The Anonymous Widower

Cambridge Gets Its Own Mini-Crossrail

This morning I went to see the very newly-opened Cambridge North station.

The station is probably best described as a Parkway station close to the Cambridge Science Park and the A14 on the Northern Side of Cambridge.

The station is not short of facilities and service pattern.

  • Two through platforms and one bay platform, all capable of taking a 12-car Class 700 train.
  • Two avoiding lines for freight trains.
  • Full step-free access.
  • 450 car park spaces.
  • Parking under cover for a thousand bikes.
  • Access to the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway.
  • Close to the A14.
  • Customer toilets.
  • A proper ticket office and several ticket machines.
  • A square outside to meet people if it’s sunny.
  • Retail units and some greenery will be added later.
  • Currently, it is planned for about four trains per hour to stop at Cambridge North station in each direction.

According to this article on the BBC, the station cost £44million.

It is all pretty impressive and practical.

Are Cambridge, Cambridge North, Waterbeach and Ely stations the first four stations of a Cambridge Mini-Crossrail or Metro?

Consider.

  • Cambridge South station could be built close to Addenbrooke’s Hospital.
  • Lines fan out from Ely to Bury St. Edmunds and Ipswich, Kings Lynn, Norwich and Peterborough.
  • Lines will fan out to the South of Addenbrooke’s to Bedford, Hitchin and Kings Cross, Stansted and Liverpool Street.
  • Cambridge station has more platforms than many terminal stations.
  • Cambridge North station has space for extra platforms.
  • A lot more trains could stop in the stations.

It will be interesting to see how the system develops in the future.

May 21, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 1 Comment

Manor Park Station – 15th May 2017

In Before Crossrail – Manor Park, I likened Manor Park station to A Ruin With Serious Issues and gave it a score of 1/10.

I also said.

Manor Park is very unusual architecturally. I do wonder if the Luftwaffe tried to demolish the station.

Perhaps the builders just ran out of money and couldn’t afford to put in windows.

With hindsight, I think I was being generous with one point.

But these are the pictures I took today.

The builder is certainly not our friend Jerry.

When my train arrived, I stepped out close by the driver’s cab. I was surprised to see that half the old station had disappeared and it must have shown, as the driver asked me if I was OK!

I certainly was and it looks like the builders and the architects are well on the way to turning one of London’s worst stations, into one of the better.

  • Judging by the position of the gate line on the South side of the Ticket Hall, it will lead to a series of passages to the stairs and the lifts to the platforms.
  • I particularly liked the use of strips of LED lights to illuminate the Ticket Hall and the area outside the doors.
  • The staff seem to have a good view of the front glass doors from the Ticket Counter.
  • It looks to me that any bits of the old station that there were good reasons to keep, have been kept.
  • It could be a very welcoming station, that I suspect Transport for London hopes will attract a lot of new passengers.
  • I was told that the lifts are only a couple of months away.

Importantly with my Project Manager’s hard hat on, it would appear that they have managed to create much of the new station without too much disruption.

May 15, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Walk In Bradford City Centre

I like walking in City Centres and Bradford didn’t disappoint.

Little Germany with its collection of Listed buildings was certainly a surprise.

April 21, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Is Hackney Downs Station A Suitable Case For Treatment?

Some of the stations on the London Overground, are architectural gems.

The picture shows some the internal detail of the refurbished Grade II Listed Crystal Palace station. The cafe was created in an area of the station, that few realised existed.

There is also work going on at Peckham Rye station, where an enormous Victorian waiting room has been discovered. An architect called Benedict O’Looney seems to be on a mission to restore the station to its former glory.

Peckham Rye station could be step-free as early as 2019, so I suspect that the station could become more important in the grand scheme of things.

What would Del Boy have thought?

There is also Camden Road station, which is in pretty-good nick.

If Camden Road station has a problem, it is that the station possibly needs more passenger capacity and perhaps one of the closed platforms to be reopened.

I’d love to know what is behind those windows on the top floor.

Hackney Central station has a similar building to Camden Road station.

It looks like Hackney Central will get a modern station building to go with the step-free footbridge. But I suspect everything is on hold until the plan for Crossrail 2 is finally decided.

Yesterday, I was in Hackney Downs station and I was told that the bland station building abandoned by British Rail, might be worth restoring.

 

Who knows what lies behind the brick walls and lurks in the dark spaces under the tracks in the old station building?

Knowing the way, many of these railway stations were built, I wonder if London Overground could come up with an imaginative scheme to create a Victorian counterbalance to the more modern Hackney Central, in what will inevitably be Hackney Interchange.

 

April 19, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Up The Rat Hole

Look at this YouTube video of the tunnel connecting Liverpool James Street station to Water Street.

Now look at these pictures I took.

It’s a great improvement.

As is the improved tunnel at Bank station in London, that I wrote about in The New Tunnel Under Bank Station.

We need more updates to pedestrian tunnels like these two fine examples.

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

A Neat Seat

These pictures show some seats  by Vauxhall Bridge, as part of a new development.

The idea is so brilliant and probably affordable, I’m surprised I haven’t seen something like it before.

March 14, 2017 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

Barnsley Interchange Is One Of My Favourite Stations

Barnsley Interchange station is unusual in that it is a combined train and bus station, that seems to be well-positioned in the town.

There is only one real problem and that is like Lincoln station, it is a town centre station with a level crossing.

The other problem with the station, is that it is a steep walk up the hill to the Football Ground.

The only solution would be a tunnel under the hill with a large lift to bring you into the Ground.

I don’t think it woud be very affordable or practical.

There is a lot to like about the station and this Google Map shows the overall layout.

Note the level crossing at the South end of the station.

If you read the section on Services in the Wikipedia entry for the station, you’ll see that the station handles three or four trains per hour in both directions at times. The track layout on the Penistone Line doesn’t help, as this extract from Wikipedia describes.

Barnsley also marks the last continuous dual running track (except for parts) for trains heading towards Huddersfield, or the first continuous dual running track for trains heading towards Sheffield.

I suspect Network Rail and the Penistone Line Partnership have ideas for increasing capacity, but they’d really like the level crossing removed.

I did notice though, that trains in opposite directions, didn’t always seem to pass in the station, which is a technique that has been used in several places to cut the number of times crossings close.

Perhaps because of the single-track sections on the Penistone Line this is not possible.

But other factors will help.

  • Northern’s new Class 195 trains will probably handle the stops a couple of minutes faster, than the current Pacers.
  • As there are upwards of a dozen stops, this could save a lot of time and allow organising the passing of trains better.
  • There are some other level crossings, which might be removed.
  • Most of the line is single-track, but it does seem from my helicopter that the track-bed has been left wide enough to reinstate the original double-track.

So in a few years time with the new Class 195 trains, some track modifications and perhaps better signalling, a more frequent and better service might be possible.

 

 

 

 

March 11, 2017 Posted by | Sport, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

The No Frills Station

I’m always putting in the same picture of Zwickau Zentrum station on the Vogtlandbahn in Germany into posts, so I thought I should give the picture a post of its own.

Arrival At Zwickau Zentrum Tram/Train Stop

The station is one of the simplest I’ve ever seen and it has been designed very much like a tram stop.

  • There is no footbridge, as if travellers need to cross the line, they just walk round.
  • The access is as step-free as it gets in Germany.
  • The other side of the platform is a stop for Zwickau’s trams.
  • There is no electrification, which must improve safety.
  • The station could be made long enough for any train that might call.
  • The station has been landscaped into the local environment.

But we’re starting to see simple stations like this in the UK.

These pictures show Galashiels station on the recently opening Borders Railway.

Galashiels is an interesting solution, as there is a single-platform step-free railway station on one side of the road and a comprehensive bus interchange on the other with seats, cafes, shops and warm shelter.

Both Zwickau Zentrum and Galashiels are served exclusively by diesel trains and as electrification can be a hazard to some passengers and is expensive, I would feel that most stations like this, would be better served by trains that are self-powered.

We shall be seeing more simple station designs like these, as architects and designers get very innovative.

February 18, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 2 Comments

A Facelift For Lambeth North Station

Lambeth North station has been given new lifts, a good clean and some repainting.

The only thing that hasn’t been updated are the adverts, which relate very much to films and concerts from when the station closed for the refurbishment.

I think that this facelift shows that unlike many buildings dating from the early twentieth century, it was well-designed and well-built. It’s certainly much better than the dreadful Essex Road station, which is near to where I live.

February 16, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 1 Comment

Exploring The Route Of The Midland Metro Extension To Victoria Square

The extensions at both ends of the Midland Metro in Birmingham and Wolverhampton City Centres will be a first for the UK, in that they will be catenary-free and the trams will run on battery power.

This Google Map shows the area, where the initial extension will go in Birmingham City Centre.

birminghammetroextension

Places of interest are.

  • The cathedral is in the North-East corner.
  • New Street station is in the South-East corner.
  • Victoria Square and the Town Hall are just to the East of the middle.
  • Centenary Square is towards the West side.

This description comes from this page on the Metro Alliance web site.

840m of twin track from Birmingham Grand Central at Stephenson Street, up Pinfold Street through Victoria Square, Paradise St, past Paradise Circus into Centenary Square at Broad St.There will be an intermediate stop outside the Town Hall in Victoria Square, and we will interface with the Navigation Street link.

One of the problems at the moment, is that the development of Paradise Birmingham, seems to sit in the middle of the route.

These pictures show the area of Victoria Square and the route up from New Street station.

Note.

  • The steep hill of Pinfold Street.
  • The route seemed to have been prepared ready for the track to be fitted into the road surface.
  • Utilities seemed to have been moved.
  • When I took the pictures, the Midland Metro had parked a tram at the limit of the current track at the bottom of Pinfold Street.

Climbing The Hill

You can’t accuse Birmingham of lacking ambition, as Pinfold Street is a proper hill.

But then!

  • It is the only steep hill on the route to Centenary Square.
  • The tram will start the ascent with full batteries.
  • There will be no problems coming down.
  • This extension is only 840 metres in length.
  • The MetroCentro in Seville has used similar technology on a 1.4 km. route since 2007.
  • CAF have technology that charges batteries fast.
  • Battery technology has moved on in the last ten years.

If in practice, it does prove a difficult climb, overhead wires could be put on sufficient of the lower part of the up-track on Pinfold Street.

These wires wouldn’t be visible from Victoria Square, so wouldn’t effect the architectural integrity pf the area.

Onward to Edgbaston

According to this article in Rail Technology Magazine, the further four kilometre extension to Egbaston, is also intended to be catenary-free.

As the trams could be charged at Edgbaston, I think this could be possible.

But I doubt CAF would propose the use of batteries, if they hadn’t already proven the range, which is not outrageous.

The Next Step

I looked at a lot of the route of the first section to Victoria Square today, and it would appear that the roadway has been prepared for fitting the track.

So could we see an accelerated development of the first part of the extension?

It would be a good test of the technology, with little risk to the Midland Metrolink!

If the trams can’t make the hill on baqtteries, it would need to be wired, but you could always blame Spanish engineering.

Conclusion

It is a very well-designed scheme.

I wonder, if we’ll see Edinburgh batteries on their CAF trams?

 

 

 

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