The Anonymous Widower

Up And Down The Crouch Valley Line

The Crouch Valley Line runs from Wickford station on the Liverpool Street to Southend Victoria Line and Southminster in deepest Essex via the sailing town of Burnham-on-Crouch.

This Google Map shows the route of the line.

The Crouch Valley Line

The Crouch Valley Line

Stations on the line are at Wickford, Battlesbridge, South Woodham Ferrers, North Fambridge, Althorne, Burnham-on-Crouch and Southminster.

I took these pictures as I went from Wickford station to Southminster station on the Crouch Valley Line. On the way back, I stopped off at Burnham-on-Crouch station and found an excellent snack lunch at Cafe-Dairy in the town.

It certainly isn’t your average rural railway line.

  • The six stations on the line are in pretty good condition.
  • All except North Fambridge station are single platform stations, so are effectively step-free.
  • The line goes through marshes and country with a lot of birds. Very Snow Goose!
  • Most of the stations, seem to have adequate car parking.
  • The electrification doesn’t appear to be in the best of health, but then that could be said for much of East Anglia’s railways.

If it has one major problem, it is that trains seem to run every forty minutes.

Growth In Passenger Numbers

Two factors will see the number of passengers using this line grow in the future.

Someone in Burnham told me, that they were building a lot of new housing along the line, which surely will generate traffic.

Also, the RSPB’s flagship reserve at Wallasea, that has been built with tunnel spoil from Crossrail, is just across the river at Burnham-on-Crouch.

This Google Map shows the area.

Burnham-on-Crouch, the River Crouch And Wallasea Island

Burnham-on-Crouch, the River Crouch And Wallasea Island

The Crouch Valley Railway goes across the top of the map and stops at Burnham-on-Crouch station.

I walked down to the River, going past the cinema.

Will a proper route from the station to Wallasea Island on the other side of the River Crouch be created using a bus and a ferry?

There is also a very low possibility of a new nuclear power station at Bradwell, which could increase traffic to Southminster.

A Two Trains Per Hour Service

The current schedule meant I had a forty minute wait for a train after my lunch. I made a mistake calculating when the train would leave and I arrived back at the station a few minutes after the train had left.

Forty minutes is a long time to wait for a train in a station with few facilities on a sunny day.

If traffic does grow on the line, as I indicated in the previous section, two trains an hour will be a necessity.

The reason for the current weird interval is that if you look at the time-table, trains take thirty-one minutes to do the Journey.

If you add in the turn-round time, when train staff do what they have to do and that to run the service, the two trains must pass at the only passing loop at North Fambridge station, it becomes obvious, that the fastest sensible time for the journey adding in all the extras is forty minutes.

So it would seem that in order to get two trains per hour, you would need to get the time for the journey down to thirty minutes.

It would seem that it might be possible by using four trains to get a three trains per hour service, but this would probably need extra passing loops or full redoubling of the track with extra platforms in places.

So because of cost this will probably not be an option.

In other words, the only way to get two trains per hour on the branch, would be to speed up the time each journey takes.

New Trains On The Line

New trains on the line could be the key to achieving a thirty minute total journey time.

If something like a new Aventra train replaced the current Class 321 train, there would be certain features that would save time.

  • The higher speed and better performance of the modern train would save some time.
  • Modern trains are designed to stop, unload and pick up passengers and get back to line speed in a shorter time.
  • Level access to platforms could be arranged to cut out loading delays of buggies, wheelchairs and bicycles.
  • Helpful automation for the driver in the turn-round at each end of the line could save a few precious minutes.
  • The precision driving needed would be easier in a modern train.

It might even be possible to do a faster speed in a Class 360 train.

Improving The track

I do wonder, if Network Rail have ideas to improve the line speed, which would mean more minutes saved.

I suspect Network Rail engineers wish that the conversion of this line to single-track in the 1960s shouldn’t have been carried out.

Conclusion

I think that within a couple of years, we’ll see new trains on this line providing a two trains per hour service.

 

 

 

July 18, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

Alpine Swifts

At night and in the morning, the air over Dubrovnik is full of alpine swifts.

This picture, which is the best of a bad lot, shows a few ducking and diving by the sea and the city walls.

DSCN8072

There were several photographers trying to get the ultimate picture.

May 9, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , | 1 Comment

European Bison

These European bison were in a reserve.

There were about fifty in the herd.

The birders in the party were excited about the number of yellowhammers. I know them well, as the birds seem to like the post-and-railed fields of studs in the Newmarket area. The birds are also regularly seen in Cambridge.

January 17, 2016 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Across The North Of The Walthamstow Reservoirs

Between Blackhorse Road and South Tottenham stations, the Gospel Oak to Barking Line (GOBlin) passes between the large reservoirs of the Lea Valley that provide East London with most of its water.

This area to the south of the GOBlin is being developed into the Walthamstow Wetlands. Incidentally, I was once on one of these trains and there was a grandfather (?) with serious binoculars showing a boy of about ten, the various water birds that were visible. Today, all I could identify was a few swans.

Because of the layout of the line, I wouldn’t bet against there being a station called Walthamstow Wetlands or River Lea at the western end of this journey, just before it crosses the West Anglia Main Line.

Is there a Bird or Nature Reserve in the UK with its own rail station?

August 14, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Those Seagulls Get Everywhere

Some coastal parts of the UK and other parts of Europe have a seagull problem.

But this story from Brighton must be unique, where one of the birds finished second in the 7:10 race according to the photo finish.

July 11, 2014 Posted by | Sport | , , | Leave a comment

The Walthamstow Reservoirs

I knew there were reservoirs at Walthamstow, but I didn’t know they were so extensive, until I read an article in last night’s Standard.

Thames Water are getting together with the London Borough of Waltham Forest to develop this area as an area of wetlands.

There’s a lot about the site here. The reservoirs are a Site of Special ScientificIinterest.

May 29, 2014 Posted by | World | , , | 3 Comments

A Patient Sub Editor Uses His Word

I wonder how many years one of the sub editors in The Times has waited to use the word murmuration!

But today it was used under a picture as the correct term for a flock of starlings. There’s a lot more here.

January 21, 2014 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

Stories About Wind Power

I don’t like large onshore wind turbines, as I believe they destroy wonderful views and the economics are not very sound.

On the other hand, when they are offshore, they are less intrusive and the economics might be better.  But even so the arrays have to be properly designed and sited.

The real place for wind turbines is to provide distributed power to difficult places, where a small amount of electricity is required and running a cable would be expensive.

I’ve not been happy on the effect of turbines on birds ever  since, I read several articles about how in the United States, wind farms kill eagles and other large birds. Yesterday The Times published a similar article about their effect on bats.

I’m always sceptical about the reasons for publishing these articles, as I’m pretty certain, that they are very much the sort of story that pleases Middle England, who feel the turbines will make their house drop in value.

The Times also published a story about a wind turbine on the Welsh Assembly, which is also reported on the BBC. This is the first paragraph.

A wind turbine that cost the Welsh government £48,000 to buy has been generating an average of just £5 worth of electricity per month.

It all goes to show that wind turbines may not be as economic, as their proponents say they will be.

One thing I’d like to see is an open database on the Internet of all turbines, with their detailed cost, subsidy and revenue, so anybody who wanted to, could check the efficiency and economics of any turbine.

Only if that information wee to be freely available, would we be able to know if they were money well spent.

November 10, 2013 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Where Have All The Plastic Budgies Gone?

A friend is trying to buy a plastic budgie, like you get in bird cages, for a joke.

But there seems to be a shortage and she can’t find one anywhere.

i’m in Lincoln and Sheffield at the weekend.  I’ll have a look.

October 4, 2013 Posted by | World | | 3 Comments

Otters Will Be Otters

This story from the Metro, shows how we should co-operate a bit more, where wildlife are concerned. Here’s the first few paragraphs.

When Brian Dodson set up a carp fishery from scratch he had no idea the business would be quickly ruined – by otters.

The 60-year-old discovered the carnivores had eaten his entire £250,000 stock after a river haven for the animals was built nearby.

He is now seeking £2.5million from the Environment Agency, which he claims failed to tell him about the scheme and prevented him building protective fencing.

Surely there should have been a middle way.

But then as the story says otters are carnivores and will get their food no matter what. There was a story a couple of years ago, where otters were taking koi carp out of a pond in a suburban garden in Birmingham.  No-one knew that there were otters in the nearby canal.

I’m reminded of the tale I heard when I shared the driver’s cab in a High Speed Diesel Train from Edinburgh to Inverness.

The owner of an hotel close to the line, built a lake, which he stocked with fish for his guests. But just down the road was Loch Garten, where ospreys have made a home. And as ospreys are wont to do, they found the hotel lake and decided it was a good place for dinner.

The hotel owner cut back on his fishing, but apparently, he now promotes the lake as a place to watch ospreys feed.

February 26, 2013 Posted by | Food, News | , , , , , | 1 Comment