The Anonymous Widower

Piling Work To Get Underway To Electrify Line To Fife

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from Network Rail.

These four paragraphs outline the project.

Work to lay foundations that will pave the way for the electrification of the Fife Circle is about to get underway.

The £55million Scottish Government investment in the line between Haymarket and Dalmeny will see the railway transformed to accommodate quieter, more environmentally friendly electric trains.

The first phase of work between Haymarket and Dalmeny will see Network Rail pile the foundations for masts that will carry overhead wires up to the Forth Bridge. In total it will see 25 single track kilometres (STKs) of railway electrified by December 2024.

Subsequent phases of work will see ‘partial’ electrification of lines in Fife – totalling a further 104 STKs, to enable the introduction of Battery Electric Multiple Units (BEMUs) to replace life-expired diesel units which will be phased out.

This map from Wikipedia shows the stations on the Fife Circle Line.

Note.

  1. The route is double-track.
  2. The route is not electrified.
  3. The train service is generally two trains per hour (tph) in both directions.
  4. The distance from Dalmeny to Glenrothes with Thornton via Cowdenbeath is 22.3 miles
  5. The distance from Dalmeny to Glenrothes with Thornton via Kirkcaldy is 21.4 miles
  6. Trains appear to wait between three and seven minutes at Glenrothes with Thornton before returning to Edinburgh by the alternate route.

I have a few thoughts.

Partial Electrification And Battery-Electric Trains

In the Notes To Editors, this is said about what Network Rail means by partial electrification.

The ‘partial’ electrification approach to the decarbonisation of the railway – beyond delivering a reduction in carbon emissions, will also reduce the ongoing net cost to the taxpayer of operating the railway at an earlier point.

Reduced upfront infrastructure and associated capital expenditure makes projects more affordable and enables electrification of key trunk routes to start as a priority so the benefits of electrified railways will be realised earlier. Additionally, it does not preclude full electrification occurring at a future date.

The Fife electrification scheme has been approved for partial electrification, using battery electric multiple units, and further development work is to be undertaken to support this. The project is part of the plan to decarbonise the passenger railway network by 2035.

This map has been downloaded from the Network Rail web site.

The electrification is split into four phases.

  1. Haymarket and Dalmeny – 25 km
  2. Kirkcaldy and Thornton North – 25 km.
  3. Lochgelly and Thornton North – 20 km.
  4. Thornton North and Ladybank – 34 km.

Note that the last three phases of electrification connect to Thornton North.

Thornton North is Thornton North Junction, which is shown in this map from OpenRailwayMap.

Note.

  1. The orange line is the main Edinburgh and Aberdeen Line. South from here, it forms part of the Fife Circle Line and goes over the Forth Bridge.
  2. The yellow lines going West via Glenrothes with Thornton station are the Fife Circle Line via Dunfermline.
  3. The lines form a triangle which is Thornton Junction.
  4. North Thornton Junction is the Northern point of the triangle marked by a blue arrow.
  5. The black hashed line going to the North-East is the Levenmouth Rail Link, which is under construction.

As the Levenmouth Rail Link will be electrified, there will be four electrified lines fanning out from Thornton North Junction.

This must make construction easier.

  • Power supply can be established at Thornton North Junction.
  • The Levenmouth Rail Link can be built and electrified.
  • Phase 1 of the Fife Electrification between Haymarket and Dalmeny can be installed, as an extension of the electrification at Haymarket station.
  • These two sections of electrification could also allow battery-electric trains to run between Edinburgh and Leven stations, as the gap is less than thirty miles.
  • Phase 2, 3 and 4 of the Fife Electrification can then be installed in the preferred order.

It would appear, that someone has designed the electrification to a high standard.

The Forth Bridge

The Forth Bridge will be a nightmare to electrify.

I suspect the engineering problems can be solved, but the Heritage Taliban would probably protest about the desecration of a World Heritage Site.

Electrification Gaps And The Hitachi Regional Battery Train

The gaps in the electrification after all phases of the electrification have been completed, will be as follows.

  • Dalmeny and Lochgelly – 15.2 miles
  • Dalmeny and Kirkaldy – 16.4 miles
  • Ladybank and Perth – 17.8 miles
  • Ladybank and Dundee – 20.1 miles

The performance of the Hitachi Regional Battery Train is shown in this Hitachi infographic.

Note that a battery range of 90 km. is 56 miles.

A battery train of this performance, should be able to handle these routes.

  • Edinburgh and Dundee
  • Edinburgh and Glenrothes with Thornton via Kirkcaldy
  • Edinburgh and Glenrothes with Thornton via Lochgelly
  • Edinburgh and Leven
  • Edinburgh and Perth

With one of more further stretches of electrification North of Dundee, a train with this performance should be able to reach Aberdeen.

But to handle the Fife Circle and Levenmouth Rail Link, would probably need a train with a battery range of about forty miles, to allow for a round trip, if say there were problems like lifestock on the line.

Rolling Stock Procurement

The Network Rail press release also says this about Rolling Stock Procurement.

Approval has also been given hold a procurement competition to identify a preferred manufacturer and financier for new suburban trains to operate decarbonised rail passenger services on the routes covered by East Kilbride, Fife and Borders routes, replacing 42 Class 156 trains and to replace the 55 Class 318 and 320 trains operating in the Strathclyde area.

Note.

  1. It would appear that the East Kilbride, Fife and Borders routes would be worked by battery-electric trains, as they are all routes without electrification.
  2. I wrote about the East Kilbride and Kilmarnock services in East Kilbride Electrification Underway. The largest gap is about 16.8 miles.
  3. I wrote about electrification of the Borders Railway in Scottish Government Is Considering Plans To Electrify The Borders Railway. The largest gap is just under 31 miles.

It looks to me that a Hitachi Regional Battery Train with a battery range of over 40 miles would be suitable for the East Kilbride, Fife and Borders routes’

 

 

 

June 5, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Battery And Hydrogen Trains For ScotRail ‘Could Make Scotland A Global Leader’ In Zero-Emission Transport

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

This is the first paragraph.

New fleets of cutting-edge trains expected to include battery and hydrogen power are to be ordered for ScotRail which the rail industry believes will put Scotland at the forefront of zero-emission transport.

Other points from the article.

  • Talgo appear to have passed the story to Scotland on Sunday.
  • Three routes are mentioned; Borders Railway, Fife Circle and Glasgow-East Kilbride.
  • The new trains could help phase out diesel trains by 2035, which is Scottish Government policy.
  • The Inter7City trains might be replaced by 2030.
  • Talgo hopes to win an order for its factory in Fife.

Talgo’s Managing Director is quoted as saying, they are starting testing of a hydrogen and electric train with a range of 311 miles.

Consider.

  • I wrote about this train in Talgo To Begin Fuel Cell Loco Trials.
  • Talgo’s hydrogen and electric train would be ideal for Scotland’s railways of which only forty percent are electrified.
  • A four or five-car high specification hydrogen and electric train would be ideal for the Inter7City routes, if it were built specifically for the routes.
  • The range would cover all of Scotland.
  • Hydrogen hubs are being planned all over Scotland.
  • Scotland have 26 Inter7City trainsets.

This could be a rather nice order to fund the factory and test all the trains close to the factory.

Is there a better place to show off your new train to a prospective buyer than the Highlands of Scotland?

In A Class 319 Train, But Not As We Know It!, I told this tale.

I am reminded of a tale, that I heard from a former GEC manager.

He was involved in selling one of GEC’s Air Traffic Control radars to a Middle Eastern country.

The only working installation of the radar was at Prestwick in Scotland, so he arranged that the dignitaries and the sales team would be flown to Prestwick in GEC’s HS 125 business jet.

As they disembarked at Prestwick and walked to the terminal, the pilot called the GEC Manager over.

The pilot told him “The Scottish Highlands at this time of the year, are one of the most beautiful places in the world! Would you and your guests like a low-level tour on the way back? I can arrange it, if you say so!”

Despite knowing GEC’s draconian attitude to cost control he said yes.

The sale was clinched!

I’m sure that Talgo will exploit the scenery and the local produce.

Talgo’s Hydrogen Trains

This page on the Talgo web site, is entitled Talgo’s Hydrogen Train Will Be Ready In 2023.

This paragraph gives an overview of Talgo’s hydrogen power system.

This system is configured as a modular solution that can be installed on all types of trains, as well as in upgrades from diesel to hydrogen. However, it has been specifically designed for the Vittal platform for Commuter and Regional trains, which Talgo has presented in the bidding process for various tenders in Spain and other countries.

And these two paragraphs describe Talgo’s hydrogen trains in more detail.

This innovative system uses hydrogen batteries that provide the energy for the train’s electric motors. It is powered by renewable energy sources, such as solar photovoltaic or wind, which produce hydrogen that is stored and then used to power fuel cell-based propulsion systems, such as the one designed by Talgo. The system is complemented by batteries that increase the speed of the train when it starts, taking advantage of the braking system to recharge it.

Unlike the extended battery systems in the automotive industry, hydrogen (H2) technology is the logical answer to the needs of heavy transport and, in particular, of those railway lines that do not have catenary electrification systems, and which today depend on trains powered by diesel engines. The hydrogen system designed by Talgo enables conventional network lines to be “electrified” without the need for costly and lengthy adaptation operations, and without the use of fossil fuels.

What do they mean by hydrogen batteries? Looking at the German and the Spanish on the page, I think Talgo means hydrogen fuel cells.

The Rebuilding Of Ukraine

It should be noted that Talgo have sold trains in the past to Russia, which has a gauge of 1.520 metres, which lies between Iberian gauge of 1.668 metres and our standard gauge of 1.435 metres.

  • Talgo have also sold trains to Germany, who use standard gauge.
  • Talgo have built Strizh trains for Russia, that are both standard gauge and Russian gauge for running between Berlin and Moscow.
  • According to the BBC and The Times, Ukraine’s railways have been an important lifeline during the Russian invasion, but pictures show they are in need of modernisation and more electrification.
  • The Strizh trains or a development would surely be ideal for running between Kviv and Berlin, Budapest, Prague and Warsaw.
  • There would also appear to be a need for a hydrogen and electric regional train to reconnect the country back together.
  • Other countries using Russian gauge include Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Belarus, Moldova, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Finland.

So are Talgo positioning themselves to take part in the modernisation of Ukraine’s railways, once the war is over?

  • Development and testing is done in Spain and Scotland.
  • Manufacturing could be done in Spain and Scotland.
  • Delivery from Scotland could either be by ship or if they were dual-gauge trains, they could be hauled through the Channel Tunnel and then through Germany and Poland.

As Talgo has the technology, I can certainly see them exploiting the Russian gauge market once Vlad the Mad has gone.

 

March 13, 2022 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Storm Arwen: Image Shows Severe Damage To Train Following Red Weather Warning

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

It shows a dramatic picture of a Class 170 train, that was hit by a tree, that was blown onto the line.

The incident happened on the Borders Railway and luckily no-one was hurt.

December 2, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nuggets From The Union Connectivity Review

The Union Connectivity Review has now been published and it can be read online.

This paragraph outlines the objective of the Review.

The UK Government asked Sir Peter Hendy CBE to undertake a detailed review into how transport connectivity across the UK can support economic growth and quality of life in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Sir Peter was also asked to make recommendations as to whether and how best to improve transport connectivity between the nations of the UK.

Sir Peter Hendy is the Chairman of Network Rail.

In no particular order, these are some nuggets from the review.

The Case For UKNET – A Strategic Transport Network For The Whole United Kingdom

This paragraph introduces the case for UKNET.

Having identified the importance of good connections across internal borders and the challenges that currently prevent a pan-UK strategic vision or investment strategy, the Review recommends that the UK Government develop UKNET – a strategic transport network for the whole United Kingdom which would connect all the nations of the
UK, with appropriate funding and coordination with the devolved administrations to deliver it.

The creation only follows best practice from the European Union and large countries like the United States.

These three paragraphs sum up how UKNET would work and how it would bring benefits to the whole of the UK.

UKNET would provide a network into which transport investment would be made on a pan-UK basis to support economic growth, jobs, housing and social cohesion, across the nations of the UK, for the benefit of the whole country.

It would allow transport appraisals for schemes on the network to be undertaken on a UK-wide basis with all costs and benefits being fully accounted for. This would limit the risk of cross-border schemes being deprioritised.

The development of such a network would provide additional certainty for businesses and the private sector, allowing them to plan complementary investments in specific regions and to invest in the supply chain across the country.

I think overall that UKNET is sound thinking, but my only feeling is that it should also look at transport links to and from the whole island of Ireland.

The Case for Faster Rail Journey Times Between England And Scotland

These three paragraphs probably apply to most rail journeys in the world, that compete against air and road travel.

Both the UK and Scottish Governments have previously agreed to develop options which could support a rail journey time between London and Scotland of three hours. A journey time improvement of this size, even when compared to expected journey times once HS2 opens, would dramatically increase the number of people travelling by rail.

There is a correlation between journey times and how many people choose to travel by rail over air. If it takes the same amount of time to travel by rail or by air, the evidence shows that people choose to travel by rail. Rail is typically favoured when the journey time is around three hours between city centres.

Work undertaken by Network Rail and HS2 Ltd on behalf of the Review has demonstrated the potential for increased trips by rail if journey times are reduced. For assurance purposes, two forecasting models were used to assess savings of 20, 35 and 50 mins on the journey times forecast for HS2 Phase 2b. The outcomes for both models were broadly similar and the approach built upon the changes in mode share observed between rail and aviation following previous UK and European rail investments.

Three hours between London and Scotland could be a tough ask.

Note these points about the East Coast Main Line.

  1. An InterCity 225 ran between London and Edinburgh on the 26th September 1191 in three hours and 29 minutes.
  2. Full digital in-cab signalling will allow running at 140 mph.
  3. There are improvements to come on the East Coast Main Line.
  4. As now, the review says two tph will run between London and Edinburgh.
  5. London Kings Cross and Edinburgh is 393 miles
  6. On the East Coast Main Line a non-stop train between would need to average 131 mph.

Three hours is tough but not impossible.

And these points about the West Coast Main Line.

  1. Trains will run on High Speed Two between London Euston and Crewe.
  2. High Speed Two are claiming fifty-six minutes between London Euston and Crewe.
  3. Full digital in-cab signalling will allow running at 140 mph.
  4. Crewe and Glasgow Central is 243.4 miles.
  5. Current fastest time between Crewe and Glasgow Central is three hours and five minutes.
  6. Between Crewe and Glasgow Central, a non-stop train would need to average 118 mph.

A well-driven InterCity 125, with a clear track, could average that speed between Crewe and Glasgow Central.

Three hours is tough but very possible.

This paragraph sums up the mode shift expected between air and road to rail.

These initial estimates indicated that a three-hour journey time was forecast to increase the number of passengers by around four million a year and increase rail mode share from the 2019 level of 29% to around 75%. It was also forecasted that journey times in the region of three hours would generate considerable transport user benefits and revenues over the lifetime of the scheme.

People travelling from the Midlands and North West England to and from Scotland would also get substantial reductions in journey times.

Linking High Speed Two With The WCML

The review says this about linking High Speed Two with the West Coast Main Line.

The UK Government has already acknowledged some of the issues identified by the Review. The ‘Golborne Link’—the current proposed connection between HS2 and the WCML—is expected to deliver quicker journey times and more capacity between England and Scotland and resolve some of the constraints between Crewe and Preston.

However, the ‘Golborne Link’ does not resolve all of the identified issues. The suitability of alternative connections between HS2 and the WCML have been considered by the Review. The emerging evidence suggests that an alternative connection to the WCML, for example at some point south of Preston, could offer more benefits and an opportunity to reduce journey times by two to three minutes more than the ‘Golborne Link’. However, more work is required to better understand the case for and against such options.

These benefits could also include additional operational flexibility when timing freight services and less disruption to the WCML than major upgrades as most construction could take place away from the railway.

An infrastructure philosophy is also detailed.

  • Replacing and enhancing track, signalling and power supply.
  • Possible new sections of line north of Preston.
  • Maximising of line speed.

My feeling is that for good project management reasons and to give faster journey times with the existing trains, that a lot of these improvements should be started as soon as possible.

Borders Railway

The Review says this about the Borders Railway.

Communities in the Scottish Borders region are enthusiastic about the economic and social benefits they see resulting from an extension of the Borders Railway south, across the border, to Carlisle.

The Review also welcomes the £5 million in funding that the UK Government has made available for the development of a possible extension to the Borders Railway which would support improved connections to and from Scotland and with the WCML at Carlisle.

I would build this early, as when the West Coast Main Line is being upgraded between Carlisle and Glasgow, this would be available as a diversion route.

Perhaps too, the Glasgow South Western Line should be improved and electrified as well.

Air Passenger Duty

The Review has a sizeable session on Air Passenger Duty, where it concentrates on the problems of its application to domestic flights.

The Review makes this recommendation.

Where journeys are too long to be reasonably taken by road or rail, the UK Government should reduce the rate of domestic aviation tax.

I believe that before the end of this decade, there will be smaller zero-carbon airliners, that will be ideal for domestic routes, which could totally change the regime of domestic Air Passenger Duty.

Decarbonisation And The Future Of Flight

This is a section in the Review, where this is the first paragraph.

In July 2021, the Department for Transport published the Jet Zero Consultation: a consultation on our strategy for net zero aviation127, alongside the Transport Decarbonisation Plan. This includes the ambition to have zero-emission routes connecting different parts of the UK by 2030 and a commitment to assess the feasibility of serving PSO routes with low carbon aviation. The Review welcomes the commitments made in both publications to accelerate the uptake of sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) and develop low and zero-emission aircraft.

The Review goes on to make two recommendations.

  • Drive the uptake of sustainable fuels and zero emission technologies on domestic aviation through a combination of incentives, tax benefits and subsidies to make the UK a world  leader in developing these fuels and technologies.
  • Support the development of sustainable aviation fuel plants in parts of the United Kingdom that are particularly reliant on aviation for domestic connectivity.

Note.

  1. PSO means Public Service Obligation.
  2. One of the world leaders in the field of sustainable aviation fuels is Velocys, which is a spin out from Oxford University.
  3. The Review also suggests building a sustainable aviation fuel plant in Northern Ireland.

The Review gives the impression it is keen on the use of sustainable aviation fuel

 

Conclusion

There are some good nuggets in the sections I have read in detail.

This post is not finished and there will be additions to the list.

 

 

 

November 30, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Report Reveals The Environmental Benefits HS2 Will Deliver

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

A significant report from the High-Speed Rail Group has been published today and details how the environmental team working on HS2 are delivering connected, climate-resilient habitats at a new scale, raising ambition for future infrastructure projects.

The report also suggests that High Speed Two will bring forward other projects.

The Borders Railway

The article says this about the Borders Railway.

Besides providing capacity, an extended high-speed rail network could catalyse wider public transport upgrades, such as improving the case for reopening the Borders Railway to Carlisle.

It appears to me, that to go South, from towns like Galashiels, Hawick, Peebles and Selkirk will be quicker if you change at Carlisle to High Speed Two.

Battery Electric Trains On The Borders Railway

The Borders Railway could also be one, that is ideal for battery electric operation.

  • It is already electrified at the Edinburgh end of the route.
  • Newcraighall station, where the current wires end, is only thirty miles or so from the current end of the line at Tweedbank.
  • Tweedbank and Hawick are about 15 miles.
  • At the Southern end of the route it joins the West Coast Main Line to the North of Carlisle.
  • Hawick and the West Coast Main are about 35 miles.
  • The West Coast Main Line is fully electrified.

This Hitachi infographic gives the specification of their Regional Battery Train

As Hitachi and others are talking of trains with a range of over fifty miles on batteries, I can see a sensible plan evolving to run battery electric trains between Edinburgh and Carlisle.

  • At both ends trains would join the Borders Railway with full batteries.
  • It might be sensible to extend the electrification at both ends for perhaps five to ten miles.
  • From the South trains could certainly reach Hawick and might possibly be able to reach Tweedbank.
  • From the North trains could certainly reach Tweedbank and might possibly be able to reach Hawick.

I feel that by using the best of modern battery technology and with charging during extended stops at Hawick and Tweedbank, battery electric trains could work between Carlisle and Edinburgh.

 

 

December 19, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

High Speed Two To Build Stabling Facility In Scotland

High Speed Two has announced the intention to build a stabling facility for trains at Annandale in Dumfries and Galloway.

This document on the Government web site is entitled HS2 Phase 2b Western Leg Design Refinement Consultation.

Details of the Annandale Depot, start on Page 43.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Phase 2b will provide an increased number of services to Scotland and North West England compared to Phase 2a or Phase One of HS2, with two 400m trains running from Euston each hour and splitting at Carlisle into two 200m trains to serve Glasgow and Edinburgh. HS2 trains will also serve Scotland from Birmingham. New HS2 trains serving Scotland and the north west of England will need overnight stabling and light maintenance in this area, near to where trains finish and start service. It would not be operationally efficient for these trains to run empty to the next closest HS2 depot north of Crewe, approximately 150 miles away.

Note the services are as laid out in the June 2020 Edition of Modern Railways, which was obviously the thinking at the time on High Speed Two.

If you ignore the splitting and joining and assume that they are two separate trains, the Anglo-Scottish services on High Speed Two are as follows.

  • One train per hour (tph) – London Euston and Edinburgh Waverley via Old Oak Common, Preston, Carlisle and Edinburgh Haymarket.
  • One tph – London Euston and Edinburgh Waverley via Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange, Preston, Carlisle and Edinburgh Haymarket.
  • One tph – London Euston and Glasgow Central via Old Oak Common, Preston and Carlisle.
  • One tph – London Euston and Glasgow Central via Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange, Preston and Carlisle.
  • One train per two hours (tp2h) – Birmingham Curzon Street and Edinburgh Waverley via Wigan North Western, Preston, Lancaster, Oxenholme, Penrith, Carlisle. Lockerbie and Edinburgh Haymarket
  • One tp2h – Birmingham Curzon Street and Glasgow Central via Wigan North Western, Preston, Lancaster, Oxenholme, Penrith, Carlisle. Lockerbie and Motherwell

Note.

  1. Oxenholme and Penrith might not be served by both Birmingham trains.
  2. All services would be run by High Speed Two’s Classic-Compatible trains.
  3. The two Birmingham services effectively provide a one tph service between Birmingham and Scotland.
  4. All services will be single  200 metre long trains to the North of Carlisle, as pairs will split and join at Carlisle station.
  5. There would appear to be a fairly consistent five tph between Carlisle and Carstairs, where the Glasgow and Edinburgh routes divide.
  6. Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Central will both have three tph to and from Carlisle and Preston.

These were factors in the choice of location of the depot, stated in the report.

  • Be close to the existing railway.
  • Be a relatively large, flat site.
  • Preferably a brownfield rather than greenfield site.
  • Located as close as feasible to where HS2 services will terminate or begin to minimise empty train movements.
  • Be accessible to the workforce and local transport network.
  • Be suitable for 24-hour working.
  • Have enough space to accommodate equipment for light maintenance activities.
  • Have enough space to accommodate the expected number of trains.

The site is also close to the M74.

A few of my thoughts.

The Location Of The Proposed Depot

This Google Map shows the area mentioned in the report.

Note.

  1. The red arrow indicates Cranberry Farm, which will be just to the North of the site.
  2. The West Coast Main Line passing just South of Cranberry Farm, going across the map.
  3. The B 7076 and M74 will be to the South of the site.

It looks to meet many of the factors, I stated earlier. But it does appear to be a greenfield, rather than a brownfield site.

Distances And Times From The Depot

These are distances to places, where services will or might start.

  • Carlisle – 9 miles – 6 minutes
  • Edinburgh – 93 miles – 68 minutes
  • Glasgow – 94 miles – 59 minutes

I have used distances from Gretna Green Junction, which is just to the South of the proposed depot.

Will The Depot Be Only For Classic-Compatible Trains?

Consider.

  • All services North of Wigan North Western will be run by High Speed Two’s Classic-Compatible trains.
  • A simpler depot would surely be possible if it only handled High Speed Two’s Classic-Compatible trains.
  • With the possible exception of the occasional demonstration or test run High Speed Two;s full-size fleet will never be seen North of the Border.

The only thing this depot might have to do with the full-size fleet is turn-back a test train, which would only need a 400 metre long siding. A siding this length would probably be needed to turn a pair of High Speed Two’s Classic-Compatible trains.

Could The Depot Serve A Possible Irish Extension?

I believe that eventually High Speed Two will be extended across Southern Scotland and a bridge will connect it to Northern Ireland

In A Glimpse Of 2035, I gave a fictionalised version of the first journey from London Euston to Dublin, by high speed train.

I have just calculated the length of a high speed rail link between the proposed Annandale . Depot and a Belfast Parkway station. It is around 120 miles and the route would probably branch off between Lockerbie and Annandale Depot.

I feel that Annandale Depot could serve trains for Belfast, but there would probably need to be another depot in Dublin.

Extra HS2 Services To Scotland

Currently, TransPennine Express run services Between Liverpool and Manchester in England and Edinburgh and Glasgow in Scotland.

I can see High Speed Two replacing these services with a similar service to the one they are planning for Birmingham.

The current service is as follows,

  • One tp2h – Manchester Airport and Edinburgh Waverley via Manchester Piccadilly, Preston, Lancaster, Carlisle and Haymarket
  • One tp2h – Manchester Airport and Glasgow Central via Manchester Piccadilly, Preston, Lancaster, Carlisle and Motherwell
  • Four trains per day (tpd) – Liverpool Lime Street and Glasgow Central via Wigan North Western, Preston, Lancaster, Carlisle and Motherwell

Note.

  1. They call at smaller stations like Wigan North Western, Lancaster, Oxenholme, Penrith and Lockerbie as appropriate, to even up the service.
  2. These services probably share one path between Preston and Carstairs.
  3. The Liverpool services are diverted Manchester services.

Could they be replaced by High Speed Two services?

The Manchester services could become.

  • One tp2h – Manchester Piccadilly and Edinburgh Waverley via Manchester Airport, Preston, Lancaster, Carlisle and Haymarket
  • One tp2h – Manchester Piccadilly and Glasgow Central via Manchester Airport, Preston, Lancaster, Carlisle and Motherwell.

Blackpool, Liverpool and other parts of the North West may be better served with high speed commuter services linking them to Preston.

Serving Scotland’s Seven Cities

Scotland has seven cities that are connected by Inter7City trains.

  • Aberdeen – Not Electrified
  • Dundee – Not Electrified
  • Edinburgh – Will be served by High Speed Two
  • Glasgow – Will be served by High Speed Two
  • Inverness – Not Electrified
  • Perth – Not Electrified
  • Stirling – Fully Electrified

Can we forget about serving Aberdeen, Dundee, Inverness and Perth until they are fully electrified?

But Stirling must be a possibility.

There is a fully electrified route via Motherwell, Whifflet, Greenfaulds and Larbert

I estimate, that coming up from London will take four hours and five minutes, as against the current time of five hours and eighteen minutes.

Increasing Capacity On The West Coast Main Line In Scotland

Over the years, there have been several plans to run more and faster trains between England and Glasgow on the West Coast Main Line.

So would a High Speed Two service go to Stirling?

At present the maximum operating speed on the route is 125 mph. Trains like Avanti West Coast’s Class 390 trains and Hitachi’s AT-300 trains, could run at 140 mph, if digital in-cab signalling were rolled out on the route.

It is absolutely essential before High Speed Two trains run to Scotland, that the West Coast Main Line is digitally signalled.

In addition to faster running, trains can be closer together, so more trains can be run in an hour.

There are also other things, that could be done to help.

  • Ensure, that all the many freight trains on the route are electrically-hauled and capable of operating at 100 mph or more.
  • Make sure that local trains sharing the routes into Glasgow and Edinburgh are fast enough to keep out of the way of the expresses.
  • Selectively, add extra tracks, so that fast trains can overtake slow ones.
  • Ideally, a line like the West Coast Main Line, needs to be quadruple track all the way.

There also must be scope for flighting.

Consider.

  • Class 390 trains take about 30 minutes between Edinburgh Waverley and Carstairs South Junction
  • Class 390 trains take about 30 minutes between Glasgow Central and Carstairs South Junction
  • Carstairs South Junction is where the two routes join.

Suppose two High Speed Two trains were to leave Edinburgh and Glasgow at similar times and run South from Carstairs South Junction, a safe distance apart.

  • The lead train would be travelling at 140 mph perhaps three to five minutes in front of the second train.
  • In-cab digital signalling would enforce the safe distance.

When the trains arrived in Carlisle, they would take a couple of minutes to join up physically for the high speed dash to London.

This Google Map shows Carstairs station and the splitting of the Glasgow and Edinburgh routes.

Note.

  1. The tracks going North-West to Glasgow.
  2. The tracks going North-East to Edinburgh.
  3. The tracks going South-East to Glasgow
  4. All tracks in the picture are electrified.

There might be a need for a passing loop to increase the efficiency of this junction.

It’s not just high speed passenger trains, that can use this technique, but it can be applied to trains with the same performance. So freight trains could form a convoy!

Flighting can decrease the number of train paths needed for a particular number of services and as digital in-cab signalling extends its reach across the UK, we’ll see more applications of the technique.

Effectively, by pathing the two London and Edinburgh/Glasgow trains and adding in one Birmingham and Manchester service, High Speed Two services would only need four paths between Carlisle and Carstairs.

But there would be.

  • Four tph between Preston/Carlisle and Scotland. So capacity would be good.
  • Three tph Between Carlisle and Edinburgh.
  • Three tph Between Carlisle and Glasgow.

As Birmingham Curzon Street, Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport all can handle a pair of High Speed Two’s Classic-Compatible trains, it might be possible in the future to serve both Edinburgh and Glasgow with the Birmingham and Manchester services, splitting the trains at Carlisle. This would mean.

  • Four tph between Preston/Carlisle and Scotland.
  • Four tph Between Preston/Carlisle and Edinburgh.
  • Four tph Between Preston/Carlisle and Glasgow.

That looks strange mathematics, but that’s what you get when a train can serve two places by splitting.

What About The Glasgow And South Western Line?

The Glasgow And South Western Line, runs between Glasgow and Carlisle via Dumfries.

Consider.

  • It is not electrified
  • It can be used as a diversion, when the West Coast Main Line is blocked.
  • It has always puzzled me, why this line wasn’t electrified, when the West Coast Main Line was electrified in the 1970s.
  • High Speed Two’s need for more paths and higher speeds on the West Coast Main Line, may chase some of the freight on that route on to the Glasgow and South Western, as an alternative.

Perhaps, a small part of the High Speed Two budget could be used to electrify the route.

It certainly could be used to take some freight traffic from the West Coast Main Line and to ease diversions, if High Speed Two needed to close the West Coast Main Line for improvements to track, electrification or signalling.

It is also a line, where alternative methods of powering the trains could be used.

  • It has electrification at both ends and with some electrification in the middle, battery electric passenger trains might be able to use the route.
  • The City of Glasgow is majoring on hydrogen and the route, which is 115 miles long, could be ideal for a hydrogen train.

On the other hand full electrification could enable the electric services to be run at times, when the West Coast Main Line was blocked.

It is certainly a route, that could benefit from improvement.

Extension Of The Borders Railway To Carlisle

It is looking increasingly likely that the Borders Railway will be extended to Carlisle.

This report from the High Speed Rail Group is entitled Cross-Border High-Speed Rail And The Borders Railway Project.

The first paragraph is firm about why the Edinburgh and Glasgow services should split and join at Carlisle.

It has taken a while for HS2 service plans to focus on Carlisle as the right place to divide and join Glasgow/Edinburgh high-speed train portions. Earlier plans used Carstairs – and left Carlisle with no HS2 London service.

I also think it will be considerably more affordable  and less disruptive to extend Carlisle’s already long platforms, than to build a massive new station at Carstairs capable of handling 400 metre long trains.

This paragraph puts its case for extending the Borders Railway to Carlisle.

To get best use out of the enhanced services that will then be possible, and to fully utilise the additional line capacity along the West Coast Main Line, onward rail connectivity is crucial. That’s why we flagged the compatibility with the Borders Railways re-opening from Tweedbank via Hawick to Carlisle in our report. With Carlisle-London journey times reduced to a little over 2 hours, and the Borders Railway fully re-instated, journey times from the Borders towns could be dramatically shortened – to London as well as to other major cities in England. Inward travel for tourists to the Borders region would be dramatically enhanced too.

They also add that a Borders Railway could be an useful diversion route, during the increasing number of problems on UK rail networks caused by the weather.

I believe that the Borders Railway should be extended to Carlisle and it should also be electrified.

  • It would be a useful diversion route.
  • It could handle some freight trains.
  • It might be useful to move empty stock between Edinburgh and Annandale Depot, as the Borders Railway joins the West Coast Main Line not far from the depot.

We mustn’t underestimate how many passengers to and from the Borders will use the Borders Railway to catch High Speed Two at Carlisle.

Conclusion

Moving the depot to Annandale, may look to some like a way of giving the Scots a higher profile in High Speed Two.

But I do think it gives options to make a High Speed Network easier to run North of the border.

  • High Speed Two have total control of their depot.
  • It is well placed for Carlisle, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

It is also extremely well placed for the rail network of South Scotland.

October 11, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Borders Rail Campaign ‘Vindicated’ By HS2 Report

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Campaigners who are calling for the Borders Railway to be completed between Tweedbank, Hawick and Carlisle say they have been ‘vindicated’ by a new report from the High Speed Rail Group for submission to the National Infrastructure Commission, which recommends the completion of the railway on the grounds of ‘economic regeneration, social inclusion, and strategic deployment of network capacity made possible by the construction of HS2’.

I would agree with all that!

I also feel, that the more you put quality rail links between important centres of population, the more passenger traffic it generates, which improves the lives of the many.

When I had my stroke, I was living a couple of miles away from Dullingham station in Suffolk. I could get a lift to the station and it was my route to Cambridge, Ipswich or London.

Trains have improved dramatically on that line over the last ten years and although the passenger numbers have only increased slightly, I can see them increasing further in the future. Especially, as new stations are added to the route.

 

 

June 12, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , | Leave a comment

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 North Junction 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/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 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/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 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/Travel | , , | 1 Comment