The Anonymous Widower

Liverpool’s Forgotten Tunnel

The Wapping Tunnel in Liverpool was designed by George Stephenson and was the first tunnel in the world to be bored under a city.

It used to take goods trains between Liverpool Docks and the Liverpool and Manchester Line.

During the 1970s preparations were made to connect the Wapping Tunnel to Merseyrail’s Northern Line, so that trains could run between the Northern Line and the City Line, which would have connected the North and East of the City.

But the project was never completed.

It now appears, the project is on the agenda again.

This article on TransportExtra is entitled Liverpool CR Develops Plan To Boost City Centre Rail Capacity.

The plan outlined is as follows.

  • At present, as many as two thirds of trains on the Northern Line turn back as Liverpool Central station.
  • Between four and eight trains per hour (tph) could be diverted into the Wapping Tunnel to serve places like St. Helens, Warrington Central and Wigan.
  • This would free up platforms in Liverpool Lime Street station for Inter-City and Inter-Regional services.

It is also pointed out, that a 2016 study, didn’t find any serious technical problems with the project.

I do have my thoughts on this project.

Services That Could Be Connected

Local services running from Liverpool Lime Street station include.

Manchester Oxford Road Via Warrington Central

This service is run by Northern.

  • It has a frequency of two tph.
  • One service calls at Edge Hill, Mossley Hill, West Allerton, Liverpool South Parkway, Hunts Cross, Halewood, Hough Green, Widnes, Sankey For Penketh, Warrington West, Warrington Central, Birchwood, Irlam, Urmston and Deansgate.
  • The other service calls at Mossley Hill, West Allerton, Liverpool South Parkway, Hough Green, Widnes, Warrington Central, Padgate, Birchwood, Glazebrook, Irlam, Flixton, Chassen Road (1tp2h), Urmston, Humphrey Park, Trafford Park and Deansgate
  • Both trains appear to take the same route.
  • Some stations like Liverpool South Parkway, Warrington West and Deansgate have lifts, but disabled access is patchy.
  • The service has a dedicated terminal at Manchester Oxford Road, which is without doubt Manchester’s worst central station for location, access to the Metrolink, onward travel and step-free access.
  • It takes seventy-two minutes. which is an inconvenient time for train operators.
  • The route is electrified with 25 KVAC overhead electrification at both ends.

I’ve used this route several times and usually pick it up from Deansgate, as it has a convenient interchange to the Metrolink.

I am fairly certain that Merseyrail’s new Class 777 trains running on battery power in the middle could handle this route.

  • They would charge the batteries at the electrified ends of the route.
  • They would join the route at Edge Hill station.
  • They would offer step-free access between train and platform.
  • These trains are built for fast stops, so could all services call at all stations?
  • On Merseyrail’s principles, the service would probably be at least two tph, if not four tph.

I estimate that these trains are fast enough to do the return trip between the Wapping Tunnel portal at Edge Hill and Manchester Oxford Road in under two hours.

  • A two-four tph stopping service between Liverpool and Manchester City Centres, that took less than an hour, would be very convenient for passengers.
  • The service would be well-connected to local tram, train and bus services in both City Centres.
  • The service would also very easy for train schedulers to integrate with other services.

Liverpool and Manchester would have the world’s first battery-powered inter-city railway.

Other than the connection of the Wapping Tunnel no extra infrastructure works would be needed.

Wigan North Western Via St. Helens Central

This service is run by Northern.

  • It has a frequency of two tph.
  • The service calls at Edge Hill, Wavertree Technology Park, Broad Green, Roby, Huyton, Prescot, Eccleston Park, Thatto Heath, St Helens Central, Garswood and Bryn
  • The route is fully-electrified with 25 KVAC overhead.
  • It takes fifty-one minutes. which is a very convenient time for train operators.

Merseyrail’s new Class 777 trains could handle this route, if fitted with pantographs for 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

  • They would join the route at Edge Hill station.
  • They would offer step-free access between train and platform.
  • On Merseyrail’s principles, the service would probably be at least two tph, if not four tph.

I estimate that these trains are fast enough to do the return trip between the Wapping Tunnel portal at Edge Hill and Wigan North Western in under two hours.

  • A two-four tph stopping service between Liverpool and Wigan, that took less than an hour, would be very convenient for passengers.
  • Wigan North Western has good connections using the West Coast Main Line.
  • The service would also very easy for train schedulers to integrate with other services.

Other than the connection of the Wapping Tunnel no extra infrastructure works would be needed.

Blackpool North

This service is run by Northern.

  • It has an hourly frequency.
  • The service calls at Huyton, St Helens Central, Wigan North Western, Euxton Balshaw Lane, Leyland, Preston, Kirkham & Wesham and Poulton-le-Fylde
  • The route is fully-electrified with 25 KVAC overhead.
  • It takes seventy-seven minutes. which is a reasonable time for train operators.

This is a service that could continue as now, but would probably be timed to fit well with four Merseyrail trains between the Wapping Tunnel and Wigan North Western.

Manchester Airport Via Warrington Central And Manchester Piccadilly

This service is run by Northern.

  • It has an hourly frequency.
  • The service calls at Liverpool South Parkway, Warrington West, Warrington Central, Birchwood, Manchester Oxford Road, Manchester Piccadilly and Mauldeth Road
  • The route is partially-electrified with 25 KVAC overhead.
  • The service is operated by diesel trains.
  • The service uses the overcrowded Castlefield Corridor.
  • It takes sixty-nine minutes, which is an inconvenient time for train operators.

This is one of those services, which I think will eventually be partially replaced by other much better services.

  • Northern Powerhouse Rail is planning six tph between Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Piccadilly via Warrington South Parkway and Manchester Airport, which will take just twenty-six minutes.
  • Two-four tph on the route between Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Oxford Road via Warrington Central would be a better service for the smaller stations. Passengers going to and from Manchester Airport would change at Liverpool Lime Street, Deansgate or Manchester Oxford Road.

Continuing as now, would definitely be possible.

Crewe And Manchester Airport Via Newton-le-Willows And Manchester Piccadilly

This service is run by Northern.

  • It has an hourly frequency.
  • The service calls at Edge Hill, Wavertree Technology Park, Broad Green, Roby, Huyton, Whiston, Rainhill, Lea Green, St Helens Junction, Earlestown, Newton-le-Willows, Patricroft, Eccles, Deansgate, Manchester Oxford Road, Manchester Piccadilly, Mauldeth Road, Burnage, East Didsbury, Gatley and Heald Green.
  • The route is fully-electrified with 25 KVAC overhead.
  • The service uses the overcrowded Castlefield Corridor
  • It takes eighty-five minutes, which is an inconvenient time for train operators.

This is one of those services, which I think will eventually be partially replaced by other much better services.

  • Northern Powerhouse Rail is planning six tph between Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Piccadilly via Warrington South Parkway and Manchester Airport, which will take just twenty-six minutes.
  • Two-four tph on the route between Liverpool Lime Street and Wigan North Western would be a better service for the smaller stations. Passengers going to and from Manchester Airport and Crewe would change at Liverpool Lime Street or Wigan North Western.

Continuing as now, would definitely be possible.

Warrington Bank Quay Via Earlstown

This service is run by Northern.

  • It has an hourly frequency.
  • The service calls at Edge Hill, Wavertree Technology Park, Broad Green, Roby, Huyton, Whiston, Rainhill, Lea Green, St Helens Junction and Earlestown.
  • The route is fully-electrified with 25 KVAC overhead.
  • The service takes forty-three minute, which is a convenient time for train operators.

Merseyrail’s new Class 777 trains could handle this route, if fitted with pantographs for 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

  • They would join the route at Edge Hill station.
  • They would offer step-free access between train and platform.
  • On Merseyrail’s principles, the service would probably be at least two tph, if not four tph.

Other than the connection of the Wapping Tunnel no extra infrastructure works would be needed.

Three Possible Routes Through Wapping

Summing up this section, these are possible routes that could be replaced by services through the Wapping Tunnel.

  • Two tph – Manchester Oxford Road
  • Two tph – Warrington Bank Quay
  • One tph – Wigan North Western

Increasing the Wigan North Western service to two tph, would increase the frequency between Edge Hill and Huyton to a very passenger-friendly four tph.

If eight tph could be accommodated in the Wapping Tunnel, the frequency could also be doubled to Manchester Oxford Road.

This would give the following services through the Wapping Tunnel.

  • Four tph – Manchester Oxford Road
  • Two tph – Warrington Bank Quay
  • Two tph – Wigan North Western

The only local services that would need to run into Liverpool Lime Street would be.

  • One tph – Northern – Blackpool North via Wigan North Western.
  • One tph – Northern – Manchester Airport and Crewe via St. Helens and Newton-le-Willows.
  • One tph – Northern – Manchester Airport via Warrington Central.
  • One tph – Trains for Wales – Chester via Runcorn

I can understand, why so many seem to be enthusiastic about using the Wapping Tunnel to connect the Northern and City Lines.

Echoes Of The Brunels’ Thames Tunnel

George Stephenson’s Wapping Tunnel may be the first tunnel under a city, but the Brunels’ Thames Tunnel was the first under a navigable river.

The Brunels’ tunnel was built for horses and carts, but today it is an important rail artery of the London Overground, handling sixteen tph between Wapping and Rotherhithe.

I would expect that the Wapping Tunnel could do for Liverpool, what the Thames Tunnel has done for East London.

Modern signalling techniques probably mean that the theoretical capacity of the Wapping Tunnel is way in excess of the planned maximum frequency of eight tph.

High Speed Two Between Liverpool And London

The latest High Speed Two plans as laid out in the June 2020 Edition of Modern Railways, say that there will be two tph between Liverpool Lime Street and London Euston.

  • Both trains will call at Old Oak Common, Crewe and Runcorn.
  • Both trains will be 200 metres long classic-compatible High Speed Two trains.
  • One train will split and join with a similar service between London Euston and Lancaster.

Will these High Speed Two services replace the current Avanti West Coast services?

Northern Powerhouse Rail Between Liverpool And Manchester

In Changes Signalled For HS2 Route In North, I looked at Transport for the North’s  report, which is entitled At A Glance – Northern Powerhouse Rail.

This report says that Northern Powerhouse Rail between Liverpool and Manchester Piccadilly will be as follows.

  • Services will go via Manchester Airport.
  • There could be a new Warrington South Parkway station.
  • Six tph between Liverpool and Manchester via Manchester Airport and Warrington are planned.
  • Journey times will be 26 minutes.

I would assume that several of the six tph will continue across the Pennines to Huddersfield, Bradford, Leeds, York and Hull.

Will these Northern Powerhouse Rail services replace the current TransPennine and some of the Northern services?

Northern Powerhouse Rail Trains

Nothing has been said about the trains for Northern Powerhouse Rail.

I suspect they will be versions of the 200 metre long classic-compatible High Speed Two trains.

I do wonder, if Avanti West Coast have already ordered a prototype fleet of these trains,

Look at the specification of the Class 807 trains, they have ordered to boost services on the West Coast Main Line.

  • 7 x 26 metre cars.
  • 182 metres long. Shorter than an eleven-car Class 390 train.
  • All-electric, with no diesel engines or traction batteries. Are they lightweight trains with sparkling acceleration?
  • 125 mph operating speed. All Class 80x trains can do this.
  • 140 mph operating speed with ERTMS digital signalling. All Class 80x trains can do this.
  • Ability to work in pairs. All Class 80x trains can do this, up to a maximum length of twelve cars in normal mode and twenty-four cars in emergency mode. I doubt fourteen cars would be a problem!

To be classic-compatible High Speed Two trains, they would need to be able to cruise at 205 mph, whilst working on High Speed Two. I suspect that Hitachi have got some higher-capacity electrical gear and traction motors with lots more grunt in their extensive parts bin!

If these are a prototype fleet of classic-compatible High Speed Two trains, they will certainly get a lot of in-service testing even before the order is placed for the trains for High Speed Two.

Northern Powerhouse Rail will need trains with a slightly different specification.

  • As they won’t generally work on high speed lines, for most trains an operating speed of 140 mph will be sufficient.
  • For serving some destinations like Cleethorpes, Harrogate, Hull, Middlesbrough and Redcar an independently-powered capability would be desirable. Sixty miles on batteries would probably be sufficient!

Nothing would appear to be out of Hitachi’s current capabilities.

Liverpool Lime Street Station After Remodelling

Liverpool Lime Street station has two groups of platforms.

  • Platforms 1-5 on the Western side
  • Platforms 6-10 on the Eastern side.

These pictures show some views of the platforms at Liverpool Lime Street station after the remodelling of 2017-2019.

Note,

  1. The platforms are not narrow!
  2. It appears that the five platforms in the Eastern group are all long enough to take an eleven-car Class 390 train, which is 265.3 metres long.
  3. TransPennine Express trains can use the Western group.

I have looked at a whole day’s traffic on Real Time Trains and it appears that the new track layout allows almost all services to use any available platform.

This flexibility must make operation of the station much easily than it was!

Liverpool Lime Street Station As A High Speed Station

It would appear that the Eastern Group of Platforms 6-10 will all be capable of the following.

  • Handling a 182 metre long Avanti West Coast Class 807 train.
  • Handling a 200 metres long classic-compatible High Speed Two train.
  • Handling a 130 metre long TransPennine Express Class 802 train.
  • In the future, handling a Northern Powerhouse Rail train, which will probably be less than 200 metres long.

But they won’t be able to handle High Speed Two’s full-size trains.

Currently, these services capable of over 125 mph are running or are planned from Liverpool Lime Street station.

  • 2 tph – Avanti West Coast – Liverpool Lime Street and London Euston
  • 1 tph – TransPennine Express – Liverpool Lime Street and Newcastle
  • 1 tph – TransPennine Express – Liverpool Lime Street and Scarborough
  • 3 trains per day(tpd) – TransPennine Express – Liverpool Lime Street and Glasgow

This totals to four tph.

High Speed Two will add two classic-compatible High Speed Two trains.

Will these replace the two Avanti West Coast services?

  • They will be run by the same company.
  • They will take different routes.
  • The current service takes 134 minutes.
  • The High Speed Two train will take 94 minutes.

I can see Avanti West Coast running a  one tph slower train via stations with difficult connections to Liverpool Lime Street. Think Watford Junction, Milton Keynes, Rugby, Stafford and Stoke-on-Trent.

This would bring the total to five tph.

Northern Powerhouse Rail will run six high speed trains to Manchester and beyond.

If they replaced the two TransPennine Express services, that would bring the maximum number of 200 metre long high speed trains to nine tph.

Could Liverpool Lime Street station handle nine high-speed tph?

Comparison With Birmingham Curzon Street Station

Birmingham Curzon Street station on High Speed Two will handle high speed trains from three directions, as will Liverpool Lime Street station.

The Birmingham station will handle nine tph on seven platforms.

As Liverpool Lime Street station will have ten platforms and also need to handle nine tph, I think it will be able to handle the trains.

Will There Be A Station In The Wapping Tunnel?

Just as London has its clay, which makes excavating for the Underground easy, the Centre of Liverpool has its sandstone, which has been honeycombed with tunnels. In addition to the Wapping Tunnel, there are two other tunnels from Edge Hill station to the Docks; the Waterloo Tunnel and the Victoria Tunnel.

Liverpool has plans for a Knowledge Quarter based on the Universities on Brownlow Hill.

As part of the development, it is intended to develop an area called Paddington Village.

Wikipedia says this about the village.

Paddington Village is a site at the eastern gateway to the city centre and has been earmarked as 1.8m sq ft of science, technology, education and health space.

This is also another paragraph.

Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson announced that the council were looking into a new Merseyrail station to serve the site. A mention of a station is made in the October 2017 Liverpool City Region Combined Authority update to the Long Term Rail Strategy. Merseytravel commissioned a feasibility report into re-opening the Wapping Tunnel in May 2016 which found that it was a valid proposal which would allow for a new station to be built that could serve the Knowledge Quarter.

Someone has thought up a proposal for a Lime Line, which would be a tram or bus system, linking the Knowledge Quarter and the City Centre.

This map shows how their proposal fits in with all the other rail systems in Liverpool City.

Note the Wapping Tunnel is shown on the map, as a dotted blue line.

  • It connects to the Northern Line to the South of Liverpool Central station.
  • It connects to the City Line to the West of Edge Hill station.
  • A station named University/KQ is shown.

A new St. James station is also shown

Conclusion

Using the Wapping Tunnel to increase capacity in Liverpool City Centre could be used if required to improve capacity for the high speed network in the city, by removing local trains from Liverpool Lime Street station.

August 8, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Midlands Rail Hub

On the Midlands Connect web site, they have a page, which is entitled Midlands Rail Hub.

This is the introductory paragraph.

The Midlands Rail Hub – our flagship project – is the biggest upgrade of our rail network for a generation.

The page contains this helpful map.

There is also a table of journeys and the improvements to be made.

  • Birmingham – Nottingham – +1 tph – 72 minutes – 59 minutes
  • Birmingham – Leicester – +2 tph – 66 minutes – 42 minutes
  • Birmingham – Hereford – +1 tph – 85 minutes – 65 minutes
  • Bitmingham – Worcester – +1 tph – 40 minutes – 35 minutes
  • Birmingham – Derby – +2 tph – 38 minutes – 38 minutes
  • Coventry – Leicester – +2 tph – 57 minutes – 38 minutes
  • Coventry – Nottingham -+2 tph – 99 minutes – 63 minutes
  • Birmingham – Bristol – +1 tph – 85 minutes – 80 minutes
  • Birmingham – Cardiff – +1 tph – 117 minutes – 112 minutes
  • Birmingham – Kings Norton – +2 tph – 18 minutes – 14 minutes

Note that the data by each route is the increase in frequency in trains per hour (tph), the current journey time and the future journey time.

I’ll now look at each route in more detail.

Birmingham And Bristol

Consider.

  • Birmingham New Street and Bristol Temple Meads stations are 90 miles apart.
  • Current service is two tph, which is provided by CrossCountry and goes via Worcestershire Parkway, Cheltenham Spa and Bristol Parkway.
  • There is to be an increase of one tph.
  • Current journey time is 85 minutes
  • Future journey time is 80 minutes

As CrossCrountry’s Birmingham and Bristol service goes through to Edinburgh, Glasgow or Manchester Piccadilly, would it not be convenient, if the service could use High Speed Two to the North of Birmingham?

Birmingham And Cardiff

Consider.

  • Birmingham New Street and Cardiff Central stations are 108 miles apart.
  • Current service is two tph, which is provided by CrossCountry and goes via Worcestershire Parkway, Cheltenham Spa. Gloucester and Newport.
  • There is to be an increase of one tph.
  • Current journey time is 85 minutes
  • Future journey time is 80 minutes

As CrossCrountry’s Birmingham and Cardiff service goes through to Nottingham, would it not be convenient, if the service could use High Speed Two between Birmingham and Nottingham?

It would appear that both Bristol and Cardiff services could benefit from a High Speed Two connection.

This map from High Speed Two shows the line’s route through the Water Orton area.

Note.

  1. High Speed Two is shown in various colours.
  2. High Speed Two splits at the Eastern edge of the map, with the Northern link going to Northern destinations and the Southern link going to Birmingham Interchange and London.
  3. Curving across the map beneath it, is the M6 motorway, with Spaghetti Junction off the map to the West.
  4. Water Orton station is in the North East corner of the map.
  5. The Birmingham and Peterborough Line, which connects Leicester and Birmingham New Street stations via Water Orton runs just tom the North of the route of High Speed Two shown on the map.

This Google Map shows the area.

I wonder if it would be possible to provide links so that the following would be possible.

  • Trains running East from New Street station could join High Speed Two to run to East Midlands Hub, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and York.
  • Trains from the North could run into New Street station and then continue to Bristol, Cardiff and Cheltenham.

The trains would have to be classic-compatible High Speed Two trains. These would fit into New Street station, as they are shorter than Class 390 trains and will have a aimilar height and width.

Time savings could be as follows.

  • Bristol/Cardiff and Edinburgh – 110 minutes
  • Bristol/Cardiff and Manchester Piccadilly- 50 minutes
  • Bristol/Cardiff and Newcastle – 80 minutes
  • Bristol/Cardiff and Nottingham – 45 minutes

All trains would be direct.

Birmingham And Derby

Consider.

  • Birmingham New Street and Derby stations are 41 miles apart.
  • Current service is two tph, which is provided by CrossCountry and goes via Wilnecote, Tamworth and Burton-on-Trent
  • There is to be an increase of two tph.
  • Current journey time is 38 minutes
  • Future journey time is 38 minutes
  • High Speed Two will run three tph between Birmingham Curzon Street and East Midlands Hub station in 20 minutes.
  • Midlands Connect will run one tph between Birmingham Curzon Street and Nottingham Station in 30 minutes. See Classic-Compatible High Speed Two Trains At East Midlands Hub Station

Will passengers between Birmingham and Derby use High Speed Two services, which will be four tph or the current ones?

Birmingham And Hereford Via Worcester

Consider.

  • Birmingham New Street and Hereford stations are 55 miles apart.
  • Current service is one tph, which is provided by West Midlands Trains, and goes via Bromsgrove, Malvern Link and Great Malvern.
  • There is to be an increase of one tph.
  • Current journey time is 85 minutes
  • Future journey time is 65 minutes
  • The track between Bromsgrove and Birmingham is electrified.
  • Hereford and Bromsgrove are 41 miles apart.
  • Worcester and Bromsgrove are 13 miles apart.

With charging facilities at Worcester, this route would be an ideal one for battery electric trains.

Birmingham And Leicester

Consider.

  • Birmingham New Street and Leicester stations are 40 miles apart.
  • Current service is two tph, which is provided by CrossCountry and goes via Water Orton, Coleshill Parkway, Nuneaton, Hinckley and Narborough.
  • There is to be an increase of two tph.
  • Current journey time is 66 minutes
  • Future journey time is 42 minutes

Birmingham – Nottingham

Consider.

  • Birmingham New Street and Nottingham stations are 57 miles apart.
  • Current service is two tph, which is provided by CrossCountry and goes via Tamworth, Burton-on-Trent and Derby.
  • There is to be an increase of one tph.
  • Current journey time is 72 minutes
  • Future journey time is 59 minutes
  • High Speed Two will run three tph between Birmingham Curzon Street and East Midlands Hub station in 20 minutes.
  • Midlands Connect will run one tph between Birmingham Curzon Street and Nottingham Station in 30 minutes. See Classic-Compatible High Speed Two Trains At East Midlands Hub Station

Will passengers between Birmingham and Nottingham use High Speed Two services, which will be four tph or the current ones?

Coventry And Leicester

Consider.

  • Coventry and Leicester are 28 miles apart.
  • There is currently no direct train and a change is needed at Nuneaton
  • There is to be an increase of two tph.
  • Current journey time is 57 minutes
  • Future journey time is 38 minutes

I suspect that a direct Coventry and Leicester service is being provided that does one of the following.

  • Reverses in Nuneaton station.
  • Takes a new flyover to cross the West Coast Main Line.

Would the Southern terminus of the route be Coventry, Leamington Spa or Stratford-on-Avon?

Coventry And Nottingham

Consider.

  • Coventry and Nottingham are 55 miles apart.
  • There is currently no direct train and a change is needed at Birmingham New Street or at both Nuneaton and Leicester.
  • There is to be an increase of two tph.
  • Current journey time is 99 minutes
  • Future journey time is 63 minutes

Would this service be an extension of the Coventry and Leicester service?

As Leicester and Nottingham takes around thirty minutes, this could be the case.

Birmingham And Kings Norton Via The Camp Hill Line

The Midlands Rail Hub page, says this about the Bordesley Chords, which will connect Birmingham Moor Street station to the Camp Hill Line.

Construction of the Bordesley Chords, two viaducts creating new paths to the East Midlands and South West from Birmingham Moor Street Station.

This Google Map shows where they will be built.

Note.

  1. The Football ground in the North-East corner of the map is St. Andrew’s, which is Birmingham City’s home ground.
  2. The rail line going North South across the map and passing to the West side of the ground is the Camp Hill Line, which leads to Water Orton station in the North and Kings Norton station in the South.
  3. The station in the middle of the map is Bordesley station.
  4. The rail line going NW-SE across the map through the station is the Chiltern Main Line into Birmingham Moor Street station, which is a couple of miles to the North-West.

The two Bordesley chords will be double-track chords linking the following routes.

  • Moor Street station to the Camp Hill Line going South to Kings Norton via new stations at Moseley, Kings Heath and Hazelwell.
  • Moor Street station to the Camp Hill Line going North to Water Orton station.

The initial service would appear to be two tph between Moor Street and Kings Norton stations.

CrossCountry Trains and Moor Street Station

Consider.

  • Birmingham New Street station is very busy.
  • Some CrossCountry trains take a Water Orton-Birmingham New Street-Kings Norton route across the city.

Could these trains go between Water Orton and Kings Norton, with a reverse in Moor Street station?

  • Plymouth and Edinburgh Waverley
  • Cardiff Central and Nottingham

And could these services terminate at Moor Street station?

  • Birmingham New Street and Nottingham
  • Birmingham New Street and Stansted Airport via Leicester
  • Birmingham New Street and Leicester

It would seem there must be scope improve the operation of New Street station, by using Moor Street station and the Bordesley chords.

If all these trains used Moor Street station it would be a very busy station.

In an hour it would handle these trains via the Bordesley chords.

  • CrossCountry – 1 tph – Cardiff Central
  • CrossCountry – 1 tph – Edinburgh Waverley
  • West Midlands Railway – 2 tph – Kings Norton
  • CrossCountry – 2 tph – Leicester
  • CrossCountry – 2 tph – Nottingham
  • CrossCountry – 1 tph – Plymouth
  • CrossCountry – 1 tph – Stansted Airport

That is a balanced five tph to the North and five tph to the South.

There would also be the existing services.

  • Chiltern Trains – 2 tph – London Marylebone and Birmingham
  • West Midlands Railway – 6 tph – Dorridge/Stratford-upon-Avon/Whittocks End and Stourbridge Junction

There would also be the proposed Moor Street and Oxford service.

Battery Electric Trains

If we assume that a battery electric train has a battery range equal to or longer than Hitachi’s quoted figure of 56 miles, these routes are possibilities for battery electric trains.

  • Birmingham and Leicester with either electrification or charging at Leicester.
  • Birmingham and Hereford with charging at Hereford
  • Birmingham and Kings Norton
  • Birmingham and Oxford with charging at Oxford and Banbury
  • Coventry and Leicester

If the Midland Main Line is electrified in the Nottingham Area, then all services to Nottingham could be added.

CrossCountry And High Speed Two

Consider.

  • There are up to half-a-dozen spare hourly paths on both the Northern legs of High Speed Two.
  • Using High Speed Two tracks to the North of Birmingham can speed up services considerably.
  • CrossCountry needs a new fleet of trains.
  • Services could be run using classic-compatible High Speed Two trains.
  • The trains might be shorter and would certainly have independent power sources.

It could be a large improvement in quality and journey times, with all current destinations served.

The only extra infrastructure needed would be a connecting junction near Water Orton station. A junction there would work, whether services used Moor Street or New Street station in Birmingham.

Cnnclusion

The concept of a Midlands Rail Hub is very sound.

July 18, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Birmingham Airport Connectivity

On the Midlands Connect web site, they have a page, which is entitled Birmingham Airport Connectivity.

This is the introductory paragraph.

By using capacity released by HS2 and investing in new track south of Birmingham Airport, we can improve connections from the south of England, East Midlands, Yorkshire and the North East.

The page contains this helpful map.

It looks like Midlands Connect are thinking about improving the Reading and Newcastle service.

Points made on the page and related articles, like this one on Rail News  include.

  • Birmingham Airport has plans to increase passenger numbers to 18 million by 2033.
  • Coventry and Leamington Spa via Kenilworth will be double-tracked.
  • High Speed Two will release capacity in the area.
  • It will open up rail capacity between Birmingham and Solihull.
  • There will be a new service between Birmingham Moor Street and Oxford via Solihull and Warwick Parkway.
  • It will improve local connections to Birmingham Airport.
  • Birmingham and Reading services will be increased to two trains per hour (tph)
  • The Government is being asked to chip in £20 million.

These are my thoughts.

Birmingham Airport

Birmingham Airport can become a true Heart of England Airport.

I feel that the future of aviation will be very different to the past.

  • COVID-19 and the future pandemics, that we will endure from the East and the Americas, will mean that flying will be a very different experience with hygiene and social distancing to the fore.
  • Smaller aircraft, for flights up to 500 miles, will be odd-looking zero-carbon machines with exotic power systems.
  • Larger aircraft will be energy efficient planes powered by aviation biofuels produced from household and industrial waste, and biomass.
  • Boeing 747s and Airbus A380s will only be talked about in tales from older people to the young.
  • Airports will be important rail hubs to more than just the local area.

Wikipedia also says this about expansion of Birmingham Airport.

Plans for a second runway (a third when demand requires) on the other side of the M42 and a new terminal complex and business park have been published, and they could help to create around 250,000 jobs. It has been estimated that if these plans went ahead, the airport could handle around 70,000,000 passengers annually, and around 500,000 aircraft movements.

This Google Map shows the Airport.

Note the M42 motorway passing North-South to the East of the Airport.

Could Birmingham Airport develop towards Birmingham Interchange and High Speed Two?

It is worth looking at the distance to other airports.

  • Aberdeen – 328 miles
  • Amsterdam – 280 miles
  • Dublin – 199 miles
  • Frankfurt – 478 miles
  • Geneva – 558 miles
  • Paris – 304 miles

All could be within range of an electric aircraft like the under-development Eviation Alice.

I believe that large airports will develop low-noise zero-carbon secondary runways.

Birmingham Airport is well-situated to take advantage.

Adding A Second Track Between Leamington Spa And Coventry

This section of track is about ten miles long, with probably under half only single-track.

This Google Map shows the single-track through the new Kenilworth station.

And these are pictures I took soon after the station opened.

It is certainly one of the best of the current crop of new small stations.

I don’t think that adding a second track will be the most challenging of projects.

It should be noted that the Leamington Spa and Nuneaton service could be a candidate for a battery electric train.

  • The route is twenty miles long
  • Nuneaton and Coventry stations are fully electrified.
  • There might be possibilities to extend this service at either or both ends.
  • Nuneaton and Leicester are nineteen miles apart and a new Nuneaton Parkway station is proposed for the route. I wrote about this station in New Railway Station Between Hinckley And Nuneaton Receives Backing.
  • Leamington Spa and Stratford-upon-Avon are fifteen miles apart and would need a reverse at Leamington Spa.

A battery electric train might give a faster and more passenger-friendly service, if the passenger numbers and forecasts would support an extended service.

A Birmingham Moor Street And Oxford Service

This Google Map shows Birmingham Moor Street station.

Note.

  1. The two Northern through platforms on the Snow Hill Lines, that continue under Birmingham to Birmingham Snow Hill station.
  2. At least two, but possibly three bay platforms, that can take Chiltern Railway’s longest trains.
  3. There is more space for possibly another two bay platforms to be reinstated or built.

Birmingham Moor Street station will also be a short walk from High Speed Two’s Birmingham Curzon Street station.

This Google Map shows Oxford station.

Note.

  1. Birmingham Moor Street station is to the North via Banbury and Warwick Parkway stations.
  2. The two long through platforms capable of taking a nine-car train.
  3. There are two bay platforms to the East of the two through platforms, at the Northern end of the station.
  4. The bay platforms handle Chiltern’s services from London Marylebone and could also handle the proposed service to Birmingham Moor Street.

Consider this about the proposed Birmingham Moor Street and Oxford service.

  • The service could stop at Solihull, Warwick Parkway, Warwick, Leamington Spar and Banbury, as was thought necessary.
  • I estimate that Birmingham Moor Street and Oxford are 66 miles apart and that a 100 mph train would take around 66 minutes.
  • Birmingham Moor Street and Banbury are 43 miles apart.
  • Oxford and Banbury are 23 miles apart.

With these timings and a few minutes to reverse at each end of the route, I would estimate that a 2.5 hour round trip would be possible.

But, I also think, that with charging facilities or short lengths of electrification at Birmingham Moor Street, Banbury and Oxford stations, this service could be run by battery electric trains.

  • A three hour round trip should be possible.
  • Three trains would be needed to provide an hourly service.
  • Oxford, Banbury, Leamington Spa and Warwick would have a direct connection to High Speed Two.

It should also be noted

  • Birmingham Moor Street and Stratford-upon-Avon stations are only 25 miles apart and the journey rakes 46 minutes
  • Banbury and Stratford-upon-Avon are 35 miles apart. and the journey takes 57 minutes.
  • Leamington Spa and Nuneaton are 20 miles apart and the journey takes 36 minutes.

There would appear to be tremendous potential for battery electric services between Birmingham and Oxford.

How many tourists would a Birmingham and Oxford service via Stratford-upon-Avon attract?

Improving The Reading And Newcastle Service

Currently, this is a one tph service between Reading and Newcastle stations.

  • It is run by CrossCountry.
  • Intermediate stops include Oxford, Banbury, Leamington Spa, Birmingham New Street, Derby, Sheffield, Doncaster, York, Darlington and Durham.
  • It appears that the full journey takes four-and-a-half hours.

It looks like to run a two tph service would need as many as twenty trains.

There is an alternative route after High Speed Two opens.

  • High Speed Two – Newcastle and Birmingham Curzon Street – 118 minutes
  • Walk – Curzon Street and New Street – 10 minutes
  • CrossCountry – Birmingham New Street and Reading – 90 minutes

This saves about forty-five minutes.

You could even do a double change.

  • High Speed Two – Newcastle and East Midlands Hub – 96 minutes
  • High Speed Two – East Midlands Hub and Birmingham Interchange – 17 minutes
  • Walk – Birmingham Interchange and Birmingham International – 10 minutes
  • CrossCountry – Birmingham International and Reading – 78 minutes

This gives a time of around three hours and twenty minutes.

High Speed Two certainly saves time.

But look at this map clipped from the High Speed Two web site.

Note.

  1. The blue dot shows the location of Curzon Street station.
    The West Coast Main Line running into New Street station, is just to the South of Curzon Street station.
    New Street station can be picked out to the West of Curzon Street station.

This Google Map shows a close-up of the current Curzon Street station site.

The same pattern of rail lines going past the Curzon Street site into New Street station can be picked out.

Surely, a connection could be made to allow trains from a couple of platforms in Curzon Street station to terminate trains from the West Coast Main Line.

To improve services between Newcastle and Reading, trains would do the following.

  • Run on the current East Coast Main Line infrastructure between Newcastle and York. Station stops could be Durham, Darlington and York.
  • Switch to new High Speed Two infrastructure South of York.
  • Run on High Speed Two infrastructure to Birmingham Curzon Street station. Station stops could be Sheffield, Chesterfield and East Midlands Hub.
  • The train would reverse at Birmingham Curzon Street station.
  • Switch to the West Coast Main Line outside Birmingham Curzon Street station.
  • Run on the West Coast Main Line to Birmingham International station.
  • Take the route currently used by CrossCountry between Birmingham International and Reading. Station stops could be Leamington Spa, Warwick Parkway, Banbury and Oxford stations.

Timings would be as follows.

  • Newcastle and Birmingham Curzon Street – 118 minutes – From High Speed Two web site.
  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Reading – 90 minutes – Current CrossCountry timing.

Note.

  1. This saves about an hour over the current CrossCountry timings.
  2. It could use classic-compatible High Speed Two trains.
  3. Between Birmingham Curzon Street and Newcastle, it follows the same route as one of the current proposed High Speed Two services.
  4. The service could be extended to Edinburgh from Newcastle.
  5. The service could be extended to Southampton from Reading
  6. As there are only twelve tph planned to be running on the Eastern leg of High Speed Two, against a total capacity of eighteen tph, it should be possible to accommodate the extra service or services.

This would surely be a very useful High Speed Two service.

Conclusion

It is a comprehensive package of measures, some of which could have a high cost benefit ratio.

 

 

 

 

July 17, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Birmingham-Black Country-Shrewsbury

On the Midlands Connect web site, they have a page, which is entitled Birmingham-Black Country-Shrewsbury.

This is the introductory paragraph.

We’re examining the case to increase services from three to four per hour, made possible by capacity released post-HS2.

They then give the outline of their plans, which can be summed up as follows.

  • Services on the corridor are slow and unreliable.
  • Network Rail say the service is in danger of acute overcrowding.
  • Services will be increased from three trains per hour (tph) to four.
  • A direct hourly service from Shrewsbury, Wellington and Telford to London will be introduced.
  • Services to Birmingham International will be doubled.
  • The economic case will be examined for speeding up services between Shrewsbury and Birmingham from 56 to 45 minutes, via track upgrades and possible electrification.

It seems a safe, and not overly ambitious plan.

These are my thoughts.

Shrewsbury’s Unique Position

These are distances and times from important stations.

  • Birmingham International – 51 miles and 83 minutes
  • Birmingham New Street – 42.5 miles and 71 minutes
  • Chester – 42.5 miles and 53 minutes
  • Crewe – 33 miles and 53 minutes
  • Hereford – 51 miles and 59 minutes
  • Telford – 14 miles and 21 minutes
  • Wellington – 10 miles and 13 minutes
  • Welshpool – 20 miles and 25 minutes
  • Wolverhampton – 30 miles and 50 minutes

In Sparking A Revolution, I quoted this Hitachi-specification for a battery-electric train.

  • Range – 55-65 miles
  • Performance – 90-100 mph
  • Recharge – 10 minutes when static
  • Routes – Suburban near electrified lines
  • Battery Life – 8-10 years

I can’t see any problem, for a train with this specification being able to reach Shrewsbury from Birmingham International, Birmingham New Street and Crewe on battery power.

In Hitachi Trains For Avanti, I quote an article with the same title in the January 2020 Edition of Modern Railways as saying this.

Hitachi told Modern Railways it was unable to confirm the rating of the diesel engines on the bi-modes, but said these would be replaceable by batteries in future if specified.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Shrewsbury served from Birmingham and Crewe by fast electric trains, that used battery power. Avanti West Coast certainly seem to have that thought in mind.

Zero Carbon Trains Between Shrewsbury And Wales

It will be a formidable challenge to run battery trains from Shrewsbury to the Welsh destinations.

  • Aberystwyth – 81.5 miles
  • Cardiff – 107 miles
  • Carmarthen – 185 miles
  • Holyhead – 133 miles
  • Milford Haven – 225 miles
  • Swansea – 121.5 miles

Note.

  1. These are challenging distances for battery-electric trains.
  2. South Wales destinations served via Newport and Cardiff could use the electrification on the South Wales Main Line.
  3. Many of these services start from East of Shrewsbury and can use the electrified lines that connects to Birmingham New Street and Manchester Piccadilly.

Unless someone like Riding Sunbeams, makes a breakthrough, I can’t see battery-electric trains running to Welsh destinations from Shrewsbury.

Transport for Wales New Trains

Transport for Wales have ordered seventy-seven new Class 197 trains, and these diesel trains will be used for services through Shrewsbury, mainly on services to Birmingham New Street and Birmingham International stations.

  • If these trains are similar to Northern’s Class 195 trains, they will be diesel multiple units with a noisy mechanical transmission.
  • I was surprised in these days of global warming that Transport for Wales didn’t buy something more eco-friendly, as they have for South Wales and the services around Chester.
  • The transmission of the Class 197 trains has not been disclosed.

Perhaps, CAF are going to do something innovative.

  • The CAF Civity is a modular train, with either electric or diesel power options.
  • The diesel-powered options use MTU engines.
  • A logical development would be to use an MTU Hybrid PowerPack to reduce diesel consumption and emissions.
  • This PowerPack would also reduce noise, as it has an electric transmission.
  • I wonder, if CAF can raid their parts bin and fit a pantograph, so where 25 KVAC overhead electrification is available, it can be used.
  • If CAF can convert a bog standard diesel multiple unit into a hybrid diesel-electric-battery multiple unit, by performing a heart transplant, it is a neat way of keeping new diesel Civities running until a later date.
  • Remember that Northern and West Modlands Trains have another seventy-four similar new diesel Civities in operation or on order. With trains having a forty year life, they don’t fit with an early phasing out of diesel.

I have no idea, what is actually happening, but my engineer’s nose tells me to expect a surprise from CAF.

Increasing Birmingham And Shrewsbury Services From Three Trains Per Hour To Four

Four trains per hour or one train every fifteen minutes seems to be a preferred frequency on several UK suburban lines.

These services seem to provide four tph or better on most, if not all of their routes.

  • Birmingham Cross-City Line
  • London Overground
  • Merseyrail
  • Tyne and Wear Metro

Four tph seems to be a very handy Turn-Up-And-Go frequency that encourages people to use rail services.

So I am not surprised to see Midlands Connect wanting four tph between Birmingham and Shrewsbury.

Currently, the following services seem to operate between Shrewsbury and Birmingham.

  • Avanti West Coast – 2 trains per day (tpd) – Shrewsbury and London Euston via Birmingham New Street and Birmingham International.
  • Trains for Wales – 1 train per two hours (tp2h) – Holyhead and Birmingham International via Birmingham New Street.
  • Trains for Wales 1 tph – Aberystwyth/Pwllheli and Birmingham International via Birmingham New Street
  • West Midlands Trains – 2 tph – Shrewsbury and Birmingham New Street – One semi-fast and one stopper.

Note.

  1. All services call at Wolverhampton, Telford and Wellington.
  2. Shrewsbury and Birmingham New Street is a 3.5 tph service.
  3. Shrewsbury and Birmingham International is a 1.5 tph service.

It relies heavily on services from Trains for Wales, who probably don’t put Shrewsbury and Birmingham services at the top of their priorities.

I remember, when local services in the North-East of London were run by Greater Anglia from Norwich. Moving some services to Transport for London, brought about a large improvement

Quite frankly, the current service is best described as pathetic.

Should Trains for Wales Services Terminate As Shrewsbury?

I suspect some local politicians in Shrewsbury and Birmingham, think it would be best to adopt this sort of strategy.

  • All Welsh services terminate at Shrewsbury.
  • Birmingham and Shrewsbury mandate West Midlands Trains and Avanti West Coast to provide a frequent service between Shrewsbury and Birmingham.

It might be the way to go, but many travellers from the Marches, would probably want direct connections to Birmingham, Birmingham Airport and in the future High Speed Two.

Introducing A Direct Hourly Service From Shrewsbury, Wellington And Telford To London

On the face of it, it looks like a much needed service to and from Shrewsbury.

  • It will be hourly.
  • Initially it will use Class 221 diesel multiple units, but these will be replaced with bi-mode Class 805 trains.
  • The current infrequent service calls at Watford Junction, Rugby, Coventry, Birmingham International, Birmingham New Street, Sandwell and Dudley, Wolverhampton, Telford Central and Wellington.
  • There are also six other stations between Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton, which might like an improved service.
  • The service will be run by Avanti West Coast.

There might also be the possibility of using battery power between Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury, which is only thirty miles each way.

But there are other collateral benefits.

  • The service increases the frequency between Shrewsbury and Birmingham New Street stations by one tph to 4.5 tph
  • The service increases the frequency between Shrewsbury and Birmingham International by one tph to 2.5 tph.
  • The service increases the frequency between Wolverhampton and London Euston by one tph.
  • The service increases the frequency between Sandwell and Dudley and London Euston by one tph
  • The service increases the frequency between Birmingham New Street and London Euston by one tph.
  • The service increases the frequency between Birmingham International and London Euston by one tph.
  • The new service will provide an hourly quality connection to High Speed Two at Birmingham International for stations between Shrewsbury and Coventry.
  • It appears that the Class 390 trains to Birmingham New Street and being replaced by new Class 807 trains, so Birmingham will have three out of four tph, run by new trains.
  • The new Shrewsbury service , has a similar calling pattern to that of the current Scottish service through Birmingham. Will it replace that service, when High Speed Two opens?

Note.

  1. Midlands Connect’s objective of four tph between Shrewsbury and Birmingham has been met.
  2. Several stations get a better direct service to London.
  3. Connectivity to High Speed Two is improved.
  4. Birmingham New Street and London is now a Turn-Up-And-Go frequency of four tph.
  5. The Class 805 train will also mean that Avanti West Coast could be zero-carbon in Birmingham. Especially, if it used battery power between Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury stations.

The hourly direct service between Shrewsbury and London will make a lot of difference to train services between Shrewsbury and Birmingham.

Avanti’s London Euston and Birmingham New Street Service

Consider.

  • There are two tph that terminate in Birmingham New Street station, that take 88-89 minutes, from London Euston
  • There is one tph that goes through Birmingham New Street station to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Preston, or Shrewsbury, that takes 82-84 minutes, from London Euston.
  • Currently, the two terminating trains are Class 390 trains, whereas the through train can be a Class 221 train as well.
  • Through trains are allowed  5-10 minutes to pass through Birmingham New Street.
  • Trains that terminate at Birmingham New Street station are allowed 20-30 minutes to arrive and leave.
  • Avanti West Coast have said, that they will be running Class 807 trains between London and Birmingham New Street.

It doesn’t seem to be the best use of scarce platform resources in a busy station to park a train there for half-an-hour.

In Will Avanti West Coast’s New Trains Be Able To Achieve London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street In Two Hours?, I came to the conclusion that the Class 807 trains have been designed as simple, fast, lightweight all-electric trains with no heavy batteries, diesel engines on tilt mechanism.

  • I think they’ll be able to shave a few minutes on the timings between London Euston and Birmingham New Street station.
  • I would suspect that they will match the 82-84 minutes of the through trains
  • The ultimate would be if they could do a round trip between London Euston and Birmingham New Street in three hours.
  • Two tph run by what would effectively be a London-Birmingham shuttle would need just six trains.

It might mean new methods of manning the trains, to reduce turnround times.

Doubling Of Services Between Shrewsbury And Birmingham International

The hourly direct London and Shrewsbury Avanti West Coast service will raise the current 1.5 tph service between Shrewsbury and Birmingham International to 2.5 tph, so will be a good start.

  • Perhaps Trains for Wales could find the missing 0.5 tph.
  • West Midlands Trains might be able to squeeze in another train.

But I suspect that the crowded line between Birmingham New Street and Birmingham International is the problem.

Shrewsbury And Birmingham In Forty-Five Minutes

This is the last objective and saving eleven minutes on this route would suggest that the best way would surely be to fully electrify the route.

  • Between Wolverhampton and Birmingham International stations is fully electrified.
  • Electric trains have faster acceleration and deceleration, so would probably achieve the required savings if they stopped more than five times.
  • From my virtual helicopter it doesn’t appear to be the most challenging of routes to electrify.
  • Only about thirty miles of double track would need to be electrified between Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury stations.
  • Both Trains for Wales and West Midlands Trains would have to obtain new electric trains.
  • Avanti West Coast have already got bi-mode Class 805 trains, that could use the electrification.

But will Trains for Wales go along with Midlands Connect, when they tell them to get electric or bi-mode trains to work between Shrewsbury and Birmingham International stations?

It is because of dilemmas like this, that I feel that electric trains using battery or hydrogen power, when away from electrification can be a very good alternative.

  • There is no major disruption raising bridges for the electrification.
  • Stations don’t need to be closed for electrification.
  • The trains have all the comfort and performance of electric trains.
  • Costs and timescales can be reduced.
  • When running on battery or hydrogen power, these trains are very quiet, as there is no pantograph noise.

To run battery-electric trains between Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton, the only infrastructure needed would be a method of charging the train at Shrewsbury station.

This Google Map shows the Southern end of Shrewsbury station.

Note.

  1. The platforms are built over the River Severn.
  2. The five-car Class 221 train in Virgin livery sitting in Platform 5.
  3. When this train leaves it will turn left or to the East for Wolverhampton and Birmingham.
  4. Trains can turn right for Wales.

It is a very unusual station layout.

  • Platform 5 is one of a pair of bay platforms; 5 & 6, that can access either Wales or Birmingham.
  • Outside of the bay platforms are a pair of through platforms; 4 & 7, that can also access Wales or Birmingham, but they can also access Chester by going through the station.
  • The 115 metre long Class 221 train fits easily in the bay platform 5.
  • The 130 metre long Class 805 train would probably need to use Platform 4 or 7.

But with well-planned electrification, it would be ideal for charging electric trains as they pass through or turned back!

Once the train reaches Wolverhampton, it will connect to electrification again.

Shrewsbury And High Speed Two

Currently, Shrewsbury has three connections to stations, where it would be convenient to take a High Speed Two train.

  • Birmingham International, which is 51 miles and 83 minutes away. Plus a ride on a people mover for High Speed Two.
  • Birmingham New Street, which is 42.5 miles and 71 minutes away. Plus a walk to Birmingham Curzon Street for High Speed Two.
  • Crewe, which is 33 miles and 55 minutes away.

Passengers will make their own choice.

Could Shrewsbury Have A Classic-Compatible High Speed Two Service To Manchester Piccadilly?

London To Shrewsbury, Now And Post-High Speed Two

Travel On Monday

If I want to go to Shrewsbury next Monday, one fast journey is taking the 09:10 from Euston and changing at Crewe, which gives a journey time of two hours and thirty-two minutes.

I can also get a train with a change at Birmingham International that takes seven minutes longer.

Travel On High Speed Two

After High Speed Two opens to Birmingham Curzon Street and Interchange in Phase 1 what sort of times to Shrewsbury can be expected?

I estimate the following.

  • Travelling via Birmingham Curzon Street could produce a time of around one hour and fifty minutes, if you’re lucky with the trains.
  • Travelling via Crewe could produce a time of one hour and thirty minutes, if you’re lucky with the trains.
  • Travelling via Interchange could produce a time of around one hour and fifty-five minutes. or forty-four minutes faster.

If I was going to Shrewsbury after High Speed Two has opened, I would probably change at Birmingham Curzon Street, if the walk to New Street station was still within my capabilities, as there will be a Turn-Up-And-Go frequency of four tph between Birmingham New Street and Shrewsbury stations.

Looking at the Midlands Connect objectives, these help with linking Shrewsbury with London.

  • Increasing services between Birmingham and Shrewsbury to four tph, as it’s Turn-Up-And-Go!
  • The direct hourly service to London from Shrewsbury, Wellington and Telford might be the quickest way to London by changing at Birmingham New Street/Curzon Street or Interchange.
  • Doubling the service between Shrewsbury and Birmingham International, may be a good move, as Interchange, which will be connected to Birmingham International by a high capacity people mover, will have five tph between London Euston and Old Oak Common stations.
  • Saving eleven minutes between Shrewsbury and Birmingham will certainly help.

Travelling between London and Telford, Wellington and Shrewsbury will be much improved.

 

June 27, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Route Of High Speed Two Into Birmingham

This map clipped from the High Speed Two web site, shows the route of the line to its terminus in Birmingham Curzon Street station.

 

Note.

  1. Birmingham Curzon Street station is indicated by the blue dot in the West.
  2. Interchange station is indicated by the blue dot in the South-East corner of the map.
  3. There is a large triangular junction connecting the spur to Birmingham Curzon Street to the main North-South route of High Speed Two.

This second map is an enlargement of the South-East corner of the map.

Note.

  1. The road across the bottom of the map is the A45,
  2. The large circular roundabout roughly at the halfway [point is where the M42 crosses the A45 at Junction 6.
  3. The Junction at the Eastern edge of the map is where the A452 crosses the A45.
  4. High Speed Two goes roughly North-South between the M42 and the A452.
  5. When shown in red, High Speed Two is on an embankment.
  6. When shown in yellow, High Speed Two is in a tunnel.
  7. The large blue dot is the position of the Interchange station.
  8. The existing Birmingham International station is on the other side of the M42.
  9. The two stations will be connected by a people mover.

This description of the Interchange station is from this page on the High Speed Two web site.

The Interchange Station itself will be made up of two 415 metre long island platforms, offering 4 platform faces, as well as 2 central high speed through lines for non-stopping services. The station will be linked to the NEC, Birmingham International Station and Birmingham Airport via an automated people mover carrying up to 2,100 passengers per hour in each direction. In addition to the APM, the station will be fully integrated with other local buses, taxis and private vehicle options.

This third map is an enlargement of the triangular junction.

Note.

  1. The M6 going West to Spaghetti Junction, Birmingham and the North.
  2. The M42 and the M6 Toll going North-South.
  3. When shown in red, High Speed Two is on an embankment.
  4. When shown in yellow, High Speed Two is in a tunnel.

The junction seems to have been fitted around the motorways using a series of embankments and tunnels.

This fourth map shows the approach to the City.

Note.

  1. The spur appears to run alongside the elevated section of the M6.
  2. Spaghetti Junction is in the North-West corner of the map.
  3. The Western junction of the triangular junction is at the Eastern edge of the map.
  4. When shown in brown, High Speed Two is on the surface.
  5. When shown in black, High Speed Two is in a cutting.
  6. Or are black and brown, the other way round, as I can’t find the legend for the map.

The spur seems to have been neatly fitted in alongside the M6.

This fifth map shows the route as it terminates in Birmingham Curzon Street station.

Note.

  1. The A38 (M) that connects the City Centre to Spaghetti Junction at the top of the map.
  2. High Speed Two appears to approach the City Centre on a viaduct. But then trains between London and Birmingham New Street and Birmingham Moor Street  stations, do the same.
  3. The three stations are within a reasonable walking distance and there will also be a tram connection.
  4. The journey time between Birmingham Curzon Street and Interchange stations is planned to be nine minutes.

This page on the High Speed Two web site, gives more details on Birmingham Curzon Street station.

June 22, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , | 3 Comments

Classic-Compatible High Speed Two Trains At East Midlands Hub Station

This article on Rail News, is entitled £2.7bn East Midlands Plan Unveiled For HS2 Links.

This is the first two paragraphs.

A bold plan costed at £2.7 billion for the area around the HS2 hub in the East Midlands has been published by a group of councils, transport bodies and East Midlands Airport.

The core of the scheme is the future East Midlands Hub at Toton, and the plan proposes direct access to the Hub from more than 20 cities, towns and villages in the East Midlands.

If you want to read the original report by Midlands Connect, there’s a download link on this page of their web site.

The original report has a section entitled Midlands Engine Rail, where this is said.

This project is fully integrated with Midlands Engine Rail, a rail improvement plan developed by Midlands Connect to revolutionise connectivity, mobility and productivity across the region. Midlands Engine Rail includes plans for two new HS2 classic-compatible services on an electrified Midland Main Line that will run direct from:

  • Bedford and Leeds via Leicester and East Midlands Hub
  • Nottingham and Birmingham Curzon Street via East Midlands Hub

These services can run on both electrified and high speed tracks, and would join the HS2 network at Toton, the HS2 East Midlands Hub, meaning that Nottingham and Leicester city centres are directly linked to HS2 without the need to change trains.

These improved connections will more than halve current journey times, with Leicester to Leeds dropping from 120 minutes to 46 minutes and Nottingham to Birmingham falling from 72 minutes to 33 minutes.

Note.

  1. Between Bedford and East Midland Hub stations, the Midland Main Line is or soon will be an almost a complete 125 mph rail line.
  2. It is likely, that with digital in-cab signalling, that faster running up to 140 mph may be permitted in places.
  3. Between Birmingham Curzon Street and East Midlands Hub stations, trains will use High Speed Two at up to 205 mph.
  4. Between Leeds and East Midlands Hub stations, trains will use High Speed Two at up to 205 mph.
  5. Leeds and Birmingham Curzon Street station will be new stations for High Speed Two.

The Classic-Compatible Trains

These are described in this section in Wikipedia, by this sentence.

The classic-compatible trains, capable of high speed but built to a British loading gauge, permitting them to leave the high speed track to join conventional routes such as the West Coast Main Line, Midland Main Line and East Coast Main Line. Such trains would allow running of HS2 services to the north of England and Scotland, although these non-tilting trains would run slower than existing tilting trains on conventional track. HS2 Ltd has stated that, because these trains must be specifically designed for the British network and cannot be bought “off-the-shelf”, these conventional trains were expected to be around 50% more expensive, costing around £40 million per train rather than £27 million for the captive stock.

The trains will have the same characteristics as the full-size trains.

  • Maximum speed of 225 mph.
  • Cruising speed of 205 mph on High Speed Two.
  • Length of 200 metres.
  • Ability to work in pairs.
  • A passenger capacity around 500-600 passengers.

It should be noted that one of these trains will be shorter than a pair of East Midlands Railway’s five-car Class 810 trains, which should avoid any serious platform lengthening on existing lines.

Bedford and Leeds via Leicester and East Midlands Hub

A few facts and thoughts.

  • The service is shown as stopping at Wellingborough, Kettering, Market Harborough, Leicester, Loughborough and East Midlands Hub.
  • The service frequency could be hourly.
  • This service could be more important, than it appears, as by the time High Speed Two opens to Leeds, the East West Railway will be open through Bedford.
  • Would a terminal platform need to be added at Bedford station? As the station could be rebuilt for the East West Railway, this shouldn’t be a problem.
  • Leeds will have a new High Speed Two station or at least new platforms in the existing station.
  • The Bedford and Leeds service would join High Speed Two at East Midlands Hub and go North.
  • The Leeds and Bedford service would leave High Speed Two at East Midlands Hub and go South.

Leeds and Leicester will take 46 minutes, with High Speed Two’s journey time calculator, indicating twenty-seven minutes between East Midlands Hub and Leeds stations.

According to an article in the June 2020 Edition of Modern Railways High Speed Two is planning to run the following services on the Eastern leg of High Speed Two between East Midlands Hub and Leeds.

  • Two tph – Birmingham Curzon Street and Leeds
  • Three tph – London Euston and Leeds

There will be a Turn-Up-And-Go six tph service between East Midlands Hub and Leeds stations.

If the Bedford and Leeds service was an hourly service, when added to the current East Midlands Railway Inter-City services, it would give the following calling frequencies.

  • Wellingborough – 2 tph
  • Kettering – 2 tph
  • Market Harborough – 3 tph
  • Leicester – 5 tph
  • Loughborough – 3 tph
  • East Midlands Parkway – 2 tph

The calling pattern can be adjusted to the number of passengers.

Nottingham and Birmingham Curzon Street via East Midlands Hub

A few facts and thoughts.

  • The service is shown as only stopping at East Midlands Hub.
  • The service frequency could be hourly.
  • The service would go between East Midlands Hub and Nottingham using the Trowell Curve route, which I discussed in Access To Toton – Scheme 6 – Trowell Curve.
  • Nottingham station has long terminal platforms that take a full-length Inter-City 125.
  • Birmingham Curzon Street will be a new High Speed Two station.
  • The Nottingham and Birmingham Curzon Street service would join High Speed Two at East Midlands Hub and go South.
  • The Birmingham Curzon Street and Nottingham service would leave High Speed Two at East Midlands Hub and go North.

Nottingham and Birmingham Curzon Street will take 33 minutes, with High Speed Two’s journey time calculator, indicating twenty minutes, between Birmingham Curzon Street and East Midlands Hub stations.

According to an article in the June 2020 Edition of Modern Railways High Speed Two is planning to run the following services on the Eastern leg of High Speed Two from Birmingham Curzon Street.

  • Two tph – East Midlands Hub and Leeds
  • One tph – East Midlands Hub, York, Darlington, Durham and Newcastle.

There will be a Turn-Up-And-Go four tph service between East Midlands Hub and Birmingham Curzon Street stations.

Midland Main Line Electrification

Midlands Connect is calling for full electrification of the Midland Main Line.

The problem is electrification through Leicester station, where there is a low bridge over the track.

In Discontinuous Electrification Through Leicester Station, I showed how the problem might be solved by discontinuous electrification and battery-equipped trains.

The Shared High Speed Two Path

If you look at the two previous sections you’ll see the following.

  • The Birmingham Curzon Street and Nottingham service would leave High Speed Two at East Midlands Hub and go North.
  • The Bedford and Leeds service would join High Speed Two at East Midlands Hub and go North.
  • The Leeds and Bedford service would leave High Speed Two at East Midlands Hub and go South.
  • The Nottingham and Birmingham Curzon Street service would join High Speed Two at East Midlands Hub and go South.

 

The two services are using the same path on High Speed Two.

I would design the East Midlands Hub, so that High Speed Two and classic services going in the same direction shared an island platform.

Southbound services would behave like this.

  • The Nottingham to Birmingham Curzon Street train would arrive in the High Speed Two face of the platform.
  • The Leeds to Bedford train would arrive in the classic face of the platform.
  • Passengers who needed to change would walk across the platform.
  • When ready both trains would go on their way.

Northbound services would do something similar.

It would be an efficient way to organise interchange between services.

  • Train design would have to ensure, that all trains using the island platform had similar and preferably step-free access.
  • If Greater Anglia and Merseyrail, can do step-free access, then no train designer has an excuse not to.
  • Surely every High Speed Two train that arrives at East Midlands Hub, should be paired with a Midland Main Line service, if the timetable allows it.

The money being spent on High Speed Two means that the British public, won’t accept anything less than perfect.

Are There Any Other Possible Destinations For Classic-Compatible High Speed Two Trains From East Midlands Hub Station?

I will put these in alphabetical order.

Bedford

Consider.

  • Bedford is already planned to have one classic-compatible service to and from Leeds.
  • One of East Midlands Railway’s St. Pancras services calls at Bedford.
  • Bedford has a four tph Thameslink service to a large proportion of Central London and the South East of England.
  • Bedford has direct services to Gatwick Airport.
  • Bedford station will be expanded to accommodate the East West Railway.
  • In a few years, Bedford will be connected to Milton Keynes, Oxford and Reading by the East West Railway.
  • When the East Midlands Hub station opens, Bedford will be connected to Cambridge, Ipswich and Norwich by the East West Railway.

I feel there is a need for a Turn-Up-And-Go four tph service between Bedford and East Midlands Hub stations.

I estimate that between Bedford and East Midlands Parkway stations  will have a journey time of around 60 minutes.

Cambridge

I believe that the East West Railway should be built to the same standard as the East Coast, Great Western, Midland and West Coast Main Lines.

  • Digitally signalled
  • 125 mph-capable
  • Electrified

This would enable classic-compatible services to be extended from Bedford to the UK’s Technology Powerhouse; Cambridge.

As Bedford and East Midlands Parkway could be 60 minutes, timings depend on the times of the East West Railway, between Bedford and Cambridge.

Edinburgh

Consider.

  • Edinburgh is an important city; financially and politically.
  • Edinburgh is planned to have a classic-compatible service from London via the West Coast Main Line.
  • Newcastle is planned to have a classic-compatible service from East Midlands Hub

The city must be a possibility for a classic compatible service from East Midlands Hub.

I estimate that Edinburgh and East Midlands Parkway will have a journey time of a few minutes over two hours

Hull

This clip of a map from the Transport for the North report shows a schematic of the rail links in Yorkshire.

Hull is important for various reasons.

  • It is large city.
  • It is the Eastern terminus of an increasing number of routes.
  • It is becoming a manufacturing centre for North Sea wind.
  • The city will be the terminus of Northern Powerhouse Rail across the Pennines from Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds.
  • Some reports have shown the city as a terminus of the Western leg of High Speed Two.

For these reasons, I will add Hull to the list.

I estimate that Hull and East Midlands Parkway will have a journey time of under an hour.

Lincoln

Looking forward to 2040, I wouldn’t bet against Lincoln being a very important city in the UK.

  • It has history.
  • It is becoming an important higher education centre.
  • It has lots of space.
  • Train operating companies like LNER and East Midlands Railway are improving services to the city.

But most importantly, as Aberdeen became Scotland’s centre for North Sea Oil and Gas, I believe that Lincoln could become England’s centre for North Sea renewable electricity and hydrogen.

I estimate that Lincoln and East Midlands Parkway will have a journey time of around an hour.

Milton Keynes

As I said for Cambridge, I believe that the East West Railway should be built to the same standard as the East Coast, Great Western, Midland and West Coast Main Lines.

This would enable classic-compatible services to be extended from Bedford to Milton Keynes.

As Bedford and East Midlands Parkway could be 60 minutes, timings depend on the times of the East West Railway, between Bedford and Milton Keynes.

Newcastle

As Newcastle already has a direct High Speed Two classic-compatible connection to and from East Midlands Hub station, this must be a possibility.

According to High Speed Two’s journey time calculator<, trains between Newcastle and East Midland Hub stations will take 96 minutes.

Northern Powerhouse Rail

The map I showed with Hull could indicate that a train could take High Speed Two to Leeds and then power its way across the Pennines calling at Leeds, Huddersfield, Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Airport and Liverpool.

East Midlands Railway would have found a replacement for the Western part of their Liverpool and Norwich service, which is one of the worst railway services in the UK.

Oxford And Reading

As I said for Cambridge, I believe that the East West Railway should be built to the same standard as the East Coast, Great Western, Midland and West Coast Main Lines.

This would enable classic-compatible services to be extended from Bedford to Oxford and Reading.

As Bedford and East Midlands Parkway could be 60 minutes, timings depend on the times of the East West Railway, between Bedford and Oxford and Reading.

Peterborough

I think Peterborough could be an interesting possibility.

  • It is the gateway to the East of England.
  • It is a fully-electrified station.
  • It has seven platforms with space for more.
  • Most platforms could take a two hundred metre long train.

East Midlands Railway’s Liverpool and Norwich service, links Peterborough with Nottingham.

  • That section of the route is 52 miles long.
  • 29 miles of the route on the East Coast Main Line are electrified.
  • The 100 mph Class 158 trains take 67 minutes and 30 minutes to travel between the two stops at Grantham and Peterborough.
  • Some of LNER’s 125 mph electric Class 800 trains are timetabled to travel between the two stops at Grantham and Peterborough as fast as 18 minutes.

What time will be achievable on this short length of electrified track, when digital signalling is fully-deployed and 140 mph running is possible?

I can certainly see a bi-mode Class 801 train going between Peterborough and Nottingham in under an hour.

I also think that they could equal East Midlands Railway’s times to Nottingham going from Kings Cross via Grantham.

In Access To Toton – Scheme 6 – Trowell Curve, I advocated the following electrification, to allow battery-electric trains to work the Nottingham and Skegness service.

  • The Allington Chord between Bottesford and Ancaster stations.
  • The line linking the chord to Grantham station.

As Nottingham station will surely be electrified to allow classic-compatible High Speed Two trains to run between the station and Birmingham using High Speed Two, there will only be sixteen miles of double-track between Bottesford and Nottingham station without electrification.

I have just flown my helicopter along the route and there are one or two bridges and Netherfield station, that will need a rebuild, but it wouldn’t be the most challenging of electrifications.

Especially, as there is High Speed Two and the East Coast Main Line to provide power at both ends of the route.

But as it is only sixteen miles would they use battery-electric high-speed trains.

Surely, that is a crazy idea?

In Will High Speed Two’s Classic-Compatible Trains Have Battery Operation?, I explain why you would use such a concept to create an efficient train.

  • The batteries drive the train and they are charged from the electrification and regenerative braking.
  • Batteries would give a train recovery capability in case of overhead catenary failure.
  • Batteries would be used for depot movements.

In Will The Trains On High Speed Two Have Batteries For Regenerative Braking?, I do a calculation for the battery size needed for a 250 mph Spanish high speed train and the batteries are surprisingly small, at 100 kWh per carriage.

I firmly believe, that the mathematics say it is possible for a high speed train to use on-board battery power to perhaps do thirty miles at say 90 mph on a line without electrification.

Sheffield

As Sheffield station will have a direct High Speed Two connection to and from East Midlands Hub station, this must be a possibility.

According to High Speed Two’s journey time calculator, trains between Sheffield and East Midland Hub stations will take 27 minutes.

Note.

  1. An article in the June 2020 Edition of Modern Railways shows that the Eastern leg of High Speed Two is planned to have nine tph, against a theoretical limit of 18 tph.
  2. The Leeds-Bedford and Nottingham-Birmingham Curzon Street will use another path.
  3. Not all services would need to be hourly.
  4. Could some CrossCountry services be replaced with classic-compatible services?

I feel there is plenty of scope to develop more classic-compatible services along the Eastern leg of High Speed Two.

 

 

 

 

 

May 31, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments