The Anonymous Widower

The East London Line In 2030

The East London Line was opened in May 2010 using pieces of redundant infrastructure in the East of London.

Modern additions were added.

A new fleet of Class 378 trains were purchased and services began between two Northern and four Southern destinations, at a frequency of four trains per hour (tph).

Looking back just over eight years later, the line has been an overwhelming success.

East London Line Capacity

The proof of this success surely is shown in the increasing capacity of the line since 2010.

The Class 378 trains have got longer.

  • In 2010, they started at just three cars.
  • They were soon extended to four cars.
  • In 2016, all trains became five cars.

The trains could go to six cars, but there are platform length issues, that make five cars the current limit.

On the other hand, selective door opening could be used, which works so well with walk-through trains.

Now, Transport for London are going to increase frequencies on the line.

  • In 2018, an additional two tph will run between Dalston Junction and Crystal Palace stations.
  • In 2019, an additional two tph will run between Dalston Junction and Clapham Junction stations.

This would give twenty tph between Dalston Junction and Surrey Quays stations.

Given that Crossrail and Thameslink will handle twenty-four tph in their central tunnels, I suspect that to have the same frequency on the East London Line would not be impossible.

Developments That Will Happen

These developments will happen, that will affect the East London Line.

Crossrail

The Whitechapel station interchange with Crossrail will become the Jewel in the East, as it will give access to Canary Wharf, the West End, Stratford, Liverpool Street, Paddington and Heathrow to all those (like me!), who live along the East London Line.

As both lines will have train frequencies of at least twenty tph, you should never wait more than a few minutes for your train.

I can see, the number of passengers changing between Crossrail and the East London Line being very high.

  • For many travellers it will be their quickest way to Crossrail.
  • The Class 378 trains are more passenger-friendly than Thameslink’s Class 700 trains, which are best avoided, by those with sensitive posteriors.
  • Whitechapel station gives access to both the Eastern branches of Crossrail.
  • All East London Line services call at Whitechapel.

My scheduling experience says that the frequency of trains on Crossrail and the East London Line should be the same, to smooth travellers passage through the station.

So expect Crossrail to eventually push the East London Line to twenty-four tph.

Increased Frequencies On The Underground

The Sub-Surface Lines of the London Underground are being re-signalled, which will mean more capacity, where the District and Metropolitan Lines interchange with the East London Line at Whitechapel station.

There could also be improvements on the Jubilee Line, where it meets the East London Line at Canada Water station.

I doubt we’ll see more improvement to the Victoria Line, as you can only extract blood from a stone for a limited period.

It is also probably true, that Dear Old Vicky needs some relief.

New South Eastern Franchise

The new South Eastern Franchise will be awarded in August 2018, with the new incumbent taking over in December 2018.

The current Southeastern services have little interaction with East London Line services, except at New Cross station, where the following services call.

  • Southeastern – Northbound – Eight tph to Cannon Street via London Bridge.
  • Southeastern – Southbound – Eight tph to Lewisham via St. John’s.
  • Overground – Four tph to and from Dalston Junction.

New Cross is a good interchange for travelling to and from South East London and I suspect the new franchise will only make it more useful.

New Trains On The Northern City Line

The Northern City Line has been ignored for decades and in my view it is a disgrace with elderly Class 313 trains, dirty, dark and dingy stations and unmotivated staff, who seem abandoned by their employers.

If ever there is a line that should join the Overground, it is this one!

At least, the line is getting new Class 717 trains, which will bring the following.

  • Modern trains with wi-fi and hopefully comfortable seats.
  • Increased capacity.
  • Up to twelve tph between Moorgate and Alexandra Palace stations via Highbury & Islington and Finsbury Park stations.
  • More passengers to the East London Line at Highbury & Islington station.
  • A direct cross-platform and step-free link for the Victoria Line to Crossrail.

Planners do not seem to have realised the effects these new trains will cause in North London and at Highbury & Islington station in particular.

North London Line Improvements

In the next few years, there will be improvements on the North London Line.

All these improvements will bring more passengers to the East London Line and put more pressure on Highbury & Islington station.

Property Development Along The East London Line

Only two stations on the East London Line; Dalston Junction and Shoreditch High Street, were designed to have development on top.

Dalston Junction station has now been virtually fully developed and only now are tower blocks starting to grow around and on top of Shoreditch High Street station.

The City of London will also expand to the East, which will mean more offices and housing clustered around stations like Whitechapel, Shadwell and Canada Water.

Property developent will greatly increase the ridership of the East London Line.

Rebuilding Of Highbury & Islington Station

Many travellers in East London, use the Overground to get to Highbury & Islington station for access to the Underground.

The below ground section of this station needs substantial improvement with a second entrance, more escalators and lifts.

Plans get talked about, but nothing happens.

I believe that the new Class 717 trains on the Northern City Line could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, as they will bring more travellers to the station.

But on the other hand the existing cross-platform interchange with the Victoria Line, might mean that less travellers need to go to and from the surface.

I have this feeling, that a rebuilt Highbury & Islington station will happen before 2030 and would attract more travellers to the East London Line.

Developments That Could Happen

These developments could happen, that will affect the East London Line.

Bakerloo Line Extension To Lewisham

I believe extending the Bakerloo Line to Lewisham station is more likely to happen than Crossrail 2 and if it was built it would connect to the East London Line at New Cross Gate station.

This map shows the extension.

I believe that the East London Line and the extended Bakerloo Line will complement each other.

  • The Bakerloo Line will probably have at least twenty tph between Queen’s Park and Lewisham stations via Waterloo, Oxford Circus and Baker Street stations.
  • The East London Line will have at least six tph between Highbury & Islington and Crystal Palace stations and four tph between Highbury & Islington and West Croydon stations.
  • New Cross Gate is currently a step-free station, so I suspect it will be a very smooth interchange.

Connections between South East and the whole of North London will be substantially improved.

Brockley Interchange

It has been suggested that Brockley station be connected to the line between Nunhead and Lewisham stations, which crosses over the station.

Wikipedia says this about the connection.

At the London end the line is crossed by the Nunhead to Lewisham line. At this location adjacent to Brockley station was sited Brockley Lane station which closed in 1917 with the original London, Chatham and Dover Railway branch to Greenwich Park. The connection of that line to Lewisham is a later development. The possibility of opening platforms on this line with direct access to Victoria Station and the Bexleyheath Line to Dartford has often been suggested but is currently low on TfL’s priorities.

In some ways the Bakerloo Line extension to Lewisham does a similar job in connecting the East London Line to Lewisham, but at a much higher frequency.

Another problem with the Brockley Interchange is that there are only two tph between Victoria and Lewisham, that pass over Brockley station and does the capacity at Lewisham station exist to allow this to be increased to a viable frequency, that would make building Brockley Interchange an interchange worth building?

Crossrail 2

Will Crossrail 2 be built or even started before 2030?

I personally doubt it, unless Brexit is an unqualified success and the project is privately-funded.

There are also other projects that might lower the need for Crossrail 2 and allow it to be delayed to beyond 2030.

Extension Of East London Line Services Along The North London Line

I can remember reports, when the London Overground was created, that suggested that some East London Line services, might be extended to the West, possibly to Willesden Junction station.

I think there are two major problems.

  • Trains going West from Highbury & Islington station from the East London Line could stop in Platform 1 or 2 and go straight through on their way to Clendonian Road & Barnsbury station. But those going the other way would probably need to cross tracks on flat junctions!
  • Where is the suitable bay platform to turn the trains?

On the other hand, many passengers would find it useful, as it would avoid a change at Highbury & Islington station.

Penge Interchange

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines through Penge West and Penge East stations.

The two stations are a valid out-of-station interchange, but neither is step-free.

Penge East station could be difficult to make step-free, as the footbridge is listed.

I think that it is one of those structures that Network Rail wouldn’t miss, if it was decided to install it at the National Railway Museum.

Could this be one of the reasons, why it has been suggested that a new station be built, where the lines through the two Penge stations cross.

  • It could be fully step-free.
  • The station would be built on railway land.
  • It would have four tph between Victoria and Bromley South stations.
  • It would have four tph between Highbury & Islington and West Croydon stations.
  • It would have two tph between London Bridge and Caterham stations
  • It might also be possible to have platforms on the Crystal Palace branch, thus adding six tph between Highbury & Islington and Crystal Palace. stations.
  • The station could have Thameslink platforms.

Note that the Penge Interchange offers four tph to and from Victoria, whereas the Brockley Interchange only offers a measly two tph.

Penge Interchange might allow the two older Penge stations to be closed.

Shoreditch High Street Connection To The Central Line

The Central Line passes directly underneath Shoreditch High Street station, as this map from carto.metro.free.fr shows.

Note the reversing sidings at Liverpool Street station in the South-West corner of the map.

Wikipedia says this about the possibility of creating an interchange.

There have also been discussions of creating an interchange with the Central line between Liverpool Street and Bethnal Green which runs almost underneath the station. However, this would not be able to happen until after the Crossrail 1 project is complete, due to extreme crowding on the Central line during peak hours.

Consider.

  • Liverpool Street to Bethnal Green is one of the longest stretches on the Underground without a station.
  • There is a lot of  residential and housing developments, being proposed for around Shoreditch High Street station.
  • Large numbers of passengers use the East London Line to get to Highbury & Islington station for the Underground. Would a Shoreditch High Street connection take the pressure off?
  • It could give East London Line travellers, a single-change connection to Liverpool Street, Bank, St. Paul’s, Chancery Lane and Holborn stations.

For construction and operational reasons, the decision to create this connection will not be taken until Crossrail is fully open.

I suspect passenger statistics will play a large part in the decision.

Southeastern Connections

Southeastern has three main terminals in London.

  • Cannon Street – Jubilee and Northern Lines
  • Charing Cross – Circle and |District Lines
  • Victoria – Circle, District and Victoria Lines.

But they also serve other stations in South London with good connections.

  • Abbey Wood – Crossrail
  • Greenwich -DLR
  • Lewisham – DLR and possibly Bakerloo Line
  • London Bridge – Jubilee and Northern Lines and Thameslink
  • New Cross – East London Line
  • Woolwich Arsenal – DLR

The rebuilding of London Bridge station has probably improved connectivity, but are further improvements needed?

Two of the possible improvements to the East London Line; the Brockley and Penge Interchanges will connect current Southeastern services to and from Victoria to the East London Line.

Would the new South Eastern franchise like a connection to the East London Line?

  • ,Passengers to and from East London surely have have an easier route, than going to Victoria and then using the Underground!
  • Passenger numbers at Victoria might be marginally reduced
  • Both new interchanges would give a route to Crossrail at Whitechapel, which is not an easy connection to and from Victoria.
  • I have looked at timings and it appears that the Whitechapel route is perhaps five minutes slower to the West End or Paddington, but perhaps a dozen minutes faster to the Northern part of the City of London.

It is my view, that if Penge Interchange is built, then Brockley Interchange could be forgotten.

Thameslink Improvements

With all the money spent on Thameslink, it is likely that Network will want to maximise their investment by running as many trains as possible on the route.

Currently, the plan is for twenty-four trains an hour through the central tunnel, which then split as follows.

  • Eight tph via Elephant & Castle
  • Sixteen tph via London Bridge of which twelve tph continue to East Croydon.

It would also appear that there are another five tph between London Bridge and East Croydon, but only one tph runs on the fast lines.

So there would appear to be plenty of capacity between London Bridge and East Croydon stations, even if the central tunnel frequency on Thameslink were to be upgraded to thirty tph.

I think we might see a bit of sorting out of Thameslink to minimise some of the problems, that became evident after the May 2018 timetable change.

A problem I have, which I share with the millions in East London, is that it is difficult to get to Gatwick Airport, as there is no common station between the East London Line and Thameslink.

  • If the Penge Interchange is built, should Thameslink trains stop at the station?
  • When the Bakerloo Line is extended to New Cross Gate station, should Thameslink trains stop at the station?
  • Should all slow trains on the line be run by the London Overground?
  • Should all fast trains on the line be run by Thameslink?

Thameslink could be so much more useful.

West Croydon Or East Croydon

From a personal point of view, when I go to Croydon, I want to get to East Croydon station, as I’m usually taking a train to the South Coast or Gatwick Airport.

  • Inevitably, I end up taking a tram from West Croydon to East Croydon station.
  • Ging the other way is more difficult, as I inevitably get lost trying to find West Croydon station.
  • Although, there are now some trams at East Croydon only going to West Croydon.
  • Trains to the North of Penge West station, never seem to be very full.
  • East Croydon station is more important than West Croydon station.

So would it be better if the East London Line trains went to East Croydon?

The problem is that there is no space in East Croydon station.

Perhaps two new platforms could handle both East London and West London Line services.

West London Line services should also be run by the London Overground, as was proposed by Chris Gibb, as I wrote about in Gibb Report – East Croydon – Milton Keynes Route Should Be Transferred To London Overground.

I would do the following.

  • Sort out Victoria and Thameslink services at East Croydon station, so that all Northbound and Southbound services used a separate pair of platforms, with one platform face for Thameslink and the other for Victoria services.
  • If possible, move services like London Bridge to Uckfield to Thameslink.
  • Put a pair of terminal platforms under the Thameslink and Victoria services platforms, connected to these platforms by escalators and lifts.
  • Most of the tunneling would be under railway property North of East Croydon station.
  • These platforms could probably handle up to six trains per hour (tph) each.
  • It would be possible to run six tph between Highbury and Islington and East Croydon stations.
  • The West London Line could have a highly desirable four tph to the mega-station at Old Oak Common.
  • It might even be possible to use the platforms for service recovery on Thameslink.
  • It could release the pressure on the difficult Windmill Bridge Junction, which is a bit of a bottleneck.

It would be costly, but planned properly, I believe it could be created without any major disruption to the existing East Croydon station.

It would create a simple one-change link between Gatwick Airport, Brighton and other South Coast destinations to the following.

  • Through services to London Bridge, St. Pancras and Victoria.
  • East London Line services to East London and Whitechapel for Crossrail for the City, Central London and Shenfield.
  • West London Line services to West London and Old Oak Common for High Speed 2, West Coast Main Line and Crossrail for Heathrow and Reading.

Capacity at East Croydon would probably be increased.

Conclusion

The East London Line will get better and better.

 

 

June 23, 2018 Posted by | Travel, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

England’s First Victory In The 2018 World Cup

This article on the BBC is entitled The Lawnmower Firm Planning World Cup Pitch Invasion.

This is said.

A business is working on its largest ever order – supplying lawnmowers for the World Cup in Russia.

Allett Mowers is providing 185 machines to stadia.

We may not be the best at football, but we could be the best at mowing.

June 14, 2018 Posted by | Sport, Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Poole Level Crossing

This a video from Network Rail.

Poole High Street LX Hall of Shame

June 13, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 3 Comments

Walthamstow Central Tube Station To Receive £15m Improvement

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article in the Waltham Forest Guardian.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Walthamstow Central tube station has been allocated £15 million for improvements, but only if the controversial Walthamstow Mall redevelopment goes ahead.

New plans for the station include installing step-free access and a creating a new entrance.

That would surely get rid of the servere overcrowding that is experienced in Walthamstow Central station.

Overcrowding At Walthamstow Central Station

I often go to Walthamstow, at the tail end of the Evening Peak.

I have two routes.

  1. Take a bus to Highbury and Islington station and then use the Victoria Line.
  2. Take a bus to Hackney Downs station and then use the Chingford Line of the London Overground.

I always use the second route, as the two escalators at Walthamstow Central station can’t cope with the Victoria Line’s increased frequency of thirty-six trains per hour.

What makes matters worse is that all trains, except those going to and from the depot at Northumberland Park, run the whole length of the line between Brixton and Walthamstow Central stations.

Running this service on Dear Old Vicky, is one of the great engineering achievements on Metros around the world, but it means that passengers are finding some of the Victoria Line stations are inadequate. Walthamstow Central is one of them!

Another factor, that doesn’t help, is the excellent Walthamstow bus station. It is the third busiest in London and I’m sure it attracts more travellers to the rail and tube stations.

It is my belief, that the increase in train frequency and the building of the new bus station are the major cause of increasing overcrowding in the station.

It is worth noting that in 2016, the tube station handled nearly twenty-three million passengers with just two platforms and an up and a down escalator. By comparison, Cannon Street station, handled the same number of passengers with seven platforms and level access.

To be fair to Transport for London, they have sorted the gate lines at the station, but that still leaves the escalators severely overcrowded at times.

I actually can’t understand, why they haven’t replaced the middle staircase with a third escalator, as they have at Brixton, where there are also lifts.

Overcrowding Could Be Getting Worse!

Some transport improvements, that will happen in the next year or two,, will affect passenger numbers at Walthamstow Central station.

New Trains On The Chingford Line

The current Class 315 and Class 317 trains will be replaced by new Class 710 trains.

  • These will have the same number of carriages, but they will have a higher capacity, due to better design and being walk-through trains.
  • They will also have wi-fi and 4G available, if they follow the lead of the closely-related Class 345 trains.
  • Their operating speed has not been disclosed, but that of the Class 345 train is 90 mph, which is fifteen mph faster than a Class 315 train.
  • Their modern design will also allow them to save a minute or two at each of the seven stops.

The performance improvement may allow a more intense service.

The trains will certainly attract more passengers, as quality new trains always do!

  • Will the new trains generate more new passengers, than any forecaster dreamt was possible?
  • Will more passengers be attracted to stations North of Walthamstow Central and change to the Victoria Line?
  • Will some passengers change from using the Victoria Line to the Chingford Line?

Bear in mind, that new trains on the North London Line, started in 2010 with three-car trains running at six trains per hour (tph). They are now up to five-car trains running at eight tph. This is an capacity increase of over 120%.

On balance, I suspect that some of these factors will cancel each other out. But who knows?

New Trains On The Northern City Line

The geriatric Class 313 trains working the Northern City Line are being replaced by new Class 717 trains.

  • These new trains will offer higher frequencies and more capacity.
  • They will use 2+2 seating.
  • They will have wi-fi and power sockets.

Services on the Northern City Line have a cross-platform step-free interchange with the Victoria Line at Highbury & Islington station, so I believe the route will be increasingly used by passengers between the Walthamstow/Chingford area and the City of London.

Undoubtedly, it will increase passengers using the escalators at Walthamstow Central station.

New Trains On The Gospel Oak To Barking Line

The current two-car Class 172 trains on the Gospel Oak To Barking Line, are being replaced by four-car electric Class 710 trains.

  • The new trains will double capacity.
  • They will have better passenger facilities.
  • They will be more environmentally-friendly.

These trains could encourage travellers to use the quieter Walthamstow Queen’s Road station, instead of the very busy Walthamstow Central station.

Stratford To Meridian Water

This project will add a third track to the West Anglia Main Line and allow a four tph service between Stratford station and the new station at Meridian Water with stops at Lea Bridge, Tottenham Hale and Northumberland Park stations.

I have no view on how successful, this new line will be and how it will affect traffic on the Victoria line.

Crossrail

When you discuss transport provision in London, there is always a herd of elephants in the room!

Crossrail will change everybody’s journeys!

Crossrail will create a high-capacity fast route between Heathrow and Canary Wharf via Paddington, the West End and the City of London.

So how will those in Walthamstow and Chingford tie into this new high-capacity line?

In my view a direct link to Stratford is needed, which could be created by reinstating the Hall Farm Curve.

The World Ducking And Diving Championships

East Londoners would undoubtedly win the World Ducking-And-Diving Championships, if one were to be held.

Network Rail and Transport for London, are creating the ultimate training ground in North-East London.

Most people do a number of common journeys over time.

They get to know the best routes for these journeys dependent on various factors, like the time of day, weather and whether they are carrying heavy shopping.

For most people though, choosing the route for a particular day’s journey will not be process that can be written down, that might be more determined by random factors.

I for instance, will often choose my route, based on the first bus that comes along, even if it is not usually the quickest route.

To make journeys easier, through a network like North-East London, you need the following.

  • As many links as possible.
  • As few bottlenecks as possible.

These rules will allow the passengers to flow freely.

Passengers like water automatically find the quickest way from A to B.

Improvements In North-East London

There are various improvements in alphabetical order, that are proposed, planned or under construction for North-East London

Bicycle Routes Across The Lea Valley

The Lea Valley has a lot of green space and I have seen plans mentioned to create quiet cycling routes across the area.

It should also include lots of bikes for hire.

Hall Farm Curve

I mentioned this earlier and by building it to link Walthamstow and Stratford, it would enable direct access from Walthamstow and Chingford to the the following.

  • Olympic Park and Stadium.
  • The shops at Eastfield.
  • Crossrail
  • Docklands Light Railway
  • Jubilee and Central Lines
  • Highspeed serevices to Kent.
  • Continental services, if in the future, they stopped at Stratford.

It is a massive super-connector.

More Bus Routes

It may be that more bus routes or even stops are needed.

As an illustration of the latter, when the Walthamstow Wetlands opened, bus stops were provided.

New Stations

The new station at Meridian Water will add a new link to the transport network.

Two new stations on the Chingford Branch Line have also been proposed, which I wrote about them in New Stations On The Chingford Branch Line.

New stations are a good way to add more links in a transport network.

I shall be interested to see how many passengers the rebuilt Hackney Wick station attracts, when West Ham United are at home.

Northumberland Park Station

Northumberland Park station is being rebuilt with full step-free access, to provide better rail access to the new White Hart Lane Stadium.

Step-Free Access At Stations

Progress is being made, but there are still some truly dreadful access problems at some stations in East London.

Clapton, St. James Street, Seven Sisters, Stamford Hill and Wood Street certainly need improvement.

Tottenham Hale Station

Tottenham Hale Station is being rebuilt to give it full step-free access and a new entrance.

As this station handles well over ten million passengers a year, it is a good place to start.

Walthamstow Central Station

Walthamstow Central station is almost last in this alphabetical list.

It is probably, the second most important transport hub in North-East London and it does handle nearly thirty million passengers a year if the National Rail and Underground figures are combined.

But, is it treated last by the planners?

Walthamstow Wetlands

This massive urban nature reserve opened last year and its importance will only grow in the years to come.

Will transport links need to be added to the Wetlands?

West Anglia Main Line Four-Tracking

Stansted Airport will grow and to get proper rail access to the airport, the long promised four-tracking of the West Anglia Main Line will happen.

  • There will be two fast tracks for Cambridge, Stansted and possibly Norwich services.
  • There will be two slow tracks for local services up the Lea Valley to Broxbourne, Hertford East and Bishops Stortford.

Broxbourne station and the rebuilt Tottenham Hale station, will be the interchanges between fast and slow services.

Four-tracking will open up the possibility of lots more services up the Lea Valley.

There has been rumours, that Greater Anglia would like to open up a service between Stratford and Stansted. But that would be just for starters.

Liverpool Street station is full, but there is space at Stratford if the High Meads Loop under the shops and housing at Stratford is used, just like it was a few years ago.

The West Anglia Main Line could be turned into a high-capacity main line into London with two London terminal station; Liverpool Street and Stratford.

  • Both termini would be connected to Crossrail.
  • Liverpool Street connects to Central, Circle, Hammersmith and City and Metropolitan Lines.
  • The massive Liverpool Street-Moorgate Crossrail station will connect to the Northern and Northern City Lines.
  • Stratford connects to fast Kent services and Central and Jubilee Lines.

Will passengers for places like the West End get a fast train to Crossrail, rather than change for the Victoria Line at Tottenham Hale.

Conclusion

North-East London’s transport network is going to get better and better!

Note that I haven’t mentioned Crossrail 2! I doubt, this will be built before 2040!

 

 

 

 

 

May 29, 2018 Posted by | Travel, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

On My Way To Amsterdam On Eurostar!

Not very stressful!

May 15, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

TPE Pledges Capacity Boost With Class 68/Mk 5A Sets

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in Issue 851 of Rail Magazine.

It adds a few extra details to those, that I wrote about in Nova 3 On The Test Track.

This information is revealed.

The Route

The TransPennine Express fleet will run on the Liverpool Lime Street-Manchester Airport-Scarborough/Middlesbrough Routes, replacing three car Class 185 trains.

Train Length

Each Mark 5A car has a length of 22.2 or 22.37 metres.

Adding on the Class 68 locomotive gives a train length of 131.84 metres.

This compares with a train length for the Class 185 train of 71.276 metres.

It means that two Class 185 trains working together, which is current practice, are longer than the new fleet.

This must limit platform and depot modifications.

The Capacity

The number of seats on the two trains are as follows.

  • Class 185 train – 15 First Class – 165 Second Class
  • Class 68/Mk 5A sets – 30 First Class – 261 Second Class

This gives twice as many seats in First Class and nearly sixty percent more in second.

Both trains seem to have around sixty seats in each car.

Technical Characteristics

The Rail Magazine article gives several technical characteristics.

  • Each coach has two passenger doors, except the First Class coach which has one.
  • There is Selective Door Opening controlled by GPS.
  • Door controls are in the Driver Trailer and Class 68 cans, which the driver controls.
  • Two door control panels are in every vehicle for usde by the conductor.
  • Wheel Slip Protection is fitted.
  • Automatic passenger counting is provided.
  • Wi-fi is fitted.

The trains have a high specification.

 

 

 

 

May 8, 2018 Posted by | Travel, Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Oxford’s Nimbys Are Getting Angry!

I keep finding articles on the web, like this article on the Oxford Times, which is entitled First Person: The Campaign To Keep Oxfordshire As It Is Now.

The title says it all.

It is all about opposition to the Oxford to Cambridge Expressway, which everybody wants in someone else’s back-yard.

My feelings are as follows.

  • A fully-electrified freight route should be built between Southampton and the West Coast Main Line, preferably with 25 KVAC overhead wiring.
  • The East West Railway should provide at least two fast trains per hour between Heathrow and Cambridge, via Reading, Oxford, Milton Keynes and Bedford.
  • I would accelerate the construction of the East West Railway.

Only as a last project, would I build the Oxford to Cambridge Expressway.

April 27, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Barratt To Pay For Fire Safety Cladding Upgrade On Croydon Block

The title of this post is the same of that on this article on ITV.com.

This is the first couple of paragrphs.

Developers of a high-rise block that failed fire safety tests will pay for safety measures estimated to run into the millions of pounds, including replacing its Grenfell-style cladding, the Government has said.

Barratt Developments has said it will pay for backdated and future fire safety costs to make the Citiscape housing complex in Croydon, south London, safe, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said.

The ITV article has a video report.

I feel that they are in a difficult place, as their architects probably thought the cladding was safe to use. So I don’t think there has been too much malfeasance on the part of Barratt.

But to hold up their hand and say we’ll fix it, probably means everyone will be a winner.

  • Barratt get to fix the block for the cost of two or three of their more expensive houses.
  • If Barratt get an agreement on the deal, they should avoid complex and expensive legal wrangles.
  • Replacing the cladding now, will probably be a lot easier on a new building, that was probably built to a high standard in the last couple of years.
  • The Government should be pleased as there appears that the hand of Sajid Javid has applied some pressure.
  • Croydon Council should be pleased, as it is unlikely many owners will need to be moved to emeergency accommodation.
  • Hopefully, the owners will be pleased, as it appears they should get the value of their properties back.

The ITV article quotes a Barratt’s spokesman as saying.

Following the recent ruling that the costs for necessary recladding at Citiscape will fall on the individual apartment owners, many of whom were originally Barratt customers when it was built in 2002, we have decided that we will pay for the work. “Citiscape was built in line with all building regulations in place at the time of construction. While we don’t own the building or have any liability for the cladding, we are committed to putting our customers first. “The important thing now is ensuring that owners and residents have peace of mind.

I suppose Barratt could be accused of spinning a good line, but it is all good publicity for the houses they are building.

Whether other developers, who used the same cladding, as that involved in the tragedy of Grenfell, will follow Barratt’s example is another manner!

 

 

April 20, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Putting Right Norfolk’s £150m Rail Mistake

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in Issue 849 Of Rail Magazine.

The article discusses reopening the the former branch line between King’s Lynn station and Hunstanton, which in the author’s view, was a a mistake on British Rail’s part and nothing to do with Beeching.

This video shows the line just before closing.

Note that John Betjeman was the Michael Portillo of his day, but he had a more traditional dress sense and wrote better poetry.

  • It would be a fifteen mile railway to one of the UK’s top-quality coastal resorts.
  • The track-bed is more or less intact, although it is blocked in places.
  • The branch used to have intermediate stations at North Wootton, Wolferton, Dershingham, Snettisham and Heacham.
  • Wolferton station used to serve the Royal residence of Sandringham.
  • A parkway station at Hunstanton is suggested to replace the former Hunstanton station.

These reasons are given for reopening the line.

  • The number of people over sixty in North West Norfolk is a third over the National average.
  • King’s Lynn is the local centre, with a good shopping centre, hospital and rail and bus connections to all over Norfolk and to Cambridge and London.
  • Young people leave the area to get skilled jobs, when they leave school.
  • Day visitors from places like Cambridge would be encouraged to come by train.
  • The roads are overcrowded.

But possibly, the biggest reason could be to create a rail link to the vast silica sand deposits near Dershingham.

  • Rail would be an ideal way to transport the silica sand, as the roads are crowded now!
  • The quarry near Middleton Towers uses trains to Barnsley, Doncasster and Goole.
  • The development would probably mean more local jobs.

It is also stated, that Norfolk County Council are supportive of rail developments.

These are my thoughts on the proposals.

Kings Lynn Station

King’s Lynn has a quirky Grade II Listed station, as I described in King’s Lynn Station.

  • The station has three platforms and plenty of spare capacity
  • The station is within walking distance of the town centre and bus station.
  • It is likely in future that the train service to Ely, ambridge and London will be at least two trains per hour (tph)

The station could certainly handle passenger trains to and from Hunstanton.

The Fen Line

I believe that any serious increase in the number of trains on the Fen Line, will result in the redoubling of the line.

A double-track line Fen Line, coupled with the sorting of Ely North junction, would probably be able to handle up to twelve tph. which would be more than enough to handle extra passenger and freight trains to Hunstanton.

Tracks Between King’s Lynn and Hunstanton

The line would probably be in two parts.

  • King’s Lynn to Dershingham, where passenger and freight services would operate.
  • Dershingham to Hunstanton, where only passenger services would operate.

The line could even be built as a double -tack to Dershingham and then single track to Hunstanton.

Electrification would depend on the trains.

Passenger Trains Between King’s Lynn and Hunstanton

Passenger trains could serve the branch in one of two ways.

  • The branch could have a shuttle train, that was timetabled to work well with London trains.
  • London trains could go on to Hunstanton with a reverse at King’s Lynn.

The branch would be about the same length as the Felixstowe Branch Line, which has an hourly shuttle to Ipswich.

This simple service should be possible between King’s Lynn and Hunstanton, working on the principle of ome-train on branch.

But it would probably make it easy to timetable an extended service as well.

As it is proposed that services between King’s Lynn and Kings Cross are going to be doubled in frequency, there are a lot of decisions to take.

What Type Of Trains Would Run Between King’s Lynn and Hunstanton?

Technology is moving on apace and this will drive the choice.

In a few years time, trains could be 125 mph capable on the Kings Cross and King’s Lynn route, as I wrote about in Call For ETCS On King’s Lynn Route.

The 125 mph would not be needed, but technology like batteries or bi-mode would be available to trundle the train along the route to m Hunstanton.

Independently powered trains, would not require any electrification of the branch, which would reduce the cost of both building and operating the line.

I also think, that we’ll see a high degree of automation to both handle the reverse at king’s Lynn and running along the branch.

Hunstanton Station

The article suggests that Hunstanton station could be a parkway station to the East of the town.

  • The original station site is mainly a car park in the centre of the town.
  • There is space outside the town.

Putting the station to the East would make it easier to extend the railway.

Onward From Hunstanton

On a map in the article, a line to Wells and Fakenham is shown.

Could the author be thinking that the King’s Lynn to Hunstanton line eventually ends up as a coastal railway?

He’s certainly not ruling it out.

  • It could go all the way to Sheringham, where it would link up with the service to Norwich?
  • You can see a lot of the old track-bed on Google Map.

But such a line would restore a rail link between King’s Lynn and Norwich.

Conclusion

Reopening the line between King’s Lynn and Hunstanton, would appear to be not onoy feaiblre, but also something that could be very financially worthwhile.

April 13, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 4 Comments

Charting An Electric Freight Future

The title of this post, is the same as the title of an informative article in the April 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, which was written by Julian Worth, who has many years experience of the rail freight industry.

This is a very comprehensive article looking at the future of motive power for freight trains.

These are points from the article, with some added comments of my own.

2040 And A Diesel-Free Rail System

Government ministers have said that by 2040, the UK will have a diesel-free railway, which will reduce emissions and especially particulates.

This page on the Government web site is entitled Let’s Raise Our Ambitions For A Cleaner, Greener Railway, which gives the text of a speech by the Rail Minister; Jo Johnson.

This is part of what he said.

And that’s why I am today announcing a new ambition.

I would like to see us take all diesel-only trains off the track by 2040.

If that seems like an ambitious goal – it should be and I make no apology for that.

After all, we’re committed to ending sales of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.

If we can achieve that, then why can’t the railway aspire to a similar objective?

Rail may be less carbon intensive than road transport.

That’s why modal shift’s so important.

As an engineer. I feel it is a challenge that is acceptable.

The Diesel Locomotives Are Getting Old!

The ubiquitous Class 66 locomotives, don’t meet the latest emission standards, but in addition, by the late 2020s, they will be getting to thirty years old.

Other locomotives like Class 59 locomotives will be even older.

Replacement locomotives will be needed, as maintenance costs will be getting too high.

The Last-Mile Electric Locomotive

Electric locomotives with a last-mile capability away from electrification like the Class 88 locomotive could be favoured.

  • They could be used for terminal work and short-distance movements.
  • They would have a 25 KVAC capability.
  • They could possibly have a 750 VDC capability, to work on the third-rail network.
  • They would meet all the emission standards, when running on diesel.

Julian Worth suggests that the last-mile capability could be provided by a battery.

Although, this would be environmentally-friendly and better in urban areas, I think that any onboard power, should be able to take a train into and out of the Port of Felixstowe, London Gateway and the other major ports.

I met a manager of the Port of Felixstowe a few years ago and they don’t like 25 KVAC wires in a dock, as containers do occasionally get dropped.

Most lines into ports and inland terminals, don’t appear to be too challenging and I’m sure that an uprated Class 88 locomotive could be built, that would handle entry and exit to all the ports and terminals in the UK.

Do We Need A Freight Electrification Strategy?

Julian Worth suggests we need one for the next couple of decades.

He makes some good points.

  • Electric traction current is cheaper than diesel fuel.
  • Availability of modern electric locomotives should be better than a diesel.
  • Diesels may be restricted in urban areas. It could be a vote winner in Mayoral elections in the large Metropolitan areas.

He finishes this with this statement.

Crucially, switching to electric locos from around 2030 would not entail premature replacement of the current fleet and would represent necessary asset renewal in modern equivalent form.

Just imagine the outcry from the Green Movement, if these ageing diesels were to be replaced with modern diesel locomotives..

Undoubtedly, we need a well-thought out freight strategy.

GB Railfreight

This article in Rail Magazine is entitled GB Railfreight In ‘Locomotive Acquisition’ Talks.

So at least one freight company is looking for new motive power. GB Railfreight has a fleet of seventy-eight Class 66 locomotives with other locomotives in the ageing category. Some of their work like hauling the Caledonian Sleeper needs well-presented reliable locomotives, so perhaps they need to update their image.

It will be interesting to see what type and class of locomotive they buy.

Rail Freight Has Changed

Coal to power stations used to be the dominant freight on UK railways.

But n0t any more! Thank goodness!

The major freight on UK railways is intermodal or trains of containers from port to inland terminal and vice versa.

There is also a large growth in construction materials, miuch of it going from quarries in the West Country and the Peak District to the South East of England. To send this any other way than by train, would surely be madness.

There also seems to be an increasing number of trains carrying new vehicles to and from the Continent. More will surely start to use the Channel Tunnel.

Julian Worth says this, after summarising the freight flows.

This suggests modest extensions of electrification might permit much of the construction and intermodal businesses, together with most automotive traffic, to be electrically hauled throughout.

He then goes on to say that the big gap is Felixstowe to Peterborough, Nuneaton and Birmingham.

The Port of Felixstowe

I partly grew up in the town and never thought the port would grow to the size, it is today.

I also remember in the 1980s, when only the odd intermodal train was to be seen on the Felixstowe Branch Line.

  • Now, a dozen trains in each direction on every day take the route between Felixstowe and the Midlands.
  • The Felixstowe Branch Line is being upgraded to raise the number of trains from the port from 33 to 48.
  • The Great Eastern Main Line and the routes through North London are close to capacity.
  • The direct route via Peterborough is a lot shorter than the London route.

Julian Worth states, that the number of trains between Felixstowe and the Midlands could rise to as high as fifty every day.

Routes That Should Be Electrified For Freight

Julian Worth suggests that the following routes should be electrified.

Route 1 – London Gateway to Thames Haven Junction

If you electrify Felixstowe to the Midlands, this will remove some diesel freight trains from London.

It would be stupid to replace them with diesel freight trains from London Gateway. So it would be fairly logical to electrify the connecting route to London Gateway.

This Google Map shows London Gateway and the rail connection to the electrified London, Tilbury and Southend Railway.

Note.

  1. The electrified London, Tilbury and Southend Railway, runs North-South at the extreme left of the map.
  2. The connecting spur curves East on what appears to be a new chord before accessing sidings on the North side of London Gateway.
  3. There would appear to be a lot of space to expand the port.
  4. The rail spur to the port is double track.
  5. It looks like their are sat least five sidings for handling freight trains.
  6. The sidings are double-ended, so last-mile capable electric locomotives could run round trains, without the need for electrification.

It would have appeared to have been designed for electrification.

Full details on London Gateway’s plans for rail access are given here in the Wikipedia entry for London Gateway, under Rail Terminal.

This is a quick summary.

In other places Wikipedia says the port is highly-automated.

I am led to the conclusion, that the Gospel Oak to Barking Line will see a high number of electric freight trains in the future.

I’m not surprised that Julian Worth says the spur currently handles sixteen trains per day and is set to grow significantly.

I certainly wouldn’t buy a house on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

Route 2 – Nuneaton To Birmingham Lawley Street

If Felixstowe to Nuneaton is electrified, then this extends the electrification to the massive Lawley Street Freightliner Terminal, which is in central Birmingham.

This diagram from Wikipedia shows the route.

Note.

  1. Lawley Street Freightliner Terminal, is on the short spur at the top of the diagram.
  2. iThis electrification would also complete a fully-electrified route between Birmingham New Street station and Sansted Airport, so CrossCountry could use electric trains on that route, instead of the current Class 170 train, which is often overcrowded.
  3. Would the electrification open up opportunities for more electrified local services in Birmingham?

Julian Worth says that this twenty miles carries thirty-two trains per day.

Would electrifying this route also have environmental benefits in terms of pollution?

Route 3 – Basingstoke To Southcote Junction and Oxford to Denbigh Hall Junction

This route, which connects the Port of Southampton with the West Coast Main Line, would require forty-two miles of electrification.

Consider.

  • It would create a fully-electrified route from Southampton to the West Coast Main Line.
  • Julian Worth says it carries forty-eight trains per day.
  • I also think, he is assuming that the Great Western Electrification extends to Oxford, which surely it will do in the next few years.
  • Dual voltage locomotives would be needed.
  • It would require electrification of part of the East West Railway.

The East West Railway is to be built as a privatised railway and I’m sure if the sums were right, they would electrify the route from Oxford to Denbigh Hall Junction.

If the Western end of the East West Railway were to be electrified, this must increase the options and operating speed for passenger trains on the route.

Route 4 – Merehead/Whatley to Newbury

Consider.

  • Merehead and Whatley are both Quarries of the Mendip Hills.
  • The line is double-track and seventy-two miles long.
  • Julian Worth says that this route carries twenty-eight stone trains per day.
  • Many trains are double-size.
  • In a four hour period, using Real Time Trains I found,three stone trains that weighed 4,800 tonnes and had a maximum speed of 45 mph and four stone trains that weighed 2,000 tonnes and had a maximum speed of 60 mph, using the route from the Mendips to London.

With all that heavy traffic, it strikes me that their are only two ways to power these trains on the route.

  • Very powerful diesel locomotives, possibly working in pairs.
  • Very powerful 25 KVAC electric locomotives, which would need electrification, able to supply lots of amps.

Mendip Rail currently run these services using Class 59 locomotives, which have the following characteristics.

  • Built in North America between 1985 and 1995.
  • They were the first privately-owned locomotives on the UK main line.
  • They have the ability to creep to shift heavy loads on gradients.
  • They have a maximim speed of 60-75 mph.
  • They are towered by a 2.5 MW diesel engine.

This extract from Wikipedia illustrates their power.

On 26 May 1991 Kenneth J Painter (59005) (with assistance from Yeoman Endeavour) set the European haulage record, with a stone train weighing 11,982 tonnes and 5,415 feet (1,650 m) long. However the so-called ‘mega train’ experiment was not very successful, as a coupling in the centre of the train broke.

It would appear, there was nothing wrong with the locomotives.

By the late 2020s, these locomotives will be over forty years old and although they could probably soldier on for another ten or even twenty years, the cost of maintenance will increase and reliability could decrease. You don’t want a 4,800 tonne stone train blocking the Reading to Taumton Line.

I suspect too, that it is unlikely that this important stone traffic will decrease. This is said in the Wikipedia entry for Mendip Rail.

Mendip Rail’s class 59s work services between various destinations which have changed over time according to demand and specific contracts. They have worked regularly over southern railway tracks, for example to the former Foster Yeoman terminals at Eastleigh and Botley, as well as delivery aggregates for construction work on the Thames Barrier, Second Severn Crossing, Channel Tunnel and most recently Heathrow Terminal 5, which required 3 million tonnes of stone.

Mendip Rail hauls about 4.5 million tonnes of stone from Torr Works each year, and about 2.5 million tonnes from Whatley Quarry.

I suspect that these stone flows will continue and there will come a time in the not-to-distant future, where new locomotives will be required.

  • The Class 59 locomotives were built for these stone trains and have a maximum tractive effort of 507 kN at just 7 mph.
  • A large electric Class 92 locomotive has a maximum tractive effort of only 400 kN.

But I suspect that engineers can design an electric locomotive, that can handle these trains either by themselves or working in a pair.

So there will be a choice between a very powerful diesel locomotive or a very powerful electric one.

  • Will those that live by the railway and environmentalists accept new diesel locomotives?
  • Electric locomotives would require the line to be electrified.
  • Electrification would allow Great Western Railway to run their Class 800 trains more efficiently using the wires.
  • Would those who live by the railway, accept the electrification of the line?

It’s a difficult choice.

Route 5 – Felixstowe to Ipswich. Haughley Junction to Peterborough and Helpston to Nuneaton

Consider

  • This would be a big project, as it would require 146 miles of new electrification.
  • But the return could be worthwhile, as currently the route handles twenty trains per day and once the Felixstowe Branch Line has more double track, this figure could rise to fifty-six trains per day.
  • At Ipswich, Peterborough and Nuneaton, the route connects to fully-electrified lines.

My project management knowledge tends to electrifying this line from East to West as almost three separate projects.

  1. Felixstowe to Ipswich
  2. Haughley Junction to Peterborough
  3. Helpston to Nuneaton

It could even be five, if Helpston to Nuneaton was split into two at either Leicester or the Midland Main Line.

I have three general questions.

  • When the gauge clearance was undertaken a few years ago, were bridges raised to accommodate wires as well?
  • Will the natives object to fifty trains per day?
  • Will the line be  resignalled to handle the greater number of trains?

Once the full route is electrified, the number of trains to and from Felixstowe , that used the Great Eastern Main Line and the routes through London would drop. Obviously, some trains like those between Felixstowe and Wales and the West Country would still need to use the London routes.

But overall, this would allow a mixture of the following.

  • Higher passenger train frequencies on the North London Line
  • Higher passenger train frequencies on the Gospel Oak To Barking Line
  • More freight trains to and from London Gateway could use the cross-London routes.

The last point would mean, that electric locomotives would need to have access to London Gateway.

I will detail my thoughts on Felixstowe to the Midlands electrification in the next three sub-sections.

Route 5A – Felixstowe to Ipswich

Electrifying between Felixstowe and Ipswich shouldn’t be the most challenging of projects.

  • The route is fairly flat.
  • The route is double track, except for part of the Felixstowe Branch Line.
  • The line was cleared for the largest containers a few years ago.
  • Doubling of the Felixstowe Branch Line around Trimley and the removal of some level crossings should start this year.
  • There should be an adequate 25 KVAC power supply at Ipswich.

I have two extra questions.

  • Will the partial doubling of the Felixstowe Branch, prepare the line for electrification?
  • Has a scheme been designed to take electrification to the port?

But there will be benefits.

  • Some freight trains that use the Great Eastern Main Line and the electrified routes through London, could be hauled all the way. by electric locomotives.
  • If Felixstowe station was to be electrified, Greater Anglia could run five-car Class 720 electric trains instead of Class 755 bi-mode trains on the branch, if required.
  • Class 755 bi-mode trains on the Ipswich to Lowestoft service, would be able to use the electrification between Westerfield and Ipswich stations.
  • Noise and vibration could be reduced.

It is just over a dozen miles of elwctrification, so isn’t the largest of projects.

Route 5B – Haughley Junction to Peterborough

Like the first section between Felixstowe and Ipswich, this section is also not very challenging.

  • The route is fairly flat.
  • The route is double track.
  • The line was cleared for the largest containers a few years ago.
  • Ely is being remodelled to remove a bottleneck.
  • Ely to Soham improvements seem to have been dropped, but will surely happen.
  • Haughley Junction needs to be remodelled.
  • Network Rail are already removing level crossings.
  • There should be an adequate 25 KVAC power supply at Haughley and Peterborough.

I have an extra question.

  • Will the route between Cambridge and Chippenham Junction be electrified?

But there will be benefits.

  • Electric freight between Felixstowe And The East Coast Main Line as far as Scotland.
  • Greater Anglia could run their service between Colchester and Peterborough with a Class 720 electric train.
  • Greater Anglia’s service between Ipswich and Cambridge would do more running under wires.

The electrification might even enable some useful electrified diversion routes.

Route 5C -Helpston to Nuneaton

I don’t know this section of the route, as well as I know the two other sections.

  • The route is double track.
  • There is a busy level crossing in the middle of Oakham.
  • There should be an adequate 25 KVAC power supply at both ends of the route.

It would appear that the route goes through Leicester station on the Midland Main Line.

As the electrification of the Midland Main Line has been postponed, how will this section of the route be handled?

But there will be benefits.

  • Electric freight between Felixstowe And The Midlands
  • Fewer freight trains would need to go via London
  • Some passenger services, like Birmingham-Stansted Airport, could be run using electric trains.

Completing all three sections will open up new possibilities for both freight and passenger services.

Route 6 – Hare Park Junction to Leeds Stourton

This is a freight route , which can be followed this way.

Electrification of this eighteen mile route, would allow freight trains with electric traction to reach the Stourton terminal.

The electrification could also be extended to Leeds station, so that passenger services on the Hallam Line, run by bi-mode trains would have an electrified route into Leeds.

Route 7 – Mountsorrel to Syston Junction and Manton Junction to Corby

Mountsorrel Quarry is one of the biggest granite quarries in Europe. It is not on the railway anymore, but is connected to the Midland Main Line at

Barton upon Soar, by a mineral conveyor.

These two short lengths of electrification connect Mountsorrel to the electrified portion of the Midland Main Line to London and by using the Felixstowe to Nuneaton route, there is access to the East and West Coast Main Lines.

Julian Worth says that thirty trains per day use the route.

Looking on Real Time Trains, they are not the mega-trains of the Mendips, but they seem to go all over England.

Route 8 – Whitacre Junction to Birch Coppice

Birch Coppice is a freight terminal and it is connected to the Birmingham Lawley Street to Nuneaton Line at Whitacre Junction, by a six mile rail link.

As in Julian Worth’s plan, the Birmingham Lawley Street to Nuneaton Line will have been electrified, it will be an logical section of wires to install.

Summarising The Routes

Summarising the routes, you get the following, once all the proposals are added to the UK’s electrified network.

  • There is a major East-West route from Felixstowe to Birmingham, that connects to the two major North-South routes; East and West Coast Main Lines and East Anglia’s Great Eastern Main Line.
  • The Reading to Taunton Line now provides an  route to the South-West for electric trains.
  • The massive quarries in the Mendips and at Mountsorrel are connected to the main electrified network.
  • The ports of Felixstowe, London Gateway and Southampton are connected to the main electrified network.
  • The inland depots of Birch Coppice, Birmingham Lawley Street and Leeds Stourton  are connected to the main electrified network.

Others may well be added.

For instance, an electrified connection to Liverpool2  along the Canada Dock Branch, which runs in places through densely-packing housing and has been looked at for a passenger service by Merseyrail.

Installing The Electrification

Traditionally, electrification schemes have been done using money directly from the Treasury.

To say, performance in recent years has been mixed would be an understatement!

With my experience of project management, I have my theories about the poor performance, but as I have no serious data to back them up, I will not put most of them in this post.

I will say however, that my observations of the electrification of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line have led me to the conclusion, that there are not enough competent engineers, surveyors and technicians to install the current low-level of new electrification.

However, recent statements and documents from Chris Grayling about how the Southern rail access to Heathrow is to be financed, might suggest a model for electrification.

This Press Release on the Department of Transport web site, starts with these two paragraphs.

Private companies have been asked to come forward with ideas to deliver a new southern rail link to Heathrow Airport.

The link will be one of the first projects under government plans to invite third parties – such as local authorities and private sector companies – to invest in the rail network, over and above the £47 billion the government is already planning for the next 5 years.

The idea is that a private consortium would do the following.

  • Design, build and finance a new line, station or other piece of railway infrastructure.
  • Maintain it for a number of years.
  • Charge train operators a charge for using the infrastructure, in much the same way as Network Rail charge every train for track access.

If the sums add up, I suspect it is model that will work for electrification.

I will take the Felixstowe Branch Line, that I know well as an example.

The benefits of electrification on this line could be as follows.

  • Freight trains from the Port of Felixstowe using electrified lines from Ipswich, could be able to use electric haulage, which might be more affordable.
  • Greater Anglia could run Ipswich to Felixstowe services using trains running solely on electricity.
  • There would be less pollution and possibly less noise and vibration.
  • Electrification might allow faster operating speeds on the branch, which in turn would allow more freight and passenger trains.
  • The hourly passenger service between Ipswich and Felixstowe might be able to be doubled in frequency.

Currently, after the dualling at Trimley has been finished, the branch is planned to handle an hourly passenger train and around fifty freight trains per day.

It strikes me that if the contracts and charges have the right balance, that a deal could be struck with a competent consortium.

It would have the following parts.

  • The consortium would design, finance and install the electrification.
  • Installing the electrification would be done, without disturbing the passenger and freight traffic.
  • The consortium would maintain the electrification for an agreed number of years.
  • Electrification access charges would be modelled on track access charges and agreed with a regulator, such as the Office of Road and Rail.
  • Failure to provide a working electrified railway, would incur penalty charges to operators.

I feel the model could work.

  • The consortium would use best practice from around the world.
  • The consortium might encourage innovative design and working.
  • The  consortium would make sure it had the best engineers, technicians and equipment to keep the electrification in tip-top condition, as that is the best way to maximise return on capital, against a fixed income.
  • The Office of Road and Rail would ensure safety, quality and reliability.

I also feel, that one of the ways to get the electrification installed in a professional manner and then operational at an agreed date, is to get the project management right.

Too much of what I’ve seen on electrification in the UK, reminds me of the phrase – It’ll be alright on the night!

A consortium, which has to raise and justify the money it needs, can’t rely on this mantra and must be sure that if a scheme is going to cost £100 million, then.

  • The initial budget must be correct.
  • The electrification can be installed for that sum.
  • Sufficient contingency is included.

Get the first project, seriously wrong and they won’t get another of the many electrification projects in the pipeline.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 25, 2018 Posted by | Finance, Travel, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment