The Anonymous Widower

Could High Speed Two Be A One-Nation Project?

As currently envisioned, High Speed Two is very much an English project, with the following routes

  • London and Birmingham
  • London and Liverpool via Birmingham
  • London and Manchester Airport/Manchester via Birmingham and Crewe
  • London and Sheffield via Birmingham and the East Midlands Hub
  • London and Leeds via Birmingham and the East Midlands Hub

There are large numbers of mid-sized towns and cities that it won’t serve directly.

The West Coast Main Line

The West Coast Main Line serves the following routes.

  • London and Birmingham
  • London and Liverpool via Crewe
  • London and Manchester via Crewe
  • London and Glasgow via Crewe, Wigan, Preston and Carlisle
  • London and Blackpool via Crewe, Wigan, Preston
  • London and North Wales via Crewe and Chester.

It could probably be considered a two or two-and-a-half nation line, as it serves the Western half of Scotland and the Northern half of Wales.

Add the West Coast Main Line and High Speed Two together and you get a line, that serves a lot more places like Blackpool, Carlisle, Chester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Preston, Stafford, Stoke and Wigan.

  • The current plan for both routes envisage them both being run by Avanti West Coast, so it looks like High Speed Two is being designed to work with the West Coast Main Line.
  • Destinations like Carlisle, Glasgow and Preston will be served using the West Coast Main Line.
  • Compatible trains will be built that can be run on both lines.
  • Some stations will be shared.

It does seem that there are advantages, if the two routes are considered as one system.

The East Coast Main Line

The East Coast Main Line serves the following routes.

  • London and Cambridge
  • London and Kings Lynn via Cambridge
  • London and Lincoln via Newark.
  • London and Leeds via Doncaster
  • London and Hull
  • London and Edinburgh via Doncaster, York and Newcastle

The East Coast Main Line could become another high speed line.

Extra services could be added.

  • London and Norwich via Cambridge
  • London and Nottingham
  • London and Grimsby and Cleethorpes via Lincoln.
  • London and Sheffield via Doncaster.

Add the East Coast Main Line and High Speed Two together and there could be a wider range of towns and cities served.

  • Peterborough and Doncaster could play the same role in the East as Birmingham and Crewe will play in the West.
  • The East Coast Main Line between London and Doncaster will be upgraded to in-cab ERTMS signalling in a few years time, which will allow 140 mph running on several sections of the route.
  • Improvements are either under way or being planned to reduce bottlenecks on the East Coast Main Line.
  • If High Speed Two can handle eighteen trains per hour (tph), then surely the East Coast Main Line, which has a lot of quadruple track, can handle upwards of twelve 140 mph trains per hour between London and Doncaster, after the improvements to track and signalling.
  • I estimate that 140 mph running between London and Doncaster could save as much as twenty minutes.
  • I feel that Barnsley, Doncaster, Hull, Leeds, Sheffield and York could all be reached in under two hours from London using the existing Azuma trains.
  • This morning the 0700 from Kings Cross is timetabled to reach York at 0852. Would it be possible for London and York to be around just ninety minutes?
  • Savings would also apply to trains between London and Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Scotland and Sunderland.
  • Sub-four hour journeys between London and Edinburgh would be commonplace.

Note that the Internet gives a driving time of nearly three and a half hours between London and Leeds. Surely, two hours or less on High Speed Yorkshire would be much preferable.

I would add this infrastructure.

  • There might be a good case to create electrified routes to Hull and Sheffield and between Sheffield and Leeds, but they wouldn’t be needed to start the service or obtain the time savings. But they would ease operation, cut carbon emissions and save a few more minutes.
  • A station at Doncaster-Sheffield Airport.
  • A parkway station at Barnsley on the Dearne Valley Line with direct services to Doncaster, Leeds, London and Sheffield.

The two latter improvements have been proposed in Sheffield Region’s transport plans.

High Speed Yorkshire should be finished as soon as possible. A completion date of 2024 is not unreasonable.

Northern Powerhouse Rail

Northern Powerhouse Rail is a plan to build an East-West high speed line or at least a much faster one, than the overcrowded joke, that presently exists.

I discussed the latest thinking in Changes Signalled For HS2 Route In North and the latest thinking and my views can best be summarised as follows.

  • Northern Powerhouse Rail will be an improved line with some new sections, between Liverpool and Hull via Manchester Airport, Manchester and Leeds.
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail and High Speed Two will connect at High Legh.
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail and High Speed Two will share infrastructure.
  • The High Speed Two route to Manchester would be via Birmingham, Crewe, High Legh and Manchester Airport.
  • The High Speed Two route to Liverpool would be via Birmingham, Crewe, High Legh and Warrington
  • Hull will get a London service from High Speed Two via Birmingham, Crewe, High Legh and Manchester Airport, Manchester and Leeds

The Oakervee review of High Speed Two is also underway and leaks are suggesting, that the report is recommending that High Speed Two be built in full, but differently.

One important thing, that is happening, is that Network Rail have started the procurement process to improve the current line between Leeds and Huddersfield, as I reported in Network Rail Reveals Detailed £2.9bn Upgrade Plans For TransPennine Route.

  • Extra tracks will be built.
  • There will be some extra electrification.

I very much feel, that this is one of the most difficult TransPennine sections to improve.

The other sections are summarised as follows.

  • Liverpool and Manchester Airport via Warrington and High Legh is across the flat lands of North Cheshire and could follow the M56.
  • Manchester Airport and Manchester will probably be a high speed tunnel.
  • Manchester and Huddersfield section could possibly be improved in the short term
  • Leeds and Hull and the required connections to the East Coast Main Line are in the flat lands of East Yorkshire.

It looks to me, that Network Rail have a plan in there to perhaps deliver improved services East of Huddersfield and radiating from Leeds in the next few years.

It certainly needs improvement, as the TransPennine route must be the worst main line in the UK.

A One-Nation Railway

I think these lines can be connected to create an integrated high speed network.

  • High Speed Two
  • West Coast Main Line
  • East Coast Main Line
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail

But.

  • It doesn’t connect to the whole country and needs to be extended.
  • It won’t be fully developed until at least 2035.
  • Improvements are needed now!

So what could be substantially delivered of the core network, by say 2024, which is around the date of the next General Election?

  • Faster and more frequent services on the East Coast Main Line.
  • An electrified higher capacity and faster line between Leeds and Huddersfield and possibly between Leeds and Hull.
  • New East Coast Main Line services from London to Barnsley Dearne Valley, Bradford, Cleethorpes, Doncaster Sheffield Airport, Grimsby, Harrogate, Huddersfield, Middlesbrough, Norwich, Nottingham, Scarborough and Sheffield and Sunderland.
  • Sub-four hour services between London and Edinburgh.
  • New local services to connect Blyth and Ashington to the East Coast Main Line at Newcastle.
  • A Tees Valley Metro  connecting Bishop Auckland, Whitby and all in between to the East Coast Main Line at Darlington.
  • Improved local services between York and Leeds via Harrogate, Sheffield and Leeds via the Dearne Valley and on other lines in Yorkshire.

Effectively, the recommendations of this report on the Transport for the North web site, which is entitled At A Glance – Northern Powerhouse Rail, which apply to Leeds and Sheffield would have been implemented to connect to high speed services at Doncaster, Leeds, Sheffield and Yprk.

Technology used would include.

  • Some more electrification using the power from the electrified East Coast Main Line.
  • Conventional electric trains and compatible battery trains.
  • Tram-trains feeding into the Sheffield Supertram.
  • ERTMS digital signalling on the East Coast Main Line and the major branches to Hull, Leeds and Middlesbrough.

There would also need to be an increase in LNER’s Azuma fleet. But that is already rumoured as I wrote in More New Trains On LNER Wish List.

Could we see as many as twelve Axumas per hour between London and Doncaster? Yes!

Could it all be delivered by the 2024 General Election? Yes!

High Speed Scotland

The Scottish Nationalist Party is pushing for High Speed Two to be extended to Scotland.

I think that this will eventually be a feasible project, but it will be a very expensive and perhaps built around 2040.

These are my thoughts for the next few years up to 2024.

High Speed To Edinburgh

Consider.

  • Edinburgh currently supports a half-hourly service to and from London.
  • East Coast Trains are proposing to add five trains per day to this route.
  • TransPennine Express will run an hourly service between Edinburgh and Liverpool, via Manchester, Leeds, York and Newcastle, which starts at the December 2019 timetable change..
  • CrossCountry run an hourly service between Aberdeen and Plymouth.
  • It looks like Edinburgh and Newcastle have a four tph service.

All services, except the CrossCountry  are planned to be run by Hitachi’s Class 800, 802 or 803 trains.

  • Currently, services take ninety minutes for the 125 miles between Newcastle and Edinburgh.
  • The Hitachi trains are all capable of 140 mph with digital signalling.
  • The Hitachi trains have better acceleration.
  • The route is fully electrified. Although, there are reports it needs enhancing to be able to handle the current number of trains.

How many minutes can be taken off thjs route, with a new timetable on a line running only Hitachi high speed trains?

Probably not that many, but it would ensure all London and Edinburgh trains were under four hours.

But it will all happen by 2024?

High Speed To Glasgow

So Edinburgh is alright, but what about Glasgow?

Consider.

  • Glasgow currently supports an hourly service to and from London.
  • TransPennine Express run an hourly service to and from Manchester Airport
  • TransPennine Express will run a three trains per day service to and from Liverpool.

Glasgow has a much lower frequency service to and from England than Edinburgh.

Currently, London and Glasgow takes over four-and-a half hours and there is going to be no serious improvement, until High Speed Two opens to Crewe, when the time could drop to perhaps just over three-and-a half hours.

But that won’t happen until possibly 2030.

In Does One Of Baldrick’s Descendents Work For Avanti West Coast?, I detail a cunning plan, that might allow London and Glasgow in four hours.

This was my conclusion in the other article.

To improve services between London and Birmingham, Blackpool, Liverpool and Scotland, appears to need the following.

  • Ten new Hitachi trains.
  • Full digital signalling on the West Coast Main Line.
  • Track improvements on the West Coast Main Line
  • Upgrading of the Pendelinos to allow 140 mph running.

This should reduce London and Glasgow to around four hours and London and Liverpool to around two hours.

There may be advantages in replacing the Pendelinos with the Classic-compatible High Speed Two trains on the London and Glasgow service as early as possible.

  • There would be a large increase of capacity between London and Glasgow.
  • What would be the possible speed of the Classic-compatible trains on updated track North of Crewe? I will assume 140 mph, but it could be more! That’s called engineering!
  • London and Glasgow timings would be improved, as soon as digital signalling is installed.
  • The trains would get a thorough testing before the opening of High Speed Two to Birmingham.

At least one platform at Glasgow Central would need to be extended to take a four-hundred metre long train.

According to Wikipedia, the Classic-compatible trains will be introduced from 2026.

I think by the December 2026 timetable change Glasgow could see a four-hour service to and from London.

But could it be 2024, if the Pendelinos can pick up time North of Crewe with digital signalling?

The Borders Railway

If High Speed Two is going to be a One Nation project, the Borders Railway must be extended from Tweedbank to Carlisle via Hawick.

Could this be done by 2024?

It would be a close-run thing! But possible!

The Glasgow South Western Line

The Glasgow South Western Line, is a secondary route between Glasgow and Carlisle.

It should be electrified early, so that during the upgrading of the West Coast Main Line North of Carlisle it can be used as a diversionary route.

Scotland Could Have Two Four-Hour Fully-Electrified Routes To And From London

But it’s not just London that gets good connectivity to and from Scotland!

  • Birmingham
  • Bradford
  • Carlisle
  • Leeds
  • Liverpool
  • Manchester
  • Newcastle
  • Peterborough
  • Preston
  • Wolverhampton
  • York

All these cities will have direct connections to Edinburgh and/or Glasgow.

High Speed Midlands

Almost unnoticed and with little fuss, the Midland Main Line is being upgraded to provide 125 mph services between London and Chesterfield, Derby, Leicester, Nottingham and Sheffield.

  • New Hitachi bi-mode Class 804 trains will improve speeds and increase capacity
  • Over the last decade or so, the track has been upgraded for 125 mph running.
  • Electrification will reach between London and Market Harborough.
  • Market Harborough station has been remodelled to remove a bottleneck.
  • The Corby branch will be electrified with the trains running half-hourly.

I also think, that the Midland Main Line will link into all the improvements between Barnsley, Doncaster, Leeds and Sheffield and provide the following.

  • A high speed route between Leeds and the East Midlands.
  • A route for a Barnsley and London service.
  • A second route for Leeds and London services..

It also seems that rail planners are getting innovative with the design of the Midland Main Line.

  • It appears that the Midland Main Line and High Speed Two’s spur to Sheffield will be combined into an electrified line between Clay Cross and Sheffield via Chesterfield.
  • An improved link to the East-West Rail link at Bedford could improve links between the North-East and the South of England.
  • The disused rail line between Market Harborough and Northampton could be reopened.

The line is a lot more than a connection between London and the East Midlands.

The upgrade should be complete by 2024.

East West Rail

East West Rail is still in a long planning stage, but it now looks likely to provide more than a passenger link between Oxford and Cambridge.

  • New freight routes for Felixstowe and Southampton.
  • Extra passenger services between Oxford and Reading in the West and Cambridge, Ipswich and Norwich in the East.
  • Connections to the Great Western Main Line, the Chiltern Line, West Coast Main Line, Midland Main Line, East Coast Main Line and the Great Eastern Main Line.

It has also been suggested that East West Rail should be connected to High Speed Two at a new station at Calvert. This could give Bristol, Cardiff and Southampton good links to and from High Speed Two.

Great Western Main Line

At the December 2019 timetable change, there has finally been some good news in the saga of the electrification of the Great Western Main Line.

  • Services between London and Bristol have been improved.
  • The timetable has been improved.

Whether it will stand up is another matter.

Certainly by 2024, it will be a much better main line.

It could have full digital in-can signalling, which could result in 140 mph running and journey time savings.

Who knows?

But what excites me is the possibility of a connection between High Speed Two and East West Rail at Calvert, which will allow trains to run between Bristol, Cardiff and Swansea, in Wales and the West and the North on a mainly electrified high speed railway.

High Speed North Wales

Avanti West Coast is purchasing thirteen new Hitachi bi-mode trains to run services to Chester and North Wales.

I can’t see much speed improvement in the services, although if the West Coast Main Line gets digital signalling, this could save a few minutes between London and Crewe.

High Speed Ireland

The technology is now available to build a rail bridge between Scotland and the island of Ireland.

I laid out the arguments in A Solution To The Northern Irish Problem!.

The Lincoln Solution

Lincoln is a city, that has been ignored by UK railways for decades.

But not any more as LNER now run six return trips a day to the city on Mondays to Saturdays and five on Sundays.

I wrote about the improvements in The Shape Of Train Services To Come.

How many other cities and large towns would benefit from a Lincoln solution?

LNER have already launched a similar service to Harrogate at the December 2019 timetable change and I’m sure that more will follow.

Disability And Access Issues

A true one-nation railway wouldn’t exclude anybody from using the trains.

Strides have been made to put up step-free bridges, but some of the access between platform and train is truly dreadful.

This picture shows what can be achieved by good design on a Class 755 train.

And this is the step on one of Hitachi’s new trains.

Note that all doors on these Hitachi trains are also far too narrow.

Some train manufacturers can do much better.

Recurring Themes

In this analysis, there are factors that keep cropping up.

Digital Signalling Or ERTMS

This is the key to squeezing more trains into our overcrowded railway.

Between London and Doncaster on the East Coast Main Line, should be operational in a few years and I believe the following lines should follow as soon as possible.

  • East Coast Main Line between Doncaster and York and possibly Newcastle.
  • East Coast Main Line North Of Newcastle
  • West Coast Main Line North Of Crewe
  • West Coast Main Line South Of Crewe
  • Midland Main Line
  • Great Western Main Line

As a time-expired Control Engineer, I believe that in-cab digital signalling is a major key to increasing capacity.

Faster Line Speeds

Some routes like TransPennine, have Victorian line speeds

Network Rail showed how it could improve line speed with the remodelling at Market Harborough station.

Bottlenecks, like the Trowse Swing Bridge at Norwich need immediate removal, no matter what the Heritage Taliban and other Luddites say.

New Hitachi Trains

There will be several more orders for the next generation of Hitachi’s high speed trains.

I have been critical of Hitachi’s manufacturing processes for these trains in the past, but they seem now to be running well in fleet service.

A standard UK train on 125 mph lines, that can also handle 140 mph with digital signalling must be a good thing for all sorts of reasons.

New Feeder Services

Several new feeder services have been indicated and there should be a lot more of these to bring the benefit of the high speed network to more of the UK population.

Delivering The Improvements

Geographically, the places where improvements are needed are spread thinly around the country and vary from projects with a cost of tens of millions to those with costs of tens of billions.

In the UK, we tend to go for the big hit, when perhaps several smaller ones might give a better short-term improvement.

We also duck projects, which would annoy the noisy local interests.

We need to have fundamental rethink about how we deliver and pay for rail improvements.

Conclusion

I am fairly pleased overall in that I think by 2024, many places in the UK, will have a much better train service than they do now!

Delivery of High Speed Two, East West Rail and Northern Powerhouse Rail as soon as possible after 2024, will be the icing on the cake.

Will It Be A One-Nation Project?

I think it can be!

 

December 16, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

National Trust Looks At Car Ban In Lake District

The title of this post is the same as that as that of this article in yesterday’s Sunday Times.

The secondary headline sums up the article.

Nearly 20m visitors a year are ‘loving the national park to death’, and officials are looking at excluding drivers.

So what is to be done?

Can The Railways Help?

In 2015, I spent Three Days in Preston and explored the area by train.

These problems were apparent on the trains and at the stations.

  • The capacity, quality and frequency of the trains to Windermere is pitiful.
  • The capacity, quality and frequency of the trains along the Cumbrian Coast Line is inadequate.
  • Bus information and interchanges could be better.
  • Getting a train to Penrith North Lakes station was difficult.

The only line with an acceptable train service is the West Coast Main Line.

Everything else needs major improvements.

These are some random thoughts.

Could Carlisle Become The Rail Tourism Centre For The Borderlands And The Lakes?

These rail lines and services are already or will be connected to Carlisle Citadel station, within the next few years.

  • Virgin services on the West Coast Main Line between London and the South and Glasgow and Edinburgh in Central Scotland.
  • TransPennine Express services on the West Coast Main Line between Liverpool and Manchester in the South and Glasgow.
  • Possible Grand Union services on the West Coast Main Line between London and Stirling for the North of Scotland.
  • High Speed Two services between London and the South and Glasgow and Edinburgh in Central Scotland.
  • ScotRail services on the Glasgow South Western Line between Carlisle and Glasgow via Dumfries and Kilmarnock.
  • ScotRail services on an extended Borders Railway between Carlisle and Edinburgh via Hawick and Galashiels.
  • Northern services on the Tyne Valley Line between Carlisle and Newcastle via Hexham and the Metro Centre.
  • Northern services on the Settle and Carlisle Line between Carlisle and Leeds.
  • Northern services on the Cumbrian Coast Line between Carlisle and Carnforth via Workington, Whitehaven and Barrow.

Carlisle sits at the centre of a network of some of the most scenic rail lines, anywhere in the world.

Rail services in the area with the exception of the through services, provided by Virgin and TransPennine Express are probably considered by their operators to be a pain.

  • They are generally not used by commuters.
  • There are regular operational problems like floods and landslips.
  • They are overcrowded at some times of the year and need expensive new rolling stock.
  • Rail tourists from aboard probably complain like mad.

But above all the services probably lose money hand over fist.

What Is The Ideal Train For Scenic Routes?

Two possible trains for scenic routes are now in service in the UK.

The Scottish Solution – Inter7City

ScotRail are now introducing four- and five-car InterCity 125 trains on routes between the seven cities in Scotland.

They will probably do a good job and they have the following.

  • Large windows to enjoy the views.
  • Many seats have tables.
  • An on-board buffet and trolley service.
  • Wi-fi and power sockets for phones and laptops.
  • The trains should be reliable, as there is a vast knowledge base about running these trains.
  • The trains can be easily lengthened, by adding extra cars.
  • The trains were 125 mph trains and are probably slower in this application.

But the trains are forty years old and have two enormous diesel engines on each end.

The Swiss Solution – Class 755 train

Greater Anglia are introducing three- and four-car Class 755 trains on rural routes in East Anglia.

They appear to be doing a good job with high passenger satisfaction and they have the following.

  • Large windows to enjoy the views.
  • A number of seats have tables.
  • Space for bicycles.
  • Wi-fi and power sockets for phones and laptops.
  • The trains have level access between train and platform.
  • Hopefully, the trains will be reliable, as they are brand new and Stadler has been making similar trains for over ten years.
  • The trains can use 25 KVAC overhead electrification, where it is available.
  • The trains can work in multiple formations.
  • The trains can be easily lengthened, by adding extra cars.
  • The trains are 100 mph trains.

But the trains still have a diesel power-pack in the middle for operation independently.

In future, these trains will be used to run new services between London and Lowestoft, which is a distance of 118 miles of which 59 miles is electrified.

Similar trains will be fitted with batteries for the South Wales Metro.

Could a train be built with the best of all the features?

I believe the Class 755 train is a pretty good start, but it would have the following extra features.

  • Ability to run at up to 125 mph on 25 KVAC overhead or 750 VDC third rail, where the track allows.
  • A well-designed buffet.
  • 50 mile battery range.
  • A stand-by generator.
  • The ability to fast-charge the battery at a station stop.

I also think that Hitachi could make a five-car AT-300 train and Bombardier could make an Aventra, that met this specification.

What would a fleet of battery-electric trains do for the rail lines around Carlisle?

  • Hopefully, they would become a tourist attraction in their own right and encourage visitors to corm by train.
  • Frequencies would be at least two trains per hour on all routes.

This could be a starting point for making the area easier to access.

Should Stations Around The Lakes Be Developed With Bus Interchanges?

I’ve seen the bus interchange at Windermere station, but are other stations around the Lakes as well provided with comprehensive bus routes?

The objective surely should be that if a family wanted to have a day out in the Lakes from their home in Liverpool or Manchester, they should be able to get a train to a convenient station and a bus to their final destination.

Surely, if there is a sensible alternative, then visitors might use it.

Could The Cockermouth, Keswick and Penrith Railway Be Reopened?

The Cockermouth, Keswick and Penrith Railway was finally closed in the 1970s and according to Wikipedia, the track-bed has been used for roads and other developments.

I doubt that the railway could be reopened, but a modern light rail route would probably be a very valuable tourist asset.

But Would Good Train And Bus Routes Cut The Traffic In The Lakes?

I doubt it!

If someone has spent £40,000 or more on an expensive car, they feel they have bought the right to drive it anywhere they want!

The Dutch once talked about road pricing for every vehicle and that government lost the next election.

Conclusion

Traffic congestion in the Lakes, is a problem that threatens other areas, where tourists want to go.

So will as the National Trust are suggesting have to ban cars to restore some sanity?

I suspect so!

But it won’t be popular!

 

 

November 11, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Scottish Government Is Considering Plans To Electrify The Borders Railway

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in The Scotsman.

These reasons are given for the electrification, of the Borders Railway.

  • Electric trains would shorten journey times.
  • New Class 385 trains would be more reliable than the current elderly diesel trains.
  • It would be an easy line to electrify, as the line was built so that overhead electrification could be added without any gauge enhancement.

I would add a few reasons of my own.

  • The route is already electrified as far as Newcraighall station. This would probably ease the grid connection  to the new electrification.
  • I believe that electrification of a new railway, where everything is known an well-documented has a higher change of being delivered on time and on budget.
  • Running Class 385 trains may also produce operating and maintenance savings.
  • The Class 385 trains are serviced at the convenient Millerhill Depot.
  • Electrification might help running trains across Edinburgh.

If and when the Borders Railway is extended to Carlisle, there could be very good reasons to electrify the whole route.

I will answer a few questions.

How Much Time Would a Class 385 Train Save?

Currently, trains between Edinburgh and Tweedbank currently take fifty-five minutes with seven stops.

The Class 385 trains will probably save a few minutes at each stop, so this will make the journey time a bit shorter and turnround at each end of the route will be more relaxed.

How Long Is The Section Without Electrification Of The Borders Railway?

The distance between Newcraighall and Tweedbank stations is 30.75 miles.

How Challenging Is The Borders Railway?

It is not the easiest of routes, but it is not the most difficult either. It also has a high summit.

The current diesel trains don’t seem to be working that hard, when I’ve used the railway.

Would Electrification Be Difficult?

If I look at electrification projects over the last few years in the UK, they have been delayed and suffered cost increases because of the following.

  • Difficulty of raising bridges over the route.
  • Connecting to the electricity grid.
  • Surprises like unexpected sewers and mine workings, when installing the electrification.

Hopefully, as the Borders Railway is new railway, that is already partially electrified, this will not be a difficult electrification.

Could the Current Route Be Served By A Battery-Electric Train?

This is the big question, as it were possible, then the current Borders Railway may not need to be electrified.

In Hitachi Plans To Run ScotRail Class 385 EMUs Beyond The Wires, I talked about Class 385 trains with batteries, that #Hitachi are proposing.

Hitachi have said this.

  • It would be straightforward to add batteries to give a range of twenty miles on batteries.
  • Sixty miles would be possible but more difficult.

I believe that a safety-first way to run a battery-electric Class 385 train on the Borders Railway would be to do the following.

  • Procure a sin-fleet of Class 385 trains, with a range of forty miles on onboard batteries.
  • The trains would handle regenerative braking to the onboard batteries.
  • A charging station would be provided at Tweedbank station.

The only new infrastructure would be the charging station, which I believe should be based on Vivarail’s design, which I wrote about in Vivarail Unveils Fast Charging System For Class 230 Battery Trains

  • Currently, trains take just under ten minutes to turn round at Tweedbank station, which would be time enough to charge the battery.
  • Vivarail’s system is fully automatic, after the driver stops the train over a length of third-rail electrified track, which is only live, when a train is connected.

Hitachi would need to fit third-rail shoes to the trains, but then they could use the design from their Class 395 trains.

Conclusion

There is currently no need to electrify the Borders Railway, if Hitachi can do the following.

  • Fit batteries to a Class 385 train, to give a range of forty miles.
  • Design a fast charging system and install it at Tweedbank station.

I also believe that if and when the Borders Railway is extended to Carlisle, that there could be a strong case for electrification of the whole route.

Running battery-electric Class 385 trains on the Borders Railway would be a project with a lot of winners.

  • Hitachi would have a scenic demonstration route, close to a major well-connected international city.
  • The Borders would get a better and more environmentally – friendly train service to Edinburgh.
  • Scotrail would have a higher proportion of one class of electric trains.

But the biggest advantage could be the possibility of terminating Borders Railway services on the other side of Edinburgh, at perhaps Stirling or Dunblane.

 

 

 

June 19, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Scotrail Boss Pledges More Seats And Stops On Borders Railway

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

If you live near or use the Borders Railway, I suggest you read the article.

Alex Hynes, who is Managing Director of ScotRail has promised.

  • Three-car Class 170 trains will replace the current two-car trains.
  • More drivers will be trained.
  • Extra stops including at Stow will be added to services.
  • In 2015, in the Peak, there were 850 seats out of Edinburgh. After the new trains are introduced, there will be 1,400.

He also said that things would happen in months not years.

This is a paragraph from the article, as spoken by Alex Hynes.

The three-carriage Class 170 trains accelerate and brake more quickly that the current two-carriage trains. That means we can put a stop at Stow in all the time without it affecting our performance, but to do that we need Class 170 trains on the route all the time and to be able to make sure that stop doesn’t affect our service performance.

It’s a good explanation of why you need fast trains on stopping services.

There is also something that is worth noting about the Class 170 trains.

Currently, they are diesel trains with a hydraulic transmission. But Porterbrook, who are the leasing company, who actually own the trains, are planning to test a new diesel-electric hybrid system in 2020, that will increase the performance of the trains, in terms of speed, acceleration, noise and emission.

I wrote about this important upgrade in Rolls-Royce And Porterbrook Launch First Hybrid Rail Project In The UK With MTU Hybrid PowerPacks.

I will be watching this development with interest, as if it is successful, passengers, residents, train companies and staff will benefit.

 

April 19, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Should The Borders Railway Be Extended To Carlisle Before The Opening Of High Speed Two?

The UK and Governments seem to be moving on extending the Borders Railway.

This article on the BBC is entitled Borders Railway Extension Study Supported.

This is the first two paragraphs.

The UK government has announced its backing for a feasibility study into extending the Borders Railway.

It could see the line from Edinburgh to Tweedbank taken to Hawick and Newcastleton and then on to Carlisle.

The promoters of High Speed Two have insisted that the High Speed Rail Line, is a line for all the UK.

By High Speed Two Between London And Carlisle

High Speed Two will have one train per hour between London and Glasgow, which will use the West Coast Main Line, to the North of Crewe.

This page on The Guardian is entitled How Will HS2 Change Journey Times To And From London?

The current time between Euston and Preston is two hours and eight minutes, which High Speed Two will reduce to one hour and twenty-four minutes.

Currently, the fastest trains between Preston and Carlisle take an hour and five minutes, so Carlisle is reached in three and a quarter hours.

I think it is a reasonable assumption to make that when High peed Two opens, Carlisle could be reached in two and a half hours, either direct or with a change at Preston.

West Coast Main Line Improvements

At the present time, the maximum speed on the West Coast Main Line, which is used by all trains between Preston, Carlisle and Glasgow is 125 mph.

But Virgin’s Class 390 trains could run at 140 mph with digital in-cab signalling. This improvement could reduce the time between Preston and Carlisle to an hour.

It is likely that before High Speed Two opens to Crewe in 2027, the Class 390 trains will be replaced.

As the West Coast Main Line and High Speed Two, will have the same operator, It would surely be sensible to replace the Pendolinos, with the High Speed Two classic-compatible rolling stock.

This is said in Wikipedia about High Speed Two rolling stock.

Alstom, one of the bidders for the contract to build the trains, proposed in October 2016 tilting HS2 trains to run on HS2 and classic tracks to increase overall speeds when running on classic tracks.

I wouldn’t be surprised  to see the following.

  • A single class of trains on High Speed Two handling all services.
  • Classic services on the West Coast Main Line using High Speed Two rolling stock.

This approach has advantages.

  • One type of train, must be more economic to operate.
  • There would be timing improvements on West Coast Main Line services, due to the faster trains running under digital signalling.
  • Trains could be introduced on West Coast Main Line services first.

, The trains might cost more, as Wikipedia points out.

But this will be a very large and important order for whoever wins the contract to build trains for High Speed Two and the West Coast Main Line!

So expect the bidders to submit some very innovative solutions for these trains!

No-one would change the fleet on the West Coast Main Line for a new fleet of faster trains, without doing the following.

  • Removing some or all of the known problems with junctions and stations on the route.
  • Installing digital signalling on the whole route and all trains.
  • Introducing 100 mph freight locomotives and trains.

What would happen to timings to Carlisle?

I think the following would not be impossible, with new trains, digital signalling and selective route improvements.

  • London and Carlisle in three hours using the West Coast Main Line.
  • London and Carlisle in two hours using the High Speed Two to Crewe and then the West Coast Main Line.

Considering, that these trains could probably go between Carlisle and Glasgow in an hour, there could be some impressive times to Glasgow.

Extending The Borders Railway To Carlisle

As I said in the previous section, there will be a lot of improvement in the times between London and Carlisle in the next few years, with times possibly dropping to around two hours in 2027, when High Speed Two opens to Crewe.

Before 2027, it looks like there will be a steady reduction in journey times between London and Carlisle.

This will mean that increasingly  the residents of the Borders will go to Carlisle, when they want to go South.

So I come to the conclusion, that it is absolutely essential, that the Borders Railway be extended to Carlisle as soon as is possible.

Improving The West Coast Main Line North Of Carlisle

To make best use of the new trains between Carlisle and Glasgow, there will probably be improvements to the West Coast Main Line through and to the North of the City.

The old MOD Depot at Longtown has been proposed as a new freight depot and this too will also require improvements, to the West Coast Main Line.

As the rebuilt Borders Railway will join the West Coast Main Line in the Longtown area, it looks to me, that a proper plan, would incorporate the Borders Railway connection in the West Coast Main Line improvements, that probably must be done.

Conclusion

High Speed Two will turn Carlisle into an important rail hub with links all over the Borderlands.

I believe it is essential that the Borders Railway should be extended to Carlisle as soon as possible and certainly before 2027.

With good planning, the Southern section could even be done as part of West Coast Main Line improvements for High Speed Two.

 

 

 

April 3, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | 2 Comments

Boost For Borders In New Report

This report on the Scottish Government web site is entitled Borders Transport Corridors – Pre-Appraisal.

It is a comprehensive report with a helpful pag of recommendations.

Recommendations that apply to rail include.

Develop Forestry Route Network

Improve network of internal forestry tracks as well as its connections to roads and railway, including ‘low-tech’ timber
pickup facilities.

This seems sensible, as some of the forests on both sides of the Scottish order are mature and need to be cut down and replanted.

Increase Park and Ride Provision

Increase capacity of existing Park-and-Ride sites and implement new Park-and-Ride schemes for all modes at strategic locations [e.g. Interchanges and Key Employment Areas]

Every part of the UK seems to need more Park-and-Ride. The Borders is no exception.

Borders Railway Extension – South/West

Extend the Borders Railway to Hawick and/or Carlisle

Will it go all the way to Carlisle?

Consider.

  • The West Coast Main Line will need a capacity increase through Carlisle because of High Speed Two. These works could be combined with those on the Southern part of the Borders Railway.
  • Plans exist for a large freight interchange at Longtown on the former MoD site.
  • Linking the Tourist areas North and South of the Scottish Border by rail must be a good thing.
  • Extension to Carlisle would give those in the Scottish Borders access to High Speed Two at Carlisle, without a long trip via Glasgow.

For these reasons, I think that the Borders Railway will go to Carlisle.

Borders Railway Extension – South/East

Extend the Borders Railway towards East Coast Main Line (ECML) via Berwick-upon-Tweed

This surprised me, but it does complete the jigsaw.

Does it offer a freight route for moving the timber out of the area?

It woulde certainly offer a scenic route between Edinburgh and Newcastle.

New Rail Stations

New rail stations on the existing Borders Railway

This is surely building on the success of the current Borders Railway.

Extension of Borders Railway Services

Link Borders Railway and Fife Circle, providing interchange at Edinburgh Gateway; West Edinburgh; and potential future link to Glasgow.

Back-to-back services across a city are always a good idea, as they cut the need for terminal platforms

  • The Borders Railway and Fife Circle are both half-hourly services, so could be connected together, once suitable rolling stock is available.
  • This service would also connect the Borders to the Edinburgh Airport tram at Edinburgh Gateway.
  • With extra services, would the capacity of the Borders Railway will probably need to be increased?

Does the South East extension enable better services for the Borders beyond Edinburgh?

Conclusion

There are a lot of projects needing to be developed, but they will create a lot of economic activity in the Borders.

The two railway extensions to Hawick and/or Carlisle and Berwick-on-Tweed are the two most expensive projects, but both have English implications, so I don’t think Westminster will mind paying some of the cost.

March 12, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Axed Rail Routes May Be Reopened Under New Department for Transport Plans

The title of this post is the same as that on this article on Sky News.

This is the first two paragraphs.

The Department for Transport has confirmed it is actively working with a number of groups to explore the possibility of reopening old rail routes, axed under the so-called Beeching cuts of the 1960s.

It follows a call by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling a year ago, encouraging those in the public and private sector to submit proposals for potential projects to regenerate old lines.

It also quotes a Department of Transport spokesman.

This is on top of exploring reopening the Northumberland Line for passenger use, supporting the reinstatement of stations on the Camp Hill Line, developing new rail links to Heathrow and a new station at Cambridge South

He apparently, didn’t say more because of confidentiality.

The article then talks about the success of the Borders Railway in Scotland.

So is this just a good news story for Christmas or is there a plan to reopen old railway lines?

I feel that a several factors are coming together, that make the reopening of railway lines and the creation of new ones more likely.

Digital Signalling

Signalling is expensive, but where you have rolling stock to a high modern standard, with digital in-cab signalling, does this mean that new or reopened rail lines can be built without conventional signalling?

In addition, installing digital signalling on some routes, would probably make it easier to add a new station. Surely, it must just be a reprogramming of the route!

It could be a problem that, I would expect that on a digitally-signalled line, all trains must be capable of using it. But in many areas of the country, like East Anglia, these routes will be run by new trains.

Digital signalling must also make it easier to design more efficient single-track railways, with perhaps a passing loop to allow higher frequencies.

More Efficient Track Construction

Network Rail and their contractors and suppliers are getting better and more efficient at building track and bridges through difficult terrain and places, judging by some of their construction in recent years, such as the Acton Dive-Under and the Ordsall Chord. They have also overseen some notable successes in the refurbishment of viaducts and tunnels.

It should also be noted that the reopening of the Borders Railway was a successful project in terms of the engineering and was completed on budget and on time.

According to Wikipedia, though there was criticism of the infrastructure.

This is said.

The line’s construction has been described as resembling a “basic railway” built to a tight budget and incorporating a number of cost-saving features, such as using elderly two-carriage diesel trains and running the line as single track.

But looking back on the line from over three years since it opened, it has certainly been judged by many to be an undoubted success.

Would it have had the same level of success, if it had been built as a double-track electrified railway?

Single-Track Lines

The Borders Railway is a good example of an efficient single-track railway, that runs a half-hourly service.

Other routes like the East Suffolk Line and the Felixstowe Branch Line, show how good design can handle more than the most basic levels of traffic, with perhaps selective double track or a well-placed passing loop.

They may be dismissed by rail purists as basic railways, but when well-designed, they are able to provide the service that is needed along the route, for a construction cost that is affordable.

I would though advocate, that if a new single-track railway is built, that provision is made where possible to be able to add the second track. But not at too great an expense or to provide a service level that will never be needed.

I believe that good design of a new railway can cut the construction cost by a fair amount.

Single-Platform Stations

Several of the new stations built in recent years have been stations with only a single-platform.

  • Cranbrook – A station in Devon on the West of England Main Line to serve a new housing development.
  • Ebbw Vale Parkway – A parkway station in Ebbw Vale.
  • Galashiels – A station, that handled 356,000 passengers last year. It is a unique station on a narrow site, that shares facilities with a large bus station on the other side of the road. It is a very functional transport interchange.
  • James Cook – A basic but practical station, that serves the hospital in Middlesbrough. – It cost just over £2million in 2014.
  • Newcourt – A £4million station handling over 100,000 passengers per year.
  • Pye Corner – A basic station in Newport handling nearly 100,000 passengers per year.

The stations have several common characteristics.

  • They can all handle at least a four-car train.
  • The single-platform is used for services in both directions.
  • Disabled access is either level or by a gently-sloping ramp.

Only James Cook station has a footbridge over the track.

These single-platform stations must cost less, as for instance a footbridge with lifts costs upwards of a million pounds.

Note that of the nine stations on the Borders Railway only three have two platforms.

Single-Platform Terminal Stations

There are also several terminal stations in the UK with only one platform.

  • Aberdare – Handling over 500,000 passengers per year.
  • Aberystwyth – Handling around 300,000 passengers per year.
  • Alloa – Handling around 400,000 passengers per year.
  • Aylesbury Vale Parkway – Handling over 100,000 passengers per year.
  • Blackpool South – Handling over 100,000 passengers per year.
  • Exmouth – Handling nearly a million passengers per year.
  • Felixstowe – Handling around 200,000 passengers per year.
  • Henley-on-Thames – Handling around 800,000 passengers per year.
  • Marlow – Handling nearly 300,000 passengers per year.
  • Merthyr Tydfil – Handling around 500,000 passengers per year.
  • North Berwick – Handling around 600,000 passengers per year.
  • Redditch– Handling over a million passengers per year.
  • Seaford – Handling over 500,000 passengers per year.
  • Shepperton – Handling around 400,000 passengers per year.
  • Sheringham – Handling around 200,000 passengers per year.
  • Walton-on-the-Naze – Handing around 130,000 passengers per year
  • Windsor & Eton Central – Handling nearly two million passengers per year.

Many of these stations have only a single hourly train. whereas Redditch and Windsor & Eton Central stations have three trains per hour (tph).

As a single terminal platform can probably handle four tph, I suspect that most terminals for branch lines could be built with just a single platform.

No Electrification

Chris Grayling has said that the East West Rail Link will be built without electrification.

I wasn’t surprised.

  • Network Rail has a very poor performance in installing electrification.
  • There have been complaints about the visual intrusion of the overhead gantries.
  • Electrification can cause major disruption to road traffic during installation, as bridges over the railway have to be raised.

In addition, I’ve been following alternative forms of low- or zero-carbon forms of train and feel they could offer a viable alternative

Bi-Mode, Hydrogen And Battery-Electric Trains

When the Borders Railway was reopened, unless the line had been electrified, it had to be run using diesel trains.

But in the intervening three years, rolling stock has developed and now a new or reopened railway doesn’t have to be electrified to be substantially served by electric trains.

  • Bi-Mode trains are able to run on both diesel and electric power and Hitachi’s Class 800 trains are successfully in service. They will be shortly joined by Porterbrook’s innovative Class 769 trains.
  • Hydrogen-powered trains have already entered service in Germany and they are being developed for the UK.
  • Battery-electric trains have already been successfully demonstrated in the UK and will enter service in the next few years.

All of these types of train, will be able to run on a new railway line without electrification.

Bi-mode trains are only low-carbon on non-electrified lines, whereas the other trains are zero-carbon.

The trains on the Borders Railway must be prime candidates for replacement with hydrogen-powered or battery-electric trains.

Adding It All Up

Adding up the factors I have covered in this section leads me to conclude that rail developments over the last few years have made it possible to create a new railway line with the following characteristics.

  • An efficient mainly single-track layout.
  • Single-platform stations.
  • A single-platform terminal station capable of handling well upwards of a million passengers per year.
  • Service levels of up to four trains per hour.
  • Zero-carbon operation without electrification.
  • Low levels of visual and noise intrusion.

The new railway will also be delivered at a lower cost and without major disruption to surrounding road and rail routes.

The Need For More Housing And Other Developments

There is a very large demand for new housing and other developments all over the UK.

Several proposed rail projects are about connecting new developments with the rail network.

In London Overground Extension To Barking Riverside Gets Go Ahead, I listed a few developments in London, where developers and their financial backers, were prepared to put up around £20,000 for each house to fund decent rail-based transport links.

Obviously, developments in London are expensive, but with all the new developments, that have been built close to stations in the last few years, I suspect that infrastructure financiers. like Legal and General and Aviva, know how much being by a rail station is worth.

Conclusion

Both public and private infrastructure financiers will take advantage of the good railway and rolling stock engineering, which will mean the necessary rail links to new developments will be more affordable and zero-carbon.

December 27, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

London Overground Extension To Barking Riverside Gets Go Ahead

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

This is an important extension, as it unlocks a valuable housing site at Barking Riverside, where 10,800 homes will be built.

A Cost Comparison

It is going to cost £263million, which works out at £24,000 for each house and flat.

By comparison, the billion pound Northern Line Extension to Battersea will serve around 50,000 houses, or £20,000 for each.

And the Lea Valley Rail Programme is a £170million project, that will serve 10,000 homes at Meridian Water with a new Meridian Water station. This is slightly cheaper at £17,000 per home, but a double-track railway was already in place.

Note that in all these schemes, the developers have made contributions. Some have been larger than others.

There are a surprisingly close set of figures for cost per home, considering that the developments will probably be at different points on the luxury spectrum.

So if we are building a large housing development in London, of say 10,000 homes, should we be prepared to spend around £200million on providing decent rail or some other fast and accessible public transport access?

At the smaller end, if say a developer is building five hundred new homes, this could mean it is worth spending up to ten million on updating an existing station. The new Lea Bridge station seems to have cost around this sum and seems to be supporting hundreds of homes.

Proposed Developments In London

So how does this figure fit in with proposed developments in London?

Brent Cross Cricklewood

Brent Cross Cricklewood is described like this in Wikipedia.

Brent Cross Cricklewood is a planned new town centre development in Hendon and Cricklewood, London, United Kingdom. The development is planned to cost around £4.5 billion to construct and will include 7,500 homes, 4,000,000 sq ft (370,000 m2) of offices, four parks, transport improvements and a 592,000 sq ft (55,000 m2) extension of Brent Cross Shopping Centre. The developers of the scheme are Hammerson and Standard Life.

Construction was planned to start in 2018 and be completed in 2021-22, but in March 2018 a delay was announced to January 2019.

It will be served by a new Brent Cross West station.

Wikipedia also says that £500million could be spent on transport developments, including new roads and rebuilding of stations

Kensal Green Gas Works

This site will be redeveloped with 3,500 homes, according to documents on the Internet.

It also sits beside the Great Western Main Line and Crossrail, but no station is currently planned.

But applying the the formula, should mean that on a site like this, £70million should be available for public transport developments.

Southall Gas Works

The Southall Gas Works site has planning permission for 3,750 homes.

The site is close to Southall station, which will be on Crossrail.

Plans exist to update Southall station, but the plans look very inadequate.

In my view this site would e ideal for a driverless shuttle that took residents and visitors too and from the station.

Sites Outside London

My knowledge of the country outside of London is not so good, but some new stations have been built to support new housing and other developments.

It certainly seems, that in the UK, we’re building stations and new lines to improve the accessibility of developments.

December 27, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Borders Railway: More Than 4 Million Journeys In 3 Years

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in Global Rail News.

The Borders Railway may only be a thirty mile route with a frequency of two trains per hour, but I believe it shows the economic and lifestyle benefits that new rail routes can bring.

And all at a cost of around £200million.

We should be looking to build other lines like this in the UK.

And all over the World!

September 10, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

Borderlands Deal Bid Gathers Pace

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

I feel it would be a good idea for the England-Scotland border to get a growth deal, as every time I go there, it seems to me that the Borderlands are economically interdependent.

This is a paragraph.

Among the schemes potentially involved is a study looking at extending the Borders Railway to Carlisle.

This railway would surely be very beneficial in industries like tourism and forestry.

August 26, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment