The Anonymous Widower

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/Travel | , , , | 3 Comments

From Hebden Bridge To Leeds

The weather was bad and on the last leg from Hebden Bridge to Leeds, I didn’t see much.

According to the Bradford-Halifax section in the Wikipedia entry for the Calder Valley Line, there are five tunnels of which two are over a thousand yards.

So as on the rest of the line electrification could be challenging.

On the other hand some sections, like Sowerby Bridge-Halifax might be easier to electrify.

But I can’t help feeling, that whatever Network Rail decide to do about this line, that IPEMU technology will be part of the solution.

Say you have a section of a couple of miles, that because of various issues would be virtually impossible or very expensive to electrify.

Could a train approaching the neutral section drop its pantograph, use battery power in the neutral section and then automatically put the pantograph up to reconnect to the electricity supply, once the neutral section was passed?

As a Control Engineer, I know such automation is possible, but can it be implemented on a train at 100 mph?

I suspect that the answer is yes and by the end of 2017, there’ll be videos of an IPEMU, swapping from overhead to battery power and back at high speed.

January 3, 2016 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 1 Comment

Hebden Bridge

I’m treating Hebden Bridge and the Grade II Listed Hebden Bridge station as a single post, as one would do other places where the station welcomes you to the town or city and is most certainly part of the identity. I would also place Brighton, Cambridge, Liverpool Lime Street, Portsmouth and Rochester, in that category, but there are others.

These pictures show my very wet visit.

I shall go back one dsy, when the weather is better.

This Google Map shows the town and the station.

Hebden Bridge

Hebden Bridge

Note the Rochdale Canal and the River Calder running in the same direction as the railway.

I believe that Hebden Bridge could be key in the electrification strategy of the Calder Valley Line.

A personable member of Northern Rail’s staff told me a tale about step-free access at the station. There is a subway under the tracks and this used to be served by two parcels lifts. I was told, that it was suggested that the lifts be replaced by passenger lifts, to make the station step-free, but as the station is Grade II Listed, this was not allowed.

What will happen in the end over access, I know not, but in my dealings with Listed Buildings Officers in Suffolk, they tend to be practical and lookfor  a compromise, that satisfies all parties. Surely, there could be a design of lift, that would satisfy both the heritage and disabled lobbies without an outrageous expense.

This leads me to the electrification through Hebden Bridge station.

Look at this enlarged Google Map of the station.

Hebden Bridge Station

Hebden Bridge Station

I think you can see the following.

  • The platforms aren’t that long and would need to be lengthened for the four-car trains that would surely be appropriate after electrification.
  • The canopies of the platforms will have to be cut back, so that the overhead wires and their supports can be erected.

I don’t think the heritage lobby will like either of these changes.

But what could they object to, if the electric trains were quiet four-car Class 387 IPEMUs, using selective door opening on the current platforms?

These trains could serve Hebden Bridge station tomorrow, if Leeds to Bradford and Blackburn were electrified.

There would be no other overhead wiring needed



January 3, 2016 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

Manchester Victoria To Hebden Bridge

The weather wasn’t good as I took the hourly train on the Calder Valley Line between Manchester Victoria and Hebden Bridge stations.

The train was a Class 150 train, which as the first picture shows had been refurbished, but really on a line between the two of the biggest cities in the north, shouldn’t something better be used.

As with my earlier trip from Burnley Manchester Road to Manchester, the line has a fair selection of viaducts, tunnels and challenging structures.

The tunnels include the Summit Tunnel, which is a masterpiece of Victorian engineering, that has been in continuous use since the 1840s.

I don’t know whether Network Rail will want to electrify the Summit Tunnel, but I believe that it could be declared safe for IPEMUs to pass through without extensive modification.

East Of Todmorden

East Of Todmorden

Between Todmorden and Hebden Bridge, there is the Hall Royd Junction, which incorporates the Todmorden Curve and three more smaller tunnels. This Google Map shows the line East of Todmorden.


Note that the Todmorden Curve had not been built, when the Google Map image was taken. The three tunnels are not as long as the Summit Tunnel and are each about two hundred metres long.

The engineering isn’t probably as challenging as that between Burnley and Todmorden, but there will be a lot of it.

If IPEMUs are used, provided the track, tunnels and viaducts are up to scratch, then all that will need to be done is check everything out.

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

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

Jumping The Electrification Gap Between Leeds And Manchester

The Battery High Speed Train

An Aventra uses a modern version of the same bogies that are used in the Class 222 trains, which are capable of 200 kph. As the Class 387 train, which is a version of the Electrostar, can travel at 110 mph, I wouldn’t rule out that the more modern Aventra could run at 200 kph or 125 mph. Obviously, this speed would probably only be attainable in places on the East Coast Main Line.

Example times between York and Newcastle include.

  • East Coast InterCity 225 – 56 minutes
  • East Coast InterCity 125 – 62 minutes
  • Transpennine Class 185 – 67 minutes

So if the performance on the line of an Aventra IPEMU was the same as an InterCity 225, then this would knock eleven minutes of the trip to Newcastle

Acceleration on batteries would be the problem, not maintaining a high speed. that had been built up whilst running under the wires.

When jumping the gap in the electrification between Leeds and Manchester, as the train will have been running from either Liverpool or York, I would suspect that it would set out over the Pennines with a full load of electricity.


Manchester To Leeds Electrification Gap

The Manchester to Leeds electrification has now been paused and it is likely that it will not be completed in the next ten years.

The line has its problems as the three-car Class 185 trains, that work the line, are totally inadequate for the route.

There are two major routes between Leeds and Manchester.

The shortest distance by rail between Manchester and Leeds is just 43 miles. When I saw this, I didn’t believe it, but it’s all in this article in the Guardian.

So this means that if you want to run an electric train between Liverpool and Manchester to Leeds, York and Newcastle, the Aventra IPEMU would bridge the gap with ease.

The demonstration version of the Aventra IPEMU was a modified Class 379 Train and had a range of sixty miles on batteries.

So even this modified Stansted Express would have been able to bridge the gap on both routes with ease.

A fully engineered production Aventra IPEMU would be unlikely to have a shorter range on batteries.

So Aventra IPEMUs create a fully-electrified TransPennine route from Preston, Liverpool and Manchester in the West to Leeds, York and Newcsastle in the East.

Destinations In The West

These are all current Western destinations for Transpennine Express.

  • Barrow – On an unelectrified branch line from an electrified Carnforth.
  • Blackpool North – On an unelectrified branch line from an electrified Preston.
  • Liverpool – On a direct line from Manchester that is completely electrified
  • Liverpool via Warrington  – On a direct line from Manchester that is partially electrified.
  • Manchester Airport – Electrified from Manchester
  • Windermere – On an unelectrified branch line from an electrified Oxenholme.

All could be served by using Aventra IPEMUs.

I suspect it would also be possible to serve Chester.

I’m not sure how Aventra IPEMUs would affect slower services like York to Blackpool North across the Pennines, but I suspect they would be faster than the current diesel multiple units.

With the franchises being reallocated, I suspect that it will be done in such a way, that the trains across the Pennines give a much better service.

Destinations In The East

These are all current Eastern destinations for Transpennine Express.

Cleethorpes – Probably too far, but the Class 185 trains could run the service as they do now!

Hull – Hull is perhaps fifty miles East of the East Coast Main Line and I believe that a solution can be found to do this on an out-and-back basis.

Middlesbrough – This is a few miles from Darlington

Newcastle – Electrified all the way from Leeds

Scarborough – The York to Scarborough Line is forty two miles long and I believe that a solution can be found to do this on an out-and-back basis.

Whether Aventra IPEMUs can do the return trip from the East Coast Main Line on an out-and-back basis to Hull and Scarborough, depends very much on how the range of the trains work out, when the production trains are delivered. I suspect Bombardier know and have either calculated it or proven it on a test rig, but obviously they are keeping it quiet and sticking with the sixty miles total range obtained with the Demonstrator.

If they can’t make it, I suspect that they can provide some form of charging at the Eastern termini.

I do suspect that because of the reorganisation of the two franchises we may see some extra destinations in the East.

Times Across The Pennines

At present times on the major routes are.

Liverpool to Newcastle – 3 hours

Liverpool to Hull – 2 hours 30 minutes with a change at Leeds

As I indicated earlier there is eleven minutes to take off the Newcastle journey and the change at Leeds probably wastes ten minutes on the Hull trip.

Other factors would have an effect.

  • The time spent on a stop by the Aventra IPEMU will be less than that of the current Class 185 trains.
  • If diesel multiple units on the two TransPennine routes can also be replaced with Aventra IPEMUs, then these trains would be less likely to slow the fastest expresses.
  • The Aventra IPEMUs are faster than the current trains.
  • Network Rail will probably be able to do some small amount of trackwork to speed trains up in places.

I have no idea what the eventual TransPennine time will be, but it will be a few minutes less than today’s times.






September 29, 2015 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Todmorden Curve Has Helped A Campaign For More

The opening of the Todmorden Curve seems to have been a success according to press reports I’ve found, but this article from the Lancashire Telegraph, entitled New hope for campaigners looking to re-establish link between East Lancashire and North Yorkshire, shows that the opening is having other effects. This is the first paragraph.

A NEW hope has emerged for campaigners looking to re-establish a link between East Lancashire and North Yorkshire after a transport chief signalled concerns about possible logjams in Calderdale and Leeds.

The link between Colne and Skipton, which is mentioned in the article is shown in this map.

Skipton To Colne

Skipton To Colne

It is being promoted by the Colne-East Lancashire Rail Action Partnership.

Having explored the area a lot in the last couple of years. I feel very much that tram-trains perhaps linked to  Blackpool and/or Manchester have a lot of possibilities. I said as much in Could Tram-Trains Be Used To Advantage In Blackpool? It may sound fanciful and ambitious, but a single track tram-train link from Colne to Skipton, would have a high passenger capacity and wouldn’t require the infrastructure of heavy rail.

Things seem to be moving fast in East Lancashire.

In North London, there has been strong enthusiasm for the recent extension of the Overground. I now perceive a wanting for more of the same.

So are the good citizens of East Lancashire behaving in the same way?

June 4, 2015 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 1 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 Scenic Route From Leeds To Manchester

As I had plenty of time to travel across the Pennines to get from Leeds to Manchester Victoria, I took the scenic route on the Calder Valley Line.

The line is slower than a direct train to Piccadilly, taking probably twenty minutes longer, but I sat in a comfortable Class 156 train across the table from several friendly;y passengers, watching the countryside go by.

By coincidence today this article on Modern Railways web site,  entitled Calder Valley Tops Wires Wishlist was published.

It says that full electrification of the line is the top priority after the current electrification is completed.

After all, they’ve got to create some high-quality electric railways on which to run all those shiny refurbished Class 319 trains. Thirty years old they may be, but they have the heart and soul of someone at least ten years younger. And there are a battalion of eight-six of the trains, should the powers-that-be send them all to the North to dispatch a lot of Pacers to menial duties or the scrapyard.

The electrification will mean that four-car electric trains will be able to run from Leeds via Halifax, Hebden Bridge and the Todmorden Curve all the way to Manchester Victoria, Liverpool and Blackpool.

March 5, 2015 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 3 Comments