The Anonymous Widower

Success For The Dartmoor Line

This article on Railnews is entitled Railway Braces For Weekend Changes.

The article flags up that rail timetables will change to the summer timetable and uses the Dartmoor Line where services will go hourly, as an example.

The article says this about the changes to the Dartmoor Line and the success of the restored service to Okehampton station.

One of the many changes includes the doubling of service frequencies on the recently-reopened Dartmoor Line between Exeter and Okehampton, where scheduled passenger trains were restored last November. From Sunday trains will be running every hour, and rail minister Wendy Morton visited Okehampton yesterday to celebrate the improvements.

The reopening is part of the government’s promise to ‘Restore your railways’, and the Okehampton line is the first practical example of this in action. The line was upgraded for £10 million less than the £40.5 million budgeted, and Network Rail said the route has proved ‘hugely popular’, because passenger numbers have been more than double than predicted, reaching an average of over 2,500 a week during the first 20 weeks. The number of passengers at nearby Crediton, where the Dartmoor Line joins services on the Tarka Line from Barnstaple, is also 39 per cent higher than it was before the pandemic.

I have some thoughts.

Reopening Of The Line

Network Rail can build projects on time and on budget, if they get the project management right.

Passenger Numbers Between Exeter And Okehampton

If 2,500 passengers per week can use the line in the winter, when there is only one train per two hours (tp2h), how many passengers will use the train, when there is an hourly service?

2,500 passengers per week, throughout the year would be 125,000 passengers per year and as surely the summer will be busier, I don’t think it will be an unreasonable figure.

Okehampton station car park appears to have around 300 spaces, so at 2,500 passengers per week, there might be a not too distant day, when it fills up.

Passenger Numbers At Crediton

I am not surprised that traffic at Crediton is up by 39 percent.

Consider.

  • Pre-pandemic, Crediton station had one train per hour (tph) to and from Exeter.
  • Post-pandemic, Crediton has three trains per two hours to and from Exeter.

It looks like the train frequency has been increased by 50 % and the number of passengers has increased by 39 %.

That surely is not surprising and passenger numbers might increase further when one tph are running between Exeter and both Barnstaple and Okehampton, if there are more possible passengers to attract.

Car parking at Crediton station may also be a problem, as there appears to be less than a hundred spaces.

Okehampton Parkway Station

Okehampton Parkway Station is likely to be built to the East of Okehampton. Wikipedia says this about the station.

Okehampton Parkway is a proposed railway station in Okehampton on the Dartmoor Line. The station would be part of the Devon Metro and has been described as a priority station. The station is to be sited at the A30 junction at Stockley Hamlet and would be sited at the Business Park at Okehampton as well as serving a further 900 homes close to the site.

Wikipedia, also says that Devon County Council has bought the site.

This must be one of the best sites to build a parkway station in the UK.

  • It’s on the dual-carriageway A 30, between London and Cornwall.
  • The good people of Devon seem to like to use trains given the passenger numbers at Okehampton and Crediton stations.
  • Housing is being built nearby.

This Google Map shows Devon and Cornwall to the West of Okehampton and Barnstaple.

Note.

  1. Okehampton with two stations is in the South-East corner of the map.
  2. Barnstaple, which has a station, is in the North-East corner of the map.
  3. There are well-visited holiday resorts all along the cost including Ilfracombe, Westward Ho! and Bude.

It strikes me that if Devon put together a network of zero-carbon buses, it would be well-used and they could sell the area for zero-carbon holidays.

Rolling Stock

Currently, the Okehampton and Barnstaple services are operated by Class 150 trains.

These are definitely not good enough, due to their age and diesel power.

The distances of the two services are as follows.

  • Exeter and Barnstable – 39.5 miles
  • Exeter and Okehampton – 25.5 miles

I feel that these routes could be handled by a battery-electric train like the Hitachi Regional Battery Train, which is shown in this Hitachi infographic.

Note.

  1. For these routes, the trains would probably be based on four-car Class 385 trains, with a top speed of 90 mph.
  2. Charging would be in Exeter.
  3. Charging may not be needed at Barnstaple and Okehampton as the routes are downhill.

If battery-electric trains can’t handle the routes, I’m sure hydrogen-powered trains could.

May 13, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Bid For The Return Of The Tweed Valley Railway Line Is At An Early Stage

The title of this post, is the same as that, of this article on the Southern Reporter.

This is the first paragraph.

A campaign for a multi-billion restoration of the Tweed Valley railway line is at an ’embryonic’ stage, a council committee has been informed.

The aim seems to be to take a restored Tweed Valley Line or Peebles Railway all the way to the Borders Railway at Galashiels station.

This map from Open Railway Map, shows the railway between Peebles and Innerleithen.

Note.

  1. The former Peebles Railway is shown as a dotted line.
  2. Peebles is in the North-West corner of the map.
  3. Innerleithen is in the South-East corner of the map.

This Google Map shows part of the former railway.

Note.

  1. The A72 at the top of the map.
  2. The hotel and the golf course.
  3. The Peebles Railway has been converted into cycling and walking route.
  4. The River Tweed adds a touch of serenity.

From this first glance, it looks like it would be difficult to restore the railway.

This second map from Open Railway Map, shows the railway between Innerleithen and Galashiels.

Note.

  1. The Borders Railway is shown in yellow.
  2. The former Peebles Railway is shown as a dotted line.
  3. Innerleithen is in the West.
  4. Galashiels is in the East on the Border Railway.

This Google Map shows Galashiels.

Note.

  1. The Peebles Railway enters Galashiels from the North-West.
  2. Galashiels station is in the South-East corner of the map.
  3. The Borders Railway is single-track through Galashiels and continues to the terminus at Tweedbank station.

These pictures show the Borders Railway through Galashiels and Galashiels station.

It was certainly a tight fit to rebuild the Borders Railway through Galashiels and there was only room for a single-track railway.

My Thoughts On A Restored Railway Between Peebles And Galashiels

These are my thoughts.

Single Or Double Track

It appears from Wikipedia that Innerleithen station was the only station between Peebles and Galashiels, that had two platforms.

Wikipedia doesn’t say, but I suspect that the Peebles Railway was single-track, except for at Innerleithen station, where there were two tracks and platforms to enable trains to pass.

I would expect that if the railway were to be restored, a similar layout could be used.

After flying my virtual helicopter along the route, I feel that it could be very difficult in some places to thread a double-track railway through the limited space.

As has been proven at Galashiels station, a well-designed single-platform station is step-free, can handle two trains per hour (tph) and is a more affordable option, as there is no bridge with lifts.

Service Frequency

I am fairly sure, that a single-track railway with a passing loop at Innerleithen, could handle two trains per hour.

But as the basic Off Peak service on the Borders Railway is hourly, I suspect that an hourly service between Peebles and Galashiels would be ideal and sufficient, as by intelligent timetabling, the interchange at Galashiels could be convenient for those going between Edinburgh and Peebles.

The Eastern Terminal

Galashiels station may only have one platform, but it is an interchange with buses to all over the Borders and there are some facilities.

One of the problems at Galashiels station, is that there may not be space for a second platform for the Peebles service, which will mean that the Borders Railway and the Peebles service may have to share the same platform.

A convenient service could probably be achieved by clever timetabling or having both trains in a lengthened platform at the same time.

You might see a sequence like this every hour at Galashiels station.

  • XX:18 – Train arrives from Edinburgh and stops in the Southern end of the platform
  • XX:20 – Train arrives from Peebles and stops in the Northern end of the platform
  • XX:22 – Train departs to Tweedbank
  • XX:32 – Train arrives from Tweedbank and stops in the Southern end of the platform
  • XX:34 – Train departs to Peebles
  • XX:35 – Train departs to Edinburgh

Note.

  1. All passengers changing trains get off one and get on the next one going to their desired destination, at the same platform
  2. Passengers going between Peebles and Tweedbank have two minutes to walk along the platform to change trains.
  3. The Borders Railway train is working the current timetable.
  4. The Peebles train is in the station for fourteen minutes, which should be long enough to charge the batteries, if it were a battery-electric train.

But it might be better to extend the service to Tweedbank station, where there are two platforms.

This could possibly make it easier to organise services if the Borders Railway were to be extended to Carlisle.

Journey Times

I estimate journey times could be as follows.

  • Peebles and Galashiels – 21 minutes
  • Peebles and Tweedbank – 25 minutes

Ideally, I suspect, if a round trip to Peebles could be under an hour, this would allow a single train to run the service.

Rolling Stock

Surely,the ideal train for this route would be one of the very light rail trains, proposed for Coventry by Warwick University, that I wrote about in Very Light Rail – A Revolution.

  • These trains are single-carriage, with a capacity of fifty.
  • They can run in pairs.
  • They are battery-electric powered.
  • They would be fast-charged at both ends.
  • They have a speed of 65 mph, with good acceleration and deceleration.
  • They will be highly automated.

But their biggest feature will be that they can run on a lightweight easy-to-install affordable track.

Hopefully, by the time, this railway would be installed, these trains or something similar will probably be a common sight on branch lines.

The Track

If the train can do a round trip between Peebles and Galashiels, including charging, inside an hour, then the track can be single all the way, with simple one-platform stations.

Signalling would be by the well-established principle of One-Train-On-Line, except in Galashiels station.

I also think, that if designers can get a hold on it, then an innovative design could provide all the protection needed to ensure safe operation.

Pedestrians And Cyclists

As parts of the route is now a walking and cycling track, there will probably be protests about converting the track back into a railway.

But if the design is right, I suspect that a track for walkers and cyclists can be provided alongside.

But there are other routes in the UK, where a route could be shared between very light rail, pedestrians and cyclists.

The Sheep

And then there’s the sheep!

One of the funniest scientific documents, I’ve ever seen was a serious study by Liverpool University in the 1960s, which discussed the problem of keeping sheep off the then-proposed M62 motorway. The Veterinary School of the University had done  studies, that had shown sheep could climb six-foot chain link fences.

Hopefully, Scottish sheep are more sensible and better behaved than English ones.

Conclusion

Peebles and Galashiels could be an ideal route for very light rail. But parts of the design would be challenging.

However, get that design right and other routes could be converted to affordable battery-electric railways.

 

 

February 3, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Over 10,000 People Use Reopened Dartmoor Line In First Two Weeks

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from the Dartmoor Line.

These are the first three paragraphs of the press release.

More than 10,000 people have travelled on the Dartmoor Line in the first two weeks since its reopening.

The line reopened for regular year-round, all-week passenger services on Saturday 20 November and demand for the trains linking Okehampton and Exeter has continued to remain high.

The reopening of the Dartmoor Line is the first of the Government’s Restoring Your Railway schemes, made possible thanks to over £40 million Government investment.

All concerned must be very pleased, especially as it was delivered £10 million under budget and within nine months, ahead of time.

I described my first use of the new route to Okehampton in A Few Hours In Okehampton, where I came to this conclusion.

Exeter and Okehampton is a well-thought out reopening, that will be welcomed in the South West of England.

It would appear the passenger numbers confirm my conclusion.

Since my visit to Okehampton, I have wondered, whether the apparent success of the Okehampton reopening, would have any other effects.

In the December 2021 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article, which is entitled South West Seeks More Reopenings, with a sub-title of Okehampton Service Could Be A Precursor.

The article details a number of projects.

Marsh Barton Station

A new Marsh Barton station is under construction and has a December 2022 opening date.

Edginswell Station

A new Edginswell station is being planned to serve Torbay Hospital on the Riviera Line, with a possible opening of 2025.

Collumpton And Wellington Stations

The last budget chipped in five million, so that preferred options and a full business case can be developed for these two new stations.

  • Collumpton station will probably be developed at the site of the old station, which is close to Collumpton Services on the M5.
  • Wellington station will probably be on a new site at Longworth Farm, where five hundred houses are being developed.

The Modern Railways article also says this about housing.

Thousands of houses are expected to be built in both towns in the next decade, making provision of railway stations highly desirable to avoid soaring road congestion.

Network Rail and Great Western Railway also seem to be experimenting with different service patterns through the two stations.

  • Both hourly and two-hourly services have been tested.
  • In the December 2021 timetable there is now a two-hourly GWR Castle service over the Taunton and Exeter stretch, that will call at the two new stations, when they open.
  • To have an hourly service there will also be a Taunton and Exeter shuttle.

This service would provide access to education and employment in Exeter, Taunton and Bristol.

The cost benefit ratio is above the Government’s limit for backing of two.

Opening of the two new stations is pencilled in for 2025.

Barnstaple And Axminster

The Modern Railways article also says this.

As part of the Devon Metro concept, Devon County Council aspires to extend further eastwards the hourly Barnstaple services that currently terminate at Exeter Central, perhaps as far as Axminster.

This would need track improvements East of Pinhoe station.

The current timings of the two sections are as follows.

  • Exeter Central and Axminster – 37 minutes
  • Exeter Central and Barnstaple – 74 minutes

These timings probably mean that a round trip between Axminster and Barnstaple can be done in a convenient four hours, so an hourly service would need four trains.

From sometime next year, when the frequency of the Exeter Central and Okehampton service becomes hourly, the services along the route will be as follows.

  • Exeter St. Davids and Axminster – Hourly
  • Exeter Central and Barnstaple – Hourly
  • Exeter Central and Okehampton – Hourly

There is also a service, that runs every thirty minutes between Exmouth and Paignton via Exeter Central and Exeter St. Davids, Newton Abbot and Torquay.

The frequencies on the various sections would be as follows.

  • Barnstaple and Crediton – One tph
  • Okehampton and Crediton – One tph
  • Crediton and Exeter St. Davids – Two tph
  • Paignton and Exeter St. Davids – At least two tph
  • Exeter St. Davids and Exeter Central – Five tph
  • Exeter Central and Axminster – One tph
  • Exeter Central and Exmouth – Two tph

Note.

  1. tph is trains per hour.
  2. Other services run between Exeter St. Davids and Paignton stations.
  3. In recent years a new station at Cranbrook has opened between Exeter Central and Axminster.

Extending the Barnstaple and Exeter Central service to Axminster would double the frequency on the Exeter Central and Axminster section.

Axminster station is shown in this Google Map.

Note.

  1. The station has two platforms.
  2. The station appears to have a bridge with lifts.
  3. The station has a good road connection and the parking could probably be extended.

Axminster station could certainly handle a fast train between London and Exeter, a stopping train to Barnstaple and all the passengers.

Devon Metro

It does appear that the services of the Devon Metro are coming together.

  • Paignton and Exmouth is already running.
  • Barnstaple and Exeter Central is already running.
  • Okehampton and Exeter Central has just started.
  • Exeter St. Davids and Taunton via new stations at Collumpton and Wellington is being planned.
  • Barnstaple and Exeter Central needs to be extended to Axminster.

How many other cities in the UK could benefit from a metro of this quality?

Bere Alston And Tavistock

The Modern Railways article also says this.

Meanwhile, further west on the former Southern network, restoration of services from Bere Alston to Tavistock has long been proposed, giving Tavistock a rail link to Plymouth. Christian Irwin, Network Rail’s Industry Programme Manager (South West), who oversaw the Okehampton reopening that came in early and underbudget, says he is keen to repeat the trick on the Tavistock route.

It is probably more difficult than at Okehampton.

  • The trackbed is mainly intact, but the track has been lifted.
  • The track to be laid is shorter than at Okehampton.
  • Two structures at the Southern end need to be replaced.
  • A new station needs to be built at Tavistock.

Devon County Council seems to be in control of the land needed.

Proposed services seem to be as follows.

  • Plymouth and Gunnislake via Bere Alston – One train per two hours (tp2h)
  • Plymouth and Tavistock via Bere Alston – One tph

Overall it looks like the Tavistock project will be more expensive than that at Okehampton, but there would appear to be more contributions from developers.

Devon County Council are hoping that the Tavistock link could be build in the next decade.

Tavistock And Okehampton

After the reconnection of Tavistock to the National Rail network, the council would hope to complete the link between Tavistock and Okehampton.

This would give the following benefits.

  • Improved public transport connectivity in West Devon and North Cornwall.
  • Improve revenue potential at Okehampton and Tavistock stations.
  • Create an easier freight route.
  • Create an alternative route, if the coastal route is closed.

It is a challenging project, but I feel it will be possible by perhaps 2035.

 

December 31, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Trains Restart On Dartmoor Rail Line After 49 Years

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

This shows what Network Rail can do, if they pull out all the stops.

I have said this before in Railway Restored: Regular Trains To Run On Dartmoor Line For First Time In 50 Years.

Network Rail have set themselves a good precedent to open the line in nine months and £10 million under budget.

But it could turn out to be one of the most significant days in the development of the railways of the UK.

Well done! Network Rail!

Here’s to the next reopening!

 

November 20, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Railway Restored: Regular Trains To Run On Dartmoor Line For First Time In 50 Years

The title of this post is the same as that of this press release from Network Rail.

These are the three main points of the press release.

  • First passenger train on the first Restoring Your Railway reopening will run on Wednesday 17 November, ahead of public services resuming on Saturday 20 November
  • Restored in just nine months, and delivered £10m under budget, transforming a mothballed former freight railway to regular services.
  • Reopening is the first of the Government’s Restoring Your Railway schemes to return to service, fulfilling a manifesto commitment.

This Network Rail picture shows the first train.

It’s good to see, GWR made a name plate.

Network Rail have set themselves a good precedent to open the line in nine months and £10 million under budget.

Let’s hope they repeat this performance on other reopened lines.

November 17, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

Restoring Your Railway Planning Funds Allocated

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Railway Gazette.

This is the first paragraph.

The Department for Transport has announced the successful bidders for the third ’and for the foreseeable future final’ round of funding from the Restoring Your Railway programme’s Ideas Fund.

The DfT received eighty-nine applications and these were the lucky thirteen.

Reopening The Darlington – Weardale Line To Passenger Services

I haven’t covered this one before, so I have written a new post.

See Reopening The Darlington – Weardale Line To Passenger Services

Reopening The Ashton – Stockport Line To Passenger Services

I wrote about this line in July 2020 in Beeching Reversal – Stockport And Ashton Line.

Reopening The Middlewich Line To Passenger Services

I wrote about this line in July 2017 in Business Case Requested For Middlewich Reopening.

Introducing Passenger Services On The East Lancashire Railway Between Rawtenstall And Buckley Wells Near Bury

I wrote about this in January 2019 in Rossendale Reopening Prospect.

Reopening Corsham Station

I haven’t covered this one before, so I have written a new post.

See Reopening Corsham Station

Reopening Stonehouse Bristol Road Station

I haven’t covered this one before, so I have written a new post.

See Reopening Stonehouse Bristol Road Station

Reinstating The Line Between Tavistock And Bere Alston And Providing New Services To And From Plymouth

This would appear to be a change of emphasis, so I have written a new post.

See Reinstating The Line Between Tavistock And Bere Alston And Providing New Services To And From Plymouth

Reopening The Gaerwen – Amlwch Line On Anglesey

I wrote about this in March 2017 in Reopening The Anglesey Central Railway

Reopening The Oswestry – Gobowen Line

I haven’t covered this one before, so I have written a new post.

See Reopening The Oswestry – Gobowen Line

Reopening the Stoke – Leek Line

I haven’t covered this one before, so I have written a new post.

See Reopening the Stoke – Leek Line

Reopening The Askern Branch

I haven’t covered this one before, so I have written a new post.

See Reopening The Askern Branch

Reopening The Don Valley Section Of The Former Woodhead Line Between Stocksbridge and Sheffield Victoria To Passenger Services

I haven’t covered this one before, so I have written a new post.

See Reopening The Don Valley Section Of The Former Woodhead Line Between Stocksbridge and Sheffield Victoria To Passenger Services

Reinstating the Beverley – Market Weighton – York Line

I wrote about this in July 2020 in Beeching Reversal – Reinstatement Of The Beverley And York Rail Line

The DfT will provide up to £50 000 to cover 75% of the cost of developing early-stage proposals and business cases for each scheme.

 

 

 

November 3, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , | Leave a comment

Reopening The Don Valley Section Of The Former Woodhead Line Between Stocksbridge and Sheffield Victoria To Passenger Services

On October 27th this Beeching Reversal Project was given £50,000 to build a case for reopening.

Stocksbridge is introduced like this in Wikipedia.

Stocksbridge is a town and civil parish, in the City of Sheffield, in South Yorkshire, England. Historically part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, it lies just to the east of the Peak District. The town is located in the steep-sided valley of the Little Don River, below the Underbank Reservoir. It blends into the areas of Deepcar, Bolsterstone and the eastern end of Ewden valley around Ewden village, which are also within the civil parish. The population of the civil parish as of the 2011 census was 13,455.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note there are a large number of steel related industries all connected by an extensive railway system.

This Google Map shows part of the area to a more detailed scale.

I suspect that a station could be built somewhere to the South of the works.

I have followed the Stocksbridge Railway out to the East and it takes a loop to the South to Deepcar Tram and Railway station, as is shown on this Google Map.

Note.

The Eastern end of the Stockbridge site is in the North-West of the map.

Deepcar  station is shown by a blue dot in the South-East corner of the map.

This Google Map shows Deepcar station in greater detail.

Note.

  1. The Stocksbridge Railway curving to the West is clearly visible.
  2. The other railway going North is the former Woodhead Line to Manchester.

This map clipped from Wikipedia shows the Lines through Deepcar station.

This shows the route between Stocksbridge and the former Sheffield Victoria station.

I have also found this article on the Sheffield Star, which is entitled Passenger Trains Could Return On Sheffield To Stocksbridge Don Valley Railway Line After major Funding Boost.

This is a paragraph.

The plans also involve reopening Sheffield Victoria station, which could serve a new Barrow Hill line to Chesterfield, stopping at Darnall, the Advanced Manufacturing Park, Woodhouse and other new stations, similar funding for which was granted last year.

This would seem to be a sensible plan.

These are my thoughts.

Sheffield Victoria Station

This Google Map shows the site of the Stocksbridge Line going through the centre of Sheffield.

The line starts in the North-West corner of the map and goes diagonally across.

The site of Sheffield Victoria station is at the Eastern edge of the map and is shown enlarged in this Google Map.

The street and hotel names are a giveaway.

There would appear to be space for a simple station with one or two platforms on the single-track through the area.

My preference would be for a single bi-directional platform, as has been used successfully at Galashiels station.

 

With well-placed passing loops, stations like these can handle two trains per hour (tph) and they can be step-free for all users.

Onward To Chesterfield

The plans as laid out in the paragraph in the Sheffield Star would appear to be feasible.

Darnall and Woodhouse are existing stations.

It would serve the proposed new station at Waverley, that I wrote about in Sheffield Region Transport Plan 2019 – A New Tram-Train Route To A New Station At Waverley.

Chesterfield station will be rebuilt for High Speed Two, so extra platforms could surely be added.

I wrote about plans for the Barrow Hill Line in Reinstatement Of The Barrow Hill Line Between Sheffield And Chesterfield.

It certainly looks to me, that taken together the Barrow Hill and Stocksbridge schemes could be a valuable new railway for Sheffield.

Rolling Stock

I have ridden all over Karlsruhe in Germany on their tram-trains, which are a German variant of Sheffield’s Class 399 tram-trains and I can see no reason, why the combined route couldn’t be designed and built for these trains.

  • They are very good on hills.
  • They can work on both 750 VDC and 25 KVAC overhead wires.
  • The closely-related Class 398 tram-trains in Cardiff will have batteries.
  • They are already working successfully in Sheffield.
  • There must be design advantages for stations.
  • Travellers in Sheffield are used to the tram-trains.
  • There is maintenance and operational experience in Sheffield.

It is also my belief, that Class 399 tram-trains would make excellent replacements for Sheffield’s current trams. I wrote about this in Sheffield Region Transport Plan 2019 – Renewal Of Supertram Network.

Electrification

Looking at the Stocksbridge and Barrow Hill Lines together, I believe there is a strong case for electrification of both routes with 25 KVAC overhead wires.

This would enable the following.

  • Class 399 tram-trains to work the combined route.
  • East Midlands Railway’s Class 810 trains to access Sheffield station via the Barrow Hill Line on electricity.
  • Electrified freight trains could use the route.

It could also be an easy route to electrify and be a good start to the electrification of Sheffield, which will happen in the future.

Electrification Between Sheffield And Clay Cross North Junction For High Speed Two

This electrification is needed for High Speed Two’s connection to Sheffield. It will also entail a lot of disruption for trains between Derby and Sheffield.

For these reasons, I believe that opening up the Barrow Hill route early between Sheffield and Chesterfield could be an excellent blockade buster.

Conclusion

There’s more to reopening the Stocksbridge Line, than as a local service in Sheffield.

 

November 3, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Reopening The Askern Branch

On October 27th this Beeching Reversal Project was given £50,000 to build a case for reopening.

These are my thoughts.

The Askern Branch Line

This description of the Askern Branch Line is from Wikipedia.

The Askern branch line is a railway line which runs in North, South and West Yorkshire in England. The stretch of track runs from Shaftholme Junction north of Doncaster (on the East Coast Main Line between Doncaster and York), via Askern, Norton and Womersley to Knottingley, where it joins the Pontefract Line.

This map was also clipped from Wikipedia.

Note.

  1. Shaftholme junction is where the Askern Branch splits from the East Coast Main Line.
  2. There are three closed stations on the Askern Branch; Askern, Norton and Womersley.
  3. Between Shaftholme junction and Knottingley West junction, on the Pontefract Line is 10.7 miles.
  4. The operating speed of the line is between twenty and fifty mph.

Unbelievably, in those 10.7 miles there are nineteen level crossings.

Current Passenger Services

The only passenger services on the line are Grand Central‘s services between London King’s Cross and Bradford Interchange.

  • Grand Central are an open-access operator.
  • Grand Central ran the first service in 2007.
  • There are four trains per day (tpd) in both directions.
  • They call at Doncaster, Pontefract Monkhill, Wakefield Kirkgate, Mirfield, Brighouse, Halifax and Low Moor.

Perhaps, if they stopped at a station on the Askern Branch Line, it would give their finances a lift.

Freight Services

There are up to four freight services per hour on the line.

Askern Station

Askern station used to serve the village of Askern.

  • Askern has a population of about 6,000.
  • Askern used to be a spa town.
  • But then coal was discovered and it became a mining village.
  • Do spas and coal mining make a good mix? I doubt it.
  • Eventually the station closed in September 1948.
  • There is a level crossing at the station.

The village is now developing and there is pressure for the reopening of the station.

Railfuture has backed the reopening.

Norton Station

Norton station used to serve the village of Norton.

  • Norton has a population of about 5,000.
  • The station closed in September 1948.
  • There is a level crossing at the station.

There appears to be no pressure to reopen the station, although the site is protected.

Womersley Station

Womersley station used to serve the village of Womersley.

  • Womersley has a population of a few hundred.
  • The station closed in September 1948.
  • There is a level crossing at the station.

There appears to be no pressure to reopen the station.

Would This Project Be Better Described As Reopening Askern Station?

I can’t find any reference to reopening Norton and Womersley stations, so perhaps Reopening Askern Station would be closer to the reality.

A New Askern Station

This Google Map shows the site of the former station.

This could be a challenging station to design depending on the brief.

Services At A New Askern Station

I suspect that some or perhaps all of Grand Central’s Kings Cross and Bradford Interchange  services will call.

But these don’t go to Leeds and I suspect that a service is needed to and from Leeds.

Will The Askern Line Be Electrified?

Who knows?

 

October 31, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 6 Comments

Reopening the Stoke – Leek Line

On October 27th this Beeching Reversal Project was given £50,000 to build a case for reopening.

These are my thoughts.

The State Of The Line Today

This sentence describes the Stoke  Leek Line in Wikipedia.

The Stoke to Leek line is a mothballed railway route, which up until 1988 was used by BR freight trains to reach the quarries at both Cauldon Lowe and Oakamoor.

This map was also clipped from Wikipedia.

Note.

  1. Leek is at the top of the map.
  2. Leek is a town of 21,000 people.
  3. The distance between Stoke-on-Trent and Leek is about eleven miles by road.
  4. The Waterhouses branch Line leads to the quarries.
  5. The Churnet Valley Line is a heritage line.

I have flown by virtual helicopter along the line and you can see a single-track railway amongst the weeds.

Leek

This Google Map shows Leek.

The original station was demolished to make way for the Morrisons supermarket.

I suspect that there is sufficient space close to the supermarket to fit in a simple single-platform station for the single-track from Stoke-on-Trent.

Rolling Stock

I suspect this line would best be served by battery-electric trains.

  • It’s no more than a dozen miles.
  • There is electrification at Stoke-on-Trent station.
  • Leek has the lower altitude by 220 ft.

I suspect a charging system would be needed at Leek.

Vivarail’s Class 230 trains could be ideal for this line.

Freight

Reading about the line, it appears that there are plans that propose reopening the line for traffic from the quarries.

It would need to be decided, if freight were to be allowed on the line.

Conclusion

This could be a useful passenger line, with a freight capability, if that were needed.

October 31, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Reopening The Oswestry – Gobowen Line

On October 27th this Beeching Reversal Project was given £50,000 to build a case for reopening.

These are my thoughts.

Gobowen Station

Gobowen station appears to be a fine station.

Wikipedia says this about the future of the station.

Gobowen station may become the northern terminus of the proposed Cambrian Heritage Railways line to Llynclys, Pant and Blodwel via Oswestry. Shropshire Council was to acquire the coal yard at Gobowen for railway-related uses, including car parking for the station. If the plans are fully realised, the station would have three platforms, one of which would be for the Heritage Railway.

It does look as if, Shropshire Council have got the money for a full study.

This Google Map shows Gobowen station.

Note.

  1. The two tracks of the Chester-Shrewsbury Line each have a platform.
  2. Step-free access is by the level crossing, which is at the North end of the station.
  3. It looks like it would be space to convert the Northbound platform into an island platform, where the Western platform face would be for the heritage trains.

This second Google Map shows the tracks at the South end of Gobowen station.

Note.

There is a set of points to allow trains to access a third platform at Gobowen station.

The single-track line to Oswestry branches off to the West at the bottom of the map.

It would appear that a bay platform at Gobowen station can be created to handle trains to Oswestry.

Oswestry Station

Oswestry station appears to be another fine station.

  • It is also Grade II Listed.
  • It has just a single platform.
  • It appears to be owned by the local authority.

This Google Map shows the station.

Note.

  1. The station is the large building with the chimneys in the South-East corner of the map.
  2. The single platform is behind it.
  3. The platform is long enough to take a 1200 metre long train.

This station would make an ideal terminus.

The Track Between Oswestry And Gobowen

The track is single-track with a couple of foot crossings, so I don’t think it will need much to bring it up to a modern standard.

A Shuttle Service Between Oswestry And Gobowen

I suspect a two-car shuttle train between the two stations would suffice for most of the day.

Transport for Wales have some Class 230 trains and these would be ideal. They could even be battery-electric trains if a battery charging system were to be installed at one station.

Could Avanti West Coast Run A Service To London?

It looks like Avanti West Coast’s Class 805 trains could run along the line between Gobowen and Oswestry.

So could Avanti’s planned service to Gobowen terminate at Oswestry instead?

It would all depend on the passenger forecasts and actual numbers

Could Avanti West Coast Run A Battery-Electric Service To London?

Consider.

  • Oswestry is a town of 17,500 people, so probably has a reasonable electricity supply, especially if it were to be backed up by a battery.
  • The amount of renewable electricity produced over the border in Wales is only going to grow.
  • There is plenty of space at Oswestry to put in a charging system to replace the batteries.

Distances are as follows.

  • Crewe and Chester – 21.1 miles
  • Chester and Gobowen – 24.6 miles
  • Gobowen and Oswestry – 3.3 miles

This is a total distance of 49 miles.

Avanti West Coast have ordered thirteen bi-mode Class 805 trains, which will replace the diesel Class 221 trains currently working between London Euston and Chester. Holyhead and Shrewsbury.

  • They will run at 125 mph between Euston and Crewe using electric power.
  • If full in-cab digital signalling were to be installed on the electrified portion of the route, they may be able to run at 140 mph in places under the wires.
  • They will use diesel power on the North Wales Coast Line to reach places like Chester, Holyhead and Wrexham.
  • According to an article in Modern Railways, the Class 805 trains could be fitted with batteries.

I wouldn’t be surprised that when they are delivered, they are a version of the Hitachi’s Intercity Tri-Mode  Battery Train, the specification of which is shown in this Hitachi infographic.

Note.

  1. I suspect that the batteries will be used to handle regenerative braking on lines without electrification, which will save diesel fuel and carbon emissions.
  2. The trains accelerate faster, than those they replace.
  3. The claimed fuel and carbon saving is twenty percent.
  4. It is intended that these trains will be introduced next year.

But Hitachi have not given any predictions of the range of these trains on battery power alone.

However, they do claim a battery range of 56 miles for the Hitachi Regional Battery Train, which is based on similar technology.

I believe it would be possible to run a zero-carbon London Euston and Oswestry service.

  • The trains would be Class 805 trains fitted with batteries.
  • Trains could stop at Milton Keynes Central, Lichfield Trent Valley, Stafford, Crewe, Chester, Wrexham General and Gobowen.
  • Trains would use electrification between London Euston and Crewe.
  • Trains would recharge their batteries South of Crewe and at Oswestry.

I doubt that a battery-electric zero-carbon train serving Cheshire, Shropshire and North-East Wales would have a negative effect on the area.

Just as Hull and Lincoln seem to be moving towards a frequency of one train per two hours from London, I wonder if this service could ever attain the same frequency.

Onward From Oswestry

Cambrian Heritage Railways are planning to run services past Oswestry on their heritage railway.

Will this be a good idea?

Where Now For First Group?

First Group are a shareholder in Avanti West Coast.

They also own Lumo, who last week launched their open-access service between London and Edinburgh. Their marketing is all about being green and sustainable.

I just wonder if a battery-electric service to Gobowen is successful, they will apply this model all over the group.

Hull Trains service between London and Hull is an obvious possibility for a battery-electric zero-carbon service.

Conclusion

It looks to me, that reopening of the Oswestry – Gobowen Line opens up other possibilities.

October 31, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments