The Anonymous Widower

Braintree Freeport Station

These pictures show Braintree Freeport station on the Braintree Branch.

Note.

  1. There is one platform that can accommodate an eight-car formation of two Class 321 trains, so it must be at least 160 metres long.
  2. The platform is used in both directions.
  3. Like much of the electrification on the Great Eastern Main Line and its branches, it is not in the first flush of youth and some parts had evidence of repair.
  4. The station information could be better, but that is a problem on a lot of Greater Anglia’s smaller stations.
  5. The route to the Braintree Freeport Shopping Centre is about four hundred metres and not too taxing.

I suspect that a bit more TLC would improve this station.

But will the electrification on the Braintree Branch be replaced in the near future?

The New Class 720 Trains

I went to Braintree Freeport station in an eight-car formation of two Class 321 trains, which weren’t by any means full.

In Comparing Greater Anglia’s Old And New Electric Multiple Units, I said this.

Given that the Class 720 is a modern train, designed with passengers, staff and operators in mind, I can’t see any problems with replacing the current eight-car trains with a five-car Class 720 train

I also suspect that if required, an extra car could be added to make six-car trains with a length of 146 metres, that would be shorter than an eight-car Class 321 train. .

If a single Class 720 train isn’t enough capacity for the Braintree Branch, then by adding a passing loop at Cressing station, the frequency of trains on the branch can be doubled, which could attract more passengers to the route.

Could the Braintree Branch Have The Electrification Removed?

This may seem like a retrograde step, but consider the following.

  • I’m fairly certain, that the Class 720 trains, which are Aventras have been designed to use batteries to handle regenerative braking and the trains have a useful range on battery power.
  • The Braintree Branch is only six miles long.
  • The electrification will have to be replaced or upgraded in the next few years.
  • Building the loop at Cressing station without electrification would be a cost saving.
  • There are no other services on the branch, except the occasional diesel-hauled engineering train.
  • The batteries would be charged between Liverpool Street and Witham stations.

I would be very surprised, if removing the electrification and using battery power is not being considered.

Conclusion

New Class 720 trains with a battery capability and the addition of a passing loop at Cressing station would improve the Braintree Branch line.

 

 

 

August 28, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Freedoming – Freeport Braintree Shopping Centre

Freeport Braintree has its own Braintree Freeport station.

Judging by my journey today, it is not as successful as Bicester Village and it hasn’t been discovered by the Chinese Shopping Army.

But I was able to get there for £7.65 by buying a ticket with my Senior Railcard from the Freedom Pass forward operating base of Shenfield station.

I should say, you can get to Shenfield station at any time with a Freedom Pass, but you must use TfL services like TfL Rail, or buy an extension ticket from Zone 6.

These pictures show the Shopping Centre.

It didn’t seem to be as busy as I expected for a Bank Holiday Monday, but the Centre is very typical of this type of shopping attration.

Do they come in flatpacks from IKEA?

Passenger numbers for stations in the area in 2016-2017 were as follows.

  • Braintree – 788,000
  • Braintree Freeport – 82,698
  • Cressing – 33,176
  • White Notley – 10,552
  • Witham – 2,344,000

Bicester Village station by comparison gets 1,311,000 passengers.

Would More Trains Help?

The Braintree Freeport station only gets one train in each direction per hour.

Would more trains help?

Network Rail are looking at the possibility of a passing loop at Cressing, which would allow a doubling of frequency.

But if the current trains aren’t that busy on one of the premium hopping days of the year, I have my doubts.

Will The New Trains Help?

New trains often do help increase visitors to a town, city or attraction.

But I do wonder if a lot of the customers come from the North of Braintree and to get there from the major towns and cities of Cambridge, Colchester, Ipswich and Norwich means a change of train at Witham, where the main East Anglian expresses don’t stop.

So they drive! Or take the train to London!

Conclusion

The train passenger statistics tell the truth and they should be watched.

If they rise substantially and the new trains fill up, then perhaps that passing loop at Cressing should be built!

 

August 27, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment