The Anonymous Widower

Transport Secretary Urged Not To Derail Aylesbury Spur Plans

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on The Bucks Herald.

This is the sub-heading of the article.

Leader of Buckinghamshire Council, Martin Tett has written to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps urging him to confirm Government support and funding for the much needed Aylesbury link section of East-West rail.

I think this Aylesbury link needs very careful thinking.

There are certainly a lot of issues to consider.

The Aylesbury Link

The Great Central Main Line used to run from London Marylebone station to the East Midlands and North.

Much of the route closed in the 1960s and the only section with a regular passenger service is that that run by Chiltern Railways, between Marylebone and Aylesbury Vale Parkway station.

North of Aylesbury Vale Parkway this rail link connects to the East-West Rail Link.

It was originally proposed to run a service between Aylesbury and Milton Keynes.

High Speed Two

High Speed Two is the herd of elephants in the room and it could have multiple effects all over the country.

Is High Speed Two For London, The Midlands, The North And Scotland Or For The Whole UK?

The answer surely, is that High Speed Two is for the whole UK.

Train Services Between Wales and the West Of England And The North Of England And Scotland

Consider.

  • North Wales is well served by a change at Crewe for passengers from the North and Scotland.
  • Mid Wales is served by a change at Crewe or in Birmingham.
  • South Wales, Bristol and the West and South-West of England are well-served by high speed trains from London Paddington and Reading.

Could South Wales, Bristol and the West and South-West of England, be better connected to the North and Scotland?

One of the ways to improve these services could be with a connection between High Speed Two and East-West Rail Link to allow trains to connect to the Great Western Railway at Didcot Junction.

Train Services Between East Anglia And The North Of England And Scotland

One of the ways to improve these services could be with a connection between High Speed Two and East-West Rail Link to allow trains to connect to and from Cambridge and East Anglia.

A High Speed Two Station At Calvert

Calvert is a village surrounded by landfill and wildlife sites to the South of where High Speed Two and East-West Rail Link cross to the North of Aylesbury.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note.

  1. Calvert is the village in the middle of the map.
  2. The light-coloured area to the South-East of the village is one of London’s biggest landfill sites.
  3. The single-track railway to Aylesbury runs along the North-East side of the landfill.
  4. To the North of the village, this railway connects to the East-West Rail Link.

This Google Map shows the junction between the two railways in greater detail.

Note.

  1. The Northern part of Calvert is in the South-East corner of the map.
  2. The East-West Rail Link crossing across the North of the map
  3. The railway to Aylesbury running SE-NW across the map, to the East of the village of Calvert.
  4. The chord connecting the two railways, which allows trains to and from the South to connect to the East.

This map from High Speed Two shows the route of the new railway through the area.

Note.

  1. High Speed Two is shown in yellow (cutting) and embankment (red).
  2. High Speed Two appears to run either on the same route or alongside the route to Aylesbury.

The Oakervee Review into High Speed Two, says this on Page 53, about a new station at Calvert in Buckinghamshire.

The Review also heard evidence from a number of informed stakeholders suggesting there should be a new station near Calvert, where HS2 would cross East-West Rail proposals to improve connectivity along the OxfordCambridge corridor. Previously, due to the impact on speed, no interim station had been planned between London and Birmingham Interchange.

The Review concluded that the DfT should consider making passive provision for a future HS2 station near to Calvert. If it is decided that a HS2 station should be built near to Calvert, passive provision will help prevent any disruption to HS2 services. There could be merit in developing an HS2 station in the future here if local plans support a significant residential and commercial development in this region, and if there is passenger demand to justify the cost of developing a station here. Without this coordinated planning, the experience of HS1 stations risks being repeated. The Review notes that the cost of developing a future station near Calvert could be shared with others including potentially the East West Rail Company.

I must admit, that I like the concept of a new station at Calvert.

  • The double-track High Speed Two and the single-track Aylesbury Link run alongside each other and a station wouldn’t be a very expensive one.
  • High Speed Two Trains will be very powerful and should be able to do a quick stop perhaps losing about two minutes.
  • The important Milton Keynes Central station would get a good High Speed Two service, with a change at Calvert.
  • Trains between Oxford and Cambridge could serve Calvert station.

It might also be possible for one of High Speed Two’s Classic Compatible trains to join High Speed Two at the station with a reverse.

This could enable a service between say Cardiff and Edinburgh.

  • Intermediate stops could be Newport, Bristol Parkway, Swindon, Oxford, Bicester Village, Calvert, Birmingham Interchange, Crewe, Preston and Carlisle.
  • It might even join and split at Swindon and Carlisle, with a second Classic Compatible train going between Penzance and Glasgow, which stopped at Plymouth, Exeter, Bristol Temple Meads, Bath, Swindon, Oxford, Bicester Village, Calvert, Birmingham Interchange, Crewe, Preston and Carlisle.
  • It would need extra two-hundred metre long platforms at Swindon, Oxford, Bicester Village and Calvert.

If this train ran hourly, there would certainly be a need for an hourly feeder train between Aylesbury and Milton Keynes.

But as yet, it hasn’t been decided to provide provision at Calvert for a possible High Speed Two station.

Rolling Stock For The East-West Rail Link

In July 2019, I wrote Tender Set To Be Issued For East West Rail Rolling Stock.

I analysed if battery electric trains could run services on the East West Rail Link.

I said this.

Consider.

    • All the major stations except Oxford have electrification.
    • Sections of the route are electrified.
    • The route is not very challenging.
    • The longest section without electrification is around forty miles.

All this leads me to believe that a battery-electric train with a range of forty miles could handle the route, if there was the means to charge the train at Oxford.

Possibly the easiest way to achieve the charging station at Oxford station, would be to electrify between Didcot Junction and Oxford stations.

Since then Hitachi have released the Hitachi Regional Battery Train, whose specification is shown in this infographic.

I believe this train could work the East-West Rail Link and also between Aylesbury and Milton Keynes.

I also believe, that other manufacturers could provide battery electric trains for the route.

These or similar trains would also be suitable for the decarbonisation of Chiltern’s diesel multiple units, that run the suburban services.

Conclusion

High Speed Two could have a station at Calvert.

If it does, there will certainly be a need between Aylesbury and Milton Keynes.

To be continued…

February 16, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 5 Comments

Oakervee Review – Calvert Station

The Oakervee Review says this on Page 53, about a new station at Calvert in Buckinghamshire.

The Review also heard evidence from a number of informed stakeholders suggesting there should be a new station near Calvert, where HS2 would cross East-West Rail proposals to improve connectivity along the OxfordCambridge corridor. Previously, due to the impact on speed, no interim station had been planned between London and Birmingham Interchange.

The Review concluded that the DfT should consider making passive provision for a future HS2 station near to Calvert. If it is decided that a HS2 station should be built near to Calvert, passive provision will help prevent any disruption to HS2 services. There could be merit in developing an HS2 station in the future here if local plans support a significant residential and commercial development in this region, and if there is passenger demand to justify the cost of developing a station here. Without this coordinated planning, the experience of HS1 stations risks being repeated. The Review notes that the cost of developing a future station near Calvert could be shared with others including potentially the East West Rail Company.

I must admit, that I like the concept of a new station at Calvert.

February 12, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

Could High Speed Two Have A Station At Ashby-de-la-Zouch?

This morning, I was listening to Andrew Bridgen, who is the Member of Parliament for North West Leicestershire, giving the reasons for a strong opposition to High Speed Two.

  • High Speed Two will reduce the number of services between Leicester and London.
  • His constituency does not have a rail station.
  • His constituency would do better for the Ivanhoe Line to get a passenger service.
  • His constituents are badly affected by the building of the line.
  • His constituents will need to drive North to East Midlands Hub station to use High Speed Two.

Some points are valid, although I think no rail company would reduce the number of services between Leicester and London.

The Future Of Services Between Leicester And London

East Midlands Railway currently run four trains per hour (tph) between Leicester and London, with the fastest trains taking five minutes over the hour.

New 125 mph bi-mode Class 810 trains, will be running all main line services on the Midland Main Line from 2023, using electric power between London and Market Harborough.

It is also planned to increase the line speed between London and Market Harborough to 140 mph, so the trains can really use their design speed, by updating the electrification, signalling and track.

From these published plans, I would feel that East Midlands Railway are intending that all Leicester and London services are within the hour.

Reinstatement Of Services On The Ivanhoe Line

This has been promised off-and-on for some time and I wrote about it in Silent Hydrogen Trains On The Cards For New Line Linking Burton And Leicester, after one of my alerts picked up “hydrogen trains”.

The Association Of Train Operating Companies Plan For The Ivanhoe Line

This is taken from the Wikipedia entry for the Ivanhoe Line.

In 2009 the Association of Train Operating Companies published a £49 million proposal (Connecting Communities: Expanding Access to the Rail Network) to restore passenger services to the line that would include reopening stations at Kirby Muxloe, Bagworth and Ellistown, Coalville Town, Ashby de la Zouch, Moira, and Gresley (for Swadlincote). There is also some support in the Leicester area for the line to have new stations to serve Leicester City F.C.’s stadium and the suburb of Braunstone.

Wikipedia also says, it could be developed as a no-frills line.

Given the government’s enthusiasm for reopening lines closed by Beeching, I suspect that this line will be reopened to passenger traffic in the next few years.

Ashby-de-la-Zouch Station

This section of the route map for High Speed Two, shows where the Ivanhoe Line crosses it, just by a major road junction outside Ashby-de-la-Zouch.

Note.

  1. High Speed Two is shown in orange.
  2. The Ivanhoe Line runs West-East from the West edge of the map and after crossing the A42 and High Speed Two it curves South-East.

Where the two lines cross would it be sensible to build a simple interchange station?

  • Andrew Bridgen’s constituency has a electorate of over 72,000.
  • The station would be well-connected to the road network via the the M42, A42 and A51.
  • There would appear to be plenty of space for parking.
  • It would ease the problems of going by train between Leicester and Birmingham.
  • A bridge will have to be built at the location of the station to carry High Speed Two over the Ivanhoe Line, so why not design the bridge with simple platforms?
  • As High Speed Two’s trains will be designed with fast acceleration and deceleration, the stops would be very quick
  • Passengers would only be allowed on the High Speed Two platforms, when trains are in the station.

Perhaps given its location it could be called the Heart of England Parkway station?

The Station Site

This Google Map shows the station site.

Note.

  1. The Ivanhoe Line is at the bottom of the map.
  2. There is a spur from the line into the space.
  3. High Speed Two will run almost North-South parallel to the A42.

It looks like an abandoned open-cast coal-mine or quarry. Does anybody else know better?

Conclusion

There has already been speculation for the building of a similar station, which I wrote about in Should High Speed Two Have A Station At Calvert?, so perhaps it’s not a totally crazy idea,

Perhaps, there are other places, where High Speed Two crosses other main lines, where parkway stations could be built?

 

 

February 11, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Should High Speed Two Have A Station At Calvert?

The leak of the Oakervee Report into High Speed Two published in today’s Times, says that extra stations might be added to High Speed Two and in particular one could be built at Calvert in Buckinghamshire, where it would also be an interchange  with the East-West Rail Link between Oxford and Cambridge.

Calvert And The Current Railways

This Google Map shows the area around the village of Calvert.

Note.

  1. The two lakes in old clay pits to the North of the village; one for sailing and one for fishing.
  2. A massive landfill to the South.
  3. The route of the East-West Rail Lnk runs East-West to the North of the two lakes.

The enlarged Google Map shows the two lakes and the East-West Rail Link.

There is a distinct cross where the North-South Great Central Main Line crosses the former the East-West Varsity Line.

The Great Central Main Line from Aylesbury Vale Parkway station in the South, has a chord to the East and joins the disused track, that used to form part of the Varsity Line. This chord and line will be developed in the next few yeas to allow Chiltern Railways to open a service to Milton Keynes Central station.

Calvert And High Speed Two

This paragraph from the Wikipedia entry for Calvert, describes the possibilities in the area for High Speed Two.

The planned route of High Speed 2 (HS2) will run along the Great Central Railway north-south corridor in this area, past Calvert and the phase one Infrastructure Maintenance Depot will be located near Calvert. No passenger interchange between East West Rail and HS2 is proposed, since stopping high speed trains ‘too often’ reduces their high speed benefits, although in February 2017, the local MP called for the station to be built at the junction between East West Rail and the HS2 line, serving both lines.

Note how the track of the Grand Central Railway can be picked out on the second map.

It looks like the Oakervee Report is recommending that at least passive provision is made for a station in the area, that would connect to the East-West Rail Link.

Calvert And The Oxford To Cambridge Expressway

This paragraph from the Wikipedia entry for Calvert, describes the trunk roads in the area.

Calvert sits in the strip of land which the Government announced in 2018 as its ‘preferred route’ for the new Oxford-Cambridge Expressway road, which would link the A34, M40, and M1 trunk roads. It has been noted that the convergence of HS2, East-West Rail, and the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway at this location would offer opportunities for future provision of a key regional facility, such as an airport, or a New Town.

I doubt there will be a new airport, but other forms of development would be better than landfill.

Oakervee’s Recommendation For Calvert

It looks like the Oakervee Report is recommending that at least passive provision is made for a station in the area, that would connect to the East-West Rail Link.

Thoughts On A Possible Calvert Station

These are my thoughts on a possible Calvert station, that would be built to connect the East-West Rail Link and High Speed Two.

Changing Between The East-West Rail Link And High Speed Two At Calvert Station

This would be very easy to arrange in a well-designed station and would give a lot of stations a direct connection to High Speed Two.

  • Oxford, Swindon, Bristol, Newport, Cardiff and Swansea
  • Oxford, Swindon, Bristol, Exeter, Plymouth and Penzance
  • Reading, Basingstoke, Southampton and Bournemouth
  • Cambridge, Ipswich and Norwich
  • Milton Keynes and Northampton

Bi-mode trains would run direct to Calvert station, where passengers would change to and from High Speed Two.

Could Trains Run Direct Between The East-West Rail Link And High Speed Two At Calvert?

In the leak of the Oakervee Report, The Times also says that it could be advantageous if existing trains could use the HS2 track.

Suppose Transport for Wales wants to improve services between South Wales and the Northern destinations of High Speed Two.

As I read the leak, they could obtain their own Classic-compatible High Speed Two trains and perhaps run services to Birmingham, Manchester,  Leeds and other destinations.

The only extra infrastructure needed would be as follows.

  • Appropriate flyovers at Calvert.
  • Electrification between Calvert and Didcot.
  • Electrification between Cardiff and Swansea.

The electrification would be needed, as I suspect trains running on High Speed Two would be unlikely to be bi-modes.

In fact, if the connection is built as Phase 1 of High Speed Two, Swansea and Birmingham via Cardiff, Bristol, Swindon and Oxford, could be one of the initial High Speed services on High Speed Two.

I estimate that a Swansea and Birmingham service would take about two and a half hours.

When the East-West Rail Link is completed between Calvert and Cambridge, services will also be able to turn East to Cambridge, Ipswich and Norwich.

How the services are arranged will depend on where passengers want to go and in what numbers.

Will There Be Commuters From Calvert Station?

Consider.

  • Calvert station will not be surrounded by large amounts of housing, with the exception of Milton Keynes perhaps fifteen minutes away.
  • Services on the East-West Rail Link will probably call at Calvert station.
  • The route of the proposed Oxford to Cambridge Expressway could serve Calvert station.
  • I estimate that Euston and Calvert will have a journey time around twenty-five to thirty minutes.

Calvert might develop into a commuter station and not just to London and Birmingham.

A Calvert And Market Harborough Service Via Milton Keynes And Northampton

In Shapps Supports Beeching Axe Reversals, I talked about a proposal to reopen the Market Harborough-Northampton Line that was only finally closed in 1981.

I also included this map, which shows the link between Milton Keynes and link to Market Harborough.

So could we see a service linking High Speed Two at Calvert to the fast-expanding Milton Keynes Northampton and Market Harborough?

I feel that if there was a four trains per hour (tph) service between Calvert and Milton Keynes, this could mean a possible simplification of the services on the completed East-West Rail Line.

\services to Milton Keynes could be.

  • Two tph – Calvert and Market Harborough via Winsford, Bletchley, Milton Keynes, Wolverton and Northampton.
  • Two tph – Marylebone and Milton Keynes via Winsford and Bletchley.

East-West Rail Link services wouldn’t call at Milton Keynes Central, as this would mean a reverse.

Calvert Station Will Be A High Speed Station For The Local Area

If road access is good, the station will get used as a Park-and-Ride station for accessing High Speed Two for passengers living in the local area.

Useful Routes Via Calvert

Off the top of my head, these are a selection of routes, that could be run via Calvert station; either direct or with a change.

  • East Anglia (Cambridge, Colchester, Ipswich and Norwich) and The Midlands, Northern England and Scotland
  • South Wales (Cardiff, Newport and Swansea) and The Midlands, Northern England and Scotland
  • West and South West England (Bristol, Exeter, Penzance and Plymouth) and The Midlands, Northern England and Scotland
  • Southern England (Bournemouth, Portsmouth and Southampton) and The Midlands, Northern England and Scotland
  • Thames Valley (Oxford, Reading and Heathrow) and The Midlands, Northern England and Scotland

Journeys between areas like South Wales and East Anglia could be done with a change at Calvert.

Times To And From Calvert

These are my estimates of times to and from Calvert station.

  • Aylesbury Vale Parkway – 12 minutes
  • Baswingstoke – 68 minutes
  • Bedford – 49 minutes
  • Bicester Village – 14 minutes
  • Birmingham via HS2 – 19 minutes
  • Bletchley – 21 minutes
  • Bournemouth – 150 minutes
  • Bristol Temple Meads – 125 minutes
  • Bristol Parkway – 110 minutes
  • Cambridge – 91 minutes
  • Cardiff – 147 minutes
  • East Midlands via HS2 – 21 minutes
  • Euston via HS2  – 25-30 minutes
  • Exeter – 186 minutes
  • Glasgow via HS2 – 318 minutes
  • Leeds via HS2 – 60 minutes
  • Leicester – 74 minutes
  • Liverpool via HS2 – 66 minutes
  • Manchester via HS2 – 70 minutes
  • Manchester Airport via HS2 – 61 minutes
  • Market Harborough – 62 minutes
  • Marylebone via Chiltern – 77 minutes
  • Milton Keynes – 26 minutes
  • Newport – 133 minutes
  • Northampton – 42 minutes
  • Oxford – 29 minutes
  • Penzance – 360 minutes
  • Portsmouth – 146 minutes
  • Preston via HS2 – 54 minutes
  • Plymouth – 240 minutes
  • Reading – 52 minutes
  • Swansea – 203 minutes
  • Swindon – 85 minutes
  • Southampton – 103 minutes
  • Winchester – 83 minutes

I will improve and add to these figures.

As an example, I’ll take journeys from Leicester to the North West of England.

Currently, Manchester Piccadilly takes 140 minutes with one change, whereas my estimates say the HS2 route will be four minutes longer, with a change at Calvert.

Currently, Manchester Airport takes 165 minutes with two changes, whereas my estimates say the HS2 route will be thirty minutes shorter , with only a single change at Calvert.

Currently, Liverpool takes 170 minutes with one change at Birmingham New Street, whereas my estimates say the HS2 route will be thirty minutes shorter, with a change at Calvert.

Currently, the faster time to Preston is about 150-160 minutes with one change, whereas my estimates say the HS2 route will be about 130 minutes with a change at Calvert.

My estimates were only crude, but ithey do indicate.

  • Changing at Calvert often means the journey only needs a single change.
  • Some journeys are up to thirty minutes faster.

Other HS2 interchange stations, like Birmingham Interchange, Crewe, East Midlands Hub and Preston will probably function in a similar manner.

Conclusion

Trying to predict what would happen if a station were to be built at Calvert is not easy.

But on balance, I very much feel that it would improve the connectivity of High Speed Two.

A Calvert station would also improve the East-West Rail Link, with faster trains and better connectivity.

High Speed Two should be for all and not just services to and from London!

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 12, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 5 Comments