The Anonymous Widower

North And South

I went to see Spurs this afternoon to see them play Burnley.

Coming home, I got the train between White Hart Lane and Hackney Downs stations. As we walked to the bus for Dalston, there was a mixed group of fans.

Most of the Burnley fans were smoking, as opposed to few of the Spurs fans.

Is this the difference between North and South?

December 7, 2019 Posted by | Health | , , | 3 Comments

Improving The Train Service Between Rose Grove And Colne Stations

The East Lancashire Line is the line that runs across the town of Burnley on the spectacular Bank Top Viaduct.

  • One train per hour in each direction runs between Blackpool South station on the coast and Colne station in the hills.
  • The five stations on the route; Burnley Barracks, Burnley Central, Brierfield, Nelson and Colne, are all single-platform stations.
  • Only Burnley Central station is more than rudimentary.
  • All station have platforms long enough for two Class 150 trains working as a four-car unit.
  • The line joins the cross-Pennine Calder Valley Line at Gannow Junction to the East of Rose Grove station.

In the Wikipedia entry for Colne station, this is said.

The remainder of the branch from Gannow Junction (near Rose Grove) to Nelson was also reduced to single track in December 1986 and so the entire line from there is now operated as a 6 1⁄2 miles (10.5 km) “long siding” with no intermediate passing loops (this restricts the service frequency that can operate along the branch, as only one train can be on the branch at a time).

It would thus appear that without track and/or signalling works, the service along the line will be restricted to an hourly train.

Track Improvements

To make improvement of the line more difficult, the line crosses Burnley town centre on the High Bank Top  Viaduct.

This second picture was taken from a train crossing the viaduct.

North of Burnley Central station, the terrain gets more rural and if needed the installation of a passing loop would be easier, than on the Bank Top Viaduct.

Station Improvements

I have been in a four-car train on the line, so I feel it could be theoretically easy to double the capacity by running four-car trains instead of the current two-car Class 150 trains.

This picture was taken of a pair of two-car diesel units, that took me between Colne and Blackpool South stations.

  • Most platforms seem to be long enough, but more shelters and ticket machines are needed.
  • Only Burnley Central station has booking office and a warm waiting room.
  • By hint of the simplicity of the stations, several are step-free.

Improvements to the stations are needed, but no station needs substantial rebuilding.

Signalling Improvements

The signalling of the line between Rose Grove and Colne stations would appear to rely on only one train being on the line at any one time.

In order to have more than one train on the branch a more sophisticated signalling system is needed.

Service Improvements

The November 2017 Edition of Modern Railways indicates that the Sunday service on this line will increase from two-hourly to hourly.

I was on the line on a sunny Sunday a few years ago and the four-car train was packed with families going to Blackpool for the day.

If anything this Sunday improvement will hasten the need for the doubling of service frequency between Blackpool South and Colne.

Could Two Trains Per Hour Work Between Rose Grove And Colne Stations?

The signalling would have to be improved for safety reasons, as the current safety system of one train on the branch would be inadequate.

If trains left Rose Grove and Colne stations on the half hour, then trains would call at Burnley Barracks station at the following times.

  • xx:03 – Service U1 going up
  • xx:17 – Service D1 going down
  • xx:33  – Service U2 going up
  • xx:47 – Service D2 going down

Time for Burnley Central would be as follows.

  • xx:06 – Service U1 going up
  • xx:14 – Service D1 going down
  • xx:36 – Service U2 going up
  • xx:44 – Service D2 going down

Times for Brierfield would be as follows.

  • xx:09 – Service D1 going down
  • xx:11 – Service U1 going up
  • xx:39 – Service D2 going down
  • xx:41  – Service U2 going up

Times for Nelson would be as follows.

  • xx:06 – Service D1 going down
  • xx:14 – Service U1 going up
  • xx:56 – Service D2 going down
  • xx:44  – Service U2 going up

Times for Colne would be as follows

  • xx:00 – Service D1 starts to go down
  • xx:20 – Service U1 arrives
  • xx:30 – Service D2 starts to go down
  • xx:50 – Service U2 arrives

Note.

  1. The trains take twenty minutes for the trip.
  2. U1, U2 are two services going up to Colne.
  3. D1, D2 are two services going down from Colne.

It would appear that a passing loop would be needed between Burnley Central and Brierfield stations. Looking from my helicopter at this section of line, a lot is in open country and there would appear to be space for a long passing loop.

Rolling Stock Improvements

The current rolling stock is inadequate and staff and passengers on the line have told me, that the route between Blackpool South and Colne stations, needs four-car services at times.

Because the Western end of the route will be electrified between Preston and Blackpool and Liverpool, there is a strong case for bi-mode trains, be they refurbished ones like Class 769 trains or new trains. Northern has new Class 195 trains on order, but they are pure diesels.

Given that the route may get extra electrification between Preston and Blackburn, if the Calder Valley Line is improved, Class 195 trains are probably not an ideal solution.

Class 769 Trains Between Blackpool South And Colne Stations

Current plans will see electrification of the route between Preston and Kirkham and Westham stations.

This would mean that nearly ten miles of the Blackpool South to Colne route will be electrified.

So would it be sensible to call for Bedpan Specials or Class 769 trains, which could make use of the electrification?

Consider.

  • According to a technical specification that I’ve seen, the trains have been designed to handle the Buxton Line, which is stiffer than the hill up to Colne.
  • The trains are four cars.
  • I believe, that three Class 769 trains would replace the current trains, which could then be appropriately scrapped or refurbished.
  • If more electrification is added between Blackburn and Blackpool South, the trains will take advantage.

I also believe that with a passing loop and modern signalling, that the extra performance of the Class 769 trains might make it possible to run two trains on the route with careful planning and precise driving.

But above all, the Class 769 trains are affordable and are probably available within a year.

An interesting observation, is that Northern have increased their order by three trains recently. So have they decided to use them on the Blackpool South to Colne service?

How Would A Re-Opened Skipton To Colne Rail Link Affect The East Lancashire Line Services?

There has started to be increased speculation lately, that the rail link between Skipton and Colne will be reopened. Chris Graying even mentioned this line in the House of Commons.

If the rail link were to be reopened, it would create another route across the Pennines between Lancashire and Yorkshire.

  • It would be unlikely to be a high-capacity or high-speed link.
  • There is electrification at both ends.
  • The line would be ideal for bi-mode trains like a refurbished Class 769 train or a new Class 755 train.
  • Colne could be upgraded to a single-platform through station.

Two trains per hour between Leeds and Preston through a scenic part of the Pennines would be a major development and tourism asset.

It could actually improve services on the Lancashire side of the border,, as services would no longer have to be turned back at Colne, but would do this at either Skipton or Leeds.

 

December 13, 2017 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 4 Comments

A Walk Between Burnley Manchester Road And Burnley Central Stations

This is another walk in Burnley to go with A Walk Between Burnley Barracks And Burnley Manchester Road Stations.

Burnley Manchester Road and Burnley Central stations are not that far apart.

This Google Map shows Burnley’s three stations in relation to the Town Centre and Turf Moor.

The various locations are as follows.

  • Turf Moor is indicated by the red arrow in the East.
  • Burnley Barracks station is in the North-West corner.
  • Bunley Central is at the North.
  • Burnley Manchester Road is at the South.
  • The Leeds and Liverpool canal weaves its way through the town passing close to Burnley Barracks station.

What the map doesn’t show is the terrain. The main station at Manchester Road is on one stretch of high ground and Central station and Turf Moor are on another.

So I walked down the hill from Manchester Road station, through the Shopping Centre and up the hill the other side to Central stion.

It was an easy walk down the hill followed by a stiffer one up to Central station.

Improvements to the East Lancashire Line.

In A Walk Between Burnley Barracks And Burnley Manchester Road Stations, I concluded the post with the following.

If new four-car Class 769 trains replace the current two-car scrapyard specials on the East Lancashire Line, the following will happen.

  • Capacity on the route will be doubled.
  • The service will be faster, due to the increased speed and power.
  • No expensive platform lengthening will be required.
  • An hourly service between Blackpool South and Colne will have no problems operating seven days a week.
  • Some stations, like Burnley Barracks, will need improvements to handle the extra passengers.

Two trains per hour will need track work to add passing loops and modern signalling, and a few more trains.

 

The big question has to be asked, if stations like the single-platform Burnley Central can handle two trains per hour in both directions.

I discussed this in Improving The Train Service Between Rose Grove And Colne Stations and came to the conclusion, it was possible with a passing loop between Burnley and Brierfield stations, modern signalling and Class 769 trains.

It could all come together very nwell for the residents of East Lancashire.

 

December 12, 2017 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | Leave a comment

A Walk Between Burnley Barracks And Burnley Manchester Road Stations

Burnley Barracks and Burnley Manchester Road stations are not that far apart.

This Google Map shows Burnley’s three stations in relation to the Town Centre and Turf Moor.

The various locations are as follows.

  • Turf Moor is indicated by the red arrow in the East.
  • Burnley Barracks station is in the North-West corner.
  • Bunley Central is at the North.
  • Burnley Manchester Road is at the South.
  • The Leeds and Liverpool canal weaves its way through the town passing close to Burnley Barracks station.

What the map doesn’t show is the terrain. The main station at Manchester Road is on one stretch of high ground and Central station and Turf Moor are on another.

So I walked between Barracks and Manchester Road  stations along the canal.

It was a pleasant walk, but I still had a stiff climb up to Manchester Road station.

The East Lancashire Line

The East Lancashire Line is the line that runs through Burnley Barracks station.

The route needs to be improved and I wrote about this in Improving The Train Service Between Rose Grove And Colne Stations.

I suggested that Class 769 bi-mode trains would be ideal for the route.

Burnley Barracks Station

There would appear to be a lot of development planned along the canal.

Surely, this development will generate passenger traffic, as many will prefer to walk along the level canal tow-path, rather than climb the hill to Burnley Manchester Road station.

Burnley Barracks station needs improvement.

  • Better shelter.
  • Ticket machine.
  • Better means of requesting the train to stop.
  • Ideally, there would be a lift to street level.

But at least Network Rail are replacing the bridge over the canal and the platform can already accommodate a four-car train.

 

Conclusion

If refurbisheed four-car Class 769 trains replace the current two-car scrapyard specials on the East Lancashire Line, the following will happen.

  • Capacity on the route will be doubled.
  • The service will be faster, due to the increased speed and power.
  • No expensive platform lengthening will be required.
  • An hourly service between Blackpool South and Colne will have no problems operating seven days a week.
  • Some stations, like Burnley Barracks, will need improvements to handle the extra passengers.

Two trains per hour will need track work to add a passing loop and modern signalling, and a few more trains.

 

November 18, 2017 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

An Early Sunday Start From Burnley To Manchester

I started early and took the 08:39 train from Burnley Manchester Road station to Manchester Victoria station.

It is a picturesque ride around the Todmorden Curve, over valleys on high viaducts and through traditional stone-built villages and towns, with the hills of the Pennines in the background and quite a bit of water alongside the rail line.

The line has improved greatly in the last few years and there are lots of tidy stations, with seats, shelters and information boards. The only larger ones are Burnley Manchester Road, Todmorden and Rochdale.

Despite the early hour on a Sunday, there were quite a few passengers and the train was about three-quarters full at Manchester Victoria.

Thinking back to my first time by train to Burnley in 2011, the rail link has improved dramatically.

  • A smart new station has been built.
  • The Todmorden Curve has been opened to provide a direct train service to Manchester.
  • An hourly service links Burnley and Manchester Victoria via the curve.

From reports, I’ve read, the line is well-used.

This question has to be asked – Could the line be electrified?

Look at some of the pictures and they show the challenging nature of electrifying the line.

  • From Burnley to Todmorden, there are a number of well-built Victorian stone over-bridges.
  • Also on this stretch there are at least two high stone viaducts.
  • There are several tunnels, includin the Summit Tunnel, which is 2.6 km. long and has been in continuous use since the 1840s.
  • Many stations have been upgraded or rebuilt recently.
  • Also in this area, some new bridges across the line for new roads and the Metrolink, seem to appear to be rather low.

Also, look as this section of the line between Burnley and Todmorden.

Between Burnley And Todmorden

Between Burnley And Todmorden

Note how the rail line curves between the hills and the houses, using tunnels and viaducts to get go on its way.

It’s one of those lines, where you’d try to find an alternative to traditional electrification. If it’s not space, it’s heritage issues and there would be lots of bridges, viaducts and tunels to rebuild.

Go west from Burnley and the line has a couple of high viaducts and a couple of tunnels, but the East Lancashire Line seems to get easier west of Blackburn station, with a line over mainly flat countryside with plenty of space on either side. At Preston it connects to the electrified West Coast Main Line.

Electrifying from Preston to Blackburn, would open up several routes to the use of IPEMU trains.

  • Blackpool South to Colne – A substantial part of the route of the fifty mile route from Blackpool South to Colne would be electrified and from the performance figures I’ve seen, this route would be an easy one for something like an  IPEMU-variant of a four-car Class 387 train.
  • Burnley to Manchester – The service I rode from Burnley to Manchester starts at Blackburn and finishes in a fully electrified Manchester Victoria.  So to answer my original question about whether the route could be electrified, there is actually no need to electrify, as IPEMUs could easily link two electrified terminals over that distance.
  • Manchester to Clitheroe – Look at the Ribble Valley Line on Wikipedia and there are five viaducts and three tunnels listed, in a line of around thirty miles. However, the good news is three-fold. The line has been well looked after, it’s promoted as a tourist attraction and soon, it will be electrified from Manchester as far as Bolton. I can’t see why with a small top-up at Blackburn, that this route couldn’t be run by an IPEMU.
  • Blackpool North to Settle – This route is run as a tourist train called DalesRail on Sundays in the Summer, when it goes all the way to Carlisle. An IPEMU could certainly run a service between Blackpool North and Settle, but I doubt it could stretch all the way to Carlisle along the Settle-Carlisle Line, as there are some massive gradients on that line.
  • Blackpool North to Leeds – This route along the Calder Valley Line via Hebden Bridge, Halifax and Bradford would be totally within range of an IPEMU, once Blackburn to Preston is electrified. If necessary, Leeds to Bradford could be electrified as well. A train fit for the Northern Powerhouse, powered by batteries and built in Derby!

This all illustrates how an IPEMU can benefit from even short sections of electrification. Blackburn to Preston would be under twenty miles of electrification without troublesome viaducts and tunnels across fairly flat country and it opens up several routes to new electric trains.

It’s funny, but if you are going to use IPEMU trains, you electrify all the lines, that you can electrify and maintain with ease and leave all the difficult bits to the battery feature in the trains.

 

 

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

From Leeds To Burnley Manchester Road

I’d gone to Burnley for the football via Leeds, as the West Coast Main Line seemed to be partly closed and I also wanted to take a look at the recently-opened Apperley Bridge station, which I wrote about in The New Apperley Bridge Station.

The trains across the Pennines on Saturdays are an hourly service at xx:08 from York to Blackpool North, that calls at New Pudsey, Bradford Interchange, Halifax and Hebden Bridge, on the section of route I would travel.

The train was busy and I was unable to get any decent pictures, but my 12:08 departure dropped me on time in Burnley Manchester Road station at 13:11. I wrote about the scenic qualities of the route before in The Scenic Route From Leeds To Manchester.

Burnley Manchester Road station doesn’t have a taxi rank, but I was able to hi-jack an empty one and the driver took me to my Premier Inn just north of the town centre and Turf Moor for a fiver.

It was a hard-fought match and a goalless draw was a fair result.

The Premier Inn is a useful one, as it is only a few minutes walk down and up the hill to Turf Moor.

One of the staff told me, that they get a lot of walkers and cyclists using the hotel as a half-way point on the nearby Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

 

January 2, 2016 Posted by | Sport, Transport/Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Burnley And Ebbw Vale

You may wonder why I’m writing a piece about two towns in the United Kingdom, which are hundreds of miles apart.

Both towns have not been in the best of health lately, although employment has risen in Burnley between 2009 and 2013 by 7.1%, as against 0.6% across the North-West and 2.0% nationally, according to this article.

They are also towns with similar geographic and transport problems being in the hills with not the best transport links.

But last Sunday, both towns got improved rail links to their nearest big city.

Ebbw Vale Town station opened and trains now run direct to Cardiff every hour.

At Burnley, five hundred metres of new single track called the Todmorden Curve has enabled trains to run direct to Manchester Victoria every hour.

I have been monitoring news stories about both new pieces of infrastructure and these reports from local media are noteworthy and generally positive.

Ebbw Vale

First train pulls into new Ebbw Vale Town Station

Burnley

TODMORDEN CURVE: 500 metres of track has opened up new world

TODMORDEN CURVE: £12m spin-off for Burnley’s economy

The only article with a negative tone is this piece entitled Rossendale Scribbler: Forget the bus station, we should look to rail to improve our transport links, which has a touch of jealousy that the Todmorden Curve doesn’t help his travels.

It will be interesting to go back to Burnley and Ebbw Vale in a few months to see if the early green shoots of optimism have grown or withered.

May 23, 2015 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Walking Between Burnley Manchester Road And Central Stations

Burnley is unique in British medium-sized towns that I know in that it has three rail stations in the town centre.

Barracks – A small single-platform halt on the East Lancashire Line

Central – Another small single-platform halt on the East Lancashire Line

Manchester Road – A modern station on the Caldervale Line

To make matters more difficult, all of the stations are a walk uphill from the pedestrianised town centre.

So Burnley is one of those unique places, where the going is a lot easier than the coming back.

If you look at passengers numbers for the three stations in 2012-13, they were respectively roughly 20,000, 150,000 and 240,000, but these probably don’t show the full pattern of usage, as I suspect with the hard walk uphill to the station, that those coming to the town to use the shops, probably use an alternative method to get home, if they are heavily loaded.

I took these pictures as I walked between the Manchester Road and Central stations taking in an excellent cup of chocolate in the centre.

It wasn’t the hardest drag up the other side, but I timed it so that I just missed the train to Blackburn. So I wouldn’t think the service on from Central station, isn’t the most customer-friendly.

When I go to Burnley normally, it’s to see Ipswich play their football team at Turf Moor. This Google Earth image shows the town from the Central station to Turf Moor.

Burnley Central Station To Turf Moor

Burnley Central Station To Turf Moor

Normally I come in at Manchester Road station, which is off the map at the bottom.  It’s a long mainly-downhill walk to the match and a long mainly-uphill walk back to the station. At least now there now are a few more trains and I could return to Manchester and London by taking a train to either Todmorden, Blackburn or Preston.

But is it possible to walk the contours of the hillside from the ground to Burnley Central? But then that only gives you one train an hour and you wouldn’t want to miss it on a pouring wet and cold day.

What Burnley needs is a better connection from the town centre to the Central and Manchester Road stations.

In an ideal eco-friendly modern world, there would be a free electric town centre mini-bus between the two stations, stopping on the way in the town centre and the bus station, which is not an easy walk from either rail station.

Providing better access to Manchester Road station, will always have to rely on vehicles of some sort. There is also the problem that the station despite being brand-new is not step-free from passenger drop-off to the Blackburn-bound platform.

On the other hand, the access to Burnley Central station, could possibly be met by creating a well-contoured path from the town centre and then using a lift to bridge the height gap to the platform, which is on the viaduct that carries the East Lancashire  across the town.

At present the East Lancashire Line has an hourly service in each direction as far as Colne. But as I said in this piece on tram-trains and their use in Blackpool I believe that they could be used to extend the line to Skipton in the east and Central Blackpool on the coast.

But that will never happen, as where is Skipton? In Yorkshire and Burnley, Blackburn, Blackpool and Preston are in Lancashire.

On the train, through Todmorden yesterday, I heard the odd comments about how the countryside wasn’t as pretty, as we passed the town.

The old parochial attitudes refuse to die.

May 18, 2015 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | Leave a comment

The Scenic Route From Preston To Blackburn

I didn’t take the direct route from Preston to Blackburn, but decided to explore the East Lancashire Line that stretches from Blackpool on the coast to Colne deep in the hills.

It is one of those rural lines, that has a lot of the flavour of the Valley Lines in South Wales. Trains are elderly, but well-turned out Class 142 and Class 150 trains, running between a series of stations, many of which have been recently upgraded. To get a better feel of the Burnley area, this is a Google Earth image of the centre of Burnley.

The Centre Of Burnley

The Centre Of Burnley

The two stations; Central and Barracks lie on the rail line that goes across the top-left corner of the image. For most of that way, the line is on a viaduct with a station at each end. Turf Moor, the home of Burnley FC is at the far right of the map.

The East Lancashire Line is very much down the list of electrification priorities, but as it has interchanges at Preston, Blackpool and Rose Grove, that are electrified or will be in a few years, the costs of electrification will be eased by the supplying of power being already there.

Some work needs to be done on the stations, but a lot is informational like the signage and local maps at Mill Hill. Some like Mill Hill and perhaps others, need improvement to their disabled access.

There is pressure to extend the line past Colne to Skipton. and it is description under South East Lancashire Rail Action Partnership. The Wikipedia article says this about the link.

The missing section of railway between Skipton and Colne is 11.5 miles in length; it was closed in January 1970 although it was not a target under the Beeching Axe.

Dr. Beeching is a hot topic, but when he said a railway shouldn’t be closed, history has in some cases like  the Varsity Line, shown him to be right.

At least with Colne to Skipton, the trackbed hasn’t been built on.

Having seen tram-trains working successfully in Germany and France, I think that if the Class 399 trains prove successful in their trials between Sheffield and Rotherham, that vehicles like this may offer a cost effective way of linking between two electrified lines. Skipton station is electrified, but Colne is not. However from Rose Grove to Preston and on to Blackpool is planned to be completely electrified in the next few years.

So as Burnley Barracks and Central, Brierfield, Nelson and Colne will effectively be on a single line branch from Rose Grove could it be electrified to perhaps only a tramway standard with occasional passing places and extended to Skipton? Intriguingly, at the other end of the line at Blackpool South the trains could then transfer to the Blackpool tram system.

It may sound all rather fanciful, but it might be easier to slot a tram track through Colne, rather than build a new railway, especially as this Google Earth image of Colne station, shows that there is the dual-carriageway A6068  and a football pitch in the way.

Colne Station

Colne Station

It would surely be cheaper to cross the main road with a tram rather than a railway track.

Surely another advantage of using tram technology is that it will be easier to add extra stops on the line.

I do think that this neglected line from Blackpool South to Colne via Preston has scope for improvement. Judging by some of the ideas in various forums on the Internet, there are a lot of ideas that get proposed by politicians, rail professionals, enthusiasts and train users.

Three things though are going to help decide what happens to this line.

If the incoming government does what is threatened at the present time and electrifies the Calder Valley Line from Preston to Leeds via Blackburn and Burnley, there will likely be a sound economic case for electrifying from Blackpool South to Preston and from Rose Grove to Colne, as both lines are mainly single track.

Electrification will also make sound sense, as there will be more than a few electric trains available, as Crossrail and Thameslink are  getting new trains and the displaced trains will be cheaper to refurbish than build new diesels.

I believe tram-trains will be a success and that these could prove ideal to extend the Blackpool tramway. Incidentally, I’ve found a report on the Sintropher website, which details how the Blackpool tramway will be made compatible with tram-trains.

May 2, 2015 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Arguments Start On The Todmorden Curve

I’m not going to comment except suggest you read this article in the Burnley Express.

March 25, 2015 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment