The Anonymous Widower

Beeching Reversal – Reopening Sawston Station

This is one of the Round 3 bids of Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

Sawston is a village in South Cambridgeshire, which is shown in this Google Map.

Note.

The West Anglia Main Line and the A1301 road both run North-South to the West of the village.

The railway calls at Whittlesford Parkway station at the bottom of the map.

The A505, which is a main route between West Suffolk and the M11 and the A1 (M) runs across the bottom of the map.

The new Sawston station is proposed to be in Mill Lane close to the old Spicers factory.

This second Google Map shows the area of the proposed station.

Note.

  1. There would appear to be space for a station.
  2. The site is not far from the Western edge of the village.
  3. There is already a comprehensive road junction, that would serve the station.

This third Google Map shows the area of the Whittlesford Parkway station.

Note.

  1. The station running North-South towards the West of the map.
  2. The large car-park to the East of the station.
  3. The smaller car-park to the West of the station.
  4. The station has a Holiday Inn hotel.

I have used the station hundreds of times and I believe that it could be made into a first class transport hub for commuters and visitors to Cambridge.

  • It has good road connections to North Hertfordshire, West Suffolk and North West Essex.
  • It has large amounts of car parking, that ten years ago was rarely full.
  • A step-free footbridge with lifts, needs to be added.
  •  There needs to be better bus connections to local villages.
  • There needs to be a bus connection to the Imperial War Museum Duxford.

I don’t believe massive amounts of money would be needed to realise the full potential of this station.

Services through Whittlesford Station And The Proposed Site Of Sawston Station

Currently, the following services run through Whittlesford station in the Off Peak.

  • Greater Anglia – 2 tph – Liverpool Street and Cambridge North
  • Greater Anglia – 1 tph – Stansted Airport and Norwich
  • CrossCountry – 3 tpd – Stansted Airport and Birmingham New Street

Note.

  1. tph is an abbreviation for trains per hour.
  2. tpd is an abbreviation for trains per day
  3. All Greater Anglia services call at Whittlesford Parkway,  Cambridge and Cambridge North stations and will probably call at Cambridge South station, when it opens.
  4. The CrossCountry service only calls at Audley End station between Stansted Airport and Cambridge.

I believe that the minimum services should be as follows to provide an adequate service, after the opening of Cambridge South station.

  • 4tph – Whittlesford Parkway and Cambridge North stopping at Cambridge South and Cambridge.
  • 2 tph – Liverpool Street and Cambridge North stopping at Whittlesford Parkway, Cambridge South and Cambridge.
  • 1 tph – Stansted Airport and Norwich stopping at Whittlesford Parkway, Cambridge South, Cambridge and Cambridge North.
  • 1 tph – Stansted Airport and Birmingham New Street stopping at Whittlesford Parkway, Cambridge South, Cambridge and Cambridge North.

There could even be a Cambridgeshire Metro serving all stations between Stansted Airport and Ely.

  • All services could be run by electric or bi-mode trains.
  • Possible stops would be Elsenham, Newport, Audley End, Great Chesterford, Whittlesford Parkway, Shelford, Cambridge South, Cambridge, Cambridge North and Waterbeach.
  • As they do now some fast services would skip smaller stations.
  • More important stations like Audley End, Whittlesford Parkway, Cambridge South and Cambridge North would get a 4 tph service to Cambridge
  • Other stations would get an appropriate service.
  • I would also like to see two fast tph between Cambridge and King’s Lynn, Liverpool Street, Norwich, Peterborough and Stansted.

I think that such a timetable would be possible, if the performance of Greater Anglia’s new trains were to be used to the full.

Could An Extra Stop Be Added At The Proposed Site Sawston Station?

Each extra stop adds extra time to the timetable.

Consider.

  • The faster Liverpool Street and Whittlesford Parkway takes sixty minutes with six stops.
  • The slower Liverpool Street and Whittlesford Parkway takes seventy-four minutes with twelve stops.
  • Greater Anglia’s trains through Whittlesford Parkway and the proposed Sawston station will probably be 100 mph Class 720 trains.

I think it would be reasonable to assume that every extra stop would add 120-150 seconds to the journey time.

As Cambridge South station will be added anyway, will passengers mind up to five minutes added to the timetable?

I doubt with the faster accelerating trains, that there would be a problem about an extra stop at Sawston, but the lengthening of journey times between Cambridge and London may be a problem.

A Possible Alternative Solution

Could there be a possible alternative solution based on improving facilities and services at Whittlesford Parkway station?

  • The service at Whittlesford Parkway station would be increased to 4 tph to Cambridge North, with stops at Shelford, Cambridge South and Cambridge.
  • The service at Whittlesford Parkway station would be increased to 2 tph to Stansted Airport, with stops at Audley End.
  • A step-free bridge with lifts must be installed.
  • An improved bus-service between Sawston and Whittlesford Parkway is needed.
  • An improved bus-service between the Imperial War Museum Duxford and Whittlesford Parkway is needed.
  • Both bus services could be back-to-back and probably should be run every fifteen minutes.
  • As it serves a museum, why not run some heritage buses in the Summer?
  • There should be good cycling provision between Whittlesford Parkway station and Sawston and other surrounding villages.

I very much feel, that improving Whittlesford Parkway station, may be a better value solution, than building a new station at Sawston!

Conclusion

Building a new station at Sawston may not be the best way to improve public transport in the area.

 

March 22, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Beeching Reversal – Reopening Harston Station

This is one of the Round 3 bids of Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

Harston is a Cambridgeshire village, which is shown in this Google Map.

Note.

  1. The A10 winding its way North and South through the village.
  2. Cambridge is five miles to the North.
  3. The triangular road junction in the middle of the village with Station Road leading off to the South East.
  4. The Cambridge Line crosses the South-East corner of the map, at a right angle to Station Road.

This Google Map shows the former station site at an enlarged scale..

Note.

  1. There is plenty of space.
  2. There is a level crossing.
  3. The railway is double-track.

There’s even a Harston History page for the station, so if the architect’s decide to go retro, they can visit it for design inspiration.

My initial thoughts are that compared to some of the proposals for Beeching Reversal this one is practical and not over ambitious.

These are some of my thoughts.

Car Parking

Currently, there are the following stations between Cambridge and Hitchin.

Note.

Only Royston station has more than minimal parking provision.

The addition of Harston and Cambridge South stations will probably mean, that a lot of thought will be given to parking at all the stations between Cambridge and Hitchin.

Cambridge South like Cambridge North will probably have extensive parking to also serve Addenbrooke’s Hospital and Cambridge Bio-Medical Campus.

Whittlesford Parkway station on the line between Cambridge and Liverpool Street has very adequate parking provision.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Harston station having a couple of hundred parking spaces.

East West Railway

In Looking At The East West Railway Between Bedford And Cambridge, I looked at the route of the East West Railway as it approaches Cambridge.

I very much doubt that this new railway will go through Harston station.

But Harston station will beef up the capacity on the Cambridge Line to bring more workers to one of the science and engineering capitals of the world.

Cambridgeshire Autonomous Metro

There are also plans for the Cambridgeshire Autonomous Metro.

This map shows the proposed layout of the Cambridgeshire Autonomous Metro.

Note that the green section will be in tunnel.

I doubt that the Cambridgeshire Autonomous Metro will run to Harston, as it most likely will run on rubber-tyred wheels and probably wouldn’t mix well with heavy rail.

Train Service

Currently, the current trains run through the station in the Off Peak.

  • Thameslink – 2 tph – Cambridge and Brighton
  • Thameslink – 2 tph – Cambridge and King’s Cross
  • Great Northern – 1 tph – King’s Cross and Ely
  • Great Northern – 1 tph – King’s Cross and King’s Lynn

Note.

  1. tph is an abbreviation for trains per hour.
  2. All trains are fast services, except for the Cambridge and King’s Cross service, which stops at all stations.
  3. When Cambridge South station opens, I suspect nearly all services will stop at that station.
  4. The Great Northern services also stop at Cambridge North station.
  5. In Call For ETCS On King’s Lynn Route, I talked of the possibility of running 125 mph trains on Great Northern services between King’s Cross, Cambridge, Cambridge North, Ely and King’s Lynn.

I suspect that it will be likely only the Thameslink stopping train will call at Harston station, just as it is the only service that calls at Foxton, Shepreth and Meldreth stations.

  • But is two tph enough for a Park-and-Ride station?
  • Whittlesford Parkway station already has three tph to and from Cambridge.
  • I suspect there will be a second Stansted and Cambridge service which mean Whittlesford Parkway station gets four tph to Cambridge,

I suspect Hartston station needs four tph to give a Turn-Up-And-Go service.

Barrington Quarry And Landfill

This Google map shows the location of the Barrington Quarry and Landfill, with respect to Harston.

Note.

  1. Barrington Quarry and Landfill is in the North-West corner of the map.
  2. Harston is in the North-East corner of the map.
  3. The A10 road runs South-West from Harston to Foxton station, where there is a level crossing, where the Cambridge Line crosses the road.
  4. Foxton station has a freight-only line linking it to the quarry.

This second Google Map shows Foxton station in detail.

Note the rail line to Barrington curving away to the North West.

This document from CEMEX is entitled Barrington Quarry – Restoration Project.

It appears that the quarry will be restored and some of the land will be used for new homes.

As all the track is already in place, would it be possible to run a 2tph service between Barrington and Cambridge North station?

  • It could call at  Harston, Cambridge North and Cambridge stations.
  • Harston station would get a four tph service.
  • Cambridge gets more much-needed housing connected to the city.

It could also be run using battery-electric trains that would be charged using the electrification between Foxton and Cambridge North stations.

Conclusion

Taking everything together, it appears to me, that Harston station could improve the rail network to the South West of Cambridge.

March 21, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Beeching Reversal – Firsby And Louth

This is one of the Round 3 bids of Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

The Proposed Route

This route was part of the historic East Lincolnshire Railway, which is shown in this diagram from Wikipedia.


Note.

  1. North of Louth, the line used to connect to Grimsby Town, Immingham and Cleethorpes.
  2. The loop that goes through Mablethorpe.
  3. Boston is to the South.
  4. The Poacher Line between Boston and Skegness is the only section that is still open.

These Google Maps show sections and features of the route.

North From Spilsby Road Level Crossing

The Spilsby Road level crossing is in the South-West corner, with the track of the old railway between Firsby and Louth going to the North-East.

Junction With The Poacher Line

This is an enlargement of the South-West corner of the map.

  • The Spilsby Road level crossing can be seen.
  • The Poacher Line does a loop and goes South-East on its way to Skegness.
  • It looks like Firsby station was quite important, with three platforms and lots of facilities.

A junction could be built here to connect the Firsby and Louth line to the Poacher Line.

Would a station built between the lines, be possible to provide interchange between the Louth and Skegness trains?

Willoughby Station

Note.

  1. The scar of the East Lincolnshire Railway can be followed from the South-East corner to the North-West corner of the map.
  2. The green scar of the Mablethorpe loop can be seen branching off from the East Lincolnshire Railway to the North-East corner of the map.

Could a station be rebuilt at Willoughby?

Alford And Alford Town Station

Note.

  1. The green scar of the East Lincolnshire Railway can be can be followed from the South-East corner to the North-West corner of the map.
  2. The town is Alford
  3. If you click on the map to enlarge it, you can see Station Road, which must have been the location of Alford Town station.

I would have thought a station would be needed.

Straight Between Alford And Louth

Note.

  1. The green scar of the East Lincolnshire Railway can be can be followed from the South-East corner to the North-West corner of the map.
  2. There are three stations on this section; Aby for Claythorpe, Authorpe and Legbourne Road.

This section would appear to be a rail engineer’s dream.

How many stations would be needed?

Louth

Note.

  1. The green scar of the East Lincolnshire Railway can be can be followed from the South-East corner to the North edge of the map.
  2. Louth is the largest town in Lincolnshire without a station.

It could be difficult to thread the line through the town.

Onward To Grimsby

 

The map shows the final section of the route between Louth and Grimsby.

Note that from North of New Waltham, the track bed has been used for Peeks Parkway.

Does this mean that any reopened rail line between Firsby and Louth must end at New Waltham or Louth?

Grimsby Town Station And Centre

Note.

  1. Grimsby Town station is in the West.
  2. The rail line between Grimsby Town and Cleethorpes stations runs across the map.
  3. Peeks Parkway runs up the East side of the map.
  4. It looks to me, that this was once a large triangular junction, that also allowed trains to go between Grimsby Town an Louth stations.

Grimsby town centre seems to have been planned for cars and losers without cars can go elsewhere.

Thoughts On The Firsby And Louth Rail Link

I have a few thoughts on the possible design of a rail link between Firsby and Louth.

Should The Line Allow Freight Trains?

It might be a future need that freight trains will need to go between say Peterborough and Immingham, but I don’t think any use that route at present.

So other than the occasional maintenance train, I think the route could be freight-free at present.

Should The Line Terminate at Grimsby?

Consider.

  • Grimsby is a town of 88,000
  • It is a large centre for food processing, which needs large numbers of people.
  • Grimsby is becoming an increasing important centre for the development of renewable energy.
  • Grimsby and Boston are nearly fifty miles apart, which illustrates that Lincolnshire is not a small county.

I believe in a perfect world, Grimsby would have an hourly train service to Boston via Louth and several other stops.

Terminating at Louth rather than Grimsby would be like terminating all trans pennine services at Leeds.

So how would a line terminate at Grimsby?

  • The missing side of the triangular junction could be rebuilt, so that traIns could run between Grimsby Town and Louth stations.
  • Trains could terminate at a new Grimsby South station on the outskirts of the town.
  • Trains could continue through Grimsby Docks station and terminate at Cleethorpes. with possibly an additional station in Grimsby town centre.

There is always an innovative tram-train solution, where with a small amount of street running, they sneaked into the town centre and called at Grimsby Town station and the major places people needed to visit.

This solution has been proposed for Ipswich and Felixstowe by East West Rail to increase the capacity on the Felixstowe Branch. I wrote about this scheme in Could There Be A Tram-Train Between Ipswich And Felixstowe?.

It would be challenging, but I think that it might be possible.

Failing that, I believe that a single-track could be sneaked along Peeks Parkway and go through the town centre to Grimsby Docks and Cleethorpes. stations.

The distance between Cleethorpes and New Waltham is about 7 miles.

A train would probably take about ten minutes.

Any town centre station could be a single platform.

Would An Hourly Service Be Enough?

An hourly service between Boston and Louth would probably be enough, but in an ideal world two trains per hour (tph) would probably be better.

  • A single-track section between New Waltham and Cleethorpes could probably handle four tph working bi-directionally.
  • Two tph is also regularly handled on single platform stations, like Galashiels and Newcourt.
  • The long straight sections of the route offer lots of scope for loops.

My feeling, is the service should start hourly, but that it can be designed to be upgraded to two tph. Or it could even work at two tph at certain times of the day.

Could Boston and Cleethorpes Be Run In Fifty Minutes?

Consider.

  • This time would be ideal for a service as it would give ten minutes to turn the trains at both ends.
  • Boston and Cleethorpes would be the longest service that would be run and it is 50 miles.
  • Fifty minutes would need an average speed including stops of 60 mph.
  • Ipswich and Cambridge is run at an average of 43.2 mph with seven stops.
  • The straight and flat Breckland Line has an operating speed of between 75 and 90 mph.
  • Trains between Cambridge and Norwich average 53 mph with six stops.

I believe that the Firsby and Louth line could be built with an operating speed of up to 90 mph and fifty minutes between Boston and Cleethorpes could be possible.

Will Firsby And Louth Be Single Track?

I believe that the route can be single track with one platform stations.

This will save both space and costs and would probably allow two tph with careful design.

As there are long straight sections to the North of Alford, I suspect it wouldn’t be difficult to add passing loops, if they were required.

What Rolling Stock Would Be Used?

Lincolnshire is a renewable energy-rich county and because of offshore wind and the HumberZero project, Lincolnshire will probably have more wind power and green hydrogen per head of population, than any other area of the UK.

So undoubtedly, the trains will be zero carbon, which means, electrification, battery electric or hydrogen trains.

If new trains are in the budget, then the obvious candidate is the Hitachi Regional Battery Train.

The specification is given in this Hitachi infographic.

Note that it is a 100 mph train with a range of 56 miles.

It would need to be charged at both ends of the route.

In Cleethorpes Station – 16th September 2020, I suggested that electrification be added between Cleethorpes and Habrough stations should be electrified, so Cleethorpes and Manchester services could be run by Hitachi Regional Battery Trains.

This electrification could be used to charge the trains at Cleethorpes or a charging system could be installed.

This Google Map shows Boston station.

Note.

  • The station has only two platforms.
  • It looks like there were two North-facing bay platforms.

A charging system would be added to charge the trains.

The other obvious train for the route, would be Alstom’s Class 600 train, which is powered by hydrogen.

This is a visualisation of the train.

The specification has not been published yet, so there is no idea of the operating speed, although the range will be several hundred miles.

I speculated about the train in Breeze Hydrogen Multiple-Unit Order Expected Soon.

  • There will be plenty of hydrogen available in Lincolnshire if the Humber Zero project goes to plan.
  • Trains may be able to do several trips between refuelling.
  •  Trains will not need any infrastructure at Boston.

The forsby and Louth route would be an ideal route for both trains.

The Hitachi product will probably be slightly larger, faster and new!

 

 

 

March 17, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Beeching Reversal – Mablethorpe

This is one of the Round 3 bids of Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

Maplethorpe is an traditional seaside town  between Skegness and Cleethorpes, which is shown in this Google Map.

Note.

  1. The town has a population of around 12,000.
  2. The beach looks good.
  3. The red arrow shows the position of the former station, which is now a leisure centre.

It looks like building a railway to the original site would be very challenging.

The original railway through the town was the Mablethorpe Loop Line, which ran between Willoughby and Louth.

  • Louth is the largest town in Lincolnshire without a rail connection.
  • Willoughby and Louth stations were both on the East Lincolnshire Line, which connected Boston and Grimsby Town stations.
  • Much of the original trackbeds can still be picked out on the map, but no rail lines exist.

It would be a very large enterprise to rebuild all the original lines.

I think there are two possible solutions to provide a rail link to Maplethorpe.

Boston and Maplethorpe

This Google Map shows the area between Boston and Maplethorpe.

Note.

  1. Maplethorpe is in the North-East corner of the map.
  2. Boston is in the South-West corner of the map.
  3. Skegness is on the coast between the two.

It would probably be possible to build a single track railway on the old track bed between Boston and the Western side of of Maplethorpe.

Skegness and Maplethorpe

This Google Map shows Skegness station.

Note, that it is not a small station and it is in the town centre.

Ever since, I saw the coastal tram in Belgium, I have thought that they are a way of giving new life to traditional seaside resorts.

  • Skegness and Mablethorpe are less than twenty miles apart.
  • So could a tram start at Skegness station, work its way to the coast and then proceed along the coast all the way to Maplethorpe.
  • It could even finish at Cleethorpes station.

I definitely think there are possibilities for a coastal tram.

March 17, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 3 Comments

Restoring Your Railway: Successful Bids

As of the 26th of November, this is the list of successful bids, which are detailed on this page of the Government web site.

To Reinstate The Passing Loop Between St Albans Abbey And Watford Junction (Abbey Line)

See Reinstatement Of The Abbey Line Between St Albans Abbey And Watford Junction

To Re-open The Meir station between Stoke-On-Trent And North Staffordshire

See Reopening Meir Railway Station Between Stoke-On-Trent And North Staffordshire

To Reintroduce Passenger Services On The Leicester To Burton (Ivanhoe) Line

See Reinstatement Of The Ivanhoe Line

Reopened Lines And New Passenger Services, Melton Mowbray – Nottingham

See Beeching Reversal – Increased Services To Nottingham And Leicester, via Syston And Loughborough From Melton Mowbray

Reopened Lines And New Passenger Services, Alfreton – Ashfield (Maid Marian Line)

See Beeching Reversal – Reconnecting Ashfield Communities Through The Maid Marian Line

Reopened Lines And New Passenger Services, Stratford Upon Avon – Honeybourne – Worcester/Oxford

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

Reopened Lines And New Passenger Services, Consett-Newcastle

See Beeching Reversal – Consett-Newcastle Connection

New Station At Ferryhill, Ferryhill – Stockton-on-Tees

See Beeching Reversal – Ferryhill Station Reopening

To Reinstate The Bury-Heywood-Rochdale Lines

See Reinstatement Of The Bury-Heywood-Rochdale Lines

To Reintroduce Passenger Services Between Clitheroe and Hellifield And Explore Freight Options

See Reinstatement Of The Clitheroe To Hellifield Railway Line

Enhanced Existing Passenger Services, Preston – Blackpool South

See Beeching Reversal – South Fylde Line Passing Loop

Reopened lines And New Passenger Services, Bolton-Radcliffe / Bolton-Bury

See Beeching Reversal – Reinstatement of Bolton-Radcliffe / Bolton – Bury

New Station At Beeston Castle And Tarporley, Crewe – Chester

See Beeching Reversal – Reinstating Beeston Castle And Tarporley Station

To reinstate Branch Lines On The Isle of Wight

See Reinstatement Of Branch Lines On The Isle Of Wight

To Introduce Passenger Services On The Totton-Fawley (Waterside) Line

See Special Train Offers A Strong Case For Reopening Fawley Line

To Re-open Of Wellington and Cullompton Stations

See Reopening Of Wellington and Cullompton Stations

To Reinstate Rail Access To Devizes Via A New Station At Lydeway

See Reinstatement Of Rail Access To Devizes Via A New Station At Lydeway

New Station At St Anne’s Park, Bristol Temple Meads – Bath Spa

See Beeching Reversal – St Anne’s Park Station

Enhanced Existing Passenger Services, Truro – Falmouth

New Station At Langport And Somerton, Castle Cary – Taunton

Reopened Lines And New Passenger Services, Kemble – Cirencester

See Beeching Reversal – Cirencester Community Railway

Reopened Lines And New Passenger Services, Wareham – Swanage

See A Visit To The Swanage Railway

To Reintroduce Passenger Services On The Barrow Hill Line Between Sheffield And Chesterfield

See Reinstatement Of The Barrow Hill Line Between Sheffield And Chesterfield

Reopened Lines And New Passenger Services, Gainsborough – Barton

See Beeching Reversal – Restoring A South Humber Link

New Station At Waverley, Sheffield – Chesterfield

See Beeching Reversal – A New Station At Waverley In Sheffield

Summarising The Bids

In total, there are twenty-five successful bids.

Stations

There are nine possible new or rebuilt station projects.

Note.

  1. Only two are in new locations.
  2. None seem to be challenging sites and some seem to have the remains of previous stations.
  3. I am fairly sure, that all stations are on double-track railways.
  4. Cullompton and Wellington stations could be a single project.

These are typical costs from the last few years for typical two platform stations on a double-track railway.

Meridian Water, which was a large four-track station cost £46 million.

Line Reopenings

There are thirteen lines that could be reopened for passenger services.

Note.

  1. Several of the tracks are already in place and used for freight.
  2. Full electrification is not involved in any proposed scheme.
  3. Few, if any bridges and no tunnels are needed.
  4. Some will share lines with well-run heritage railways.

There will probably be some new stations. As examples, I would suggest Cirencester, Consett and intermediate stations on the Ivanhoe Line.

Enhanced Passenger Services

There are four bids, to enhance passenger services.

  • Abbey Line
  • Clitheroe and Hellifield
  • Preston and Blackpool South
  • Truro – Falmouth

Note.

  1. Small amounts of new infrastructure may be needed.
  2. Some extra trains may be needed.

None should be challenging.

Conclusion

The successful bids are a sensible collection of ones to progress.

None are outrageously difficult.

 

December 10, 2020 Posted by | Transport | | 1 Comment

Beeching Reversal – Consett-Newcastle Connection

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts. There used to be a direct line between Newcastle and Consett, which was the Derwent Valley Railway, which connected Consett to the Tyne Valley Line.

I would assume that the basis of the plan, is to reinstate this route and build a new station at Consett.

The Former Route

I will show the route starting from the Tyne Valley Line.

Connection To The Tyne Valley Line

This Google Map shows the MetroCentre with the Tyne Valley Line running along its North side.

Note.

  1. The River Tyne running along the North side of the map.
  2. MetroCentre station on the Tyne Valley Line is by the North-East corner of the MetroCentre.
  3. The River Derwent meanders its way to the River Tyne, to the West of the MetroCentre.
  4. The Derwent Valley Line used to come through this area to join the Tyne Valley Line.

I have a feeling that much of the route of the Derwent Valley Line lies under the new roads.

This map clipped from the Wikipedia entry for the Derwent Valley Line, shows how, the line connected to the Tyne Valley Line.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note.

  1. The Scotswood Railway Bridge is the dark-coloured bridge in the North-West corner of the map.
  2. The Tyne Valley Line runs East-West across the map.
  3. Swalwell station must have been in the area of the junction on the A1.

As the old route appears to be blocked, another route must be found to connect to the Tyne Valley Line.

Perhaps there would be enough space to squeeze a railway line alongside the River Derwent.

Between Swalwell And Nine Arches Viaduct

The Nine Arches Viaduct is an iconic feature of the line. This image of the bridge was taken from a Google Map.

This second image shows it as a map.

 

Note that I have arranged the map, so that the path that uses the route of the Derwent Valley Line runs between the South-West and North-East corners of the map.

This third Google Map has the Nine Arches Viaduct in the South-West corner and Swalwell in the North-East corner.

Note the tadpole-shaped green space by the bridge.

Between Nine Arches Viaduct and Lintz Green

This Google Map shows this section.

Note.

  1. The Nine Arches Viaduct is in the North-East corner.
  2. Lintz Green is in the South West corner.

On the Derwent Valley Railway, there were stations at Lintz Green and Rowlands Gill.

The History section in the Wikipedia entry for the Derwent Valley Railway, explains why a more direct route wasn’t taken in this area.

Between Lintz Green And Ebchester

This Google Map shows this section.

Note.

Lintz Green is at the Eastern edge of the map.

Ebchester is in the South-West corner.

On the Derwent Valley Railway, there were stations at High Westwood and Ebchester.

Between Ebchester and Consett

This Google Map shows this section.

Note.

  1. Ebchester is at the Northern edge of the map in the centre.
  2. Consett is in the South of the map.
  3. Shotley Bridge Hospital is an NHS hospital.

On the Derwent Valley Railway, there were stations at Shotley Bridge, Blackhill and Consett.

Consett Station

A new station would have to be built in Consett.

Consett is a town of around 25,000 and is shown in this Google Map.

Note that the red arrow shows the rough location of the original station near Annfield Plain. The station and the tracks were demolished in the 1980s to make way for new roads.

How thinking on transport has changed in forty years!

Is This Route Feasible?

Google gives the distance between the Metrocentre and Consett as 11.5 miles and Wikipedia says that Consett is about 900 feet above sea level.

To put the altitude into perspective, this is higher than Merthyr Tydfil, but not as high as Buxton, so I feel that trains could ascend to Consett, as steam trains did in far-off Victorian days, when they carried over half a million passengers every year, according to Wikipedia.

I would say, that although restoring the route could be challenging, it would not be filed under Impossible.

These are a few other thoughts.

Would The Route Carry Freight?

If we’re talking about long freight trains with lots of containers or many trucks of coal, the answer is probably a negative.

But rail freight is changing, I can see many towns in the UK getting a high speed parcels service using modified electric multiple units.

  • Rail Operations Group and others are planning to experiment with this type of service.
  • With on-line shopping, 25,000 residents can generate a lot of deliveries and returns.
  • The average guy on the Consett omnibus, is getting more worried about carbon emissions.

But trains like these could fit in with the passenger service on the route and could even unload at a well-designed passenger terminal in Consett.

The route would also have to be able to take maintenance and construction trains, just like the London Underground and the Tyne and Wear Metro do!

Would The Route Be Single- Or Double-Track?

Consider.

  • The original Victorian route was double-track.
  • The more trains on the route, the greater the need for a full double-track railway.
  • Would the Nine Arches Viaduct accommodate a double-track.
  • Single-track railways are easier to construct and more affordable.

Hopefully a serious study, will give an answer.

How Would Trains Go Between MetroCentre and Newcastle Stations?

Currently, there are three trains per hour (tph) between MetroCentre and Newcastle stations.

The Tyne and Wear Metro generally runs on the principle of five tph, so a one or two tph service between Consett and Newcastle would fit in well with the Tyne and Wear Metro, even if it was not their service.

This Google Map shows MetroCentre station.

Could a third platform be fitted here to run a shuttle service to Consett?

Trains between MetroCentre and Newcastle stations, go via Dunston station, Norwood Junction and the King Edward VII Bridge.

Note.

  1. Norwood Junction also allows trains to go between The Tyne Valley Line and the East Coast Main Line in both North and South directions.
  2. The comprehensive track layout to the South of Newcastle allows access to everywhere.

The Consett trains could even be run on a Back-to-Back basis to Ashington and Blyth, which is now being called the Northumberland Line in the media.

Would The Line Be Zero-Carbon?

I feel strongly, that all new or reopened railways should be zero-carbon.

But whether it should be electrified is another matter and depends on the rolling stock.

Battery Electric Trains To Consett

If the route to Consett is to be zero-carbon, then the obvious choice for the route are battery electric trains.

  • To run these successfully, there would probably need to be some electrification along the Tyne Valley Line, as far as the junction with the new Derwent Valley Line, so trains started the climb to Consett with full batteries.
  • If necessary, some parts of the Derwent Valley Line could be electrified, to assist the trains up the hill.
  • Coming down from Consett, they could use Newton’s friend, with regenerative braking charging the batteries.
  • Intriguingly, between MetroCentre and Hexham is under twenty miles, so why not run these services using similar battery electric trains.

I also think, that if the electrification were to be 25 KVAC, then it could enable battery electric trains like Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train or CAF’s proposed Class 331 train with batteries, to run between Newcastle and Carlisle stations.

The Tyne And Wear Metro’s New Trains

I believe that the new trains being built by Stadler for the Tyne and Wear Metro, will be very similar to the Class 777 trains for Merseyrail.

The Class 777 trains are known to have this features.

  • A capacity of 484 passengers.
  • An operating speed of 75 mph.
  • A weight of 99 tonnes.
  • Ability to use 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • A small battery to be used for hotel power, when there is no electrification.
  • Some will be fitted with batteries to allow route extension on unelectrified lines, like between Ormskirk and Preston, which is 15.3 miles.
  • In the future, they will be able to use 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

The new Tyne and Wear trains appear to be different to the Class 777 trains in the following ways.

  • A different length, with five cars instead of four.
  • Ability to use 750 VDC overhead instead of 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • Longitudinal instead of transverse seating.

These facts should also be born in mind.

Stadler built the Class 399 tram-trains for Sheffield, that can use both 750 VDC and 25 KVAC overhead electrification from the same pantograph.

Parts of the Tyne and Wear Metro use tram-train operation under the Karlsruhe model, which is also used in Sheffield.

Could The Tyne And Wear Metro’s New Trains Work Between Newcastle And Consett Stations?

I feel if the following conditions were to be met, that the Tyne And Wear Metro’s new trains, would be able to work the route.

  • Batteries with sufficient range to work the route were fitted.
  • Ability to use both 750 VDC and 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • Sufficient electrification were erected to power the train and charge the batteries on their journey between Newcastle and MetroCentre stations.

It is my view, that the trains could be ideal for the route.

They could also work between Newcastle and Hexham, with slightly larger batteries than their Liverpool cousins.

What Size Batteries Would Be Needed For A Service To Consett?

I will do a calculation based on the Class 777 train figures.

  • The train weight is 99 tonnes.
  • Each of 484 passengers weighs 80 Kg with baggage, bikes and buggies.
  • This adds up to 38.7 tonnes giving a train weight of 137.7 tonnes.

Using Omni’s Potential Energy Calculator gives a value of 103 kWh to lift the full train the 900 feet to Consett.

In an article in the October 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled Celling England By The Pound, Ian Walmsley says this in relation to trains running on the Uckfield Branch, which is not very challenging.

A modern EMU needs between 3 and 5 kWh per vehicle mile for this sort of service.

The new Tyne and Wear Metro trains have five cars, so assuming 3 kWh per vehicle mile, would need the following energy to power the train to Consett.

5* 3 * 11.5 = 172.5 kWh

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a 400 kWh battery on the train.

On the flat, it would do about twenty-seven miles, which would mean the train could provide a service between Newcastle and Hexham.

Incidentally, the distance between Newcastle and Ashington is under twenty five miles of which a couple of miles are electrified.

Conclusion

Newcastle and Consett would appear to be an ideal route to reopen.

It would require.

  • A dozen miles of new track. much of which would be on an dismantled alignment.
  • An appropriate number of new stations.
  • Some electrification between Newcastle and MetroCentre stations.
  • A number of the new Stadler trains for the Tyne and Wear Metro to be fitted with batteries.

A service of one or two tph could be provided.

In addition, the following could be possible.

  • The Newcastle and Hexham service could be run by the same battery electric trains.
  • The Consett and Newcastle service could be run Back-to-Back with the proposed Newcastle and Ashington service.

This scheme has collateral benefits.

 

 

December 10, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Vivarail’s Plans For Zero-Emission Trains

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the Modern Railways web site.

This is the introductory subtitle.

Vivarail Chairman Adrian Shooter talks to Modern Railways about the company’s Class 230s and its plans for battery trains.

The article is mainly a video of Mr. Shooter talking in front of various examples of Vivarail trains.

It’s probably easier to watch the video and listen on what is said.

But I have some thoughts on what he said.

Battery Range

Consider.

  • Early on in the video he talks about a battery range of forty miles with four battery packs on the train.
  • He also talks about switching battery supplier to Hoppecke.
  • Later he says that a train with six battery packs in the train, has a hundred mile range.

That is impressive.

The number of battery packs has increased by 50 % and the range has gone up by two-and-a-half times.

If those figures are right and I’ve no reason to disbelieve them, then Hoppecke have done a good job with the batteries.

A very rough calculation indicates their size.

  • The current 4 x 100 kWh takes the train 40 miles, which is 10 kWh per mile.
  • So to travel a hundred miles will need 1000 kWh.
  • Divide by six batteries and you get 167 kWh per battery or a 67 % increase in individual battery capacity.

If these are a new generation of batteries, what would they do for Hitachi’s Regional Battery train, which is proposed to have a range of 56 miles? They could give it a range of around 93 miles.

These ranges of distances would be very useful to manufacturers of battery trains.

Charging Battery Trains Using Vivarail’s Fast Charge System

The video did give a few more details of Vivarail’s Fast Charge system.

I was also able to take this screen capture from the video, which shows the extra rails used to pass charge to the train and the batteries.

Note.

  • The rails are well-shielded. Not that they’re live unless a train is over the top and connected.
  • The driver  just has to stop the train in the correct place and automation does the rest.
  • This image is four minutes and thirty-five seconds into the video.

My only problem with the design is that those thick copper cables used to bring electricity to the train, way be a tempting target for metal thieves.

Vivarail Now Has Permission To Charge Any Train

Mr. Shooter said this about Vivarail’s Fast Charge system.

The system has now been given preliminary approval to be installed as the UK’s standard charging system for any make of train.

I may have got the word’s slightly wrong, but I believe the overall message is correct.

In the November 2020 Edition of Modern Railways, there is a transcript of what Mr. Shooter said.

‘Network Rail has granted interim approval for the fast charge system and wants it to be the UK’s standard battery charging system’ says Mr. Shooter. ‘We believe it could have worldwide implications.’

I hope Mr. Shooter knows some affordable lawyers, as in my experience, those working in IPR are not cheap.

A Prototype Class 230 Train That Can Use 25 KVAC Is Under Construction

Mr. Shooter also announced that a version of the train with a third can in the middle, with a pantograph on the roof and a 35 KVAC transformer is under construction.

This will enable batteries to be charged from existing electrification.

I can already think of a few routes, where this train could be used.

  • Bedford and Bletchley – It would replace a diesel-electric Class 230 train.
  • Poulton-le-Fylde and Fleetwood
  • Oxenholme and Windermere
  • Glasgow Central and East Kilbride
  • Glasgow Queen Street and Anniesland
  • Chester and Crewe – It would replace a battery Class 230 train
  • West Ealing and Greenford
  • Slough and Windsor Central
  • Henley and Twyford
  • Maidenhead and Marlow

This could be the standard train in many places.

The November 2020 Edition of Modern Railways, also has more details on this project.

  • The centre vehicle is under construction at their factory at Seaham in County Durham.
  • Mr. Shooter is quoted as saying. ‘We’ve identified 60 lines on partially electrified tracks’

Vivarail plans to demonstrate the concept on the Northumberland Line to Blyth and Ashington next spring.

West Highland Opportunity

This is a section of the print article, that is not mentioned in the video.

This is the introductory paragraph.

While Mr. Shooter highlights several opportunities south of the border to deploy the 25kV/battery Class 230, he is particularly interested in deployment of Vivarail trains in Scotland.

And this is the last paragraph, describing a possible deployment on the West Highland Line.

Top of the list is the West Highland Line.

Here a 25kV/battery Class 230 would operate under electric power from Glasgow Queen Street to Craigendoran Junction, switching there to battery power. The batteries could be topped up on the way using Vivarail’s fast charge system, with Mr, Shooter suggesting this could take place at Crianlarich, Oban and Fort William. On the West Highland the 60 mph top speed of the Class 230 is not prohibitive as the top speed on the route does not exceed this.

If this sounds familiar, I made a similar proposal in Hitachi Plans To Run ScotRail Class 385 EMUs Beyond The Wires, in a section, which is entitled Electric Trains On The West Highland Line Between Glasgow And Mallaig/Oban. I start with this sentence.

This might be considered as difficult as putting a London bus on the Moon.

But that was done by the Daily Sport newspaper, so perhaps my reasoning is the same as Vivarail’s.

My conclusion of the section was as follows.

What would battery-electric trains to Oban and Mallaig do for tourism in the area?

Hitachi would have one of the most scenic and iconic test tracks in the world!

These statements would surely, apply to a Vivarail train or a battery electric Class 385 train.

Pop-Up Metro

Mr. Shooter shows a battery train, which is going to the United States to trial a concept called a Pop-up Metro.

  • In the US, there are hundreds of lightly used freight lines serving towns and cities
  • Temporal separation would mean that freight and passenger trains used the lines at different times of the day.
  • Battery powered Vivarail trains could provide a Metro service.

He also talked about his US partner and 50 % shareholder in Vivarail, leasing trains for a year, to see if the concept was viable in a given area. He indicated, the cost could be less than a consultant’s report.

Could the Pop-up Metro concept work in the UK?

In these possible Beeching Reversal projects, there could be scope for using the concept.

Note.

  1. Some of these are on heritage railway infrastructure. Does a Class 230 train count a heritage unit?
  2. The Aston Rowant Extension is Chiltern territory, so Mr. Shooter could know it well!
  3. In the Wikipedia entry for the Class 230 train, there is a useful Cost Comparison.

I should say, that I like the concept of a Pop-up Metro.

  • The trains have proved they are up to the job.
  • A package of one or two trains and a containerised charging system could surely be created.
  • Installation of the battery charger in many platforms would not be a major engineering project costing millions.
  • On a heritage railway, the enthusiasts could probably do it from their own resources.

But the best point to me, is that a system could probably be leased for a year on a Try-Before-You-Buy basis for less than the cost of a consultant’s report.

Go for it!

Conversion Of Diesel Multiple Units To Battery Electric Multiple Units

This was the bombshell in the tail of the video.

There a lot of diesel multiple units in the UK and Mr. Shooter and Vivarail have developed a plan to convert some of them to battery electric operation.

The trains he is proposing to convert are diesel multiple units, that use a Voith transmission, which I list in How Many Diesel Multiple Units In The UK Have Voith Hydraulic Transmissions?.

Consider.

  • There are 815 trains on my list.
  • All have a Voith hydraulic transmission, with most having similar type numbers starting with T211.
  • Some are 75 mph trundlers and others are full-on 100 mph expresses.
  • All have one engine and transmission per car.

They fit into distinct groups.

Sprinters

Sprinters are a group of trains that were produced by British Rail.

The earliest were built in 1984 and all were built in the last century.

  • There are 314 trains in total.
  • All have a Cummins engine of 213 kW, with one engine per car.
  • They have a Voith T211r transmission, which drives two axles per car.
  • They have an operating speed of 75 mph.

The trains may be elderly, but like some well-known actresses, they scrub up well with a little TLC.

The pictures show an immaculate refurbished Class 150 train, that I travelled on in Devon.

With a battery electric transmission, they would make a superb rural route and branch line train.

Express Sprinters

Express Sprinters are a group of trains that were produced by British Rail.

  • The earliest were built in 1990 and all were built in the last century.
  • There are 202 trains in total.
  • All have a Cummins engine of between 260 and 300 kW, with one engine per car.
  • They have a Voith T211r transmission, which drives two axles per car.
  • They have an operating speed of 90 mph.

These pictures show a Class 159 train on a visit to the Swanage Railway, where it was shuttling in visitors.

With a battery electric transmission, that gave a range of say 80 miles at 90 mph, they would be low cost competition for Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train on secondary routes.

Scotrail have forty Class 158 trains, which run on the following routes.

  • Glasgow Queen Street and Anniesland – 5.5 miles
  • Fife Circle Line – 61 miles round trip
  • Stonehaven and Inverurie – 66 miles round trip.
  • Borders Railway – 70 miles round trip.
  • Edinburgh and Arbroath – 76 miles
  • Inverness and Kyle of Lochalsh – 82.5 miles
  • Inverness and Aberdeen – 108 miles – Inter7City route.
  • Inverness and Wick – 174 miles
  • Inverness and Edinburgh – 175 miles – Inter7City route.

Note.

  1. The routes are shown in order of length.
  2. Anything over a hundred miles would need intermediate charging.
  3. Some routes would need charging at both ends.
  4. Glasgow Queen Street and Anniesland would probably not need a Class 158, but is very suitable for a battery electric train.
  5. The three longest routes from Inverness are probably too long for battery electric power, but two are run by Inter7City trains.
  6. A battery electric train on the Inverness and Kyle of Lochalsh route, would surely be a tourist asset.

With an eighty mile range, ScotRail could find a battery-equipped Class 158 train very useful.

Networkers

Networkers are a group of trains that were produced by British Rail.

  • The earliest were built in 1990 and all were built in the last century.
  • There are 96 trains in total.
  • All have a Perkins engine of 261 kW, with one engine per car.
  • They have a Voith T211r transmission, which drives two axles per car.
  • They have an operating speed of 75 or 90 mph.

These pictures show ac selection of Class 165 and Class 166 trains.

As with the Express Sprinters, with a battery electric transmission, that gave a range of say 80 miles at 90 mph, they would be low cost competition for Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train on secondary routes.

The Networkers are used by Great Western Railway and Chiltern Railways.

  • Great Western Railway do run a few long routes with their Networkers, but these routes would probably be too long for battery operation.
  • Local routes around Bristol, Exeter and Plymouth and some short branch lines could be possibilities for battery operation.
  • Great Western Railway have also leased tri-mode Class 769 trains for the Reading and Gatwick route.
  • Chiltern Railways don’t run their Networkers on the longer routes to Birmingham.
  • But they do run them on the shorter routes to Aylesbury (39 miles), Aylesbury Vale Parkway (41 miles), Banbury (69 miles), Gerrards Cross (19 miles), High Wycombe (28 miles), Oxford (66 miles) and Stratford-upon-Avon (104 miles).
  • Some of these Chiltern routes must surely be possibilities for battery operation. Especially, as all the stations in the list, don’t appear to be the most difficult to add a Fast Charge facility.

With an eighty mile range, battery-equipped Networkers could be very useful.

Turbostars

Turbostars are a group of trains that were produced at Derby.

  • The earliest were built in the last few years of the the last century.
  • There are 177 trains in total.
  • All have an MTU engine of 315 kW, with one engine per car.
  • They have a Voith T211 transmission, which drives two axles per car.
  • They have an operating speed of 100 mph.

These pictures show a selection of Turbostar trains.

As with the Express Sprinters and the Networkers, with a battery electric transmission, that gave a range of say 80 miles at 100 mph, they would be low cost competition for Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train on secondary routes.

The post; DfT and Arriva CrossCountry Sign Agreement is partly based on this article on Railway News, which has the same name.

This is a paragraph from the original article.

One element of this new contract is a focus on reducing the environmental impact of the operator’s diesel fleet. For instance, Arriva CrossCountry will do a trial of using electrical shore supplies on its Bombardier Turbostar fleet when these trains are in depots for cleaning. Trains are cleaned both in the winter and at night, which means that the interior lighting and heating systems have to be powered. By using electricity to power these systems instead of the trains’ diesel engines, there will be a reduction in both emissions and noise pollution, which is doubly important when the depots are near built-up areas.

If Turbostars were to have their power unit and transmission updated to battery electric, there would be less need to provide shore supplies to where the trains were to be cleaned.

How Would Sprinters, Express Sprinters, Networkers And Turbostars Be Converted To Battery Electric Power?

The layout of the transmission in all these trains is very similar.

That is not surprising, as they are effectively different interpretations of the same theme over four decades.

  • A diesel engine provides the power.
  • On the back of the diesel engine, a hydraulic transmission is mounted.
  • The transmission performs a similar function to an automatic gearbox in a car. Trains like cars perform better in the right gear.
  • The transmission is connected to the final drive in one or more of the bogies using a cardan shaft. The propeller shaft in many rear-wheel-drive vehicles, is a cardan shaft.

In the video at about 5 mins 50 seconds, Mr. Shooter outlines how the train will be converted to battery electric drive.

  • The diesel engine, hydraulic transmission, radiator, fuel tank and all the other diesel-related gubbins will be removed.
  • A 280 kW electric traction motor will be installed, which will be connected to the cardan shaft.
  • Batteries will be installed. Possibly, they will fit, where the diesel engine was originally located.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the weight of the battery was similar to that of all the equipment that has been removed, as this would mean the train’s handling wouldn’t change.

  • Acceleration will be faster, as it is in electrically-powered road vehicles.
  • The traction motor can work in reverse to slow the train and the energy regenerated by braking can be stored in the batteries.
  • Mr. Shooter doesn’t say if his battery electric trains use regenerative braking in the video, but it is possible and a common procedure, as it saves energy.

An intelligent control system will control everything  according to the driver’s needs and wishes.

This extract from the print edition, gives Mr. Shooter’s advantages of this diesel to battery electric conversion.

‘Unlike cars, trains have a planned duty cycle so you can easily plan for when the batteries should be charged’ says. Mr. Shooter. ‘Our analysis shows the fuel cost would be halved and the maintenance cost would be halved compared to a DMU. And to allay concerns about battery life we would offer to lease batteries on a cost per mile. You get the financial payback within five years, with the greenness free of charge!’ Mr. Shooter reports early work by Vivarail suggests a converted battery train on the Far North line might need fast charge stations at four locations.

 

Where In The World Is This?

The print edition of the interview poses an interesting question.

Mr. Shooter says the opportunities are significant, and reports Vivarail is in discussions with an overseas customer about a bid for battery trains for a new 500 mile line which would incorporate 12 fast charge points at stations. He also said customers are suggesting the use of solar parks or even tidal power to feed the static batteries at the fast charge stations, rather than power coming from the local supply.

Imagine two large cities about 500 miles apart, with a string of small towns between them.

  • The small towns might be on a scenic river or coastline.
  • Commuters drive to both cities.
  • People from the two cities visit the area to relax.
  • There might even be a lightly used freight line or a dismantled railway alignment running between the cities.
  • Perhaps, the road network is overloaded and a green alternative is needed.

Given, Vivarail is part-owned, by an American entrepreneur, I would expect, the proposed line is somewhere in North America. But I also think there would be possibilities in Australia, around the coast of the Baltic Sea and India and South East Asia.

Cpnclusion

This is the conclusion of the print article in Modern Railways.

While electrification will be the key component in decarbonising traction emissions, battery technology will have a role to play, and Vivarail is at the forefront of this development.

I wholeheartedly agree.

 

October 18, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage, Transport | , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Beeching Reversal – To Reinstate The Keswick To Penrith Railway

September 10th – This Beeching Reversal project appears to have been rejected.

Thoughts On The Design Of The Route

Consider.

  • Keswick and Penrith are around 17.3 miles apart by road.
  • The rail distance should be less than 20 miles.
  • There could be perhaps six intermediate stations.
  • A battery electric train typically has a range of 55-65 miles.
  • A quiet battery electric train would be ideal for this route.

I believe that a battery electric train could handle this route.

  • Charging would be mainly in Penrith station, using the existing 25 KVAC overhead electrification in Platform 3.
  • A charging station would be provided in Keswick station to be safe.

A battery electric train could go between the two stations, recharge the battery and be ready to return in under an hour.

The route would be single track, except for a short double track station in the middle to allow trains to pass.

The route would not be electrified.

All stations could be single track, except for the passing station.

Two trains would be needed to work an hourly service.

Four trains would be needed to work an two trains per hour (tph) service.

Could the track could be designed to these criteria?

  • No level crossings.
  • Gentle curves and gradients
  • 80 mph operating speed.

I suspect modern computer technology, which was not available to the Victorians, would ease the design of an efficient track.

  • If a highly-efficient track could be created, it might be possible for a train to do a round trip from Penrith to Keswick, within an hour.
  • This would mean that one train could provide the hourly service.
  • Charging would only be at Penrith, using existing electrification.
  • The passing loop would not be built, but provision would be made to add it later, if the frequency were to be increased.

We could be seeing several of these highly-efficient branch lines run by 100 mph battery-electric trains, that are charged on existing electrified main lines.

The Effect Of High Speed Two

Consider.

  • Currently, there is a roughly hourly service in both directions on the West Coast Main Line at Penrith station.
  • High Speed Two will only provide an hourly service between Birmingham Curzon Street and Edinburgh or Glasgow via Wigan North Western, Preston, Lancaster and Carlisle.
  • Carlisle will have three tph on High Speed Two, between England and Scotland.
  • Carlisle will have scenic services to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds and Newcastle.
  • Services between Carlisle and Penrith take thirteen minutes.

But most importantly, High Speed Two could bring lots of extra tourists to the area.

So would it be better for the Keswick and Penrith service to terminate at Carlisle?

  • Charging would now be on the West Coast Main Line.
  • Trains would only make a typical two-minute stop in Penrith station.

This would probably mean that an hourly service could be provided with only one train on the branch at a time.

Conclusion

I feel the economics of this project could be transformed by using battery electric trains on this proposed route and terminating them at Carlisle.

 

 

September 10, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Beeching Reversal – To Reinstate The Walkden To Bolton Line

September 10th – This Beeching Reversal project appears to have been rejected.

The project appears to be what it says in the title, in that the railway between Walkden Low Level and Bolton Great Moor Street stations would be reinstated.

This Google Map shows the area around the current Walkden station.

Note.

  1. Walkden station at the top of the map.
  2. The former railway between Bolton Great Moor Street and Manchester Exchange stations runs North-West and South-East across the map.
  3. It looks like this section of the railway is a footpath and cycleway.

Both Bolton Great Moor Street and Manchester Exchange stations have long since been closed, which means that to get between Walkden and Bolton stations, a change of train is needed.

After a quick look at the route, which involves crossing the M61 motorway, I suspect, that it would be both a tricky and expensive railway to reinstate, which probably explains why it appears to have been rejected.

Manchester Metrolink don’t seem to have any plans to use the route to extend trams to Bolton.

But All Is Not Lost!

I believe that very light rail, could be the answer.

  • The first system of its kind in the UK, is the Coventry Very Light Rail, which is currently being designed and built for Coventry.
  • The vehicles will be lightweight and battery-powered.
  • These smaller-sized vehicles could share rights of way with pedestrians and cyclists.

The Coventry system could be running by 2024.

As the route goes past the Royal Bolton Hospital, it could be a useful route.

September 9, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Beeching Reversal – Increased Services To Nottingham And Leicester, via Syston And Loughborough From Melton Mowbray

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

It is one of a pair of submissions from the local MP; Alicia Kearns. The other is More Stopping Services At Radcliffe-on-Trent And Bottesford Stations On The Poacher Line Between Grantham And Nottingham.

When I heard of the MP’s submissions, I wrote MP Campaigns To Extend Train Services For Melton Borough and the following uses that post as a starting point.

Wikipedia says this about services at Melton Mowbray station.

  • There is an hourly off-peak service in both directions between Stansted Airport and Birmingham, that calls at Cambridge, Peterborough, Oakham and Leicester.
  • East Midlands Railway and their predescessor have added services to London via Corby and to Derby and East Midlands Parkway.

When you consider, that both Bottesford and Melton Mowbray are the same Council and Parliamentary constituency, it does seem that a more direct train service is needed between Bottesford and Melton Mowbray stations.

It does seem to me that some innovative thinking is needed.

If the current plans to fulfil British Rail’s ambition of an Ivanhoe Line running from Lincoln to Burton-on-Trent via Nottingham, East Midlands Parkway, Loughborough and Leicester, are carried out, that will give important towns to the West of Leicester much better rail connections.

Given that High Speed Two is coming to East Midlands Hub station at Toton and there will be a Bedford and Leeds service run by Midlands Connect using High Speed Two classic-compatible trains, that I wrote about in Classic-Compatible High Speed Two Trains At East Midlands Hub Station, I wonder if in the interim, there should be more trains between Derby and Melton.

  • Intermediate stations would be Syston, Sileby, Barrow-upon-Soar, Loughborough, East Midlands Parkway Long Eaton and Spondon.
  • An hourly frequency would double the service frequency at smaller stations like Sileby and Barrow-upon-Soar.
  • The Southern terminal could be Melton station, but I feel Corby or Peterborough stations would be better, as this would improve services at Oakham station. We should not forget Rutland!
  • As Corby will be an electrified two-platform station with a two trains per hour (tph) service to London, this could work quite well as a Southern terminus.
  • Peterborough would have advantages and give a good connection to Cambridge, London and Scotland, but improvements to the current Birmingham and Stansted Airport service would have similar effects.

This route would be just as valuable after High Speed Two opens through the East Midlands Hub station, as it will give fast ongoing connections to Birmingham, Leeds, Newcastle and York.

Electrification Of The Midland Main Line

I feel strongly, that full electrification of the Midland Main Line could be a step to far.

  • Electrification, through Leicester station will mean a complete closure of the station for a couple of years.
  • Electrification of the route North of Derby, through the Derwent Valley Mills, which is a World Heritage Site, will be opposed by the Heritage Taliban with all their might.

But.

  • Electrification of the route between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield via Chesterfield will take place in conjunction with High Speed Two
  • Electrification to Market Harborough, which is sixteen miles South of Leicester will happen.
  • East Midlands Railway’s new Class 810 trains could be fitted with a battery option giving a range of between 55 and 65 miles.
  • Pantographs on these trains can go up and down with all the alacrity of a whore’s drawers.

If the easier section of electrification between Leicester and Derby stations, were to be installed, this would enable the following routes to be run using battery-equipped Class 810 trains.

  • London and Derby, where battery power would be used through Leicester.
  • London and Nottingham, where battery power would be used through Leicester and between East Midlands Parkway and Nottingham.
  • London and Sheffield, where battery power would be used through Leicester and between Derby and Clay Cross Junction.
  • Lincoln and Burton-on-Trent, where battery power would be used South of Leicester and North of East Midlands Parkway.
  • Derby and Corby, where battery power would be used between Syston and Corby.

There would also be the service between Derby and Norwich, which might be able to be run by a similar train.

Conclusion

I think the ideal way to achieve the MP’s objective would be to extend a proportion of London St. Pancras and Corby services to  the Midland Main Line.

But the problem with this, is that the Corby trains will be Class 360 trains, which are electric, so the thirty-six mile route between Corby and the Midland Main Line would need to be electrified.

On the other hand, a shuttle train could be used between Corby and Leicester.

They would call at Oakham, Melton Mowbray and Syston stations.

If the Midland Main Line to the North of Leicester were to be electrified, Battery electric trains could be used on the route, with charging at Leicester and Corby.

August 22, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments