the timings available with the current trains are not fast enough to allow the line to be extended to Headbolt Lane station and maintain the current four tph.

Four tph could probably be achieved if the line was made double-track or if a second turn-back platform were to be provided at Headbolt Lane station.

But all that would cost money.

But help would be at hand, in that the faster new Stadler trains,with  their ability to stop and get going again very quickly, would probably be designed to execute the turnback fast enough to keep the four tph service.

So it might appear that the consequence of this, is that Headbolt Lane station can’t be served by Merseyrail at four tph, until the new Stadler trains are delivered, unless the Class 507 trains are faster than they appear and the drivers know how to squeeze out their maximum performance.

One complication could be that services to Skelmersdale will pass through the station.

But this would probably ease the provision of four tph to and from Liverpool, as Skelmersdale would offer another station, where trains could be turned back, if say two tph turned at Headbolt Lane and two tph at Skelmersdale.

It might be that extension to Skelmersdale and making Headbolt Lane the turnback station for Kirkby need to be done together to get four tph from Kirkby to Liverpool with the current trains.

Before I leave the subject of Headbolt station, the question has to be asked, if trains can run directly between Liverpool and Wigan Wallgate.

Some would argue, that if you were doing that route, you’d go from Liverpool Lime Street to Wigan North Western, but what if you live at Kirkdale and your mother lives in Wigan?

As I believe that lines like these need a Turn-up-And-Go four tph, and I believe Merseyrail think the same way, then the best solution is to provide four tph both ways from Headbolt Lane station and make sure that passengers can just walk across to continue their journey.

Conclusion

I have come to the conclusion, that four tph from Kirkdale to Manchester is possible with a cross-platform change at Headbolt Lane station.

March 26, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 2 Comments

Extra Services To Southport On Merseyrail’s Northern Line

Local interests have ambitions to connect Ormskirk and Southport stations, as is detailed in Wikipedia under Future Developments in the Wikipedia entry for Ormskirk station.

There have been calls from local authorities and the local rail user group to reopen both curves at Burscough to allow the reinstatement of through trains from here to Southport, as well as to reinstate through services between Preston & Liverpool via Ormskirk and to rebuild & reopen the Skelmersdale branch.[7] Merseytravel’s 2014 ‘Liverpool City Region Long Term Rail Strategy’ does not back plans for an Ormskirk to Skelmersdale route (instead proposing that the link be provided from the Kirkby to Wigan Wallgate line), though it does suggest that a new bi-level interchange at Burscough Bridge could be built to provide improved interchange facilities between the Ormskirk branch and the Wigan to Southport line in addition to reopening the curves and extending electrification through to Preston & Southport.

, To connect the two stations would mean doing at least the following.

  • Reinstate the South Burscough Curve as a single track
  • The South Burscough Curve would have bi-directional signalling and third rail electrification.
  • Remodel Ormskirk station.

This picture shows what remains of the second platform at Ormskirk station.

The second platform could probably be reinstated reasonably easily, but I wonder if a clever station designer and train scheduler could organise Liverpool, Preston and Southport services around a single long platform?

The current layout could be actually considered to be two platforms, as one end serves Liverpool trains and other Preston trains.

So in this explanation, I’ll refer to them as the Liverpool Platform and the Preston Platform.

  • The Liverpool platform would be long enough to take two new Stadler trains.
  • The Preston platform would be long enough for the longest train likely to work an Ormskirk to Preston service.
  • An electrified passing loop starting from between the two platforms and extending towards Burcough Junction station would be installed.

Consider.

  • Trains arriving and returning to Liverpool would operate as they do now using the Liverpool platform.
  • Trains arriving and returning to Preston would operate as they do now using the Preston platform, but stop within the passing loop.
  • Passengers changing between Liverpool and Preston services would change trains as they do now, by walking along the platform.
  • Liverpool to Southport and Liverpool to Preston services would use the Liverpool platform and would either go through the Preston platform or use the passing loop as appropriate.

Two parallel platform stations are so nineteenth century!

These modifications between Ormskirk and Southport  would improve train services in the following ways.

  • Create more capacity between Liverpool and Southport.
  • Allow travellers to go between Southport and the Ormskirk Branch of the Northern Line , without going via Sandhills station.
  • Allow access to Manchester services at Burscough Bridge station
  • Add direct Liverpool services to those to Manchester and Southport to all the new housing that seems to be under construction around the Southport to Manchester Line.
  • Enable the construction of one or more new stations, like Kew Gardens in Southport, which is close to the hospital.

You can certainly understand why Merseyrail appears to be keen.

There are lots of ways to organise services.

I suspect one of the most efficient ways will be to run the trains in a loop going to and starting from Hunts Croos and going to Liverpool Central via Liverpool Central, Southport, Burscough Bridge, Burscough Junction and Ormskirk. Four trains per hour (tph) would go in one direction and four tph in the other.

Timing with the current trains are as follows.

  • Hunts Cross to Southport – 64 minutes
  • Southport to Burscough Bridge – 22 minutes
  • Burscough Bridge to Ormskirk – 9 minutes – estimated
  • Ormskirk to Liverpool Central – 34 minutes
  • Kirkby to Liverpool Central – 18 minutes.

These timings are not the easiest to put together to make a four tph schedule.

As an example, if you want a current Class 508 train to go from Hunts Cross to Southport and back again, it will take 128 minutes plus whatever it takes to turn the train at each end. Allowing eleven minutes at each end gives a time of two and a half hours, which means ten trains are needed for a full four tph.

Ormskirk to Liverpool central will also need trains. If they could do Liverpool Central to Ormskirk and back in under an hour, that would need four tph..

The new Stadler trains have been designed to do the journey nine minutes quicker, which means that if the turnrounds are a bit quicker, it could be possible to do the round trip in two hours, which would mean only eight trains would be needed for a full four tph.

Ormskirk to Liverpool central will also need trains. If they could do Liverpool Central to Ormskirk and back in under an hour, that would need four tph..

If you look at the full loop with the current trains, this takes 258 minutes plus perhaps 30 minutes for the two reverses at Southport and the one at Liverpool Central. So we get a time of probably three hours and a requirement of 12 trains to run 4 tph to both Ormskirk and Southport and provide a four tph service between the two current termini.

As the current services need ten trains for Hunts Cross-Southport and four for Liverpool Central-Ormskirk, the loop saves two trains.

With the new Stadler trains, I suspect they could do the loop diagram in under two hours, which would mean just eight trains for a full four tph.

Thus, extra services can be provided between Ormskirk and Southport with a requirement of four less trains than running the lines individually.

Services to Southport and Ormskirk from Liverpool would be as follows.

  • Southport to Hunts Cross via Formby – 4 tph
  • Southport to Liverpool Central via Ormskirk – 4 tph

But the big difference is most stations on the Northern Line are served by four tph from Hunts Cross and Southport and all the other stations need a single change and a wait of a few minutes.

To operate the loop service, it would need Ormskirk to Southport to be fully electrified.

Southport To Manchester

You then have the situation if a Class 319 Flex train were to work Southport to Manchester, that it would work as follows.

  • Southport to Burscough Bridge – using third-rail electrification when installed.
  • Burscough Bridge to Bolton – using diesel power.
  • Bolton to Manchester – using overhead electrification.

Southport would become an all electric station.

To get a full electric service to Manchester, it would only be necessary to electrify between Manchester and Burscough Bridge, where the chsngeover would take place.

I have followed this line in my helicopter and there are only three small bridges and a level crossing between Burscough Bridge and Wigan Wallgate stations.

So I suspect electrifying from Wigan to Burscough Bridge could be an easier electrification than most.

Conclusions

I have come to the following main conclusion.

Combining Southport and Ormskirk services in a loop via a reinstated South Burscough Curve, means the following.

  • Southport gets eight trains per hour (tph) to and from Liverpool.
  • Ormskirk gets four tph to and from Liverpool.
  • All stations on the Northern Line get four direct or single-change tph from Hunts Cross, Southport and Liverpool Central.
  • Ormskirk to Southport and all intermediate stations get 4 tph in both directions.
  • The service can be run by less trains than needed for independent operation to Southport and Otmskirk.

Southport to Ormskirk needs third-rail electrification.

There were a some subsidiary conclusions.

  • Ormskirk station can be based on a single platform with a passing loop, which could allow Liverpool-Preston services.
  • Ormskirk station could still run the current Ormskirk to Preston service.
  • The third-rail electrification between Southport and Burscough Bridge stations could be used by Class 319 Flex trains working services between Southport and Manchester.
  • Southport could become an all electric station.

I suspect that others could do much better.

 

 

March 26, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Could Kirkdale Station Become A Busy Interchange On Merseyrail?

Kirkdale station on Merseyrail’s Northern Line, is the station, where the Kirkby and Ormskirk branches of the line meet.

This map shows the Northern end of the Northern Line.

Passengers going between say Maghull and Fazakerley would use Kirkdale as an interchange, but it does mean crossing a high footbridge, albeit one with lifts.

These pictures show Kirkdale station.

One of the features of the station is the three tunnels, which are described like this in Wikipedia.

The three short tunnels were to give greater throughput and are all on the same line. The extreme west left hand tunnel is used for shunting. The next tunnel is the main Merseyrail Northern Line tunnel. The third tunnel is disused, but was until the late 1960s the fast line for expresses to Yorkshire and Manchester.

There are also two more tunnels to the East.

Could they be used for more than their current and original purposes to improve the connectivity of the station?

More Southport Services

Merseyrail have ambitions to connect Ormskirk and Southport stations, through a reinstated South Burscough Curve and a remodelled Ormskirk station.

I wrote about it in detail in Extra Services To Southport On Merseyrail’s Northern Line.

I came  to the following main conclusion.

Combining Southport and Ormskirk services in a loop via a reinstated South Burscough Curve, means the following.

  • Southport gets eight trains per hour (tph) to and from Liverpool.
  • Ormskirk gets four tph to and from Liverpool.
  • All stations on the Northern Line get four direct or single-change tph from Hunts Cross, Southport and Liverpool Central.
  • Ormskirk to Southport and all intermediate stations get 4 tph in both directions.
  • The service can be run by less trains than needed for independent operation to Southport and Otmskirk.

Southport to Ormskirk would need third-rail electrification.

There were a some subsidiary conclusions.

  • Ormskirk station can be based on a single platform with a passing loop, which could allow Liverpool-Preston services.
  • Ormskirk station could still run the current Ormskirk to Preston service.
  • The third-rail electrification between Southport and Burscough Bridge stations could be used by Class 319 Flex trains working services between Southport and Manchester.
  • Southport could become an all-electric station.

I suspect that others could do much better.

Onward To Manchester

Connecting Southport and Ormskirk gives all stations between Kirkdale and Ormskirk easy access to and from Manchester, with a change at Burscough Bridge station.

But what about going via Kirkby?

Headbolt Lane station is Merseyrail’s solution to connecting the single-track Kirkby Branch of the Northern Line to the double-track Kirkby Branch Line from Wigan  Wallgate station in an efficient manner.

I wrote about this station in An Overview  Of Headbolt Lane Station.

I have come to the conclusion, that four tph from Kirkdale to Manchester is possible with a cross-platform change at Headbolt Lane station.

Onward To Preston

The Ormskirk Branch Line from Ormskirk to Preston used to be a much more important line. Wikipedia says this.

Prior to the introduction of the 1970–71 London Midland Region timetable, it was a secondary main line from Liverpool to Scotland, Blackpool, and Yorkshire.

Now there is just the occasional hourly train along the line. Often it is just a single Class 153 train, although last time it was two.

It was also surprisingly clean and full.

But the line deserves better.

  • The frequency of trains should be at least 2 tph to Preston
  • They should also connect better with trains to Liverpool and Southport.
  • Could the trains go beyond Preston?

Perhaps the solution is to link trains between somewhere like Kirkdale and Colne or Blackpool.

I suspect that Merseyrail have their own ideas.

Kirkdale And The Canada Dock Branch

The Canada Dock Branch passes under Kirkdale station and if that line is opened up to passenger trains, then surely there should be a connection.

Kirkdale As A Terminus

If services are going to increase to Manchester, Preston and Southport, could Kirkdale have a bay plarform to turnback trains?

Looking at the shunting line behind platform 2, this could certainly be turned into a bay platform.

Conclusion

Kirkdale station could get even busier.

March 26, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , | 1 Comment

Everton’s New Stadium

This article on the BBC is entitled Everton agree deal for new stadium site.

This is said.

The Premier League club and landowners Peel Holdings have reached agreement on the Bramley-Moore Dock site near the River Mersey.

This Google Map shows Bramley-Moore Dock and its relationship to Sandhills station.

Bramley Moore Dock is the dock at the end of the A5054.

There is also a second article on the BBC entitled Everton’s new stadium ‘could host Commonwealth Games’.

I suspect that depending if and which Commonwealth Games, Liverpool gets, then there will be a different plan of construction.

If it is 2022, as a stand-in for Durban, it would be sensible to go for solution similar to Manchester 2002, which did seem to work pretty well.

The BBC finishes the second article with this paragraph.

But, Liverpool has seen a few false dawns when it comes to massive regeneration projects – and stadiums – and there is the small issue of decent transport links to sort out before hoards of sports fans can be welcomed.

This second Google Map shows the location of the stadium, the A5054 and the Merseyrail’s Northern Line.

I estimate that from the water in the dock to where the Northern Line crosses the A5054 is about five hundred metres. So if a station were to be built at the  crossing point, walking distances would be of the same order as Arsenal, Aston Villa, Charlton, Rotherham and Tottenham.

Plans for a new station at Vauxhall, which is an area just to the South of the Bramley-Moore Dock, have been proposed. This is said in Wikipedia.

Vauxhall railway station is a proposed railway station in the Vauxhall area of Liverpool. If it is constructed it will be sited between Moorfields and Sandhills on the Merseyrail Northern Line. Construction of the new station was proposed in January 2017 by Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson, as part of the city’s North Docks project and also Everton Football Club’s potential plans to build their new stadium in the area.

The current Off Peak frequency at Sandhills station, which would be the next station to the North, is as follows.

  • 4 trains per hour (tph) to Southport
  • 4 tph to Ormskirk
  • 4 tph to Kirkby
  • 4 tph to Hunts Cross via Moorfields & Liverpool Central
  • 12 tph to Liverpool Central (combined – 8 terminate there whilst 4 continue to Hunts Cross)

There will be few sports grounds with as good a train service as that, if a new station is built.

This Google Map shows Liverpool Waterfront between Bramley-Moore and Albert Docks.

Any European city, wouldn’t mess about and would run a tram along a historic waterfront like this.

It’s not as if there isn’t enough space as this picture looking North from behind the Liver Building shows.

A tram line could probably go down the middle of the dual carriageway. Especially, if like Birmingham’s new City Centre extension to the Midland Metro, it could be built without wires.

We shall see what happens!

 

 

March 26, 2017 Posted by | Sport, Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

Southport Station

Southport station is surprisingly large with six platforms, as these pictures show.

It would certainly have sufficient capacity, if Merseyrail decided to extend their Ormskirk services to Southport.

March 25, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Interchange At Burscough

Burscough in Lancashire is a large village, where the Manchester to Southport Line and the Ormskirk Branch Line cross.

This Google Map shows the two stations; Burscough Bridge on the line to Manchester and Burscough Junction on the line through Ormskirk.

The maps show shadows of railway embankments, which are the remains of the Burscough Curves, that once connected Ormkirk station in the South and Preston station in the North to Southport in the West.

In Extra Services To Southport On Merseyrail’s Northern Line, my calculations brought me to the following conclusions.

Combining Merseyrail’s Northern Line services to Southport and Ormskirk in a loop via a reinstated South Burscough Curve, means the following.

  • Southport gets eight trains per hour (tph) to and from Liverpool – 4 tph via Formby and 4 tph via Ormskirk.
  • Ormskirk gets four tph to and from Liverpool.
  • All stations on the Northern Line get four direct or single-change tph from Hunts Cross, Southport and Liverpool Central stations.
  • Ormskirk to Southport and all intermediate stations get 4 tph in both directions.
  • The service can be run by less trains than needed for independent operation from Liverpool to Southport and Otmskirk.

Southport to Ormskirk needs third-rail electrification.

There were a some subsidiary conclusions.

  • Ormskirk station can be based on a single platform with a passing loop, which could allow Liverpool-Preston services.
  • Ormskirk station could still run the current Ormskirk to Preston service.
  • The third-rail electrification between Southport and Burscough Bridge stations could be used by Class 319 Flex train,.working services between Southport and Manchester.
  • Southport could become an all electric station.

I suspect that others could do much better.

So it does show that British Rail dropped everyone deep in the doo-dah, by closing the South Burscough Curve to passenger trains in 1962.

Walking Between Burscough Bridge And Burscough Junction Stations

This set of pictures shows how I walked between to Burscough Junction station from Burscough Bridge station after arriving from Southport.

I did the walk in time, but with one tph between Ormskirk and Preston, I wonder how many people try it and then wait for nearly an hour to catch a train.

Pictures Of The Burscough Curves

From the train, I took these pictures of the Burscough Curves.

At least the bridges appear to be there.

Electrification Of The Burscough Curves

There are three bridges in the tangle of lines around Burscough, that could have electrified lines go underneath.

  1. The bridge at Burscough Bridge station.
  2. The bridge at Burscough Junction station.
  3. The bridge where the two rail lines cross.

Looking at the pictures of bridges 1 and 2, I think that they would have to be rebuilt for 25 KVAC overhead electrification, but only at great inconvenience to the local community.

I also suspect that bridge 3 is rather old but in good condition. Is it low as well?

Third-rail electrification around the South Burscough Curve to allow Southport to Ormskirk services, would be fine, if Health and Safety would allow it as an extension to Merseyrail’s Northern Line.

The Class 319 Flex Train

I must give a brief list of the characteristics of the Class 319 Flex train.

  • Four cars
  • Full dual-voltage electrical system, enabling running on 750 VDC third-rail or 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • On-board rail-proven diesel engines for lines without electrification.
  • The Class 319 Flex is a 100 mph train using electrification.
  • The Class 319 Flex is a 90 mph train using diesel.
  • It is probably reasonable that at each stop, they save at least a minute compared to a Pacer or a Class 150 train.
  • They can deputise for electric Class 319 trains on electrified lines.

They are compatible with the West Coast Main Line and Merseyrail’s third-rail network.

Electrification Of Southport To Manchester

If Burscough Bridge to Southport were to be electrified using third-rail for Merseyrail, then it would probably be sensible to use it for the trains on the Manchester to Southport service, on the section of line they would share.

Currently trains take the following times.

  • Southport to Burscough Bridge – 12 minutes.
  • Burscough Bridge to Wigan Wallgate – 16 minutes.
  • Wigan Wallgate to Bolton – 17 minutes
  • Wigan Wallgate to Salford Crescent via Atherton – 34 minutes

By the end of this year, Bolton should be electrified to Manchester Piccadilly, Victoria and Airport stations.

Dual voltage Class 319 trains could probably work from Manchester to Southport with a voltage changeover at Burscough Bridge, if overhead electrification went that far.

But that is unlikely to happen in the near future.

Southport To Manchester By Class 319 Flex

But as Northern will have Class 319 Flex trains with a dual-voltage capability and on-board diesel engines to bridge any electrification gaps, we could be seeing Southport to Manchester services running as follows.

  • Southport to Burscough Bridge – 750 VDC third rail.
  • Burscough Bridge to Bolton or Salford Crescent – diesel.
  • Bolton or Salford Crescent to Manchester – 25 KVAC overhead.

Hopefully, extra electrification in the  future, will shorten the diesel leg.

Southport To Wigan Wallgate By Class 319 Flex

Before looking at times for the full journeys from Southport, I will look at the possible times that can be achieved by a Class 319 Flex train between Southport and Wigan Wallgate.

For this estimate, I will use or assume the following.

  • Current timings betweens Southport to Wigan Wallgate are probably timed for a 75 mph Pacer.
  • Fast services, which go to Manchester Airport,  take 28 minutes and stop five times
  • Slow services, which go to Manchester Victoria, take 36 minutes and stop eight times
  • There is no electrification .
  • The service will be run on diesel power.
  • There are no other services between Southport and Wigan Wallgate.

I have taken a detailed look at the line on a map and it is a fairly straight double track railway with a couple of level crossings.

It is reasonable to assume that the Class 319 Flex train with its faster stops could save five and eight minutes for fast and slow services respectively.

This compares with five and six minutes if you adjust times by the speed of the trains.

So it would be reasonable to assume that a fast service between Southport and Wigan Wallgate will take perhaps between 22-23 minutes, with a slow service taking 28-29 minutes.

If Southport to Burscough Bridge were to be electrified for Merseyrail Northern Line services, I think it is reasonable to assume that these figures could be reduced by a couple of minutes.

Add in a few selective improvements and the removal of the level crossings and I would expect that Class 319 Flex trains could achieve the following times between Southport and Wigan Wallgate.

  • A fast service with five stops in twenty minutes, which is a reduction of eight minutes.
  • A slow service with eight stops in twenty-five minutes, which is a reduction of eleven minutes.

Would Northern be tempted to run four tph on the route?

Kirkby To Wigan Wallgate By Class 319 Flex

Can the same logic, that I have applied to the Southport to Wigan Wallgate route be applied to Kirkby to Wigan Wallgate?

For this estimate, I will use or assume the following.

  • Current timings betweens Kirkby to Wigan Wallgate are probably timed for a 75 mph Pacer.
  • Services take 24 minutes and stop four times
  • There is only one tph, which after Wigan Wallgate goes on to Manchester Victoria.
  • There is no electrification .
  • The service will be run on diesel power.
  • There are no other services between Kirkby and Wigan Wallgate.

I have taken a detailed look at the line on a map and it is a fairly straight railway with a mixture of single and double track, a longish tunnel and some stone overbridges. It could be difficult to electrify.

It is reasonable to assume that the Class 319 Flex train with its faster stops could save four minutes on the jorney.

This is the same, if you adjust times by the speed of the trains.

A time of twenty minutes between Kirkby and Wigan Wallgate, should be easy to attain.

Southport To Manchester Airport By Class 319 Flex

For this estimate, I will use or assume the following.

  • On current timings Southport to Manchester Airport takes 88 minutes, which is probably timed for a 75 mph Pacer.
  • Manchester to Preston electrification via Bolton is completed.
  • The service goes via Bolton
  • Southport to Bolton will be run on diesel.
  • Bolton to Manchester Airport will use the wires.
  • Southport to Wigan Wallgate can be done in twenty minutes.

From Wigan Wallgate  to Bolton, consider the following factors.

  • There will only be a maximum of two scheduled passenger trains between Southport and Bolton on any part of the route, if you include Kirkby services.
  • There is just two stops.
  • The current time is 17 minutes.

Dropping the time in proportion to the train speed gives about 14 minutes

But the biggest savings will come out of the 43 minutes from Bolton to Manchester Airport, which will be electrified.

Unfortunately, I can’t find any reliable estimate of the electrified timing between Bolton and Manchester Airport.

An estimate based on train speed, says that a Class 319 running using electricity could do the journey in 36 minutes.

Adding up the various legs gives 20+14+36=70

So we could be looking at a saving of a eighteen minutes or so from Southport to Manchester Airport.

Currently, the service takes 88 minutes, which means an out-and-back service is probably twenty minutes or more over three hours.

But knock a eighteen minutes off each leg and the out-and-back time could be well under three hours.

An hourly service between Southport and Manchester Airport could probably be achieved with just three trains in a time dropping around seventy minutes.

Northern would love that!

Southport To Manchester Victoria By Class 319 Flex

For this estimate, I will use or assume the following.

  • On current timings Southport to Manchester Victoria takes 79 minutes, which is probably timed for a 75 mph Pacer.
  • The service goes via Atherton
  • Wigan Wallgate to Manchester Victoria takes 41 minutes with 8 stops.
  • Southport to Salford Crescent will be run on diesel.
  • Salford Crescent to Manchester Victoria will use the wires.
  • Southport to Wigan Wallgate can be done in twenty minutes, which means that 61 minutes is possible for Southport to Manchester Victoria

There isn’t the scope for saving time because of electrification, as the wired area is short,

But consider.

  • The Class 319 train was designed as a 100 mph commuter special, so it must be able to save at least a minute at most of the stops, by good driving making use of the train’s excellent brakes and acceleration.
  • Southport to Salford Crescent via Atherton only carries two tph, if you include the Kirkby services.

Two estimates can be generated.

  • Saving a minute a stop gives a time of 53 minutes.
  • Applying a rough calculation based on the increased performance of the Class 319 Flex train gives a time of 54 minutes.

If I were the boss of Northern, I’d be dreaming of a journey time of sixty minutes between Southport and Manchester Victoria.

It’s not impossible, providing that the Class 319 Flex trains can cut the time on the Southport end of the line.

Why Not Electrify Both Routes To Wigan Wallgate From Manchester?

There are two routes between Manchester and Wigan Wallgate station.

  • The soon to be partially-electrified route via Bolton.
  • The Atherton Line from Salford Crescent.

If these routes were to be electrified, it would mean that all Southport and Kirkby services to and from Manchester would be electrified South of Wigan Wallgate.

This would mean various service improvements.

  • All Southport and Kirkby services would be run by four-car Class 319 Flex trains.
  • Southport to Manchester Airport would be under seventy minutes.
  • Southport to Manchester Piccadilly would be under sixty minutes.
  • Southport to Manchester Victoria could be around fifty minutes.
  • Kirkby to Manchester Victoria could also be around fifty minutes.
  • Extra services could probably be run to intermediate stations, to give a highly-desirable four tph.

I don’t known how much freight and other traffic there is on these routes, but as they are both electrified at their Manchester ends, I don’t think that electrification would be that difficult.

Electrification from Manchester to Wigan Wallgate and using Class 319 Flex trains might be a simpler and more affordable strategy than electrifying all the way to Southport and Kirkby.

As both routes connect Salford Crescent and Wigan Wallgate stations, there’s even scope to divert services during any blockades, needed for the electrification.

How Will Ormskirk To Preston Services Be Affected?

The first part of this section starts with a repeat of what I said in Could Kirkdale Station Become A Busy Interchange On Merseyrail?

The current service between Ormskirk and Preston, is an occasional hourly train along the line. Often it is just a single Class 153 train, although last time it was two.

It was also surprisingly clean and full.

But the line deserves better.

  • The frequency of trains should be at least 2 tph to Preston
  • They should also connect better with trains to Liverpool and Southport.
  • Could the trains go beyond Preston?

Perhaps the solution is to link trains between somewhere like Kirkdale and Colne or Blackpool.

I suspect that Merseyrail have their own ideas.

The current service takes 30 minutes between Ormskirk and reston and its likely with some track improvements, that a Class 319 Flex train could reduce this time to perhaps 20-22 minutes.

This time saving would be an advantage, as it would allow a train to shuttle between the two stations maintaining an hourly clockface schedule, which could be timed to arrive at a convenient point in the schedule of trains going between Liverpool and Southport.

There are probably three main patterns for the Preston train.

  1. They shuttle Preston-Ormskirk-Southport-Ormskirk-Preston using reverses at Ormskirk(2) and Southport.
  2. They shuttle Preston-Ormskirk-Southport-Preston using reverses at Ormskirk and Southport and a reinstated North Burscough Curve.
  3. They shuttle between Preston and Ormskirk as now.

Option 1 would just take longer than an hour to return to Preston and the driver would have to do a lot of walking.

Option 2 would probably have the problems of Option 1 and the expense of reinstating the North Burscough Curve.

Option 3 would probably work with perhaps a passing loop added to the current platform layout, as I proposed in Extra Services To Southport On Merseyrail’s Northern Line.

In the following consider that the long platform at Ormskirk is divided into two.

  • The Liverpool platform is the part of the platform that handles trains to and from Liverpool
  • The Preston platform is the part of the platform that handles trains to and from Preston

This could be the sequence of arrivals and departures.

  • xx:00 – Train arrives from Preston into the Preston Platform and drops passengers for Liverpool and Southport.
  • xx:04 – Train arrives from Southport and waits at the entry to the passing loop behind the train from Preston.
  • xx:05 – Train arrives from Liverpool into the Liverpool Platform and departs for Southport after dropping and picking up passengers.
  • xx:08 – Train from Southport uses the passing loop to move to the Liverpool Platform and departs for Liverpool after dropping and picking up passengers.
  • xx:10 – Train departs for Preston from Preston Platform, after picking up passengers from Liverpool and Southport.

In this set of movements, the only driver who has to change ends, would be the driver of the Preston shuttle train and they would have ten minutes or so in which to do the walk.

Get the sequence right and passengers would only wait for a few minutes, whilst changing trains.

The only complication would be that the train from Liverpool would have to pass the train from Southport waiting to enter the station.

It would need some form of double passing loop, which is probably standard practice.

There are obviously other solutions, that use the current single platform at Ormskirk, without the need to add any new infrastructure at the station except for some appropriate track and signalling changes.

Conclusions

To my untrained eye, it looks like reinstating the two Burscough Curves wouldn’t be the most difficult of projects.

But electrifying through the area, could be tricky for the following reasons.

  • Some of the bridges might need to be rebuilt for overhead electrification.
  • Merseyrail would want third-rail electrification to allow Ormskirk and Southport services to be run as a loop for maximum efficiency.
  • Health and Safety.

And critics wonder why Network Rail are so costly and slow with electrification.

But there is one place for more electrification.

Services to Southport and Kirkby would be improved, if the routes to Wigan Wallgate from Bolton and Salford Crescent were both both fully electrified.

This would bring Manchester Piccadilly and Victoria within an hour of both Southport and Kirkby.

To sum up the following should be done.

  • Reinstate the South Burscough Curve.
  • Electrify Ormskirk to Southport using third-rail electrification.
  • Electrify Bolton to Wigan Wallgate using overhead electrification.
  • Electrify Salford Crescent to Wigan Wallgate using overhead electrification.
  • Northern would also need to acquire some more Class 319 Flex trains.

In the interim, it looks like that just running the services between Manchester and Southport using the Class 319 Flex trains will give Northern and its customers a lot of benefits.

In the future, Northern might like to replace the stop-gap Class 319 Flex trains with bi-mode versions of their new Class 331 trains.

 

March 25, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Southport

Southport surprised me, as it was very much more upmarket and a lot larger than I had thought.

I took these pictures as I walked to the hotel in the evening and back to the station in the morning.

The Southport Central Premier Inn was about a mile from the station, which was an easy twenty minute walk.

To get a better handle on where I walked, this Google Map shows the distance.

I suspect there is a taxi, if you want one.

Several things impressed me on my brief visit.

  • The station, which was effectively just another large shop in the main Shopping Centre.
  • The size of the war memorial.
  • The Marine Way Bridge.
  • The walkway to the pier, which in the morning was busy with people keeping fit.
  • Most of  the chains, that do acceptable gluten-free food seemed to be represented.

I shall return.

March 25, 2017 Posted by | Travel | | Leave a comment

Another Sensible Large Map

This map was at Southport station and shows the two lines that meet there.

Like several Merseyrail stations, Southport has a combined ticket office and shop.

Several other train operators could do worse than copy some of Merseyrail’s ideas.

I sdhould say that Southport station is particularly well appointed, as it has an entrance into the nearby large Marks and Spencer.

 

 

March 24, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment