The Anonymous Widower

Northern Powerhouse Rail – A New Line Between Manchester And Leeds Via The Centre Of Bradford

In this article on Transport for the North, which is entitled Northern Powerhouse Rail Progress As Recommendations Made To Government, one of the recommendations proposed for Northern Powerhouse Rail is a new rail line between Manchester and Leeds via the centre of Bradford.

I shall look at a few of the possibilities for various sections of the route.

Current And Proposed Timings Between Manchester And Leeds

These are the current typical timings between Manchester Victoria and Leeds stations.

  • 55 minutes for 43 miles, which is an average speed of 47 mph.

With Northern Powerhouse Rail, a time of 25 minutes is the objective, which is an average speed of 103.2 mph.

  • As my helicopter flies it is just 35.7 miles, so a 25 minutes journey time would require an average speed of 85.7 mph.

It is obvious that a new much straighter line is needed with an operating speed of at least 100 mph.

One of the best 100 mph lines in the UK  is the Great Eastern Main Line between Liverpool Street and Norwich.

  • It is generally only double-track.
  • The fastest services take 90 minutes for the 115 miles, which is an average speed of 77 mph.
  • It is a busy line with lots of suburban services closer to London and freight trains to and from Felixstowe.

But even a line built to the standard of the Great Eastern Main Line wouldn’t be good enough for Northern Powerhouse Rail’s objective of 25 minutes.

The mathematics tell me, that a new line is needed, built as straight as possible between Manchester and Leeds.

High Speed Two’s Approach To Manchester

This map clipped from High Speed Two’s interactive map, shows the route of High Speed Two as it approaches Manchester Piccadilly station.

The colours of High Speed Two indicate the type of construction.

  • Black is a bored tunnel. Only in the South East corner, where it continues to Manchester Airport.
  • Purple is a tunnel portal.
  • Brown is a track between retaining walls. Used through Manchester Interchange or Airport station.
  • Red is a viaduct.
  • Orange is a box structure

This Google Map shows a similar area.

Are High Speed Two serious about demolishing a large area of Manchester to the North and East of Manchester Piccadilly station?

  • It will cause massive disruption all over the centre of Manchester.
  • How many businesses will be ruined by this plan?
  • How many residents are there in the area?
  • How will trains from the new platforms at Piccadilly station continue to Bradford, Huddersfield, Leeds and Sheffield?
  • Mrs. Merton could have said “Let’s all have a reverse!” And she’d have been joking!
  • You can’t go through the new platforms, as that would mean demolishing most of Manchester City Centre.

What High Speed Two are proposing is complete and utter rubbish!

In Whither HS2 And HS3?, which I wrote in May 2015, I said this.

I do think though that our designs for HS2 are rather dated and don’t take things that are happening or have happened into account.

Crossrail in London has shown that putting a large twin rail tunnel under a major city, is not the problem it once was. Crossrail have also been very innovative in creating stations with the minimum disturbance to existing infrastructure. As an example, the new Whitechapel station for Crossrail has also used a technique called uphill excavation, where you create escalator and lift shafts upwards from the tunnels, rather than traditionally from the surface, which is much more disruptive.

These techniques can revolutionise the construction of HS2.

Take cities like Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield, which have developed and are continually developing extensive local rail, tram and bus networks. So why are we in Birmingham still talking about creating an HS2 station at Curzon Street? Surely, we just dig a very deep pair of HS2 tunnels under the city and then uphill excavate into not only New Street, but Moor Street and Snow Hill as well. The tunnels would be only made as long as necessary, although the underground station could be very large. But it probably wouldn’t be much bigger than the enormous double-ended Liverpool Street/Moorgate station being created for Crossrail.

The great advantage of this method of construction is that you can continue to develop your network of local trains, trams and other transport links, untroubled by the construction of the new station deep below. Anybody, who thinks this is not possible, should spend half-an-hour walking around Whitechapel station, where the Hammersmith and City, District and East London Lines are passing untroubled over the giant hole and through the building site for the new station.

To some the example of Crossrail in London, would not be a good one, as Crossrail is years late. But the tunnelling under London and the excavations for the stations have gone well and were delivered on time.

In the related post, I went on to propose a double-ended underground station in Manchester with connections to both Piccadilly and Victoria stations. It could even have other connections to locations in the City Centre like Piccadilly Gardens.

There’s certainly space for a stylish entrance at the busy tram and bus interchange.

By applying the lessons learned in the building of Crossrail and other projects like Stuttgart 21, which I wrote about in Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof, I’m sure that a massive underground station in Manchester could be built successfully, on time and on budget.

I am not alone in thinking this way. In The Rival Plans For Piccadilly Station, That Architects Say Will ‘Save Millions’, I write about a plan from world-class architects Weston Williamson, who designed the superb new London Bridge station.

This visualisation from Weston Williamson, shows their proposed station.

Note.

  1. In the visualisation, you are observing the station from the East.
  2. The existing railway lines into Piccadilly station are shown in red.
  3. Stockport and Manchester Airport are to the left, which is to the South.
  4. Note the dreaded Castlefield Corridor in red going off into the distance to Oxford Road and Deansgate stations.
  5. The new high speed lines are shown in blue.
  6. To the left they go to Manchester Airport and then on to London, Birmingham and the South, Warrington and Liverpool and Wigan, Preston, Blackpool, Barrow-in-Furness, the North and Scotland.
  7. To the right, they go to Huddersfield, Bradford, Leeds, Hull and the North East, and Sheffield, Doncaster and the East.
  8. Between it looks like  a low-level High Speed station with at least four tracks and six platforms.
  9. The Manchester Mretrolink is shown in yellow.
  10. The potential for over-site development is immense. If the Station Square Tower was residential, the penthouses would be some of the most desirable places to live in the North.

This station would enable improvements to rail services in the North and Scotland.

  • It would be a through station, to allow East to West services, like Liverpool and Hull.
  • Fewer services would have to reverse.
  • All services using the underground station, that went to the West would serve Manchester Airport.
  • TransPennine services like Liverpool and Edinburgh and Liverpool and Scarborough, would use the station and also call at Manchester Airport.
  • TransPennine services like Glasgow and Manchester Airport could be extended to Leeds and Hull.
  • TransPennine services would not need to use the overcrowded Castlefield Corridor.
  • All existing services to the main section of the existing Piccadilly station, could continue operation as now, during the construction and operation of the underground station. Some would eventually be replaced by high speed services using the underground station.

Manchester Airport would have one of the best train services of any airport in the world. It would certainly be on a par with Schiphol.

Careful alignment of the tunnels under Manchester, could also ease the building of the new line between Manchester and Leeds.

Huddersfield And Westtown (Dewsbury)

The only part of an upgraded TransPennine route between Manchester and Leeds, that is in the planning and design phase and visible to the public, is the upgrade between Huddersfield to Westtown (Dewsbury), which is described on this page of the Network Rail web site. This is the introductory paragraph.

We’re proposing an upgrade to a section of railway between Huddersfield and Westtown (Dewsbury) to deliver passenger benefits along the TransPennine railway.

Network Rail provide this very useful map.

This article on Rail Technology Magazine is entitled Network Rail Reveals Detailed £2.9bn Upgrade Plans For TransPennine Route, which gives the major details of the upgrade.

  • Improvement between Huddersfield and Westtown
  • Grade separation or a tunnel at Ravensthorpe
  • Rebuilding and electrification of eight miles of track.
  • Possible doubling the number of tracks from two to four.
  • Improved stations at Huddersfield, Deighton, Mirfield and Ravensthorpe.

This project would be a major improvement to the Huddersfield Line, but I have one problem with this project. – It doesn’t go anywhere near Bradford.

This Google Map shows Bradford, Leeds, Brighouse and Dewsbury.

Note.

  1. Bradford is in the North-West corner of the map, with the red arrow marking Bradford Royal Infirmary.
  2. Leeds is in the North-East corner of the map.
  3. Brighouse is in the South-West corner  of the map.
  4. The red arrow at the bottom of the map marks Dewsbury and District Hospital, with the towns of Morley and Dewsbury to the East.

The route Network rail are improving goes South-Westerly from Leeds and through both Morley and Leeds, before turning to the West and then going South to Huddersfield.

I am left with the conclusion, that Network Rail’s plans may do wonders for travel between Leeds and Huddersfield, but they don’t do anything for Bradford.

But the plans will have positive effects on travellers between Leeds and Manchester.

Eight Miles Of Electrification

Eight miles of electrification may not seem much, but to a Hitachi Regional Battery train, travelling at speed it is a few minutes to add some charge to the batteries, especially if the train stops at Dewsbury and/or Huddersfield stations.

This Hitachi infographic gives the specification for the Hitachi Regional Battery train.

Note.

  1. It has a range of 90 km or 56 miles on battery power.
  2. It can travel at up to 100 mph on battery power.
  3. TransPennine’s Class 802 trains can be converted to Regional Battery trains, by simply swapping the diesel engines for battery packs.

If these trains fully-charged their batteries on the eight miles of electrification, they could do the following.

  • Going East they could easily reach Leeds, which is under ten miles from Dewsbury station. At a pinch they could even reach York, which is thirty-five miles from Dewsbury.
  • Going West they could reach Manchester, which is twenty-six miles from Huddersfield station. At a pinch, they could just about reach Liverpool, which is fifty-seven miles from Huddersfield.

Note that North of York and West of Manchester are both fully electrified.

This eight miles of electrification would enable the following.

  • Several of TransPennine Express services run by Class 802 trains to become all-electric services.
  • Other operators like Northern could use battery electric trains for stopping services along the route.
  • It might even enable some freight trains to run through the area, with hybrid power.

It looks to me, that Network Rail have chosen this section to electrify, so that it gives a lot of benefit to battery electric trains.

Will Services Be Faster Between Huddersfield And Leeds?

I estimate the the straightened track, the better acceleration of electric trains and other improvements would save up to perhaps ten minutes.

Timings between Manchester and Leeds, would probably be around 45 minutes, which is nowhere near Northern Powerhouse Rail’s objective of 25 minutes

The Problem Of Bradford

Bradford has two central stations; Bradford Interchange and Bradford Forster Square. which have no connection between them.

This Google Map shows the two stations.

It is an area crowded with buildings between the two stations.

There is a Wikipedia entry called Bradford Crossrail, where this is said about the reasons for the two stations.

These stations were built in the nineteenth century by different railway companies with an individual, rather than a comprehensive plan for rail development in the city.

The Wikipedia entry also says this about Northern Powerhouse Rail and the city.

The Northern Powerhouse Rail project has also mooted a project to link Leeds and Manchester with a through route at Bradford. Whilst this would either involve a bypass line south of the city and a parkway station at Low Moor or a new route tunnelling through the city centre, neither option mentions connecting the lines from both north and south of the city together.

I will look at the two solutions to connect Northern Powerhouse Rail to the City.

Low Moor Station

The diagram shows the connections between Bradford Interchange, Bradford Low Moor, Huddersfield and Leeds stations.

It would appear that if a connection were to be made between Low Moor and New Pudsey stations. that could be a solution.

This Google Map shows where the lines to Huddersfield and Leeds join outside Bradford Interchange station.

Note,

  1. Bradford Interchange station is to the North.
  2. Bradford Low Moor station is to the South.
  3. New Pudsey station is to the East.

I suspect it would be possible to create a curve that allowed trains to go between  Bradford Low Moor and New Pudsey stations, but I doubt it would be a fast route.

A Bradford Tunnel

This would be the bold option, where all sorts of routes could be possible.

  • It could go under the City Centre in such a way, that it had pedestrian connections to both current stations and important places with a large number of visitors.
  • It could connect to Huddersfield in the West and Leeds in the East.
  • It might even loop under the City Centre, as the Wirral Line does under Liverpool.

A tunnel under the City, would be my preferred solution.

A Tunnel Between Manchester And Leeds

So far, various people or organisations have advocated the following tunnels on the route.

  • High Speed Two are proposing a tunnel between Manchester Airport and Manchester City Centre.
  • Weston Williamson are proposing a Manchester High Speed station underneath Manchester Piccadilly station.
  • A tunnel has been proposed to connect to Bradford City Centre.

I feel strongly, that a tunnel can be built under the Pennines to link Manchester and Leeds.

Rail Tunnels through the Pennines have been dug before, notably at Standedge, Totley and Woodhead.

I answered the question in detail in Will HS2 And Northern Powerhouse Rail Go For The Big Bore? and this was the conclusion of that post.

I believe that my naïve analysis in this post shows that a TransPennine tunnel is possible.

But I believe that the right tunnel could have one big advantage.

Suppose it was built to handle the following.

    • A capacity of eighteen tph, which is the same as High Speed Two.
    • An operating speed of 140 mph or more. The Gotthard Base Tunnel has a maximum operating speed of 160 mph.
    • High Speed Two’s Full-Size trains.
    • The largest freight trains

It would be future proofed for longer than anybody could envisage.

There are also other smaller advantages.

    • It would by-pass a lot of difficult areas.
    • It would cause very little aural and visual disruption.
    • IIf it were designed with care, it would not affect the flora and fauna.
    • As with the Swiss tunnel, it could be dug level, which would save energy and allow trains to run faster.
    • It could be running twelve tph between Leeds and Manchester Airport via Bradford, Huddersfield and Manchester Piccadilly.
    • Existing surface railways at the Eastern end could serve Cleethorpes, Darlington, Doncaster, Edinburgh, Hull, Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Scarborough, Sheffield and York
    • Existing surface railways at the Western end could serve Barrow, Blackpool, Carlisle, Chester, Glasgow, Liverpool. North Wales, Preston and Wigan.

It would be more like Thameslink for the North turned on its side, rather than Crossrail for the North.

Would such a TransPennine tunnel be realisable?

Consider.

  • 3D design software has improved tremendously over the last decade.
  • The Swiss have shown that these long tunnels can be built through solid rock.
  • There is plenty of space to put the tunnel.
  • It doesn’t have to be one continuous tunnel.
  • It might be possible to built it as a base tunnel, which would be low down and level between two valleys on either side of the Pennines.

I think there could be a lot of flexibility on how the tunnel would be designed and built.

Conclusion

A Manchester and Leeds tunnel via Bradford, could be one of the boldest projects ever undertaken in the UK.

I believe that we have the capabilities to build it.

 

November 22, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

The Shape Of Train Services To Come

Today, I went to Lincoln, which as I reported in LNER To Put Lincoln On The Rail Map, is now a city, that has five trains per day to and from London.

It actually appears that from the timetable change on December 15th, 2019, the LNER timetable will be as follows.

  • On Mondays to Saturdays, there will be six trains per day (tpd) in both directions.
  • On Sundays, there will be five tpd in both directions.
  • Services stop at Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham and Newark Northgate.
  • All direct services are under two hours, by at least a couple of minutes.
  • Indirect services with a change at Newark are generally no more than ten minutes over two hours, with some under two hours.
  • All direct trains would appear to be five-car Class 800 trains.

I can’t see any cause for passenger complaint.

On The 10:06 To Lincoln

Today is a Friday and I had expected more people on this direct service to Lincoln Central station.

As this was the first direct Friday service at this time to Lincoln, perhaps the word has been slow to get around?

The train arrived on time in Lincoln, although it had been a few minutes late at Grantham.

I asked several people, including a knowledgeable journalist, if Lincoln had ever had a two-hourly service from London and all said the answer was never!

On The 13:23 From Lincoln

This train was very close to maximum capacity with only a few empty seats.

The only problem was a young Lady, although I hasten to add she didn’t behave like a lady, who was sitting on the other side of the carriage.

She was constantly shouting into her phone and using the F-word to boot.

An elderly gentleman politely asked her to calm it down and it made no difference.

I did say to the very large guy, who looked like a prop forward opposite me, that will you ram her phone down her throat or shall I? All it got was a few laughs all round.

Perhaps her mother, didn’t wash her mouth out with soap often enough?

Catering

The train had a buffet and we had a visit from the trolley on the way to Lincoln.

Coming back, there was no trolley, but the train might have been too busy to get it through.

First Class

Five-car Class 800 trains have forty-five First Class and two hundred and seventy Standard Class seats.

Given that some train companies are reducing the number of First Class seats, I wonder if LNER will follow suit on the service to and from Lincoln and perhaps replace them with Second Class seats.

Performance And Train Times

The journey is effectively in two parts.

  • 120 miles between Kings Cross and Newark, which is electrified.
  • 16 miles between Newark and Lincoln, which is not electrified.

A two hour trip between Kings Cross and Lincoln is an average of around sixty-eight mph.

The current two hour schedule is not a convenient time for an operator running a service. Something more under two hours would make timetabling easier.

Suppose, the train took an hour and forty minutes to do the trip and that twenty minutes were to be allowed for turnround and any short delays of a few minutes. This would enable a two-hourly clockface timetable, with a train both ways every two hours.

This would need an overall average speed of 81 mph, including all the stops.

Would this average speed be possible?

In the next few aub-sections, I’ll discuss various factors.

The Class 800 Trains

Consider.

  • The Class 800 trains have fast acceleration and deceleration.
  • Each stop currently takes about two minutes and probably with better systems and staff training could be improved.
  • Most of the time on the electrified East Coast Main Line, the trains are running at speeds in excess of 110 mph and at times up to 125 mph.
  • The trains can run at 140 mph with in-cab digital signalling, as their cousins; the Class 395 trains do on High Speed One.
  • Between Newark and Lincoln, the trains will be slowed by the maximum linespeed.
  • The trains will be running on diesel between Newark and Lincoln.
  • The next generation of AT300 trains are being designed for the Midland Main Line.

These trains will only get better.

In Thoughts On The Next Generation Of Hitachi High Speed Trains, I laid out my thoughts about how they will develop.

One development will be battery-electric trains and these will use battery power between Newark and Lincoln. This will mean that the trains would only need one diesel engine for emergencies like overhead line failure.

The 140 mph East Coast Main Line

Digital in-cab signalling is planed to be installed on the East Coast Main Line between London and Doncaster.

This will allow the following.

  • Closer control of the trains.
  • 140 mph running, where track and traffic allow.
  • More trains per hour (tph)

It was originally planned to be operational by 2020.

It should be noted that High Speed Two is planned to run at eighteen tph. Surely, the slower East Coast Main Line could allow an increase in frequency.

I estimate that this higher speed running could save upwards of ten minutes between Kings Cross and Newark.

Improvements Between Newark And Lincoln

Wikipedia says this about the line between Newark and Lincoln.

The line between Newark and Lincoln is currently only cleared for 50–70-mile-per-hour (80–100 km/h) speeds. Nottinghamshire County Council has paid for a study into 90-mile-per-hour (140 km/h) running.

From my helicopter, the line looks to be all double-track, fairly straight, in good condition, with signs of recent improvements. But there are also up to a dozen level crossings.

With improvements, I suspect that a 90 mph linespeed will be possible.

Summing Up Performance

My mathematical nous, feels that with the digital signalling and other improvements, that the required four hour round trip would be possible.

If this can be achieved, then just two trains would be needed to run a one train every two hours and between Kings Cross and Lincoln.

Other Services

The Wikipedia entry for LNER, says this about the services to Lincoln and other new destinations in the North.

An expanded service to Lincoln began on 21 October 2019 when four terminating services at Newark Northgate were extended into Lincoln. This is in addition to the sole one train per day service, which in all, now provides five out and back workings to and from London King’s Cross. LNER also plans for December 2019 timetable change that a sixth return service to London from Lincoln will be introduced and 5 extra services on a Saturday will begin from 7 December 2019. From December 2019, LNER will introduce a Harrogate to London service 6 times a day. LNER expects to introduce two-hourly services to Bradford and a daily service to Huddersfield in May 2020 when more Azuma trains have been introduced. The Middlesbrough service is expected to begin in December 2021 after infrastructure work required to run the service is completed.

That looks like a comprehensive increase in service to Bradford, Harrogate, Huddersfield and Middlesbrough

Conclusion

LNER seem to have made a good start on the increased service levels to Lincoln.

Harrogate would appear to be next!

It will be interesting to follow both places, to see if they benefit from an improved train service.

But I can certainly see a day in the not too distant future, when LNER’s or other operator’s Azumas and other 140 mph trains are running to multiple destinations via the East Coast Main Line.

 

 

October 25, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Will HS2 And Northern Powerhouse Rail Go For The Big Bore?

Different Versions Of This Post

The original post was published on the 25th August 2019.

It has been updated on the 21st November 2020 to reflect changes made to High Speed Two (HS2).

The Merging Of High Speed Two And Northern Powerhouse Rail

It looks to me that there will be increasing links and merging between High Speed Two (HS2) and Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR).

This report on the Transport for the North web site, is entitled At A Glance – Northern Powerhouse Rail.

Proposals and possibilities include.

  • NPR will have a Western terminal at a new station in Liverpool City Centre.
  • HS2 trains would access Liverpool and Manchester via a junction between HS2 and NPR at High Legh.
  • There will be six trains per hour (tph) between Liverpool and Manchester via Manchester Airport.
  • The route between Manchester and Manchester Airport is planned to be in tunnel.
  • There will be six tph between Manchester and Leeds.

In addition, Boris has made positive noises about a high speed line between Manchester and Leeds being of a high priority.

So will the planners go for the logical solution of a High Speed tunnel between Manchester Airport and Leeds?

  • There could be a theoretical capacity of perhaps 18 tph, which is the design capacity of High Speed Two.
  • Speeds of up to 125 mph or more could be possible. The Gottard Base Tunnel has an operating speed for passenger trains of 125 mph.
  • Stations could be at Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly/Piccadilly Gardens/Victoria, Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds.
  • West of Manchester Airport, the route appears easier and the tunnel would emerge close to the airport. Jigh Speed Two is planning that the tunnel emeges just to the North of the Airport and that the station is below ground level.
  • East of Leeds the tunnel would join up with existing routes to Doncaster, Hull, Newcastle and York.

I believe such a tunnel could be built without disrupting existing rail services and passengers. Remember building Crossrail’s tunnels was an almost invisible process.

It would result in two rail systems across Northern England.

  • Upgraded Classic Rail Routes
  • The Big Bore

My thoughts on the two systems follow.

Upgraded Classic Rail Routes

This could include improvements such as these,

  • Extra passing loops.
  • Selective electrification
  • Improved stations
  • Comprehensive in-cab digital signalling
  • More paths for passenger and freight trains.

Which could be applied to routes, such as these.

In addition, there could be the reopening of some closed or freight routes to passenger trains.

This article on Rail Technology Magazine is entitled Network Rail Reveals Detailed £2.9bn Upgrade Plans For TransPennine Route.

It is a comprehensive upgrade that includes.

  • Improvement between Huddersfield and Westtown
  • Grade separation or a tunnel at Ravensthorpe
  • Rebuilding and electrification of eight miles of track.
  • Possible doubling the number of tracks from two to four.
  • Improved stations at Huddersfield, Deighton, Mirfield and Ravensthorpe.

This project would be a major improvement to the Huddersfield Line.

In Sheffield Region Transport Plan 2019 – Hope Valley Line Improvements, I talked about planned improvements to the Hope Valley Line, which should begin in the next couple of years.

These improvements are given in detail under Plans in the Wikipedia entry for the Hope Valley Line.

The Hope Valley Improvements will cost in the region of tens of millions of pounds and Wikipedia sums up the benefits like this.

These changes to allow three fast trains, a stopping train and freight trains each hour were also supported in a Transport for the North investment report in 2019, together with “further interventions” for the Northern Powerhouse Rail programme.

It seems like good value to me!

So could we see other Multi-million and billion pound projects created to improve the classic routes across the Pennines?

Projects would be fully planned and the costs and benefits would then be assessed and calculated.

Then it would be up to the Project Managers to devise the optimal structure and order in which to carry out all the projects.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the following techniques used.

  • Discontinuous electrification to avoid bridge reconstruction.
  • Intelligent, hybrid diesel/electric/battery trains from Bombardier, Hitachi or Stadler, capable of 125 mph running and changing mode at speed.
  • Modular digital signalling
  • Factory built stations and step-free bridges.
  • Removal of all level crossings.
  • All stations updated for step-free access between train and platform.

The objectives would be as follows.

  • More paths, where needed.
  • Faster line speed.
  • Less running on diesel.
  • Fast station stops.

Hopefully, the upgrading could be done without too much disruption.

Remember though, that disruption to existing users during a project, is most likely down to bad project management.

The Big Bore

The Central Core tunnel of Crossrail between Royal Oak and East London, was virtually a separate project before Crossrail’s stations and much of other infrastructure was built.

I believe that digging the tunnel first gave a big advantage, in that it could be constructed as an independent project, provided that the logistics of delivering the components and removing the junk was done efficiently.

But it did mean that travellers wouldn’t see any benefits until the project was almost complete.

HS2 and NPR are different in that they also envisage upgrading these routes.

  • The Huddersfield Line
  • The Chat Moss Line
  • The Calder Valley Line
  • The Hope Valley Line
  • The Dearne Valley Line
  • The Selby Line
  • The Midland Main Line North Of Clay Cross

Only the Huddersfield Line is directly affected by the Big Bore.

Effectively, the Big Bore will provide a by-pass route for passenger trains between Leeds and West of Manchester Airport, to take the fast trains of HS2 and NPR underneath the congested classic lines.

In Changes Signalled For HS2 Route In North I said this about a tunnel between Leeds and Manchester.

To get a twenty-five minute time between Leeds and Manchester with a ten minute frequency, which I believe is the minimum service the two cities deserve, would be like passing a whole herd of camels through the eye of a single needle.

The Swiss, who lets face it have higher hills, than we have in Northern England would create a new route mainly in tunnel between the two cities, with perhaps an underground station beneath the current Grade I Listed; Huddersfield station.

The transport for the North report suggests Bradford Low Moor station, as an intermediate station, so why not Bradford Low Moor and Huddersfield stations?

Note that the Gotthard Base Tunnel, which opened a couple of years ago, deep under the Alps, is about the same length as a Leeds and Manchester tunnel, and cost around eight billion pounds.

It would be expensive, but like Crossrail in London, the tunnel would have big advantages.

  • It could be built without disrupting current rail and road networks.
  • It would have a capacity of up to thirty tph in both directions.
  • Unlike Crossrail, it could handle freight trains.
  • It would unlock and join the railway systems to the East and West.

I believe, it would be a massive leap forward for transport in the North of England.

It would be a very big project and probably one of the longest rail tunnels in the world.

Comparison With The Gotthard Base Tunnel

But surely, if a small and rich nation like Switzerland can build the Gotthard Base Tunnel, then we have the resources to build the Big Bore between Manchester Airport and Leeds.

Consider these facts about the Gotthard Base Tunnel.

  • It is two single track bores.
  • Each bore has a track length of around 57 kilometres or 35 miles.
  • The tunnel may be deep, but it is direct and level.
  • The maximum speed is 250 kph or 160 mph.
  • The operational speed for passenger trains is 200 kph or 125 mph.
  • The operational speed for freight is 100 kph or 62 mph.
  • It can take the largest freight trains.

To make numbers even more impressive it is joined to the shorter Ceneri Base Tunnel, to provide an even longer route.

Manchester Airport And Leeds Direct

Now consider Manchester Airport and Leeds.

  • The current rail distance is 56 miles.
  • There are stops at Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Oxford Road, Manchester Victoria and Huddersfield stations.
  • Journey time is eighty minutes.

But the direct distance is only 68 kilometres or forty-three miles.

Surely if the Swiss can blast and dig two 57 km. single-track rail tunnels through solid rock, we can go eleven kilometres further with all the recent experience of tunnelling around the world.

The lengths of the various legs would be as follows.

  • Manchester Airport and Manchester – 14 km.
  • Manchester and Huddersfield – 35 km.
  • Huddersfield and Bradford – 17 km.
  • Bradford and Leeds – 13 km

Trains running on the various legs at 200 kph, which is the cruising speed of a 1970s-built InterCity 125, could take the following times for the various legs.

  • Manchester Airport and Manchester – 4.2 minutes
  • Manchester and Huddersfield – 10.5 minutes
  • Huddersfield and Bradford – 5.1 minutes
  • Bradford and Leeds – 13 km – 3.9 minutes

Leeds and Manchester Airport would be under thirty minutes apart, even allowing two minutes each for the three stops.

Looking at NPR between Liverpool and Hull, times could be as follows.

  • Liverpool and Manchester – 26 minutes
  • Manchester and Leeds – 20 minutes
  • Leeds and Hull – 38 minutes

Or a Coast-to-Coast time of under ninety minutes.

Train Frequencies

HS2 is being designed to handle eighteen tph, although slower intensive railways in the UK can handle up to twenty-four tph.

At the current time or certainly in a few years time, the theoretical maximum frequency through the Big Bore should be between these two figures. I will assume at least eighteen tph in this post.

The At A Glance – Northern Powerhouse Rail report talks about the following frequencies.

  • Liverpool and Manchester via Manchester Airport – Six tph.
  • Manchester and Leeds – Six tph
  • Leeds and Hull – Two tph

This is all so lacking in ambition. It is like building a new high capacity road and only allowing those with status to use the road.

If Leeds and Manchester Airport can handle eighteen tph, why not use some of it to create an Express Metro under the Pennines?

To me, if the Big Bore is built, nothing short of twelve tph or a train every five minutes is acceptable, at Liverpool, Manchester Airport, Manchester, Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds stations.

The extension to Hull could be reduced to perhaps six tph, but with the upgrading of the Hull and Leeds Line to perhaps 140 mph, I’d be bold and create a true TransPennine Express;

Hull and Liverpool every five minutes would be the ultimate Marketing Man’s dream.

The Underground Stations

Manchester Airport, Manchester, Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds would all be through stations deep underground.

  • They would be connected to the surface by lifts and escalators.
  • Some entrances to the stations would connect to existing stations and others might emerge in City squares like Manchester’s P:iccadilly Gardens.
  • Most stations would be just two platforms, as all trains would pass through on either side of a large underground concourse.
  • Bay platforms could be added as required.
  • All stations would have platform edge doors.
  • Passengers would be able to reverse direction by just walking across the concourse.

Stations would build on the lessons learned from Crossrail. But then NPR is closer to Crossrail than a Classic High Speed Line.

Weston Williamson’s Vision For Manchester Piccadilly Station

I wrote about this in The Rival Plans For Piccadilly Station, That Architects Say Will ‘Save Millions’.

I believe that this is the way to create an underground station.

The Terminal Stations

The two main terminal stations for NPR and trains running through the Big Bore would be the proposed High Speed station at Liverpool and the existing Hull station.

But one other terminal station is being created; Edinburgh.

I have been going to Edinburgh station to and from England for perhaps thirty years and the capacity of the station has constantly increased.

Recent developments are extended Platforms 5 and 6, that can take the longest LNER trains.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that with the application of digital signalling, that there is capacity for at least eight tph between Edinburgh and Newcastle.

There would certainly be capacity for at least two tph between Liverpool and Edinburgh via Manchester Airport, Manchester, Huddersfield, Bradford, Leeds, York and Newcastle.

In the East the other possibilities for terminals are Doncaster, Newcastle and York.

  • I would discount Newcastle, as it lacks capacity and its location would make it difficult to add more.
  • Doncaster has good connectivity and space, but do Leeds and Hull offer similar connectivity?

So that leaves Hull, Edinburgh and York, as the only Eastern terminals.

In the West, there is probably a need to connect to the Northern section of the West Coast Main Line (WCML).

Glasgow Central is probably the obvious terminal, but it would need an extra connection at the junction of HS2, NPR and WCML at High Legh.

If necessary Preston could be used, as it has space and lots of connectivity.

Tunnel Size

As Manchester will be served by High Speed Two’s Full-Size trains from Birmingham and London, both Manchester stations will need to be built to accept these trains.

I feel that the whole tunnel between Manchester Airport and Leeds, should be built to the High Speed Two size, so that it can accept the largest possible passenger and freight trains, in the future.

Integration Of HS2 and NPR

The At A Glance – Northern Powerhouse Rail report is proposing this and it looks that the following HS2 services could be possible between Euston and Manchester.

  • Two tph – Euston and Hull via Old Oak Common, Manchester Airport, Manchester, Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds
  • Two tph – Euston and Edinburgh via Old Oak Common, Manchester Airport, Manchester, Huddersfield, Bradford, Leeds, York and Newcastle.

Note.

  1. Manchester Airport, Manchester, Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds would all have four tph to and from London, by the Western arm of HS2’s Y.
  2. If in addition there were two tph between Liverpool and Hull and Liverpool and Edinburgh, this would mean four tph from the Big Bore of NPR to both Hull and Edinburgh.
  3. None of these core services need to terminate in the Big Bore.

I very much feel that integrating HS2 and NPR is the way to go.

Could We See A High Speed Northern Metro?

If we assume that the Big Bore could handle the HS2 frequency of at least eighteen tph, then it would be possible to create a high speed service across the Pennines with the following Metro-like frequencies.

  • Liverpool and Hull – 4 tph
  • Liverpool and Edinburgh – 2 tph
  • Glasgow and Hull – 2 tph
  • London Euston and Hull – 2 tph
  • London Euston and Edinburgh – 2 tph

This would result in the following frequencies

  • Liverpool – 6 tph
  • Glasgow – 2 tph
  • London Euston – 4 tph
  • Manchester Airport – 12 tph
  • Manchester – 12 tph
  • Huddersfield – 12 tph
  • Bradford – 12 tph
  • Leeds – 12 tph
  • Hull – 8 tph
  • York – 4 tph
  • Newcastle – 4 tph
  • Edinburgh – 4 tph

What would these frequencies do for train travel in the North of England?

Freight

The Gotthard Base Tunnel has been designed so that both freight and passenger trains can use the route.

There is a need for extra freight capacity across the country and I wonder if freight trains could use the Big Bore.

I estimate that the Big Bore would be 68 kilometres if bored straight and level between West of Manchester Airport and Leeds.

Lets assume it is seventy kilometres or 43.5 miles.

So times, through the tunnel at various average speeds would be.

  • 125 mph – 21 minutes
  • 110 mph – 23.7 minutes
  • 100 mph – 26.1 minutes
  • 90 mph – 29 minutes
  • 80 mph – 32.6 minutes
  • 62 mph (Gotthard Base Tunnel speed for freight) – 42 minutes.

Could it be mandated that freight trains can use the tunnel, if they could maintain a particular speed?

Consider.

  • A 125 mph train with stops at Manchester Airport, Manchester, Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds would probably take thirty minutes to transit the tunnel.
  • A freight train running at 90 mph would take more or less the same time.
  • Fifteen tph would mean a train every four minutes.
  • Automatic control of all trains in the tunnel would be a possibility. It appears to work on the much more complicated Thameslink.

I think with the following conditions, one or even two freight trains per hour, in addition to the passenger trains, can pass through the Big Bore in each direction.

  • The locomotives have the performance of at least the Class 93 locomotive, which is currently being built.
  • Freight trains can be hauled through at a minimum speed, which could be between 90 and 110 mph.
  • The passenger trains and train and platform staff work together to produce very short station dwell times.
  • All passenger trains are identical.
  • Station platforms are designed so that passengers can leave and enter the trains rapidly.

It will be a Big Bore with a capacity to match!

What About Sheffield?

I haven’t forgotten Sheffield, but I think it could be linked across the Pennines by another route.

Under the upgrades for Northern Powerhouse Rail, it is proposed that services between Sheffield and Leeds become 4 tph in 25 minutes along the Dearne Valley Line.

Does Boris Know More Than He Lets On?

The headline on the front cover of Issue 885 of Rail Magazine is Boris Backs New Pennine Railway.

There is also a sub-heading of PM commits to Leeds-Manchester line.

Boris didn’t apply any substance to the speech, except to say that it will be funded.

Conclusion

I believe that my naïve analysis in this post shows that a TransPennine tunnel is possible.

But I believe that the right tunnel could have one big advantage.

Suppose it was built to handle the following.

  • A capacity of eighteen tph, which is the same as High Speed Two.
  • An operating speed of 140 mph or more. The Gotthard Base Tunnel has a maximum operating speed of 160 mph.
  • High Speed Two’s Full-Size trains.
  • The largest freight trains.

It would be future proofed for longer than anybody could envisage.

There are also other smaller advantages.

  • It would by-pass a lot of difficult areas.
  • It would cause very little aural and visual disruption.
  • IIf it were designed with care, it would affect the flora and fauna.
  • As with the Swiss tunnel, it could be dug level, which would save energy and allow trains to run faster.
  • It could be running twelve tph between Leeds and Manchester Airport via Bradford, Huddersfield and Manchester Piccadilly.
  • Existing surface railways at the Eastern end could serve Cleethorpes, Darlington, Doncaster, Edinburgh, Hull, Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Scarborough, Sheffield and York
  • Existing surface railways at the Western end could serve Barrow, Blackpool, Carlisle, Chester, Glasgow, Liverpool. North Wales, Preston and Wigan.

It would be more like Thameslink for the North turned on its side, rather than Crossrail for the North.

 

 

August 25, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

A Walk In Bradford City Centre

I like walking in City Centres and Bradford didn’t disappoint.

Little Germany with its collection of Listed buildings was certainly a surprise.

April 21, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Arrival In Bradford Interchange Station

After Low Moor Station, I went onto Bradford, where I stayed in the City Centre Premier Inn, which has an address close to Little Germany.

Bradford has two City Centre stations; Interchange and Forster Square, with about a fifteen-minute walk between them

These pictures show my arrival in Bradford Interchange station.

Both stations have frequent services to Leeds, but if you are going, coming or visiting anywhere else make sure you pick the right station.

I discussed Bradford’s problem in Why Does Bradford Have Two Stations? and came to the solution that some form of high tech people mover would  be best.

I said this.

But what about some eco-friendly battery buses, as the distance is under a kilometre.

It could be run triangularly if necessary between the two stations and the shopping centre, with a charging station at each angle.

 

 

 

April 21, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Bradford Low Moor Station

Bradford Low Moor station was scheduled to open in Sprint 2016.

At the moment it is just a building site sitting by the railway.

The opening date is now set at May 2017.

The station is already on this Google Map.

Bradford Low Moor Station

Bradford Low Moor Station

I hope people don’t travel there expecting to find a train, because they see the symbol on the map.

September 25, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Tram-Trains Recommended For Leeds-Bradford Airport Link

This report on Global Rail News is entitled Tram-train preferred for Leeds Bradford Airport link, which probably says most of it.

This Google Map shows the cities of Bradford and Leeds and the airport to the North.

Bradford, Leeds and Leeds-Bradford Airport

Bradford, Leeds and Leeds-Bradford Airport

And this map shows the airport and the surrounding area from Guiseley in the North West to Horsforth in the South East.

Leeds Bradford Airport

Leeds Bradford Airport

Both towns have stations.

If you need to travel between the two towns by rail, you need to change trains at Leeds.

The consultants report recommends that to link Leeds to the airport a tram-train link be built from Horsforth.

This Google Map shows the countryside between Horsforth station and the southern end of Leeds-Bradord Airport.

Horsforth To Leeds-Bradford Airport

Horsforth To Leeds-Bradford Airport

Horsforth station is in the South East corner of the map.

It would seem to not be the biggest engineering project to construct the airport link.

Although, it should be born in mind, that the area around and between Leeds and Bradford is not by any means flat and pilots of light aircraft are usually cautious on the approach to the airport, because the terrain causes all sorts of winds and updraughts.

This Google map shows the country between Guiseley and the northern end of Leeds-Bradford Airport.

Guiseley To Leeds-Bradford Airport

Guiseley To Leeds-Bradford Airport

Guiseley station is in the North West corner of this map.

It would probably not be as easy to built a link from Guiseley to the airport, that could handle tram-trains, as to build one from Horsforth.

Years ago, the Otley and Ilkey Joint Railway planned to create a railway from Guiseley to Horsforth via Yeadon, but it was never built and the Yeadon Branch was closed to all traffic in 1964.

It would be ironic, if tram-trains were to reconnect Guiseley and Horsforth via Leeds-Bradford Airport, along the route of the Yeadon Branch.

If a route from the airport to Guiseley could be built for tram-trains, then they could carry on to Bradford Forster Square station, thus giving Bradford direct access to the airport.

March 1, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Why Does Bradford Have Two Stations?

When I wrote The New Apperley Bridge Station, I noted that on my journeys on the Calder Valley Line on Saturday and today, my trains called at Bradford Interchange, but that the trains through Apperley Bridge station called at Bradford Forster Square station.

So I asked myself, the question, that is the title of this post.

This Google Map shows the two stations.

Bradford Stations

Bradford Stations

Bradford Forster Square station is towards the top and Bradford Interchange station is towards the bottom of the map.

Bradford Interchange, which is a combined bus and rail station rebuilt and opened in the 1970s, which is not an outstanding period for superbly executed Rail stations.

To make matters worse, all trains must reverse at Bradford Interchange, which means the driver changes ends.

Note that between the two stations, there is a large shopping centre, that has been opened in 2015.

You’d have thought with all this rebuilding that a solution to the two station problem would have been found.

Two solutions have been proposed.

I know the Germans would squeeze a tram-train through somewhere, but I suspect there might be something more imaginative and much more affordable.

After all the distance is 0.7 km. and the stations only have seven platforms between them.

Around the world, there are several successful lightweight people movers in city centres.

  • High-tech and expensive monorails.
  • Light railways like the Docklands Light Railway in London.
  • Tram shuttles.
  • Travelators and escalators.
  • Free mini buses as in Manchester.

Surely, a good engineering solution at an affordable price must exist., which could connect the two stations to each other and to the shopping centre.

But what about some eco-friendly battery buses, as the distance is under a kilometre.

.

January 3, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

A New Bus For West Yorkshire

When searching for Routemaster and wi-fi, I found this article from the Bradford Telegraph and Argus. Here’s the first two paragraphs.

Transport company First has revealed plans to introduce London-style buses in Bradford and the whole of West Yorkshire.

It is proposing to introduce a fleet of Routemaster buses, which would have multi-door entry and exit points including a hop-on and off platform at the rear, free wi-fi and lower emissions.

As someone who has seen the transformation of the new Routemaster-equipped route 38, over the last couple of years, I believe that these buses have three main benefits for the passengers. The buses are faster, because they load and unload quicker, but surprisingly they are much friendlier places than the older London double-deckers, as the design seems to promote conversation and politeness. But as someone, who often travels with a large shopping bag and who sometimes can be a bit unsteady, their ride is so much better, that I choose my routes home accordingly.

I don’t think Bradford though, will buy Routemasters, as after all they are a London thing, and cities of the north don’t generally follow good examples from the capital. Look at their bus maps and information from the Dark Ages for a start.

July 7, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , | 1 Comment

The Football Fan In A Hijab

The BBC web site has this article, which talks about fifteen-year-old Amina Qureshi supporting Bradford in a hijab.

I actually don’t think this is as rare as the article makes out.  When I saw Ipswich win at Bolton, I came across a small group of Asian girls supporting, some of whom were similarly attired.

I seem to remember too, a young girl in a hijab, with her father, who was wearing fairly traditional clothes for a Muslim man at Leyton Orient, which has more than a few Muslim supporters.

February 22, 2013 Posted by | Sport | , | Leave a comment