The Anonymous Widower

Should Phase One Of High Speed Two Go To Birmingham Or Crewe?

The important Crewe station is currently planned to be reached from London in Phase 2a of High Speed Two, with the first train scheduled for 2027, according to Wikipedia.

There have been changes over the years and the delivery of the line at Crewe was brought forward by a few years, so that now it is just twelve months after the line opened to Birmingham.

So is it better that Phase 1 of High Speed Two goes to Birmingham or Crewe?

The Route Of High Speed Two Between Birmingham And Crewe

This map clipped from the High Speed Two web site, shows the route between Birmingham and Crewe.

Note.

  1. Phase 1 is shown in dark blue
  2. Phase 2a is shown in a lighter blue.
  3. Phase 2b is shown in orange.
  4. Crewe is in the North-West corner of the map.
  5. Of the two routes in the middle Phase 2a is to the East with the West Coast Main Line to the West.
  6. Birmingham is in the South-East Corner of the map, where two stations are shown; Birmingham Curzon Street in the West and Birmingham Interchange slightly to the South.

This second map, shows High Speed Two to the East of Birmingham.

Note.

  1. The colours are the same.
  2. The Eastern leg to Nottingham and Leeds, which is shown in orange, goes off to the North-East.

This third map shows the route around Lichfield.

Note.

  1. Phase 1 is shown in dark blue
  2. Phase 2a to Crewe is the branch going North and is shown in a lighter blue.
  3. The other branch going to the North West is the existing West Coast Main Line.

This fourth map shows the routes between Lichfield and Crewe

Note

  1. The colours are the same.
  2. Phase 2a of High Speed Two is the straighter route to the East.
  3. The more curvy route is the existing West Coast Main Line.

This fifth map shows the section of the route through Crewe.

Note.

  1. At the North of the map, the blue line is the West Coast Main Line and the orange line is the High Speed Two route to Manchester.
  2. Through Crewe the two lines share a route and may even share tracks.
  3. At the South of the map the High Speed Two route is on the East, with the West Coast Main Line to the West.

Click here to access High Speed Two’s interactive map, that I used to obtain these maps.

 

Phase One Services

Currently the following services are planned for Phase One of High Speed Two.

  • Three trains per hour (tph) – Birmingham Curzon Street, via Old Oak Common (OOC) and Birmingham Interchange.
  • Three tph – Birmingham Interchange via OOC.
  • Two tph – Liverpool Lime Street via OOC, Stafford (1tph), Crewe (1tph) and Runcorn
  • Three tph – Manchester Piccadilly via OOC, Wilmslow (1tph) and Stockport
  • One tph – Preston via OOC, Crewe, Warrington Bank Quay and Wigan North Western
  • One tph – Glasgow Central via OOC and Preston

Summing these up, the following totals are calculated.

  • 6 tph – Birmingham Interchange
  • 2 tph – Crewe
  • 2 tph – Preston

Most other stations get two tph or less.

Birmingham Or Crewe?

In the following sections I will discuss various points.

Service Between Euston And Stafford

There is an interesting point shown up by the maps and the proposed services for Phase One.

Trains using High Speed Two won’t be able to call at Stafford unless they take a diversion along the West Coast Main Line. So after Phase 2a has been built between Lichfield and Crewe, Stafford could lose its High Speed Two service, unless they use the classic route.

Birmingham Interchange Station

Birmingham Interchange station will be unaffected by the decision of the terminus of Phase 1 of High Speed Two.

  • It will be a Parkway station, with probably lots of parking.
  • It will be connected to the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham International station and Birmingham Airport by means of a people mover.
  • All High Speed Two services go through the station and six tph are proposed to stop in Phase 1.
  • The West Midlands Metro could serve the station.
  • It will be thirty-eight minutes from London. Stansted Airport is fifty and Gatwick is around thirty!

I suspect that the time to and from London and a four-hundred metre long train every ten minutes, will mean that this will be a very busy station.

  • Will Londoners treat Birmingham Airport, as a London Airport?
  • Motorways to the East of Birmingham could mean the West Midlands treats the station as a Park-and-Ride station for London.
  • Birmingham International station is a well-connected station with five platforms.

This station could become the busiest in the UK.

Birmingham Curzon Street Station

Birmingham Curzon Street station will be an unusual station for the UK, in that will be a city-centre terminal station running East-West, with services going both North and South, using a junction with the main High Speed Two.

  • It will have seven platforms.
  • It will be a short walk to Birmingham Moor Street station.
  • It will have a stop on the West Midlands Metro line between Digbeth and Grand Central

Birmingham are hoping the station will be a catalyst for redevelopment of the area around the station.

After Phase 2 of High Speed Two services to the South are planned to include.

  • Three tph – Euston via Birmingham Interchange and OOC.
  • One tph – Birmingham Interchange direct

The hourly shuttle between the two stations makes up the service between them to a Turn-Up-And-Go frequency of four tph.

After Phase 2 of High Speed Two services to the North are planned to include.

  • One tph – Stafford or Crewe direct
  • One tph – Manchester Piccadilly via Crewe and Manchester Interchange
  • Two trains per day – Preston via Crewe, Manchester Interchange and Wigan North Western
  • Two trains per day – Carlisle via Manchester Interchange, Wigan North Western and Preston.
  • One tph – Glasgow via Warrington Bank Quay, Wigan North Western, Preston and Carlisle.
  • One tph – Edinburgh via Crewe, Warrington Bank Quay, Wigan North Western, Preston and Carlisle.
  • One tph – Leeds via East Midlands Hub
  • One tph – York via East Midlands Hub and Sheffield
  • One tph – Newcastle via York

Summing up four tph go via the Western leg and Crewe to the North and three tph go via the Eastern leg and East Midlands Hub.

I suspect it is all about balancing the services between the three legs of High Speed Two.

  • London and Birmingham
  • Birmingham and North West England and Scotland
  • Birmingham and North East England.

High Speed Two has been designed for fifteen tph running into Euston, so if all parts of the route can handle that number of trains, there must be a lot of scope to add extra services.

Birmingham Curzon Street with its seven platforms would balance all the services and probably help to sort things out in times of disruption.

Between Birmingham International Station And Lichfield

The maps show that this section must be built to connect High Speed Two to the West Coast Main Line just to the North of Lichfield Trent Valley station on the Trent Valley Line, as there is no other possible connection between the two routes.

This map clipped from the High Speed Two map, shows where the two lines join.

It is obviously designed for speed.

I estimate that the distance between Birmingham Interchange and this junction is not far short of twenty miles.

Between Lichfield And Crewe Station

Along the West Coast Main Line, the distance is around forty-two miles, but the straighter route proposed for High Speed Two could be a few miles shorter and several minutes faster.

If Phase 1 of High Speed Two were not to be built, trains would have to share the West Coast Main Line through Stafford station.

Currently, Stafford station can have as many as fifteen tph through the station.

Phase 1 of High Speed Two will have these trains going North of Birmingham Interchange station.

  • Two tph – Liverpool Lime Street
  • Three tph – Manchester Piccadilly
  • One tph – Preston
  • One tph – Glasgow Central

Which is a total of seven tph, with one tph stopping at Stafford.

I doubt they could all be squeezed through Stafford.

There would certainly be no space for any trains starting at Birmingham Curzon Street.

This is a very simple example of the capacity problems on the West Coast Main Line, which can only be solved by extra tracks to the North.

Crewe Station

Consider these points about Crewe station.

  • It is not of a design that reflects its status.
  • Currently, it handles 23 tph, that go all over the North West and much further.
  • Phase 1 of High Speed Two would add another seven tph
  • New services are planned.
  • A rebuilding of the station would surely improve both capacity and operational efficiency.
  • Looking at the fifth of the maps, it appears that the West Coast Main Line and High Speed Two share a corridor , if not tracks, through Crewe station.

For all these reasons, I am convinced that if High Speed Two passes through, then the station will need a rebuild.

So it looks like whether High Speed Two goes ahead or not, Crewe station will need an expensive rebuild.

Extra High Speed Two Services Through Crewe

Once Phase 2a has been completed, this will allow some extra Phase 2 services to be run along the route from Euston.

  • Two tph from one tph – Glasgow Central via OOC, Birmingham Interchange (1tph), Preston and Carstairs
  • Two tph – Edinburgh via OOC, Birmingham Interchange (1tph), Preston, Carstairs and Edinburgh Haymarket

I suspect these might run as a pair of trains as far as Carstairs and split and join there.

There will also be extra services between Birmingham Curzon Street, Crewe and Stafford to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool Lime Street, Manchester Piccadilly and Preston.

It is worth noting, that when all the services going North from Birmingham are summarised, you get the following.

  • Four tph – Manchester Piccadilly
  • Three tph – Liverpool Lime Street
  • One tph – Preston
  • Four tph – Glasgow/Edinburgh
  • One tph – Stafford or Crewe

It looks a bit complicated North of Crewe, but it will create a frequent service between Crewe and Scotland.

High Speed To Chester

It should also be noted, that if between Crewe and Chester were to electrified, High Speed Two trains could serve Chester.

  • Chester is a major rail interchange for the Border areas between England and Wales, North Wales and the Wirral.
  • It is also connected to Merseyrail.
  • Chester is an important tourist destination, with the city centre close to the station.

Electrification might also allow battery-electric versions of Avanti’s new Hitachi trains to serve some of their routes, without using diesel.

This simple example of Chester, says to me that opening High Speed Two to Crewe could allow extra services to be developed.

Conclusion

It appears from this analysis, that the only advantage of not building Phase 2a is that about forty miles of line between Lichfield and Crewe can be pushed back for a few years.

 

 

 

 

 

January 20, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Glimpse Of 2035

Today, I was on the first direct train between London and Dublin.

I arrived at Euston early for the eight o’clock departure time and took my seat in First Class of the train built by Spanish company Talgo at Longannet in Fife.

The train appeared to be little different to the High Speed Two trains, that I have ridden extensively since they started running in 2029.

What differences there were, were in the decor and colour schemes, with the train wrapped in a rainbow of colours reflecting the red, white and blue of the UK and the orange, white and green of the Irish Republic.

We left on time and after a brief stop at Old Oak Common to pick up passengers we were soon speeding towards Birmingham whilst eating breakfast. I had requested a gluten-free Full English and the quality showed how far railway food has come in the two decades.

Birmingham at 08:40

Running at 225 mph, the spectacular Birmingham International station was reached on time at 08:40 and there were quite a few passengers who left and joined.

Birmingham International

Since Heathrow’s plans for a third runway crashed in the planning process and the opening of Gatwick’s second runway, High Speed Two has enabled long distance travellers to use Birmingham Airport, which since the opening of High Speed Two in 2029 and its subsequent extensions to Manchester and Leeds, has grown at a fast pace.

As a jokey advert shown around the world by Visit Britain said, London now has three main airports; London South (Gatwick), London West (Heathrow) and London North (Birmingham).

On a recent trip to the Gambia, I used Birmingham Airport for both flights and coming back, I was in my house in East London, around an hour after I set foot in the terminal at the Airport.

High Speed Two and the expanded Birmingham Airport have certainly  improved the economics of Birmingham and the wider West Midlands.

Crewe Before 09:00

Next stop was Crewe station, which from today has been renamed Crewe International, to indicate that you can now get trains to England, Scotland, Wales and now Ireland.

The station is unrecognisable from the tired Victorian station, I first passed through in 1965 on my way to Liverpool University for the first time.

Like Birmingham and the West Midlands, the area around Crewe has benefited immensely from the arrival of High Speed 2 in 2030 and the continuing expansion of Manchester Airport.

From today, Crewe is now served by these trains in both directions, in each hour.

  • London – Belfast and Dublin
  • London – Glasgow (2 trains)
  • London – Liverpool (2 trains)
  • London – Preston

The ticketing and capacity is such, that Crewe now has a genuine turn-up and-go service to the capital, which is just under an hour away.

Preston At 09:20

The train was now on the upgraded West Coast Main Line and the train was limited to 140 mph, but Preston was reached on time, just eighty minutes from London.

When High Speed Two opened to Crewe in 2030, the journey time was a few minutes longer, but improvements to trains, tracks and signalling in the intervening years, had reduced the time.

On the journey from Crewe, the train had passed the massive construction site of the new Central Lancashire station, or as Scouse comedians have dubbed it – Wigan International.

This new  station will be a hub linking the following.

  • The West Coast Main Line
  • High Speed Three between Liverpool and Manchester.
  • The M6 and M62 motorways
  • Manchester Metrolink
  • Merseyrail

The station should have probably been built years earlier, when High Speed Three opened in 2029, but all forecasts of the number of passengers who would use the new High Speed Lines, were much lower than they were in practice.

Preston station like Crewe is a station  that has been rebuilt to handle two of the 200 metre long trains running as a pair.

These long platforms are now used at Preston to join and split some services, to give Blackpool, Blackburn and Burnley three fast services per day to and from London, in under two hours.

Carlisle At 10:20

We sped through the Lake District at 140 mph, to reach Carlisle in under two and a half hours from London.

It should be noted that timings North of Crewe have improved over the last couple of decades.

  • All passenger trains running on the fast lines North of Crewe are capable of matching the speed of the High Speed Two trains
  • Some of these trains used for services between Liverpool/Manchester and Glasgow/Edinburgh were built by Talgo to High Speed Two standards.
  • The few freight trains running in the day are now hauled by 125 mph electric locomotives.
  • The continuous upgrading of the Cumbrian Coast, Settle-Carlisle and Tyne Valley Lines has also allowed some trains to divert away from the West Coast Main Line.

Effectively, the West Coast Main Line North of Crewe has become a high-capacity 140 mph line.

Belfast At 11:30

When I saw that it was planned that trains would reach Belfast from London in the same time that it takes to go between London and Glasgow, I didn’t believe it would be possible.

But we arrived at the Belfast Parkway station on the outskirts of the City on time.

The journey between where we left the now-electrified Glasgow and South Western Line just to the West of Gretna to the bridge across the North Channel had been nearly all at 140 mph and there was little interruption before we ventured onto the bridge to Northern Ireland.

A few minutes later we were waiting to continue our journey at Belfast Parkway.

There had been political arguments about the gauge of the tracks on the thirty mile section between Scotland and Belfast.

But in the end the engineers got their way.

  • There is a standard gauge line as far as Belfast Parkway.
  • From Belfast Parkway, there is Irish gauge for the rest of the journey.

There would be no change of train at Belfast Parkway, as the Talgo High Speed Trains have had the ability to change gauge at a slow speed for thirty years.

Dublin At 13:30

This has been the slowest part of the journey, but we pulled into Dublin on time to a lot of celebrations.

Conclusion

This route has been a long time coming, since it was first seriously proposed in 2018.

There will be improvement in the next few years.

  • A service between Edinburgh and Dublin via Glasgow and Belfast starts next year.
  • The West Coast Main Line North of Crewe will allow faster and more trains.
  • The EU are funding and building a High Speed Line from the Irish border to Dublin.
  • This Irish High Speed Line will be linked to a new deep water port at Shannon.

I can see London to Belfast in three hours and London to Dublin in four.

 

 

 

 

November 15, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Birmingham International Station Set For £286m Revamp

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

This paragraph, explains the objectives of the revamp.

The plans would see the existing station be transformed into a multi-modal transport exchange, bringing together existing rail, future high speed rail, air, trams, buses, rapid transit, private vehicles, taxis, bicycles by 2025.

Birmingham seems to be growing in ambition.

This Google Map shows Birmingham Airport, the National Exhibition Centre and Birmingham International station in the middle.

Transport hubs based around an international airport will become increasingly common.

  • Heathrow Airport is improving rail access with Crossrail and a possible Western rail access.
  • Gatwick Airport is improving rail access as I wrote about in The Rise Of Gatwick Airport.
  • Manchester Airport is improving, rail and tram access.

But we still need more.

To get to many airports, the only convenient way is to drive. Which in these days is not acceptable.

May 3, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment