The Anonymous Widower

Beeching Reversal – Reopening Wymondham-Dereham Line

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

It has looked to me, that for some years, that those in Norfolk’s rail industry and Local Government, have been co-operating with rail problems and developments in the county.

If you read the Wikipedia entry for the Mid-Norfolk Railway, various activities are revealed.

  • Regular steam and diesel services between Wymondham and Dereham stations.
  • Occasional sightseeing services North of Dereham station.
  • Mid-Norfolk Railway facilitates commercial freight trains.
  • Dereham yard has been used as a servicing depot by Direct Rail Services for over ten years.
  • Network Rail store track plant at Dereham.
  • There are facilities to transfer damaged rail vehicles to road vehicles at Dereham.
  • The Army uses the line to transport vehicles by train.
  • Storage of trains for Greater Anglia, who have a chronic lack of space.
  • The line appears to be used for specialist crew and driver training.
  • In Mid Norfolk Railway Completes Work On ‘First For UK’ Railway Level Crossing, I wrote about how the railway company used new Dutch technology to demonstrate how to rebuild a level crossing.

It seems, that if you have a different rail-related need in Norfolk, that the Mid-Norfolk Railway will at least listen to your needs.

The company and volunteers have the ambition to restore the railway as far as Fakenham, which will make it one of the longest heritage railways in England.

I am not surprised that reopening services between Wymondham and Dereham stations, is on the list of Beeching Reversal projects.

Dereham

Dereham is a market town of 18,600 residents.

This Google Map shows the Dereham station complex.

It is the headquarters of the Mid-Norfolk Railway.

Wymondham

Wymondham is a developing market town of 14,400 residents, that has a station on the Breckland Line between Cambridge and Norwich via Ely and Thetford.

The Mid-Norfolk Railway also has a connection to the Breckland Line and access to Wymondham station at Wymondham South junction.

This Google Map shows the town of Wymondham.

Note.

  1. The Breckland Line going SW-NE across the map.
  2. Wymondham station in the middle of the map.
  3. Wymondham Abbey station, which is on the Mid-Norfolk Railway in the North-West corner of the map.
  4. Wymondham South junction, where the branch divides to the South-West of Wymondham station.

The A11 Wymondham Bypass encloses a lot of land, which seems to be being developed into housing.

Breckland Line Train Services

Current train services on the Breckland Line include.

  • Greater Anglia – One train per hour (tph) – Norwich and Stansted Airport via Cambridge
  • East Midlands Railway – One tph – Norwich and Liverpool via Ely and Peterborough

Note.

  1. Both train franchises are Abellio.
  2. Both train franchises use modern diesel or bi-mode trains.

As there is significant development of housing and industry, all along the A11 and the Breckland Line between Cambridge and Norwich, many believe that there is a large opportunity for the growth of passenger train services.

All being well in a few years, Norwich will get a third service in a one tp2h service along the East West Railway to Oxford.

But towns like Wymondham probably will need better and more connections to Cambridge and Norwich, before that, as although the roads are good, the emissions won’t be!

The Trowse Swing Bridge

The single-track Trowse Swing Bridge is a major bottleneck on any service between Norwich and the South.

It does manage to carry up to nine to ten tph, but it appears that for efficient operation of extra services South from Norwich, that the bridge will have to be replaced or by-passed.

This Google Map shows Trowse Bridge.

When the Great Eastern Main Line was being electrified to Norwich station, a temporary station was built in this area, whilst electrification was added to the bridge.

A Station At Trowse

A similar strategy could be used, whilst the bridge is replaced, but I suspect, that a bolder plan might be possible.

  • There is a lot of development going on in Norwich.
  • It is expected that rail traffic South from Norwich to Cambridge and London will grow significantly in the next few years.
  • Removing the requirement for the bridge to open, would require difficult Parliamentary legislation.

This Google Map shows the wider City Centre.

Note.

  1. The River Wensum curving through the City.
  2. The large Norwich station in the middle of the map.
  3. Norwich City Centre to the West of the station.
  4. Norwich City’s Carrow Road ground to the South of the station.
  5. The blue-roofed Norwich Crown Point Depot towards the East of the map.
  6. Trowse bridge crossing the river to the South of Crown Point Depot.

It should also be noted, that to solve some of the chronic overcrowding in Crown Point Depot, Greater Anglia have developed some new sidings South of the Trowse bridge, on the Western side of the Great Eastern Main Line, around the area of the former Trowse station.

Consider.

  • If you look at the rail lines South of the Trowse bridge, the Breckland Line crosses under the Great Eastern Main Line and then joins the main line from the East.
  • Norwich could borrow an idea from other cities like Bristol and run a water bus on the River Wensum.
  • The South Bank of the river looks ripe for development.

I wonder if it would be possible to reopen Trowse station as a modern riverside station.

  • There would be two electrified through platforms.
  • The Southern ends of the through platforms would connect to the Great Eastern Main Line and the Breckland Line, as they do now.
  • The Northern ends of the through platforms would combine and cross the Trowse Bridge, as they do now.
  • On the Eastern side of the station, there would be up to two electrified bay platforms, which could connect to any route to the South.
  • At least one platform would be able to take a full-length Class 745 train.
  • There would be a river bus station, with connections to the main Norwich station, Carrow Road and Norwich City Centre.
  • The station would be fully step-free.

As the infamous bridge is only thirty-three years old, surely it can be refurbished and modernised, so that the major problem of reliability is eliminated.

This new station would give train operators advantages and options.

  • The station would be very handy for office and residential developments along the river.
  • The rail line into Norwich could probably be kept open during the construction, as the bridge is only being refurbished.
  • Some travellers to and from Norwich might prefer to use Trowse, rather than Norwich station and use the water bus.
  • Extra services to Norwich might terminate in the bay platforms at Trowse and would not need capacity on the bridge.
  • I suspect that a four or five tph frequency would operate between Norwich and Trowse station.
  • In times of disruption, the bay platforms can be used to turn trains South of the bridge.

I’m sure there is an innovative solution in there somewhere.

What is Norwich City Council intending to do along the South bank of the river?

Future Train Services Between Norwich And The South

Greater Anglia have bought a lot of new trains and I doubt, that they’ll be leaving them in sidings, if they have a job for them to do.

I can certainly see four tph Turn-Up-And-Go services running on the following routes around Norwich.

  • Norwich and Cambridge
  • Norwich and Ipswich
  • Norwich and Lowestoft
  • Norwich and Yarmouth

Being able to turn some Cambridge and Ipswich trains South of Trowse bridge, may be the better solution, than replacing, rather than refurbishing the bridge.

Norwich And Dereham

  • Norwich and Dereham stations are just over twenty miles apart and I suspect that Class 755 trains can do the trip in about twenty-five minutes.
  • This may open up the possibility of an hour’s round trip between Trowse and Dereham stations.

If the hour trip is possible, this could open up a two tph service, run by just two trains.

A Possible Timetable

I could see something like this being a possible timetable.

  • East West Rail – One tph – Norwich and Oxford via Cambridge
  • Greater Anglia – One tph – Norwich and Stansted Airport via Cambridge
  • Greater Anglia – One tph – Trowse and Stansted Airport via Cambridge
  • Greater Anglia – One tph – Trowse and Cambridge
  • Greater Anglia – Two tph – Trowse and Dereham
  • East Midlands Railway – One tph – Norwich and Liverpool via Ely and Peterborough
  • Greater Anglia – Two tph – Norwich and London Liverpool Street via Ipswich
  • Greater Anglia – One tph – Trowse and London Liverpool Street via Ipswich
  • Greater Anglia – One tph – Trowse and Ipswich

Trowse bridge would be handling five tph in both directions, with six tph terminating in Trowse station.

Obviously, there are a lot of permutations and combinations, that will be determined by customer forecasts and figures.

Conclusion

I’ve thought the route between Norwich and Dereham stations will be a commuter, shopping and leisure rail route for some time.

As I indicate, I think some work will need to be done at the Trowse bridge, but a two tph service should be possible.

 

 

 

August 2, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Beeching Reversal – Project Wareham – Complete The Link

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

A Visit To The Swanage Railway describes an enjoyable visit I made to the Swanage Railway, just after the first part of Project Wareham had been completed.

This was my conclusion in that post.

There is a lot of potential to improve services on the Swanage Railway.

I suspect that if South Western Railway and the Swanage Railway got into serious discussion, there will be a solution, that would be beneficial to both parties and all those who live and work in or visit Swanage and the Isle of Purbeck.

This page on the Swanage Railway web site describes the project.

Completing Project Wareham

I can find very little on the Internet about what is proposed in the completion of this project.

So perhaps, the proposal is to start a project to see what could be developed on the Swanage Railway to the benefit of residents, commuters and visitors.

Hourly Trains

From a railway point of view, I suspect the most important thing, is to make it possible for an hourly train to connect from the Swanage Railway to the South Western Main Line.

This would enable the following.

  • Residents along the route to commute to or go shopping in Poole and Bournemouth.
  • Better public transport connections to the local councils at Dorchester and Warham.
  • Better visitor access to the Isle of Purbreck and especially the Swanage Railway.
  • Development of some possible housing and industrial sites.

There could be a lot of beneficiaries.

What Trains Would Be Used?

The Swanage Railway seem to be proposing running heritage diesel multiple units on connecting services. They have a Class 117 train and a Class 121 train, that were built around 1960, that have been fully-refurbished for the service.

These would be fine for the service and I suspect to cut emissions, they could be run on biodiesel.

I also think that if the service was successful, that more trains would be needed.

Consider.

  • The South Western Main Line is fully-electrified.
  • The Swanage Railway is only 5.5 miles long.
  • South Western Railway probably want to go to an all-electric fleet.
  • Battery electric train technology is improving rapidly.
  • South Western Railway will probably be running battery electric trains on other services in their network.

I believe that South Western Railway could connect Wareham and Swanage with a battery electric train charged on the main line.

I’m sure that Bombardier, CAF, Hitachi, Siemens or Stadler, would be able to supply a suitable battery electric train to replace the company’s Class 158 and Class 159 diesel multiple units.

Where Would The Trains Run?

Consider.

  • The obvious route is between Wareham and Swanage, but as I showed in A Visit To The Swanage Railway, the timings might not be friendly to an hourly shuttle.
  • Changing trains is something that discourages regular passengers.
  • I believe a service to Poole or Bournemouth may be more attractive to passengers.
  • Some passengers might even like the occasional service to London.

I can see an innovative timetable being developed containing elements like these.

  • One train per two hours (tp2h) between Swanage and Wareham, run by the Swanage Railway. using a heritage diesel multiple unit.
  • One tp2h between Swanage and Poole or Bournemouth via Wareham, run by South Western Railway, using a modern battery electric multiple unit.
  • Some services might extend past Bournemouth to Southampton or Salisbury.
  • Early morning and late night services between Swanage and Bournemouth.
  • At least one train per day in both directions between Swanage and London Waterloo.
  • Services would be seven days per week.

I believe that the more comprehensive the service, the more it will be used.

Conclusion

After my visit in November 2018, I said this.

There is a lot of potential to improve services on the Swanage Railway.

I stand by what I said and feel that comprehensive services between Swanage and Wareham can be developed for the benefit of residents, travellers and train companies.

August 1, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 5 Comments

Beeching Reversal – Shepton Mallet (Mendip Vale)

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

This article on Rail Technology News is entitled Shepton Mallet Railway Station And Services Could Be Restored Under New Vision.

These are the introductory paragraphs.

National rail services could be restored to a Somerset town after the local authority unveiled a new vision for the rail route.

Shepton Mallet’s current nearest mainline station is Castle Cary which is over seven miles away, but new stations and a bypass have been proposed in a business case from Mendip District Council for major new transport projects.

In the Wikipedia entry for the East Somerset Railway, this is said.

On 25 March 2007, the East Somerset Railway announced that it had received a £7,500 grant from Shepton 21 Group, a local organisation, set up to regenerate the area around Shepton Mallet. The money was to be spent on conducting a feasibility study into extending the line towards Shepton Mallet, with a possible new terminus at Cannards Grave, on the outskirts of Shepton Mallet

This Google Map shows the South-Eastern edge of Shepton Mallet.

Note.

  1. The scar of the disused railway passing East-West through the town.
  2. Mendip Vale station on the East Somerset Railway on the Eastern side of the map.
  3. The Cannard’s Grave area of the town, with what appears to be a new road system.

Would it be possible to extend the East Somerset Railway to a new Parkway station in the Cannard’s Grave area?

It certainly looks the most likely plan.

This map clipped from Wikipedia, shows the route of the railway.

The railway may be only 2.5 miles long, but it does provide a connection for the important Merehead Quarry to the UK rail network.

The tracks to the Quarry and Shepton Mallet join up to the South West of the quarry before joining the Heart of Wessex Line, that connects Bristol Temple Meads and Weymouth stations via Bath Spa, Bradford-on-Avon, Trowbridge, Westbury, Frome. Castle Cary and Yeovil.

Passenger Train Services

This Google Map shows East Somerset Junction, where the branch line joins the Heart of Wessex Line.

Note.

  1. Frome, Westbury, Bath Spa and Bristol Temple Meads are to the North East.
  2. The double-track railway going South-West is the Heart of Wessex Line to Castle Cary, Yeovil and Weymouth.
  3. The East Somerset Railway is the single-track joining from the West.

There is no direct access to and from the branch from the South-West. But then all of the quarry traffic needs to go to and from via the junction at Westbury.

In Westbury Station – 30th July 2020, I discussed the development of Westbury station.

This was my conclusion.

Could Westbury station develop into a zero-carbon rail transport hub for Wiltshire?

    1. It has an hourly train service between London Paddington and Exeter St. Davids.
    2. It has an hourly service between Bristol Temple Meads and Weymouth.
    3. There are hourly services to stations like Bath Spa, Bradford-on-Avon, Bristol Temple Meads, Chippenham, Dorchester, Frome, Swindon, Taunton, Trowbridge and Yeovil

It could be electrified to charge battery electric trains as they pass through.

Perhaps, an hourly service between Westbury and Shepton Mallet Parkway stations could be added to the services?

  • I estimate that Westbury and Shepton Mallet Parkway stations are about 13.5 miles apart
  • With an intermediate stop at Frome, I estimate that it would be a twenty minute journey.
  • A shuttle would need just one train and could run a passenger-friendly clock-face timetable.
  • A two-car diesel multiple unit would probably be good enough to open the service.
  • The service could be fully-integrated with all the other services passing through Westbury.

It would also be a shuttle service, that could be run using a battery electric train charging at Westbury station.

Conclusion

I like this proposal.

  • The only infrastructure required is the Park-and-Ride station at Shepton Mallet Parkway.
  • Much of the route is currently used by heavy freight trains.
  • I doubt that the East Somerset Railway will object.
  • I’m sure, that a diesel multiple unit could be found for the shuttle.
  • The passenger services will have good connections at Westbury station.

In a future zero-carbon world, it could be run by battery electric trains, charging at Westbury station.

August 1, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Beeching Reversal – Reinstatement Of The Bodmin-Wadebridge Railway

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

The basic outline of this Beeching Reversal project is described in the section called RailTrail Project in the Wikipedia entry for the Bodmin and Wenford Railway, where this is a simplified version of what is said.

The railway company is currently planning to extend beyond its western terminus at Boscarne Junction towards Wadebridge alongside the Camel Trail. Known as the RailTrail project, phase one would see the railway extended to Nanstallon Halt, phase two to Grogley Halt and phase three to Wadebridge Guineaport.

In areas where the width of the trackbed does not allow both a railway and a footpath side-by-side, short diversions are proposed. For example, at Grogley, the Camel Trail could be re-routed along a former “headshunt”, which was part of the original railway before it was replaced by a later deviation.

There is some controversy, over the reduction in width of the Camel Trail.

This Google Map shows the River Camel through Wadebridge, where the extension appears to be proposed to finish.

Note.

  1. The Guineaport area of Wadebridge is marked by a red arrow-dot.
  2. The Future Plans section of the Wikipedia entry for Wadebridge station, says that the new station will be beyond Guineaport.
  3. The Camel Trail is marked on Google Maps as a dotted line and it can be followed to where it meets the Bodmin and Wenford Railway at Boscarne Junction station.

This Google Map shows Boscarne Junction station.

Looking from my helicopter, I am fairly sure that the RailTrail can be squeezed in with a footpath.

What Sort Of Railway Would It Be?

These are my thoughts.

Will It Be Double Or Single-Track?

It will be single-track, as there is not enough space for two.

I would suspect, they could use similar construction to these tram tracks in Blackpool.

Effectively, the RailTrail could be a high-strength road, with a rail track set to one side, and appropriate markings, rails and safety signage.

How Long Will The New Track Be?

Google gives these distances.

  • Padstow and Boscarne – 14.4 miles
  • Padstow and Bodmin – 16 miles
  • Wadebridge and Boscarne – 6 miles
  • Wadebridge and Bodmin – 7.4 miles

I have added Padstow, as this town on the sea, used to be the rail terminus.

Should The Route Go To Padstow?

This Google Map shows the Padstow end of the Camel Trail.

But there could be a major problem.

At the bottom of the map is the Little Petherick Creek Bridge.

  • It’s probably OK for a cycle trail, but would it be strong enough for heavy rail use.
  • On the other hand, is it past its replace date and Cornwall County Council might like to pass the responsibility to Network Rail?

There is also more land to build a station at Padstow.

It could even be built on the East side of the bridge, so that the heaviest thing it would carry would be pedestrians.

Would A Shared RailTrail Work?

One of the most interesting train systems, that I have seen is in Zwickau in the former East Germany, where instead of buying more trams to connect to other towns and cities, they devised a train-tram system using standard diesel multiple units.

The Zwickau system is more complicated than it would need to be in the UK, as the trains have to share tram-tracks of a different size, so there are  three-railed tracks; two for the metre gauge trams and an extra one for the standard gauge trains.

I have never seen anywhere else, where rail vehicles of different gauges share rails.

The trains run under virtually the same rules as street running trams do in Birmingham, Blackpool, Croydon, Edinburgh, Manchester, Nottingham and Sheffield.

  • You can cross the road all round them.
  • Trains are limited to slow speeds.
  • The trains are independently powered.
  • The trains cross level crossings.
  • There is no electric power for the trains.
  • The trains are double-manned and the crew keep a good look out!

Note, in the pictures, that the trains have flashing orange warning lights.

Could a GWR Class 800 train run along the RailTrail?

  • The train would be a five-car unit.
  • The train would be fitted with environmentally-friendly battery power, so it would be emission-free and almost silent.
  • There would be a charging facility in the platform at Bodmin General station to top up the battery, before the train ran on the RailTrail.
  • As in Zwickau, the track would be buried in the ground. so it could be safely used by trains and not be a hazard to pedestrians.
  • The train would have a slow speed crawling mode, so it could proceed along the RailTrail with extreme care.

With the right timetable, the modern trains could share with the Bodmin and Wenford’s heritage trains.

Could Wadebridge Get A Direct Service To London Paddington?

Why not?

Places like Bradford, Harrogate, Huddersfield and Skipton appear to be being added to LNER’s network, by joining and splitting Class 800 trains at Leeds.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a five-car Class 800 train with a battery capability running  from Wadebridge to Plymouth, where is joined with another train from Newquay, Penzance or Plymouth, before running as a ten-car train to London Paddington.

Conclusion

I like this scheme and it could be a prototype for other similar ones.

July 26, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Beeching Reversal – Increased Service Provision Bodmin General-Bodmin Parkway

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

This Google Map shows the relationship of the two Bodmin General and Bodmin Parkway stations.

The two stations are clearly visible.

The aim of this Beeching Reversal project would appear to set up a more regular service between Bodmin Parkway station on the Cornish Main Line and Bodmin General station in the town.

This video shows some of the current trains run by the Bodmin and Wenford railway, between the two stations.

This article on Cornwall Live is entitled Plan To Link Heritage Railway At Bodmin To Mainline Train Services, gives a few scant details.

  • There will be a second platform at Bodmin General station.
  • This will allow extra services.

Looking at the space around Bodmin Parkway station, it should be possible to have a very comprehensive track layout, that connects the Bodmin branch to the main line.

It also appears that the platform is fully-funded from Great Western Railway (GWR) and Cornwall County Council.

What Do GWR Want In Return For Their Funding?

I think that GWR could have a couple of uses for a platform at Bodmin General station.

Reorganising The Services Between London Paddington and the South-West

Currently, there are three services on this route.

  • London Paddington and Exeter St. Davids via Reading, Newbury, Pewsey, Westbury, Castle Cary, Taunton, Tiverton Parkway.
  • London Paddington and Plymouth via Reading, Taunton, Tiverton Parkway, Exeter St Davids, Newton Abbot, Totnes.
  • London Paddington and Penzance via Reading, Taunton, Tiverton Parkway, Exeter St Davids, Newton Abbot, Totnes, Plymouth, Liskeard, Bodmin Parkway, Lostwithiel, Par, St Austell, Truro, Redruth, Camborne, St Erth.

All services have a frequency of one train per two hours (tp2h)

Perhaps by reorganising the train paths, GWR could run another 1 tp2h service between London Paddington and Bodmin or Newquay station after the Transformation Of The Newquay Line.

Joining And Splitting Between London Paddington And The South-West

GWR’s Hitachi Class 80x trains have the ability to run in pairs, that are split and joined at convenient places en route.

As a means of evening out passenger loadings on pairs of trains running to the South-West, the two large stations of Exeter St. Davids and Plymouth would surely be possibilities for the manoeuvre.

I also think that Bodmin Parkway station could be used to split and join two trains from Cornwall.

  • One train would come from Penzance and the West.
  • The other could come from either Newquay or Bodmin General stations.
  • In the future the second train, might come from a new Wadebridge station.

Bodmin Parkway station might need some small modifications, but it should be remembered that the closely-related Class 395 trains, do the deed and quickly disappear at Ashford International station.

Creating A Bodmin-Wadebridge Railway

There are also plans in the Beeching Reversal projects for the Reinstatement of the Bodmin-Wadebridge Railway

For trains to travel between Bodmin Parkway and Wadebridge stations, trains will need to reverse in the new platform at Bodmin General station.

Local Services From Exeter And Plymouth

From what I have read on the Internet, the Bodmin and Wenford Railway is an important tourist attraction and is one of several around Bodmin including the beaches and the Camel Trail.

So perhaps, a connection between Bodmin and Exeter and/or Plymouth in a vintage InterCity 125 could be a nice little earner for GWR and an appropriate way to arrive at the steam railway.

Steam Local Services From Exeter And Plymouth

Why not?

The new platform at Bodmin General station could probably take a locomotive and four coaches and all the facilities to handle steam engines are in the vicinity of the station.

Could The New Platform Be Used For High Speed Freight Shuttles?

Why not?

Rail Operations Group is looking at the possibility of running Class 769 trains as freight shuttles.

Bodmin could make an ideal Cornish terminal, as it’s the right side of county and has the main A38 close by.

Could The Platform Be Used To Charge Battery Electric Trains?

I feel that First Group are starting to embrace battery trains.

In Hitachi Trains For Avanti, I talked about how a fellow First Group company were reporting, that they might have battery trains.

If Great Western Railway were running extra trains into Cornwall, would a new platform at Bodmin General station, be an ideal place to charge a train?

Conclusion

A second platform at Bodmin General station could open up a lot of possibilities for train operating companies.

 

July 25, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Beeching Reversal – Reopening Stratford-upon-Avon And Honeybourne-Worcester/Oxford (SWO) Railway Line

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

I covered this route in RSC Urges GWR To Provide Stratford Improvements and came to these conclusions.

There are three ways to improve rail access to Stratford-upon-Avon.

    • The relatively easy and quick, enhancement of the rail services in Warwickshire.
    • Provide better one-change routes using Chiltern Railways.
    • The more difficult re-connection of Stratford to the Cotswold Line at Honeybourne.

As the last project will take years to implement, I feel, it is important that services to Stratford from Birmingham, Coventry, Leamington Spa and the West Midlands are substantially increased.

I also believe that the responsibility of providing a local service between Leamigton Spa and Stratford should be given to West Midlands Trains.

The Case To Reconnect Stratford-on-Avon and Honeybourne Stations

In Where Is London Midland Going?, I wrote this section in July 2017.

The North Warwickshire Line

The North Warwickshire Line links Birmingham with Stratford-on-Avon and has an alternative name of the Shakespeare Line.

Plans exist to extend this line South to Honeybourne station on the Cotswold Line.

Under Possible Future Development in the Wikipedia entry for the Warwickshire Line, this is said.

The Shakespeare Line Promotion Group is promoting a scheme to reopen the 9 miles (14 km) of line south of Stratford to Honeybourne where it would link to the Cotswold Line. Called the “Avon Rail Link”, the scheme (supported as a freight diversionary route by DB Schenker) would make Stratford-upon-Avon station a through station once again with improved connections to the South, and would open up the possibility of direct services to Oxford and Worcester via Evesham. The scheme faces local opposition. However, there is a good business case for Stratford-Cotswolds link.

I think we’ll see something in the new franchise about developing this line, as there is a lot of potential for a train operator.

    • Direct services between Stratford-on-Avon and Oxford, where there is a connection to Bicester Village. Tourists would love that!
    • Connection of the housing development at Long Marston to Birmingham.
    • Could Stratford-on-Avon or Honeybourne become the terminus of a service from Leamington, Coventry and Nuneaton?

It would also give DB Schenker, their freight diversion.

But we didn’t see anything in the new franchise and the project has turned up in the list of Beeching Reversal projects.

The Route Into Stratford-Upon-Avon

This Google Map shows Stratford-upon-Avon station.

Note.

  1. The station is well-appointed with step-free access and three platforms.
  2. The bridge at the Southern end of the station to allow the railway to go South, appears to be intact.

This second Google Map shows the area of the town from the station to the racecourse.

Note.

  1. Stratford-upon-Avon station at the top of the map.
  2. Stratford Racecourse at the bottom of the map.

The road curving between the station and the racecourse is the track of the former Stratford to Honeybourne railway.

My first reaction, when I saw this was that those, who want to rebuild this railway can’t be serious.

  • Would you want one of DB Schenker’s noisy, smelly and polluting Class 66 locomotives running past your house?
  • Would you want the line to be electrified, so they could use electric locomotives on this short stretch of railway? If so would DB Schenker be happy to change locomotives twice?

I have looked at new railways entering towns and cities all over the UK and Europe and feel there is only two possible solutions for Southern access to Stratford-upon-Avon station.

  • A single-track passenger-only railway run by battery electric trains.
  • A tunnel, which would probably be single-bore for cost reasons.

South of Stratford, the route is easier and it can be picked out on Google Maps until it reaches the Cotswold Line to the East of Honeybourne station.

This Google Map shows Honeybourne station and the junction.

Note.

  1. The Cotswold Line running NW-SE across the map.
  2. The large triangular junction that connected the line to Stratford-upon-Avon station, which is to the North-East.
  3. Another track going South from the junction, can be picked out. This leads to the heritage Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway at Broadway station, with onward connections to Cheltenham Racecourse.

Honeybourne station could be an important rail hub.

Honeybourne Station And Battery Electric Trains

Consider.

  • Hereford and Honeybourne stations are 48 miles apart.
  • Didcot East Junction, where trains switch to and from the Great Western Main Line electrification and Honeybourne stations are 48 miles apart.
  • Trains to Hereford pass through Great Malvern, Worcestershire Parkway and Worcester Foregate Street.
  • Stratford-up-on-Avon and Honeybourne stations would be less than thirty miles apart, if the two stations were to be reconnected by rail.
  • Hitachi’s proposed battery electric trains will have a range of 56 miles on battery power.

If the means to charge battery electric trains were provided in the Honeybourne area, the following services could be run by battery electric trains.

  • London Paddington and Worcestershire Parkway, Worcester Foregate Street, Great Malvern and Hereford.
  • Honeybourne and Stratford-upon-Avon

The charging could be performed, by a ten minute stop at Honeybourne station or a section of electrified line centred on the station.

The two stations either side of Honeybourne are Evesham and Moreton-in-Marsh.

  • They are fifteen miles apart.
  • Trains take eighteen minutes between the stations.
  • This would be enough time to charge the batteries.
  • Trains could pan-up and pan-down in the two stations.

I believe modern low-visibility overhead electrification could be used.

See Prototype Overhead Line Structure Revealed for more details on these gantries.

An Oxford And Stratford-upon-Avon Service

My estimates for the timings of the two sections of the route are as follows.

  • Stratford-upon-Avon and Honeybourne – 20 minutes
  • Honeybourne and Oxford – 46 minutes

Perhaps not the best for an efficient services, but I’m sure something could be arranged.

Conclusion

This will be a difficult project to get built.

If it is built, I suspect, it will be a passenger-only route using battery trains.

 

 

July 20, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Beeching Reversal – Upper Wensleydale Railway

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

This map from the Upper Wensleydale Railway web site, shows the location of the proposed reinstated railway.

This is the vision of how the railway will be used, taken from the web site.

It is hoped that a reinstated junction with the existing  Leeds – Settle – Carlisle railway line at Garsdale will allow ‘through’ trains to run from Hawes via Garsdale Junction, past the Yorkshire Three Peaks to Settle, then onwards through Hellifield and Clitheroe into Lancashire for Preston and Greater Manchester.

We are also hoping that some Manchester – Blackburn – Clitheroe trains can be extended to Garsdale and Hawes thereby linking Lancashire to an enhanced service through Settle to the Yorkshire Peaks and Dales.

Connections with other trains could be made at Hellifield (for West Yorkshire & Lancaster) and at Garsdale (for Carlisle, Scotland & the North East of England).

This Google map shows the current state of the railways at Garsdale.

Note.

  1. Garsdale station in the South-West corner of the map.
  2. The Settle and Carlisle Line curving away to the North over the Dandry Mire Viaduct.
  3. The trackbed of the former branch to Hawes stands out as a green scar.

I have followed the route of the railway to Hawes in my helicopter and it doesn’t appear to be a very challenging project to reinstate.

  • Although the comprehensive Routes and Structures page on the Upper Wensleydale Railway, indicates there is a lot to do.
  • It is about six miles long.
  • It is single track with a passing loop at Hawes.

This Google Map shows the town of Hawes,

It certainly looks the sort of place, where Wallace and Gromit might rent a cottage for a week and use as a base to explore the countryside.

  • There’s a Wensleydale Creamery.
  • There’s a traditional ropemaker called Outhwaite, dating from 1905, who have the web site; www.ropemakers.com.
  • The headquarters of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority are located in the North of the town and shown by a green arrow.

Next to the Park Authority is a blue arrow marking the Dales Countryside Museum, which incorporates the original Hawes railway station.

Services To Hawes

Looking at the data from Real Time Trains, it looks like trains on the Settle and Carlisle average about fifty mph on that line, which is generally double-track with an operating speed of sixty mph.

  • I would estimate that a modern diesel or hydrogen-powered train could do the return trip between Garsdale and Hawes station in around thirty minutes.
  • This time would probably mean that the Hawes Branch could be worked with only one train operational on the branch.
  • It would also fit in well with the service plans for the Upper Wensleydale Railway.

I am fairly certain that an hourly service could be run between Hawes and Hellifield stations, which could be extended as far South as the operator wanted.

Military Traffic To Redmire

In the Wikipedia entry for Redmire village, this is said.

Redmire is the terminus of the Wensleydale Railway. The Ministry of Defence uses trains to transport armoured vehicles from bases in the south to the Catterick military area using Redmire railway station as its terminus.

It looks like there must be a quality railway between Redmire station and the East Coast Main Line at Northallerton.

This Google Map shows the site of Redmire station.

Note.

  1. At the left hand side of the map, there look to be loading ramps for the military vehicles, at the end of two sidings.
  2. The building on the North side of the tracks appears to be the old Redmire station buildings.
  3. The blue dot to the right, is a Google Maps pointer for the station

If you type Redmire into Google Maps, it’s easy to find..

This Google Map shows the rail lines at Northallerton.

Note.

Northallerton station in the South-East corner of the map.

The East Coast Main Line runs about West-by-North from the station towards Darlington and Scotland.

The line to Middlesbrough branches off in a North-Easterly direction.

The Wensleydale Railway comes in from the West and joins the East Coast Main Line going North.

It also appears there used to be a tight chord that allowed trains to go between the Wensleydale Railway and the South.

It looks like the Army would like that chord for their vehicle trains.

This enlarged Google Map, shows the site of the chord.

It looks to me, that it was once a chord, but now it’s a substantial wood.

A Bigger Plan

In the Wikipedia entry for the Wensleydale Railway, there is a section, which is entitled Upper Wensleydale Railway, where this is said.

In late 2019/early 2020, a separate company was formed to campaign to reinstate the line between Hawes and Garsdale. The groups’ objective is to have a timetabled year-round service run by a train operating company, rather than a heritage service. This scheme was shortlisted for funding in the second round of the government’s Reverse Beeching Fund, in June 2020.

These are my thoughts on various topics.

The Eastern Terminal

There are three possible Eastern terminals.

  • Northallerton
  • Middlesbrough – There is no connection to the Wensleydale Railway.
  • Darlington – Would probably mean slow trains on the East Coast Main Line.

I think we’re left with Northallerton and the tight connection, which requires the chord to be reinstated.

But, it does say in the Wikipedia entry for Northallerton station, that the station is the terminus for the proposed extended Wensleydale Railway.

This Google Map shows the Northern end of Northallerton station.

Would it be possible to sneak a line down the Western side of the East Coast Main Line and into a new bay platform at the station?

It would certainly allow trains from the Wensleydale Railway to terminate at Northallerton station.

The Western Terminal

As I said earlier, it’s the operator’s choice.

Personally, I would choose Blackburn station.

  • It’s about fifty miles from Gardale station.
  • There is a train depot at Blackburn.
  • Blackburn station is in the Town Centre.
  • Blackburn station has good rail connections to Blackpool, Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester and Preston.

Prior to COVID-19, I regularly stayed in the convenient Premier Inn next to the station.

Rolling Stock

The trains will have to be self-powered, as I don’t think the budget will run to electrification and much of the track-bed is owned by a heritage railway.

So that must mean the trains must be self-powered, which will mean either diesel, electric or hydrogen.

  • I think diesel can be ruled out, except as a stop-gap, we are going carbon-neutral on the railways by 2040.
  • Blackburn and Northallerton stations are too far for battery power.

So that means it must be hydrogen power.

But as, it appears that Teesside is going for hydrogen, as I wrote about in Fuelling The Change On Teesside Rails, that should be a convenient fuel.

Conclusion

I like this scheme, as it sorts a lot of problems.

I also think that there’s a fair chance, it will get the nod.

The local MP is the Chancellor of the Exchequer; Rishi Sunak and this could be a case of he who pays the piper, calls the tune!

July 4, 2020 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Beeching Reversal – Restoration Of A Daily Train Service On The Keighley & Worth Valley Railway

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

The route starts at Keighley station, which is shown in this Google Map.

Keighley station is effectively a double station.

The basic plan appears to be to run daily passenger services on the heritage railway between Keighley and Oxenhope via Haworth.

But there is a lot more than meets the eye.

Commuter Use

The Wikipedia entry of the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway has a section called Commuter Use, where this is said.

On weekends – in particular Saturday mornings, local residents who live in Oxenhope, Haworth, Oakworth and Ingrow catch the early morning diesel service to Keighley, returning later on steam hauled services. During the weekday outside of the summer months, locals instead use the local bus services.

It then says that studies have been done to investigate the railway’s use as a commuter route.

Heritage Use

There are attractions in the area to attract everybody.

In addition to the major centres of Leeds and Bradford, these stations are worth a visit for the sites they serve.

Haworth for the Brontes

Saltaire for the World Heritage Site of Salts Mill and the Hockneys.

Skipton for the Settle and Carlisle Railway.

LNER To Skipton

LNER run a single daily service to Skipton, that calls at Keighley and Shipley and it is rumoured on Wikipedia, that they would like to run more services.

My feeling, is that the company wants to run pairs of five-car Class 800 or Class 801 trains to Leeds, where they will split and go on to places like Bradford, Harrogate, Huddersfield and Skipton.

Skipton And Colne

This project appears to be a favourite of Governments, as I suspect it solves problems across the North. I last wrote about it in May this year in Colne – Skipton Reopening Moves Closer.

Short Breaks In Yorkshire

Is Yprkshire and Leeds and Bradford in particular, making a bit for the short break market?

It all fits!

What Needs To Be Added To The Keighley And Worth Valley Railway?

If the railway is going to run a regular commuter or tourist service on the route between Keighley and Oxenhope, the following issues must be covered.

Rolling Stock

The railway has an extensive collection of rolling stock, which include a couple of diesel multiple units, that should be able to handle the service.

I would think, that if they wanted something more modern with a heritage feel, that a battery electric version of one of Vivarail’s Class 230 trains would fit the bill.

Stations

The stations on the railway seem to be in good condition, but I’m sure to handle commuters for Leeds and Bradford, there may be some updating required.

Ticketing

There must be through ticketing.

Conclusion

I don’t feel that this would be the most expensive of schemes, as the major expense of an interchange station between the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway and the Airedale Line is already built.

 

 

July 4, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Beeching Reversal – The Aston Rowant Extension Of The Chinnor Railway

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

This Googlr Map shows the location of the proposed Aston Rowant station.

Note.

  1. The motorway junction is Junction 6 of the M40, where it joins the B4009.
  2. The hotel at the top of the map, which is marked by a pink arrow,  is the Mercure Thame Lambert.
  3. A road passes the hotel and goes South East parallel to the motorway.

The original Aston Rowant station, appears to have been in the triangular piece of land to the East side of the road.

Wikipedia gives a plan for the future of the Aston Rowant station under a section called Future, where this is said.

There were reports in 1997 that the Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway (CPRR) wished to extend its operations to Aston Rowant. A joint venture between the CPRR and Chiltern Railways was also proposed whereby the national rail operator would construct a new station at Aston Rowant to allow frequent weekday commuter services along the Icknield Line to connect with main line traffic through to London Marylebone, leaving the CPPR to run heritage services at other times. The scheme, which would cost around £3m, would seek to take advantage of Aston Rowant’s location near junction 6 of the busy M40 motorway.

There doesn’t seem to be any more details on the Internet, but I could see the full scheme having the following.

  • A car-park by Junction 6 of the M40.
  • Minimal station facilities.
  • A shuttle train to Princes Risborough station using a diesel or battery Class 230 train or perhaps a heritage diesel.
  • At weekends, it would act as parking for the Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway.

It could be a deal, where everyone’s a winner. Local commuters, Park-and-Ride users, the CPRR and Chiltern Railways could all benefit.

Conclusion

This is a simple scheme and I suspect the biggest problem could be getting the planning permission.

 

July 2, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 3 Comments