The Anonymous Widower

Could A Class 399 Tram-Train With Batteries Go Between Manchester Victoria And Rochdale/Bury Bolton Street/Rawtenstall Stations?

In Rossendale Reopening Prospect, I looked at a proposal to run a new service between Manchester Victoria and Bury Bolton Street stations.

Could this route be run by a Class 399 tram-train with a battery capability?

These tram-trains would be very similar to the Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles, that have been specified for the South Wales Metro.

  • Wikipedia gives the weight of the vehicle as 66 tonnes.
  • Manchester Victoria has an altitude of 44 metres
  • Bury has an altitude of 100 metres.
  • Rochdale has an altitude of 137 metres.
  • Rawtenstall has an altitude of 174 metres.
  • I will assume 200 passengers at 90 Kg. each, which gives a weight of 12 tonnes.

Using Omni’s Potential Energy Calculator gives the following.

  • Manchester Victoria to Bury Bolton Street has an increase in potential energy of 12 kWh.
  • Manchester Victoria to Rochdale has an increase in potential energy of 20 kWh.
  • Manchester Victoria to Rawtenstall has an increase in potential energy of 28 kWh.

When you consider that a Class 230 train has 400 kWh of batteries in a two-car train, I don’t think that there will be any problem fitting batteries big enough to take a Class 399 tram-train from Manchester Victoria to Bury Bolton Street, Rochdale or Rawstenstall stations under battery power with a full load of passengers.

  • The batteries would be charged in Manchester Victoria station.
  • Returning to Manchester Victoria station would use a small amount of battery power, with some assistance from Newton’s friend; gravity.
  • The batteries would get a certain amount of charge from the regenerative braking of the tram-trains.

This Google Map shows the Eastern approaches into Manchester Victoria station.

Note.

  1. The four through platforms numbered 3 to 6.
  2. The two bay platforms numbered 1 and 2.
  3. The four platform faces and three tracks of the Metrolink.

Having seen several tram-train systems all over Europe, I believe it would be possible to connect tram-trains running on batteries on the Calder Valley Line to the Manchester Metrolink at Manchester Victoria station.

  • Going from Manchester to Bury Bolton Street, Rochdale or Rawtenstall, the tram-train would stop in the Manchester Victoria tram-stop, drop the pantograph and then continue on its way under battery power.
  • Returning from the North, the tram-train would stop in the Manchester Victoria tram-stop, raise the pantograph and then continue on its way using power from the overhead wires.
  • Batteries would be charged whilst running through Manchester.

There couldn’t be too many tram-train systems that would be easier to build than this?

It is interesting to note that Hebden Bridge station is just twenty-three miles from Manchester Victoria station and has an altitude of 190 metres.

So would it be possible for a Class 399 tram-train to reach Hebden Bridge station on battery power? I very much think it would be!

Class 399 Tram-Trains And Class 156 Trains

Class 156 trains are one of the better workhorses of the railways in the North and despite their age, they scrub up well.

If their performance is compared to that of a Class 399 tram-train, they are not that different.

  • Noise and vibration of the electric tram-train is obviously much lower.
  • The modern interior of the tram-train is geared to the needs of passengers.
  • Passenger capacity of the two vehicles is also about the same.
  • In Karlsruhe, tram-trains travel for up to 100 miles from the centre of the city.

Both Karlsruhe and Sheffield use three-car tram-trains, but Valencia uses much longer ones, so on heavily-used routes larger tram-trains could be used.

I doubt there would be many complaints, if a Class 156 service were to be replaced with one run by Class 399 tram-trains.

Electrification Of The Calder Valley Line

Electrifying the Calder Valley Line with 25 KVAC overhead wires as far as Rochdale station, would certainly make running to Hebden Bridge station possible.

  • That electrification  would also mean that electric trains could be turned-back at Rochdale station, just as diesel trains are now!
  • I have flown my helicopter along the route and it looks like of the seven or eight bridges on the route, mostly appear to be modern structures for new roads or motorways.
  • As 25 KVAC overhead electrification is currently being erected between Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge, a spur to Rochdale would be very much a simple addition.

It could be a very useful short length of electrification.

Tram-Trains In Manchester

This article on Rail Technology Magazine was puiblished yesterday and is entitled Plans For Tram-Trains In Manchester Unveiled As Grayling And Burnham Mull Expansion Of Metrolink.

Conclusion

Could we see tram-trains running from Bury Bolton Street, Hebden Bridge, Rawtenstall and Rochdale into Manchester Victoria and then taking to the existing tram network?

If you’ve ever been to Karlsruhe, as I have to see the Class 399 tram-trains German cousins, you wouldn’t rule out anything.

That would include tram-train services to Blackburn, Buxton, Chester, Glossop, Hebden Bridge, Sheffield, Southport and Wigan.

 

 

 

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

Rossendale Reopening Prospect

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in the February 2019 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is the opening two paragraphs.

A blend of heritage and commuter operations could be on the cards in Lancashire, if Rossendale Council’s plans proceed.

The borough is the only one in Lancashire without a main line rail service. A report commissioned by the council in partnership with Lancashire County Council suggests co-operating with the heritage East Lancashire Railway, which runs from Heywood to Rawstenstall, to introduce such a rail link for the borough.

Yesterday, I had a comment read out on the BBC, as I discussed in Wake Up To Money – New Stations.

Wake Up To Money yesterday was broadcast from Darwen, which is only a valley away from Rossendale.

One of the complaints on the program was about crowded roads and bad transport links to Manchester and Manchester Airport.

It looks to me, that the proposed Rossendale services will fulfil a similar need.

The main objective appears to be to create good links to Manchester and Manchester Airport, with a secondary objective of creating a link across the Pennines to Leeds with a change at Rochdale.

The article gives more details of the proposal.

Track

The plan envisages reinstating the route between Rawtenstall and Castleton Junction on the Calder Valley Line.

The section between Rawtenstall and Heywood stations, via Bury Bolton Street station is the heritage line of the East Lancashire Railway (ELR). It is best described as predominately single-track with passing loops.

The article says this about improving the track.

The section of the ELR from Bury Bolton Street to Heywood is envisaged as returning to Network Rail control but with the ELR having access. To facilitate timetabling of trains along the stretch, some double-tracking is expected to be required, although this is suggested to be a modest investment compared to most reopening schemes. Having the ELR on board as a co-operative partner is seen as key to the scheme’s success.

Having flown my virtual helicopter along the line, it looks to me, that it could become another scenic route out of Manchester.

Castleton Junction

This Google Map shows Castleton Junction, where the East Lancashire Line meets the Calder Valley Line.

Note.

  1. The Calder Valley Line runs North-South.
  2. The ELR goes off to the West.
  3. Castleton station is in the North-East corner of the map.

What was or is the large site to the North-West of the junction?

The Junction will need to be upgraded and resignalled.

Electrification

It would be very unlikely, that the route will be electrified.

Although, I suppose there is a chance, that the Calder Valley Line might be electrified, to create an electrified route between Leeds and Manchester Victoria.

If this were to happen, then there would be electrification between Manchester Victoria and Rochdale.

Castleton Junction, where the new route would join the Calder Valley Line would be electrified.

This would make it easier and more likely for battery-electric trains to work the new route.

Possible Routes

Three routes are suggesting in the article.

  1. Manchester Victoria and Bury Bolton Street
  2. Bury Bolton Street and Rochdale
  3. Bury Bolton Street and Rawtenstall – Peak-Hour shuttle.

It is suggested that the third route would be run by the ELR.

Rolling Stock

The article says this about rolling stock.

In terms of rolling stock, a suggested option is the use of Vivarail Class 230 units, operating under either diesel-electric or battery power. These could be used for ELR shuttle services in addition to or instead of existing heritage stock, as well as for services from Bury to Manchester.

The Class 230 trains are an obvious choice, but I think that other trains could also be suitable.

These are my thoughts.

Class 230 Trains

I described a ride in a Class 230 train in Battery Class 230 Train Demonstration At Bo’ness And Kinneil Railway.

The Class 230 train would have these characteristics.

  • The three-car train has a useful capacity of around 300 passengers.
  • The range on battery power should enable a service between Bury Bolton Road and Manchester Victoria stations.
  • The batteries can be charged in under ten minutes.
  • The operating speed is 60 mph.
  • The trains have been designed to be easy to service and this can be done on a remote basis.
  • The trains are of an age, to fit in well on a heritage railway.

The trains also have the advantage of large windows for looking at the scenery.

The trains would need to be charged at the end of the route and I suspect that Vivarail’s fast charging system would handle this in the terminal stations.

Class 769 Trains

Class 769 trains are electro-diesel trains, that use their diesel engines, where there is no 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

They are four-car trains with a passenger capacity of over 300 passengers.

They would have a very big advantage for the train operator.

Services across Manchester are often paired to give travellers the chance to do cross-city journeys without changing trains.

Using Class 769 trains would enable more services to be paired up.

Class 399 Tram-Trains

Class 399 tram-trains are under trial in Sheffield and they will also be used on the South Wales Metro.

The terrain in Rossendale involves a hundred metre or so climb from Bury Bolton Street to Rawtenstall. Rochdale is perhaps fifty metres higher than Bury Bolton Street.

Consider a Class 399 tram/train, working between Bury Bolton Street and Rawtenstall stsations.

  • Wikipedia gives the weight of the vehicle as 66 tonnes.
  • The altitude difference is 120 metres.
  • I will assume 200 passengers at 90 Kg. each, which gives a weight of 12 tonnes.

This means that the train has a increase of potential energy of 25 kWh at Rawtenstall station. This would be easily stored in an appropriately-sized traction battery.

It would appear that tram-trains should be able to climb to Rawtenstall, provided they could get to Bury with a full battery.

I look at this in detail in Could A Class 399 Tram-Train With Batteries Go Between Manchester Victoria And Rochdale/Bury Bolton Street/Rawtenstall Stations? 

Alstom Breeze Trains

Alston Breeze trains could be a possibility, if hydrogen trains are compatible with steam trains.

The trains would also be able to work across Manchester, as the Class 769 trains will be able to.

Diesel Multiple Units

Northern have lots of better quality diesel multiple units including Class 156 and Class 170 trains. The company also has around sixty new Class 195 diesel multiple units on order.

These could obviously handle the route, but would it be better to use battery or more capable bi-mode trains on the route?

Diesel Use In Manchester

I suspect too, that train companies, their staff, passengers and all Mancunians would like to see Central Manchester’s railways become a diesel-free zone.

Train Timings

I obviously don’t have accurate figures, but I have a feeling that most of these trains could do a round trip in an hour between Manchester Victoria and Bury Bolton Street stations. The Class 230 trains would probably have time for a fast charge at each end of the route.

My Choice Of Train

It will be Class 230 or Class 769 trains.

Both trains could work the services to Bury Bolton Street station from Manchester Victoria and Rochdale stations.

The Class 769 has two advantages.

  • It is the larger train.
  • It could use its electric capability to cross Manchester.

Both trains wouldn’t look out of place running a shuttle between Bury Bolton Street and Rawtenstall stations, as they are rebuilt trains from a previous era.

Stations

A few points about the existing stations.

Bury Bolton Street Station

Bury Bolton Street station has four platforms and will be the interchange between the new services and those of the ELR.

The station has a bay platform that faces South East.

With modern signalling, I would expect that it could handle four trains per hour (tph).

Perhaps, these could be two tph from both Manchester Victoria and Rochdale stations.

Heywood Station

This Google Map shows Heywood station.

At present it has a long single curved platform.

I suspect to accommodate the new services, which could be four tph in both directions, the station would need a second platform.

Ramsbottom Station

This Google Map shows Ramsbottom station.

It is a two platform station, which appears to be close to the Town Centre and a Tesco Superstore and a Morrison’s.

Rawtenstall Station

This Google Map shows Rawtenstall station.

Note, the train in the single platform with a run round loop for a locomotive.

The article says it would be possible to create a second platform at the station.

It would appear that if Class 230 trains were to be used for the proposed.Peak Hour service to Rawtenstall station, then there would be space for installing a fast charger.

Rochdale Station

Rochdale station will be a terminus for services from Bury Bolton Street station.

This paragraph in the Wikipedia entry for Rochdale station describes the new bay platform at the station and how it is used.

In 2015, construction on a fourth railway platform began. The 135m-long bay platform was completed in 2016 and is intended to relieve congestion at Manchester Victoria, where terminating trains would occupy the through platforms; numerous services now will continue on to Rochdale as opposed to terminating at Victoria. It is located at the south end of the main island platform, with the southbound through line having been re-aligned slightly further east to accommodate the new terminating line.

This section of the Calder Valley Line appears to be very busy with a train every four minutes.

I wonder, if by diverting some services to Bury Bolton Street station, this helps ease traffic on the Calder Valley Line.

Could trains do the following triangular route?

  • Manchester Victoria
  • Heywood
  • Bury Bolton Street
  • Heywood
  • Rochdale
  • Manchester Victoria

Train timetablers with much more knowledge than myself, will have fun getting a workable timetable.

New Stations

About half-a-dozen new stations will need to be built.

Most will probably be fairly simple affairs and those North of Bury Bolton Street station could probably by just a single platform.

There is one possibly proposed station, that could be more complicated.

Buckley Wells station could be built where the Bury Line of the Manchester Metrolink and the East Lancashire Line cross by the A56.

Park-and-Ride stations are also suggested in the article at Broadfield, Ewood Bridge, Heap Bridge and Stubbins.

Freight

The article also raises the possibility of running freight trains between the Calder Valley Line and Heywood.

This is said.

,The line could incorporate a rail connection to the 200-acre Heywood Distribution Park, currently served only by road, but adjacent to the existing ELR line. An intermodal rail freight terminal could be provided in the land around the existing distribution park, with sidings at least 500 metres in length needed to accommodate modern freight trains. Conversion into a Strategic Freight Interchange would remove significant numbers of HGVs from the congested strategic road network.

Would the implementation of this plan for freight be popular with the residents of Rossendale?

Conclusion

The proposal is a comprehensive one, which could benefit several groups.

  • The residents of Rossendale.
  • Vsitors to the area
  • Commuters to Manchester
  • Travellers across the Pennines
  • Travellers to Manchester Airport
  • Freight companies.

The proposal needs further investigation to see whether there is a strong business case for implementation.

I also think, that this sort of project model, where a heritage line is integrated with the National Rail network, can be repeated elsewhere in the country.

We have some very well-managed heritage railways in the UK, some of which could be extended to the National Rail network to provide much needed passenger and freight services to new and existing developments and difficult to access towns.

The rules need to be developed, so that these projects can be developed.

January 25, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Grayling Confirms Electrification Will Form Part Of £3bn TransPennine Upgrade

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

his is a key section of the article.

But now, in a letter to the Railway Industry Association (RIA), Grayling has finally confirmed that the TransPennine upgrade will be a “rolling programme of enhancements,” including both major civil engineering projects and electrification.

He wrote: “The key to delivering improved journey times on what is a very circuitous route through the Pennines involves rebuilding and relaying most of the track bed from Manchester to York.

“We are awaiting Network Rail’s final project plan, but we have instructed them to prioritise those elements which bring the quickest passenger benefits. This will include things like straightening lengths of track to improve line speed.”

If nothing else Chris Grayling’s comments appear to have been measured ones and not a quick response to ht out to shout down the various groups for whom nothing short of full electrification is an acceptable  solution.

The Routes Across The Pennines

There are three main routes across the Southern section of the Pennines. From North to South they are.

The Calder Valley Line from Manchester Victoria and Preston in the West to Leeds, Selby and York in the East via Hebden Bridge, Halifax and Bradford.

The Huddersfield Line from Manchester Airport, Piccadilly and Victoria in the West to Leeds, Hull and York in the East via Stalybridge, Huddersfield and Dewsbury.

The Hope Valley Line from Manchester Piccadilly in the West to Sheffield in the East.

Note.

  1. The three routes are much of a muchness with operating speeds in the region of 70-90 mph.
  2. There are good connections in the West with Blackpool, Chester, Liverpool and the West Coast Main Line.
  3. There are good connections in the East with Hull, Newcastle, York and the East Coast Main Line.
  4. Some connecting routes like the East and West Coast Main Lines are electrified 125 mph routes, but others like the connections to Chester, Hull and Scarborough are slower diesel routes.
  5. Some electrified routes like Liverpool to Manchester via Chat Moss, although they are electrified need speed improvements.
  6. The four major cities served by the three cross-Pennine routes; Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Sheffield all Have sizeable local tram or rail services.

If all these routes could be improved, they would create a core network of cross-Pennine routes.

There is also two other secondary routes that could be improved or created as diversion routes, whilst work is carried out on the main routes.

  • A conductor pointed out to me, that passenger trains can go between Blackburn and Leeds via the Ribble Valley Line and Skipton with a reverse at Hellifield station.
  • And then there’s the reopening of the route between Sklipton and Colne, which appears to be top of a lot of politicians and train companies lists.

Surely, these could be used to provide extra capacity if one of the Calder Valley or Huddersfield Lines was closed for improvement.

Some suggestions, I’ve seen about the Skipton to Colne Line, even say it could be used for freight.

I believe that with some measure of careful planning, the number of train paths across the Pennines can be increased, to an extend that would ease the improvement of the three main routes.

The Project Has A High Degree Of Difficulty and Complexity

The biggest upgrades of a UK railway in my time has been the electrification of these three main lines from London.

So how did Network Rail mess up on the Great Western, when British Rail completed the other lines without massive amounts of trouble?

Various reasons have been put forward, but I believe it has a lot ot do with the change of attitudes on the public’s behalf and new regulations in the intervening forty years.

As an example consider the electrification of the Grade II* Listed Digswell Viaduct in the 1970s. British Rail just did it and I don’t even know, if there were any objections.

Today, the Heritage lobby and various other pressure groups, would have had a field day. In the 1970s, most people accepted that the Government and Bitish Rail knew best.

Forty years ago, passengers accepted the disruption caused by works on the railways. Now they don’t and there are millions more regular travellers to complain.

Upgrading the main routes across the North have a lot of problems that will rear their ugly heads as the routes are upgraded.

  • Many of the routes are double-track lines hemmed in by cuttings, villages and towns.
  • There are large numbers of bridges, viaducts and level crossings on the routes.
  • Many of the routes have speed limits around 80 mph.
  • How good is the documentation of the routes?
  • Sitting in the middle of the routes is the Grade I Listed Huddersfield station and the Grade II Listed Hebden Bridge station.

To see the problem of these lines take the following trains.

  • Blackburn to Hebden Bridge
  • Hebden Bridge to Leeds
  • Leeds to Huddersfield
  • Huddersfield to Manchester Airport.

Take a break at the three intermediate stations.

  • Hebden Bridge station  is a gem of a Victorian station.
  • Leeds is a modern station overflowing with passengers.
  • Huddersfield station is one of the North’s great buildings.

In addition, note the number of arched stone bridges, that are probably not high enough for electrification.

To upgrade and electrify these lines is not the simpler project of say electrifying the Midland Main Line, where much of the route is in flat open country.

Throw Every Possible Proven Technique At The TransPennine Improvement

If ever there was a project, where one method doesn’t fit all, then this is that project.

Every sub-project of the work must be done in the best way for that sub-project.

Decisions must also be taken early, about factors that will influence the overall project.

I believe that Crossrail and the new South Wales Metro were designed using an holistic approach.

  • New trains have been designed in conjunction with the route.
  • Electrification has been simplified by innovations, like batteries on the trains.
  • Trains and platforms will fit each other.
  • Station design has evolved for efficient train operation.
  • Signalling will be digital to allow higher frequencies.

Because of the complexity and importance of the overall TransPennine project, only the best solutions will do!

Some will definitely not be invented here!

A few of my thoughts follow!

A Rolling Programme Of Improvements

This would be a good idea, as improvements can be done in what is the best order for all the stakeholders.

For instance there might be a bridge that will need to be replaced because it is too low and/or structurally, it is approaching the end of its life.

  • But it will cause massive disruption to replace.
  • On the other hand once replaced it might cut perhaps ten minutes from journeys passing through, as the track can be straightened.

Perhaps it will be better to bite the bullet and get this project done early? In the past, I feel Network Rail has often delayed tackling difficult projects. But if they did a good on-time job, it might help to convince people, that they mean what they say in future.

Improving The Tracks

I said earlier, that Chris Grayling wrote this.

The key to delivering improved journey times on what is a very circuitous route through the Pennines involves rebuilding and relaying most of the track bed from Manchester to York.

No building, no matter how humble or grand can be built without sound foundations.

What Chris Grayling said would be a good way to start the project.

It would give the following benefits.

  • Operating speeds might be raised in places.
  • Important loops and crossovers, that have been needed for decades could be added.
  • Structures like bridges, past their useful life could be replaced.
  • Some level crossings could be removed.

If it were done thoroughly, passengers would see reduced journey times.

The new rolling stock that is already on order for the route would be able to work the various TransPennine routes when they are delivered.

At the end of the work, Network Rail would also have a fully-surveyed railway in tip-top condition.

Electrification

It is my belief that to electrify a new or well-surveyed rebuilt existing railway, is much easier than electrifying an existing route.

If parts of the improved route are to be electrified, it would be like electrifying a new railway.

These points should be noted.

  • Old mine workings and other Victorian horrors were found, when trying to electrify through Bolton.
  • On the Gospel Oak to Barking Line in North London, they found an undocumented sewer.
  • To sort out the electrification between Preston and Blackpool, Network Rail shut the route and rebuilt the railway before electrifying it.

A similar approach to Preston and Blackpool might help on sections of the main TransPennine routes.

It may be a more expensive process with all the surveying and rebuilding, but it would appear to a more safety-first approach.

The Stone Bridges And Discontinuous Electrification

I’d be very interested to know how many of those bridges could be handled using discontinuous electrification.

The wires go through the bridge in the normal way, but the section under the bridge that possibly could be a safety hazard, is earthed so that there is a dead section of wire.

The section is insulated from the 25 KVAC wires on either side by something like a ceramic rod, so that the trains’ pantographs can ride through easily under the bridge.

The disadvantage is the trains need batteries for power, where there is none coming from the overhead wire.

The technique has already been earmarked for the electrification of the South Wales Metro.

Tunnel Electrification

Crossrail and the Severn Tunnel do not use conventional electrification. A rail is fixed in the roof and the pantograph runs on the rail.

The TransPennine routes have numerous tunnels and I believe that many could be electrified in this way.

It might even be possible to automate the process, as it was in the Crossrail tunnels. But they were modern concrete tunnels, not Victorian ones with uneven surfaces.

On the other hand there are a lot of old tunnels in the UK, that need to be electrified.

Viaduct Electrification

This picture shows Bank Top Viaduct in Burnley

I can’t understand why, viaducts like these aren’t electrified using a third-rail.

  • Third rail electrification works for most applications as well as overhead.
  • Working on overhead electrification on a viaduct, is not a job for some.
  • There is no visual intrusion with third rail.
  • The power could only be switched on, when a train is connected.

On the other hand dual-voltage trains, that could switch quickly between systems at line speed would be needed.

Station Electrification

I also think that third-rail electrification can be used in stations where overhead electrification would be difficult or intrusive.

Battery,Bi-Mode And Hydrogen Trains

Train manufacturers are not stupid and want to increase their profits.

  • Alstom are developing fleets of hydrogen trains.
  • Bombardier are developing 125 mph bi-mode trains with batteries.
  • CAF are developing battery and bi-mode trains.
  • Stadler are developing trains with batteries and/or diesel power.

I suspect all these companies and others, see more trains can be sold, if innovative trains can run without the necessity of full electrification.

I also suspect many rail operators would prefer to spend money on shiny new trains, than on disruptive and ugly electrification.

Remember too, that batteries will improve.

Conclusion

I can see several techniques that could be applied to make electrification of some parts of the TransPennine routes.

 

July 25, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 3 Comments

Between Hebden Bridge And Burnley Manchester Road Stations In The Snow

I took these pictures from a train between Hebden Bridge and Burnley Manchester Road stations on the Calder Valley Line.

I believe that the area has some of the most scenic rail lines in the UK.

Electrification

It runs between the hills with lots of bridges and viaducts.

There are four tunnels; Weasel Hall , Castle Hill , Horsfall and Millwood on this section of the route.

It would not be an easy line to electrify with 25 KVAC overhead wires, from an engineering, political or environmental point of view.

This is a route though that needs to be improved.

I travelled on a Class 158 train, which are a 90 mph diesel multiple unit. But it was struggling to do 40 mph in the conditions.

Conclusion

Electrification may be an ideal, but Network Rail should first improve the line, so that the current trains and the future 100 mph Class 195 trains can realise their full potential.

 

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

Hebden Bridge Station

Hebden Bridge Station is Grade II Listed and is a busy station in West Yorkshire on the Calder Valley Line.

The service through the station is being improved.

The Wikipedia entry for the station has a section called Future Improvements. This is said.

The station will see a variety of improvements to facilities and train services from March 2017 onwards, as part of an investment package for the Calder Valley line as a whole. New lifts are finally to be installed to make both platforms fully accessible, whilst track and signalling upgrades will help reduce journey times in both directions and allow more trains to run to/from Bradford. This will result in the closure of the listed signal box here by October 2018, with control passing over to the Rail Operating Centre at York. New rolling stock and timetable improvements will then follow, with regular through trains to Liverpool Lime Street, Manchester Airport and Chester by late 2019.

Note the parcel lifts in the pictures, which will be converted for passenger use.

Turnback Facility

The pictures also show the turnback facility at the station, which allows trains to arrive from the West in the Westbound platform and then changeover to the Eastbound platform to go back to Manchester or Preston or perhaps other destinations in the future.

Electrification

When I first saw this Victorian station, I came to the conclusion, that it would be difficult to electrify in a sympathetic manner with 25 KVAC overhead wires, without upsetting English Heritage.

Now the Government has decided that there will only be selective electrification, I suspect Network Rail will file Hebden Bridge station in the tray marked Too Difficult.

But I also think that the station could be electrified using innovative methods to improve the passenger service in terms of frequency and times.

Consider.

  • Modern bi-mode trains can switch between power sources automatically.
  • Modern electric trains can raise and lower the pantograph quickly and automatically.
  • Most modern electric trains made for the UK, can be fitted with third-rail contact shoes.
  • To the West of the station, there are a succession of tunnels, that might be possible to electrify using overhead rails.
  • Zero-carbon power sources for short lengths of electrification exist, as I wrote about in Solar Power Could Make Up “Significant Share” Of Railway’s Energy Demand.
  • Although solar power might not be appropriate here, short lengths of third-rail electrification may be suitable.
  • The turnback facility could also be electrified with third-rail to charge trains fitted with batteries.

Somewhere in my ramblings, I’m sure a solution exists to make Hebden Bridge an environmentally-friendly power station in the heart of the Pennines.

The Ordsall Effects

There is now a large brown steel elephant in the North, in the shape of the Ordsall Chord in Manchester, that connects most of Central Manchester’s stations together and to the Airport.

  • Hebden Bridge is between thirty and forty-five minutes from Manchester Victoria station, depending on if you get a  semi-fast or stopping train.
  • Northern have plans to extend these Manchester Victoria to Leeds services all the way to the Airport.
  • In fact from Monday, some of these services now terminate at Manchester Oxford Road station.
  • When I mentioned to the lady in the cafe, that services would go to Manchester Airport within months, she was surprised and very pleased.

I suspect that Hebden Bridge will be one of the tourism centres of the North that will substantially benefit from a direct link to Manchester Airport created by the Ordsall Chord.

But this could only be the start.

To maximise the benefits of the Ordsall Chord, Northern and Network Rail will want to connect services that go North and South of Manchester, back-to-back across the City.

Northern have already said, that they’ll be trains going from Hebden Bridge to Chester and Liverpool by late 2019.

But I suspect these two cities won’t be the only ones getting a quality service from Hebden Bridge.

If the service ran directly over the Ordsall Chord, then historic Buxton and well-connected Crewe must be possibilities.

That turnback facility is starting to look important, as not all services will be needed to cross the Pennines.

Westwards To Preston, Blackpool and Liverpool

Currently, the only Westbound service is an hourly train to Preston and Blackpool North.

It is not enough.

The proposed Liverpool service from Hebden Bridge, that starts in late 2019, can either go via Manchester or Preston.

If it were to be the latter, a second fast train every hour, connecting Burnley, Blackburn and Preston would certainly be welcomed on what can be a very overcrowded line.

As all Calder Valley Line services stop at Hebden Bridge, the Ordsall Chord and Northern’s plans seem to be giving the town, a more than worthwhile economic boost.

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

Lord Adonis On Crossrail Of The North

There has been a lot of talk recently about HS3, Northern Powerhouse Rail or Crossrail Of The North.

On Radio 5 Live, this morning, Lord Adonis said a lot of sensible things about the high speed line from Liverpool to Hull via Manchester and Leeds.

His plea was for a plan for a start and he suggested that an objective would be to halve the journey time from Manchester to Leeds and have a train every few minutes.

He suggested it could be probably built using a mixture of new track alignments and existing railways.

I agree with what he said, but the problem is that every Tom, Dick and Harriet has their own ideas of what they want.

How Would I Design Crossrail Of The North?

I can at least look at this without favouring any one of the North’s great urban area.

Urban Areas Of The North

I will list those with populations of over 200,000,, from this list in Wikipedia.

  • Manchester – 2,553,379
  • West Yorkshire – 1,777,934
  • Liverpool – 864,122
  • Tyneside – 774,891
  • Nottingham – 729,977
  • Sheffield – 685,368
  • Teeside – 376,633
  • Stoke-on-Trent – 372,775
  • Sunderland – 335,415
  • Birkenhead – 325,264
  • Hull – 314,018
  • Preston – 313,322
  • Blackpool – 239,409
  • Barnsley – 223,281

Urban areas with populations between 100,000 and 200,000 include Wigan, Mansfield, Warrington, Doncaster, York, Burnley, Blackburn, Grimsby, Accrington, Burton, Lincoln and Chesterfield.

Some of the connections between pairs of these areas are truly dreadful despite being only fifty or so files apart.

Northern Connect

I would think it reasonable that all these centres of population have good, preferably direct,  connections between them.

Northern obviously think this way as they are creating a concept called Northern Connect, using new Class 195 trains to connect many of these areas with a quality service.

The North TransPennine Routes

TransPennine operate these North Pennine  routes.

  • 1 train per hour (tph) – Liverpool Lime Street to Newcastle
  • 1 tph – Manchester Airport to Middlesbrough
  • 1 tph – Manchester Airport to York
  • 1 tph – Liverpool Lime Street – Scarborough
  • 1 tph – Manchester Piccadilly to Hull

Note that the opening of the Ordsal Chord iin a few months, might change the routing of some of these services.

All of these services use the Huddersfield Line between Manchester and Leeds, stopping at both Huddersfield and Leeds stations.

Manchester Victoria To Leeds

As Lord Adonis said, the important section is between Manchester Victoria and Leeds stations.

I’ll start with a comparison of a series of rail journeys, all of which are about the same length.

  1. The fastest trains between Manchester Victoria and Leeds take forty-nine minutes, with a stop at Huddersfield, and are just 1 tph
  2. Norwich to Ipswich in a couple of years, will take 30 minutes at a frequency of 3 tph.
  3. Glasgow to Edinburgh currently takes about fifty minutes, at a frequency of 4 tph.
  4. Cardiff to Swansea currently takes 52-54 minutes, at a frequency of 2 tph.

It does seem that the North has a point if  two of East Anglia’s larger cities get a better service than Leeds and Manchester.

The Huddersfield Line And The Great Eastern Main Line Compared

It is also enlightening to compare the Manchester to Leeds Line via Huddersfield to Ipswich To Norwich section of the Great Eastern Main Line.

It should be noted that I’m comparing these two lines, as both have lived on scraps from Central Government for decades. I also know the Great Eastern Main Line well!

  • Both lines are double-track.
  • Norwich-Ipswich is flat.
  • The Huddersfield Line is rather hilly
  • Norwich-Ipswich has only two stations and only the occasional slower service.
  • The Huddersfield Line has numerous stations and local services.
  • Norwich-Ipswich is electrified to a robust standard.
  • On the Huddersfield Line, only Manchester to Stalybridge is scheduled for electrification.
  • Norwich-Ipswich has a 100 mph speed limit, that could possibly be raised in places.
  • I can’t find the speed limit on the Huddersfield Line, but suspect it could be less than 100 mph.

It is truthful to say that the Huddersfield Line is a much more challenging route than the Norwich to Ipswich.

The Effect Of Electrification On The Great Eastern Main Line

It might appear that the electrification of the Great Eastern Main Line makes for the difference in times.

But it should also be remembered that Ipswich to Norwich wasn’t electrified until the mid 1980s and if I remember correctly before that date, the fastest expresses were timed at two hours from Norwich to London with just two stops. The fastest services now are ten minutes under two hours with four stops.

With the introduction of the new Class 745 trains, timings of ninety minutes have been promised to the Department for Transport.

Timings did not drop significantly with the electrification in the mid-1980s, Services just became more reliable with more stops, as electric trains can accelerate better.

The decrease in timings over the next few years will be down to the following.

  • Removal of bottlenecks like Trowse Bridge.
  • Increase in speed limits.
  • Trains with a shorter dwell time at stations.
  • Trains with better acceleration and braking.
  • Improved track and signalling.
  • All passenger trains on the line will have the same performance.

I will be very interested to see what timings, the Class 745 trains eventually achieve!

Electrifying Between Leeds And Manchester Victoria Stations

It looks like the electrification between Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge stations will be complete by the end of this year.

The central section of the route is problematical with the Grade 1 Listed Huddersfield station and large numbers of bridges.

In TransPennine Electrification And Piccadilly Upgrade Now Also In Doubt, I came to these conclusions about electrifying the route.

  1. Electrification would not go anywhere near Huddersfield, as the heritage lobby and their lawyers would have a field day.

  2. Standedge and Morley tunnels are over 2,000 metres long, double track and Standedge is level. If they needed refurbishment in the future, perhaps they could be electrified with an overhead rail, so that bi-modes could have a couple of miles of electricity.

  3. Electrification might be extended at the Manchester and Leeds ends of the line, so that the two cities could improve their local suburban electric networks.

  4. An alternative would be that the Leeds and Manchester suburban electric networks were provided with a few Class 769 trains or even some brand new four-car bi-modes.

  5. Services between Leeds and Manchester would be run by fast bi-modes.

Is there a more difficult stretch of possible electrification in the UK?

The Ultimate Bi-Mode Train

Currently four bi-mode trains are planned for introduction into the UK.

Note.

  • Two hundred and eleven bi-mode trains have been ordered.
  • Nineteen Class 802 trains have been ordered for TransPennine routes.

In Do Class 800/801/802 Trains Use Batteries For Regenerative Braking?, I look at the prospect of using energy storage in Hitachi’s bi-mode trains.

The Class 802 train is probably something like the ultimate bi-mode train.

  • 125 mph using electrification.
  • 100 mph under diesel power
  • Regenerative braking at all times using energy storage.
  • Automatic pantograph raising and lowering.
  • Sophisticated in-cab signalling.

Obviously, interior fitment would be up to the operator.

Class 195 Trains

Northern is acquiring 25 x two-car and 30 x three-car Class 195 trains.

These are 100 mph trains, so it must be a good idea to make sure all Northern services that use the same routes as TransPennine services are run by these faster trains.

Short/Medium Term – A Classic Manchester Victoria To Leeds Route

TransPennine Express are already planning to run Class 802 trains between Liverpool and Newcastle via Manchester and Leeds. It looks to me, that whoever plans their train policy, saw the electrification crisis coming.

I wonder what times they can achieve between Leeds and Manchester Victoria, if the following were to be done.

  • Stalybridge to Manchester Victoria electrification is complete.
  • Track and signalling is the best it can be.
  • The route has a 100 mph operating speed.
  • All trains on the route are 100 mph capable.
  • Northern replaces their scrapyard specials with Class 195 trains.

The reason for the same operating speed of 100 mph, enables trains to follow each other in a stream. It could be 90 mph, if that was easier for the route.

Station dwell times can also be reduced.

Due to overcrowding, the TransPennine dwell times, must currently be some of the worst in the UK.

This is typical at Huddersfield.

Not even the Japanese with their pushers could get this to work.

But a modern train like the Class 802 train with wide lobbies and adequate capacity should cope.

So what time could be possible, if everything goes as planned?

If Norwich to Ipswich which is about the same distance as Leeds to Manchester, can be achieved in thirty minutes, I believe it is possible that the Northern route could be achieved in the same time or perhaps thirty-five minutes.

Thirty-five minutes should be adequate for a few years, if say there was a train every ten minutes!

Long Term – A Genuine High Speed Manchester Victoria To Leeds Route

I’ve flown my virtual helicopter between Manchester and Leeds and it is not flat agricultural land like seventy percent of the route of HS2.

I believe that creating a genuine high speed route, with say a 140 mph top speed across the Pennines will be a major engineering challenge that will make Crossrail in London look easy.

It may even be more economic to develop 140 mph hydrogen-powered tilting trains, that can run on the classic route at 125 mph.

Only one thing matters to passengers; a fast reliable and very comfortable and affordable  train service across the country.

Manchester Victoria To Manchester Airport

When the Ordsall Chord opens any Leeds to Manchester Victoria service can continue to Deansgate, Oxford Road, Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport stations.

Manchester Victoria To Liverpool

Currently, services between Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Victoria stations take a few minutes over half-an-hour.

I would suspect that thirty minutes is achievable, if the following is done.

  • The four-tracking at Huyton is completed.
  • Track and signalling is the best it can be.
  • The route has a 100 mph operating speed.
  • All trains on the route are 100 mph capable.
  • Northern replaces their scrapyard specials with Class 195 trains.

I suspect all of this is in progress.

Note, this is very similar work, to that needed between Manchester and Leeds.

Leeds To Hull

Currently, services between Leeds and Hull stations take a few minutes under an hour.

A few thoughts on the route.

  • The Selby Line from  Leeds to Hull is double-track and not electrified.
  • From my virtual helicopter, it appears to be straight in very flat country, so it is no wonder Hull Trains offered to electrify the line.
  • If the Selby swing bridge were to be sorted, it could become a 100 mph line with trains to match.
  • Northern replaces their scrapyard specials with Class 195 trains.
  • Modern in-cab signalling.

I suspect quite a few minutes could be taken off this route which is about fifty miles.

I suspect this line will eventually be electrified, as it could give sound time savings and it looks relatively easy.

York To Scarborough

Currently, services between York and Scarborough stations take forty-nine minutes, with one tph.

  • Similar improvements to the double-track unelectrified line as for the Leeds to Hull route, could be made.
  • But if the line has a problem , it is that it has 89 level crossings, although Network Rail intends to close them all before 2025.

I wonder, if the time can be reduced between York and Scarborough, such that two tph can be timetabled.

I doubt York to Scarborough will be electrified.

Northallerton To Middlesbrough

This short line is quite heavily used and is a valuable diversion route, so I suspect nothing urgent needs to be done.

Like Leeds to Hull, I suspect this line will eventually be electrified.

Conclusions

I have come to the following conclusions.

  • Manchester Victoria to Leeds is achievable in half-an-hour with the new trains on order and no major infrastructure, other than that already planned.
  • Any line where TransPennine Express services run needs to have the highest possible operating speed and no slow trains.
  • Northern need to get their Class 195 trains into service as soon as possible.

Improvements are much-needed in the North, which could include.

  • A short/medium term plan to deliver the best possible service with the new trains ordered by Northern and TransPennine Express.
  • A long term plan to deliver a genuine 140 mph service across the North of England.
  • A plan to improve the Calder Valley and Hope Valley Lines across the Pennines.
  • A plan to improve some of the poor connections across the North.
  • A strategy to make the best use of connections with HS2.

A detailed plan is needed that lays down what should be done in the next ten to twenty years.

The plan is also needed as soon as possible.

 

 

 

 

 

August 23, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Crossrails For The North

Regularly there are references in the media for Crossrail for the North.

This article in Rochdale Online is entitled Andy Burham calls for ‘Crossrail for North’

Note that the misspelling of Andy Burnham; the Mayor of Manchester’s name is from the web site.

Andy Burnham and many others have a point that West-East connections across the North are not good, but it is not that simple.

Hence the reason, I’ve called this post Crossrails For The North and not Crossrail For The North.

Northern And London Crossrails Compared

If you look at Greater London, the distance between Reading and Shenfield stations, which are two of the termini of London’s Crossrail, is about eighty miles and when Crossrail opens a train will take about one hour forty minutes.

By comparison, Liverpool to Leeds is just over seventy miles and the current fastest trains take ninety minutes with two stops at Manchester Victoria and Huddersfield stations.

Those that live East of Leeds, keep reading.

The differences between the two routes, when Crossrail opens will be mainly down to the number of stops, frequency and connectivity.

  • The Northern Route is shorter and hence marginally faster.
  • The London route has more stops.
  • The London route has a higher frequency.
  • The London route is electrified.
  • The London route will be served by specially-designed Class 345 trains.

But possibly most importantly, the London route connects to a large number of North-South cross-city railways.

It is sensible to think of London’s Crossrail as a loose ball of chunky knitting wool with a big fat needle stuck through it.

The ball of knitting wool is Central London with all its Underground and Overground Lines.

Crossrail is the big fat needle struck right through the middle.

You could actually argue that not just one big fat needle is through the middle, as Crossrail is paralleled by some of London’s historic Underground Lines.

Crossrail is going to be a massive playground for the duckers-and-divers, as they search for the fastest route.

How London Crossrail Will Develop

London Crossrail is not a complete system, with certain connections not of the best.

  • Eurostar from St. Psncras International
  • HighSpeed services from Stratford International
  • HS2
  • Piccadilly Line
  • Scottish and Northern services from Euston and Kings Cross
  • Victoria Line

Several of these connections can be addressed by smaller projects like the necessary rebuilding of tube stations like Bank, Charing Cross, Euston and Oxford Circus.

A lot of London politicians are pushing for Crossrail 2 , but London will be given a big increase in capacity with Crossrail and I think there is an opportunity to redefine the scope of the later project, in the light of what happens after Crossrail opens.

Consider the following, which will happen after Crossrail opens.

  • Huge pedestrianisation will happen in the City of London and the West End.
  • Hopefully, walking in large parts of Central London will improve to the standard of the bus- and car-free Central Liverpool.
  • On foot interchanges like Oxford Circus-Bond Street and Bank-Liverpool Street will be easier and quicker than now.
  • The long-neglected and ill-fated Northern City Line is getting new trains, higher frequencies and hopefully a deep-clean of the stations.
  • Liverpool Street and Moorgate stations will effectively become one station with world class connectivity.
  • The Waterloo and City Line will be improved and probably go 24/7!
  • Waterloo station will get a forty percent capacity increase this summer.
  • The Northern Line Extension to Battersea will open in 2020.
  • New trains will have been delivered for London Overground’s Liverpool Street and Gospel Oak to Barking services.

Londoners will fully exploit the network and importantly Transport for London will have detailed information from the ticketing system on the routes taken and the bottlenecks as they develop.

Access For All

Access for All is a National programme, that is making stations all over the country accessible to as many passengers as possible.

Check the list of stations being updated under Access For All

After the General Election, I would not be surprised to see funding for this programme increased all over the country, as it is both necessary and a quick way to attract more passengers to the railways.

New Stations

Since 2000, seventy-four new stations have opened or reopened.

I can rarely remember stations reopening last century, but the 4-5 new stations every year since the turn of the Millennium, seems to have continued this year with the opening of Cambridge North, Ilkeston and Low Moor

The New Franchises

Five franchises have been awarded lately.

  • Greater Anglia
  • Northern
  • ScotRail
  • South Western Trains
  • TransPennine

A feature of all these franchises is that the operators are introducing a lot of new trains and substantially refurbishing others.

Will this trend continue?

Obviously, the operators have done their sums and find that new trains attract more passengers.

There is a major problem with new trains, in that capacity to build them must be getting very short. I also don’t think that Chinese trains will be welcomed.

If I was Prime Minister, I’d make sure there was enough capacity to build and refurbish trains in the United Kingdom.

Building Crossrail 2

There is no doubt that at some time in the future, Crossrail 2 will be built.

But unlike Crossrail, which is a massive project similar in size to the Channel Tunnel,, the electrification of the Great Western Railway or HS2, it is a collection of smaller projects that can be phased over the years, with each phase giving substantial benefits to London, train companies and passengers, be they Londoners, commuters, visitors or tourists.

I would build it in the following sequence of sub-projects.

  1. Four-Tracking Of The West Anglia Main Line – Extra capacity on the West Anglia Main Line is needed for both improved London-Stansted-Cambridge services and Crossrail 2.
  2. New High-Capacity Crossrail-Compatible Trains North of London – Greater Anglia and London Overground have already ordered these trains to replace the current thirty-year-old trains.
  3. Station Improvements North of London – Improvement are much needed and are already planned and underway at Tottenham Hale and Meridian Water.
  4. Improve Connection To Sub-Surface Lines At St. Pancras Station – The current connectivity is terrible between these lines and Thameslink and the HighSpeed lines to Kent.
  5. Connect Euston Square Tube Station To Euston Station To Give Extra Capacity During Euston Rebuilding For HS2
  6. Introduction Of A New Stratford-Tottenham Hale-Angel Road Service – The delivery date for STAR is 2019.
  7. Introduction Of Chingford-Walthamstow-Stratford Services – This would improve access to Crossrail and take pressure from the Victoria Line.
  8. New Stansted And Cambridge Services From Stratford – Greater Anglia have suggested this and there’s even an unused loop at Stratford, that could be used to turn trains and allow them to call at Stratford International for Eurostar to the Continent and HighSpeed services to Kent.
  9. More Terminal Capacity for Trains From North of London – The Stratford loop would increase the terminal capacity for Greater Anglia and also give access to the Jubilee Line for London Bridge, Waterloo and Westminster.
  10. Use Improved Capacity At Waterloo To Increase Services On Proposed Crossrail 2 Southern Branches – The extra capacity should help.
  11. New High-Capacity Crossrail-Compatible Trains South of London – South Western Trains have indicated this will happen.
  12. Station Improvements South of London – Improvements are much needed.
  13. Rebuild Euston Tube Station In Cnjunction With HS2

Only when these phases are completed, would the central tunnel  be bored.

This step-by-step approach has several advantages.

  • The pace of the project can be geared to the finance and resources available.
  • Some developments can have a significant local design and scope input.
  • Much needed stations can be built early to generate passengers and cash flow.
  • Trains can be follow-on orders to Crossrail.
  • The suburban sections of the route will always be available for passenger traffic.

When Crossrail 2 is complete, the second big fat knitting needle has been stuck in the ball of wool.

What Can The North Learn From London?

I would argue that one of the keys to London’s success over the years has been its comprehensive multi-layered public transport system.

  • Crossrail, Crossrail 2, Thameslink and the Overground could be considered the top layer.
  • The Underground, the Docklands Light Railway and the suburban electric trains are the middle layer.
  • Buses form the local and bottom layer.

Underneath a walking and cycling layer is emerging.

The North of England can be considered a series of local transport networks, which are connected by a series of major lines, which are equivalent to London’s Crossrail, Crossrail 2 etc.

Northern Connect

I find it interesting that Northern are introducing a Northern Connect service, which Wikipedia describes as follows.

From December 2019, Northern will operate a network of twelve Northern Connect interurban express services. Eleven of these will be operated by brand-new Class 195 diesel multiple units and Class 331 electric multiple units, whilst the Middlesbrough to Carlisle via Newcastle route will be operated by refurbished Class 158 units.

Places that will be served by Northern Connect routes include Bradford, Chester, Halifax, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Nottingham, Newcastle, Preston, Sheffield, Barnsley, Lincoln, Wakefield and York.

Local Networks In The North

Some of the local Northern networks in places like Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield are certainly better than others.

It could also be argued that the six cities I named, are among the most successful and vibrant cities of the North.

I feel that for the railways to be successful in the North and for some cities to have a major improvement in prosperity, that some of the local networks need substantial improvement.

TransPennine And Feeder Routes

The starting point is to detail the Northern Connect and TransPennine Express services in the North.

The Northern Connect services given in the January 2016 Edition of Modern Railways are as follows.

  • Middlesbrough to Newcastle
  • Newcastle to Carlisle
  • Hull to Sheffield
  • Nottingham to Bradford via Leeds
  • Lincoln to Leeds via Sheffield and Barnsley
  • Liverpool to Manchester Airport via Warrington
  • Chester to Leeds via Warrington, Manchester Victoria and the Calder Valley
  • Blackpool North to York via Preston and Leeds
  • Barrow to Manchester Airport
  • Bradford to Manchester Airport via the Calder Valley.
  • Blackpool to Manchester Airport
  • Windermere to Manchester Airport

I suspect plans have changed since January 2016, but the possible routes are a good start.

According to Wikipedia, TransPennine routes are as follows.

  • Liverpool Lime Street to Newcastle via Manchester Victoria, Huddersfield, Leeds and York
  • Manchester Airport to Middlesbrough via Manchester Piccadilly, Huddersfield, Leeds and York
  • Manchester Airport to York via Manchester Piccadilly, Huddersfield and Leeds
  • Liverpool Lime Street to Scarborough via Manchester Piccadilly, Huddersfield, Dewsbury, Leeds and York
  • Manchester Piccadilly to Hull via Huddersfield, Dewsbury, Leeds and Selby
  • Manchester Airport to Cleethorpes via Manchester Piccadilly, Stockport, Sheffield, Meadowhall and Doncaster
  • Manchester Airport to Edinburgh Waverley/Glasgow Central via Manchester Piccadilly

These routes will change in the next year, when the Ordsall Chord opens.

The opening of the chord, may mean that certain services to Manchester Airport, will not need to reverse at Manchester Piccadilly.

Summarising the East-West routes across the Pennines gives.

  • Newcastle to Carlisle
  • Manchester Victoria to Leeds via the Calder Valley Line
  • Manchester Victoria to Leeds via Huddersfield
  • Blackpool North to Leeds via Preston and the Calder Valley Line
  • Manchester Piccadilly to Doncaster via the Hope Valley Line and Sheffield

None of these lines are fully electrified.

They are also connected to their ultimate destinations by feeder lines.

  • Liverpool to Manchester Airport via Warrington
  • Chester to Manchester Victoria via Warrington
  • Liverpool to Manchester Victoria
  • Leeds to Newcastle via York
  • York to Middlesbrough
  • York to Scarborough
  • Leeds to Hull

Only the following lines will be fully electrified by December 2017.

  • Liverpool to Manchester Victoria
  • The West Coast Main Line
  • The East Coast Main Line
  • Some Suburban Routes in Blackpool, Liverpool, Manchester and Preston
  • Some Suburban Routes in Bradford and Leeds

Most of the routes will have to be run by diesel or bi-mode trains.

The Crossrails For The North

There are five East-West routes across the Pennines used by Northern Connect and TransPennine Express.

  • Newcastle to Carlisle
  • Manchester Victoria to Leeds via the Calder Valley Line
  • Manchester Victoria to Leeds via Huddersfield
  • Blackpool North to Leeds via Preston and the Calder Valley Line
  • Manchester Piccadilly to Doncaster via the Hope Valley Line and Sheffield

To these I would add two extra lines.

  • Leeds to Carlisle via Settle
  • Preston to Leeds via Burnley, Colne and Skipton.

Note

  1. I have added the Settle-Carlisle Line, as it is world-renowned, is in excellent condition and if provided with a decent train service, could be a major attraction, that would bring tourists to the area.
  2. The Skipton to Colne Line should be reinstated, to create a direct connection between the electrified local networks servingLeeds/Bradford and Liverpool/Manchester/Preston.

But there would be seven magnificent routes across the Pennines, which could be updated to the following objectives.

  • Frequent trains on all lines with at least two trains per hour (tph)
  • 100 mph running where possible.
  • As high a frequency as possible on the core section between Manchester Victoria and Leeds. Plans exist for six tph, which is a good start.
  • In the East trains would fan out to Cleethorpes, Grimsby, Hull, Newcastle and Scarborough, as they do now.
  • In the West trains would fan out to Blackpool, Chester, Crewe and Liverpool.
  • Lots of cross-platform connections at stations like Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester Victoria, Newcastle, Preston and York with long distance North-South services to London and the South and Scotland.
  • All stations would be step-free with lifts or ramps.

In addition provision should be made early to make sure that there are good connections to HS2.

Electrification

Obviously, electrification would be an ultimate goal on all these East-West routes.

But there are various problems with the electrification of the Peenine sections of the routes.

  • These lines have large numbers of low bridges and high viaducts.
  • Electrification would need to be robust because of the weather.
  • Electrification gantries might not fit well in the scenery.
  • Installation and servicing of overhead electrification may not be an easy process.

On the other hand, the noise of diesel trains might not be welcomed.

However, I believe that in the next ten years much quieter self-powered trains will be commonplace.

At the present time, if diesel or bi-mode trains are acceptable, then they should be used to provide a service.

Looking at the various feeder routes to the East and West of the Pennine sections, it is a different matter.

  • Routes are less challenging.
  • There are fewer bridges and viaducts.
  • Installation and servicing of overhead electrification would be easier.

There is already a lot of electrification at the East and West, which could be extended to places like Chester, Hull and Middlesbrough.

A Pennine core without difficult electrification, between electrified feeder routes may be the most efficient way to run the routes using bi-mode trains.

It might be sensible to use Class 88 bi-mode locomotives instead of the currently proposed Class 68 locomotives with rakes of coaches, as is planned by TransPennine Express.

A Hull to Liverpool service would run under the following power.

  • Hull to Bradford via Leeds – Electricity
  • Bradford to Stalybridge- Diesel
  • Stalybridge to Liverpool via Manchester Victoria – Electricity.

Around thirty miles would be on diesel and the difficult electrification in the Pennines would be avoided.

Infrastructure

This table is a brief summary of the routes.

  • Newcastle to Carlisle – Double track, 18 stations
  • Manchester Victoria to Leeds via the Calder Valley Line – Double track – 17 stations
  • Manchester Victoria to Leeds via Huddersfield – Double track – 14 stations
  • Blackpool North to Leeds via Preston and the Calder Valley Line – Double track – 14 stations
  • Manchester Piccadilly to Doncaster via the Hope Valley Line and Sheffield – Double track – 18 stations
  • Leeds to Carlisle via Settle – Double track – 10 stations
  • Preston to Leeds via Burnley, Colne and Skipton – Part Single track

Note.

  1. Most routes are double track, which aids train scheduling.
  2. All except Skipton to Colne seem to be in good condition.
  3. I can’t find much information about speed limits.

I think it is true to say, that none of the routes could be a high speed line, although a large proportion could have substantial speed increases.

From what I have seen in East Anglia, I suspect most routes could be upgraded to 100 mph, which with the train frequencies of say four tph could give a substantial increase in service quality.

Stations

Many of the secondary stations on these routes are not blessed with facilities like ticket machines, lifts and step-free access.

If I compare, what I see on the web, with what I have experienced in East Anglia, the quality of the smaller stations is not good.

Services

The services along the lines are not of a high frequency or of a high speed, but Northern and TransPennine Express intend to increase frequencies and speed.

The new trains with their faster stops will help.

This is said about the Future Services of TransPennine Express on Wikipedia.

A twice-hourly service between Manchester and Newcastle will be phased in between December 2016 and December 2017, made up of the existing service from Liverpool and a reinstated service from Manchester Airport. Trains between Liverpool and Newcastle will be extended to Edinburgh via the East Coast Main Line, giving a twice-hourly service between Leeds and Edinburgh together with an hourly CrossCountry service. Trains between Liverpool and Scarborough will be rerouted via Manchester Victoria and Newton-le-Willows to provide a half-hourly fast service between Liverpool and Manchester. It is also planned to operate a six train per hour frequency between Manchester and Leeds, up from five today.

I can’t find anything about timings.

A High Speed Line

Building a new high speed line will be difficult, expensive and may take years, as there will probably be a need for a costly tunnel through solid rock between Manchester and Leeds.

So a prudent Project Management strategy could be phased in the same way I proposed for London’s Crossrail 2.

  • Increase Line Speed – This would probably give the largest benefit, as it would enable more and faster trains.
  • Electrify From Leeds To York  This would enable TransPennine’s Class 802 trains between Liverpool/Manchester Airport and Newcastle/Edinburgh to run more efficiently.
  • Electrify From Liverpool To Manchester Airport Via Warrington – This would tidy up electrification between Liverpool and Manchester.
  • Electrify To Chester From Crewe and Warrington – This would link North Wales to the TransPennine routes.
  • Electrify From Leeds To Hull – This would be a comparatively easy electrification.
  • Create The Skipton To Colne Link – This would link the two Norhern suburban electric networks and become a valuable transport asset for both local residents and visitors.
  • Improve Stations – Better facilities and atep-free access is desperately needed. Especially at secondary stations.
  • Improve Local Networks In Selected Cities – Some are much better than others.
  • Increase Train Frequencies – Run at least two tph on all routes.

Hopefully, a decent service can be provided, until a new high speed route can be built.

One great advantage that this project has compared say to the electrification of the Great Western Railway, is that because there are several current routes, if one needs to be closed for a short time, there is a suitable alternative.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

The Future Of The Calder Valley Line

On Saturday and Sunday, I did four trips on the Calder Valley Line

The pictures aren’t as comprehensive, as I would like, but at times the rain was very heavy.

The Route And Trains

This diagram clipped from Wikipedia, shows the route of the Calder Valley Line.

Calder Valley Line

Calder Valley Line

Note.

There is not much electrification.

  • Leeds to York is either electrified or will be in conjunction with the Huddersfield Line electrification.
  • Other routes between Leeds and the other Bradford station; Forster Square are electrified.
  • Manchester Victoria station is electrified.
  • Preston station is electrified and hopefully will be electrified to Blackpool North station.

The trains are a mixture of diesel Class 150 and Class 158 trains, run by Northern Rail. The Class 150s are a bit small and uncomfortable for the route and the top speeds of 75 mp for the Class 150s and 90 mph for the Class 158s, are probably not fast enough, especially as the two ends of the line have higher speed limits.

The Future

Wikipedia has a section on the Future of the Calder Valley Line. This is said.

Improvements to the line are proposed as part of Network Rail’s Northern Hub plans, which would allow for more frequent services on the line. Some services via Bradford would also be extended to Chester,Crewe, Liverpool and Manchester Airport. The Chester & Liverpool services have since been incorporated into the new Northern Rail franchise agreement – awarded to Arriva Rail North in December 2015 and due to start in April 2016, these will be marketed under the “Northern Connect” brand and operated by new 100mph DMUs once delivered. The Manchester Airport trains will follow one the Ordsall Curve is completed in 2018.

Low Moor station, between Bradford Interchange and Halifax, is due to be re-opened in 2016. A business case is being developed to re-open Elland station between Halifax and Brighouse.

There is no mention of electrification, for which the earliest dates are quoted as somewhere in the period from 2019-2024.

But there is this article is on the Shields Gazette web site, with a title of Electrification of the Calder Valley is ‘top priority’ says Rail Minister.

This article is backed up by other statements, so Network Rail and the Government are thinking seriously about electrification of the Calder Valley Line.

Network development and/or electrification is happening at both ends of the Calder Valley Line and I’ll look at both.

Network Development in Leeds and Bradford

The West Yorkshire Metro has proposed electrification of the Harrogate Line and have performed an extensive new station study.

They have already opened Apperley Bridge station and Kirkstall Forge station will follow in a few weeks.

The new stations survey mentions these new stations.

As I said earlier Low Moor station is being built. It will be on the unelectrified line between Bradford Interchange and Halifax. If Elland station is reopened, then it will be the other side of Halifax towards Brighouse. To serve both these new stations trains will have to serve the following stations.

  • Bradford Interchange
  • Low Moor
  • Halifax
  • Elland
  • Brighouse
  • Huddersfield

This is a modification to the current hourly service from Bradford Interchange to Huddersfield via Brighouse.

In the next few years hopefully, Huddersfield will be electrified, but there is no chance that this route into Bradford Interchange will be electrified at the same time. It would probably be pointless, as Bradford Interchange station, unlike Bradford Forster Square station is not electrified.

To make matters a lot more complicated, the stupid fact that Bradford has two entirely separate stations, means the following.

  • There is no train, that calls at both Leeds and Bradford and goes on to Huddersfield and Manchester.
  • There is no train, that calls at both Leeds and Bradford and goes on to Halifax and Hebden Bridge.
  • There will be no direct train between Leeds and Low Moor.

I think other journeys of less than twenty or thirty miles in the Leeds-Bradford area will probably be either impossible or much more complicated than they should be.

Also, at the moment, two of the Leeds-Bradford routes are electrified and the Calder Valley Line is not.

The only new electrification in the area planned, will be the fast route on the Huddersfield Line from Leeds to Huddersfield via Dewsbury.

To help in comprehension, this is a Google Map, showing how the Calder Valley Line links into Bradford Interchange.

Bradford And The Calder Valley Line

Bradford And The Calder Valley Line

Bradford Forster Square Station is in the North-East corner of the map, with Bradford Interchange below it.

Note how the Calder Valley Line comes in from Leeds in the east,  before doing a turn to the north and Bradford Interchange station. After reversing in the station, trains leave the station in a southerly direction towards the new Low Moor station and onto the West. Because of the dark scar below the line, I wonder if in the past, there has been a connection by-passing the station.

It’s a mess!

The solution needs to be four-fold.

  • Electrify Leeds to Huddersfield via Dewsbury. This is being done.
  • Electrify the Calder Valley Line from Leeds through Bradford and Low Moor as far as Halifax.
  • Electrify the link between the Calder Valley Line and the Huddersfield Line through Brighouse.
  • Sort out the absurd situation of the two Bradford stations.

This would enable the West Yorkshire Metro to expand its network of electric trains in the area. It could even use IPEMUs, which would charge their batteries on the electrified core network and then provide services to other towns and cities.

I’m sure that the West Yorkshire Metro can be ambitious and will have other and better ideas.

Network Development in Lancashire

Currently, there is a lot happening at the other end of the Calder Valley Line.

  • The Todmorden Curve has opened and a new hourly service runs between Blackburn and Manchester Victoria.
  • Manchester Victoria station is becoming a top class station and an electrified hub for services spreading out from Manchester.
  • Manchester Victoria to Liverpool Lime Street is now electrified.
  • Manchester Victoria to Blackpool North via Bolton and Preston is being fully electrified.
  • The Ordsall Curve is finally being built to link Manchester Piccadilly and Victoria stations.
  • Merseyrail is acquiring a new fleet of trains, which may include IPEMUs.

With the devolution of local rail services to local bodies, I suspect other things will happen.

Northern Connect

Northern Connect is a new sub-brand that will be introduced by Arriva Rail North.

Services in the sub-brand using the Calder Valley Line include.

  • Chester to Leeds via Warrington, Manchester Victoria and the Calder Valley
  • Blackpool North to York via Preston and Leeds
  • Bradford to Manchester Airport via the Calder Valley.

Will the first two services call at Bradford Interchange and will the third call at Leeds?

According to the January 2016 Edition of Modern Railways, these routes will be worked by new diesel multiple units.

The Chester and Manchester Airport services may need to be delayed until after the Ordsall Chord is opened.

But whatever happens Arriva Rail North will be running more services on the Calder Valley Line.

For commercial reasons, they would like to do the following.

  • Run faster services.
  • Run more frequent services.
  • Run services with smart new trains.
  • Run services with electric trains.

All except the last could be possible in the next few years.

The Current Infrastructure

The Calder Valley Line between Halifax and Burnley is summed up by Wikipedia like this.

For the section between Halifax and Burnley the line uses the valley of the River Calder, which in fact comprises two separate valleys with rivers of the same name, that of West Yorkshire and the Lancashire River Calder thus giving the services their name; it also follows the Rochdale Canal from Todmorden into Manchester. Since the route crosses the Pennines, there are many tunnels to negotiate en route.

I counted twelve tunnels and at least two major viaducts. The tunnels include at least three over a thousand metres, one of which; the Summit Tunnel is over 2.6 miles long.

The Summit Tunnel is one of the oldest rail tunnels in the world, is lined with 23 million bricks and has been used continuously since it opened in the 1840s.

This Google Map shows the challenging nature of the line.

Between Burnley And Todmorden

Between Burnley And Todmorden

Note how the line threads its way between the hills and houses and uses a tunnel to get through.

It must be a nightmare on which to work.

As if the hills, valleys and rivers wasn’t enough, stuck in the middle of the line is the Grade II Listed Hebden Bridge station. I wrote about it in Hebden Bridge and feel that the heritage lobby will strongly resist any changes to this station.

In fact, electrification across the Pennines could bring out all the environment lobby, who feel views are more important, than jobs and prosperity.

I have a feeling, that any sane electrification engineer will look at this line between Manchester Victoria and Halifax and between Blackburn and Todmorden  and say that electrifying the line is just not on!

He or she would also feel that leaving the sleeping giant of the Summit Tunnel lie would be best.

But apart from that, the line seems sound and in good order.

Electric Trains On The Calder Valley Line

If electrification of the Calder Valley Line is a top priority of politicians how can that be squared with the undoubtedly difficult nature of the work that would be required to electrify the line.

So what can be electrified?

  • As I said earlier, there will be strong pressure to electrify around Leeds and Bradford. to perhaps as far as Halifax and Brighouse.
  • I also suspect that electrifying from the West Coast Main Line at Preston to Blackburn would be relatively easy.

So this would leave the these gaps of lines and routes without electrification.

  • Blackburn to Halifax – Around thirty miles
  • Manchester Victoria to Halifax – Around thirty-five miles
  • Blackburn to Manchester Victoria – Around forty miles

All of these runs would be totally within the range of an IPEMU.

Preston to Blackburn electrification, might also allow IPEMUs to take over the following routes.

  • Blackpool South to Colne and possibly on to Skipton on a new section of track.
  • Blackpool North to Settle
  • Manchester Victoria to Clitheroe via Blackburn

So I believe it is possible for the Calder Valley Line to get electric trains, without the cost and disruption of installing the overhead wires.

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 5, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Summit Tunnel On The Calder Valley Line

Until I started writing my post called Manchester Victoria To Hebden Bridge, I’d never heard of the Summit Tunnel on the Calder Valley Line.

Reading Wikipedia, the tunnel sounds like a masterpiece of Victorian engineering.

  • It is 2.6 km. long and was built by hand through shale, coal and sandstone, in the 1830s.
  • It was once the longest rail tunnel in the world.
  • The tunnel takes two tracks in a single horseshoe-shaped bore, which is lined with twenty-three million bricks.
  • It has caused odd bits of trouble in the last thirty years, so I suspect it is well known to and respected by tunnel engineers.
  • It has been in continuous use since it opened.

I suspect many engineers will let this sleeping giant lie, after taking every check that he or she is fast asleep.

I also suspect that the heritage lobby, could get very protective about this tunnel.

If they electrify the Calder Valley Line, they would probably treat this tunnel in one of two ways.

  • Leave well enough alone and use electric trains with an IPEMU capability.
  • Call in the Swiss, who seem to be the experts in electrifying tunnels.

I would think, that the first option will be chosen, as it will be more affordable and probably have no more risk, than today’s use of diesels through the tunnel.

The IPEMU could have been designed for this tunnel, as it is the only electric train, that could pass through, without any modifications to the tunnel.

January 4, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , | 3 Comments

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