The Anonymous Widower

East West Rail Makes ‘Powerful Case’ For Direct Services From Ipswich And Norwich To Oxford

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

A direct rail link between Ipswich, Norwich and Oxford could unlock £17.5bn for the East Anglia community, according to a case for investment from the East West Rail Consortium (EWRC).

A new report publishing by the consortium outlines the benefits of new East West rail services, including the creation of 120,000 jobs and connecting high-value economies with fast rail links.

This report on the East-West Rail web site is entitled Eastern Section Prospectus and gives full details of their proposals.

Proposed Train Services

The East West Rail Consortium (EWRC) is proposing three phases of train services.

Initial Service Pattern

An hourly direct EWRC service to/from Ipswich, with a good connection at Cambridge to/from Norwich.

The current Ipswich to Cambridge service will be extended from Cambridge to Oxford and Reading.

Intermediate stations between Cambridge and Reading would include.

  • Cambridge South for Addenbrookes Hospital
  • Sandy
  • Bedford
  • Milton Keynes
  • Bletchley
  • Bicester
  • Oxford
  • Didcot Parkway

Selective journey times would include.

  • Ipswich to Bedford – 1 hour 26 minutes
  • Ipswich to Milton Keynes – 1 hour 55 minutes
  • Ipswich to Oxford – 2 hours 19 minutes
  • Ipswich to Reading- 2 hours 43 minutes

At Cambridge, there would be a same- or cross-platform interchange with Greater Anglia’s forthcoming service between Norwich and Stansted Airport, which will replace the current service between Norwich and Cambridge before the end of 2020, when new Class 755 trains will have entered service.

Selective journey times would include.

  • Norwich to Bedford – 1 hour 22 minutes
  • Norwich to Milton Keynes – 1 hour 51 minutes
  • Norwich to Oxford – 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Norwich to Reading- 2 hours 40 minutes

There would be a change of train at Cambridge station.

The report says this about infrastructure improvements.

Improved journey times could be provided by undertaking incremental linespeed enhancements between Cambridge and Ipswich/Norwich.

It doesn’t look like there will be too much disruption to train services, whilst the improvements are undertaken.

Interim Service Pattern

An hourly direct EWRC service to/from Norwich will be added to the Ipswich-Cambridge-Oxford-Reading service.

This will obviously mean that there will be two trains per hour (tph) between Cambridge and Oxford/Reading.,

But it will also mean.

  • Two tph between Norwich and Bedford/Milton Keynes/Oxford/Reading.
  • Two tph between Ipswich and Bedford/Milton Keynes/Oxford/Reading.

One of the Ipswich/Norwich trains will be direct and one will require a change at Cambridge.

I would expect that good connections would be arranged at Norwich, so that Cromer, Great Yarmouth, Lowestoft,and Sheringham had good coinnections to EWR.

Currently, East Anglia has two services to the Midlands/North

  • Liverpool and Norwich- 1 tph
  • Birmingham and Stansted Airport – 1 tph

These will be changed to the following.

  • Liverpool and Norwich
  • Birmingham and Stansted Airport
  • Liverpool and Stansted Airport
  • Birmingham and Norwich

All services would have a frequency of one train every two hours.

There would also be a cross-platform interchange at Peterborough between the two services, thus giving an hourly services on all four routes.

As Greater Anglia are planning to run an hourly Colchester to Peterborough service via Manningtree, Ipswich and Bury St. Edmunds, effectively this gives all these places an hourly service to Liverpool and Birmingham with a change at Peterborough.

The report recommends these infrastructure improvements.

  1. Additional platform capacity at Cambridge.
  2. Double-tracking of Trowse Swing Bridge.
  3. Signalling upgrades between Norwich and Brundall
  4. Signalling upgrades between between Ely and and Ely North Junction to reduce headways.
  5. Additional platform capacity at Norwich.
  6. Improved journey times and improved connections to/from Sheringham.

As with the initial service pattern, the infrastructure works with the exception of the double-tracking of Trowse Swing Bridge don’t seem to be major undertakings.

Long-Term Service Pattern

The long-term service pattern would be as follows.

  • The hourly Reading/Oxford service to Ipswich would be extended to Manningtree.
  • The hourly Reading/Oxford service to Norwich would be extended to Great Yarmouth.

There must be a good reason for not extending the Ipswich service to Colchester, as the Peterborough and Ipswich service will be extended to this terminal in 2020.

The report says this about infrastructure improvements.

A package of infrastructure enhancements across the region, building on those delivered for the interim phase.

It looks like nothing major will be undertaken.

Smaller Projects

The report details a series of smaller projects, that will be undertaken East of Cambridge. Many of these would be done even if East West Rail were not.

Chippenham Station

The report recommends building a new station at Chippenham Junction, which is to the East of Newmarket, close to the junction of the A11 and the A14 . The station is referred to in the report as A14 Parkway station.

This Google Map shows the location of the proposed station.

Note.

  1. The A14 going across the top of the map.
  2. The junction between the A14 and the A11 in the top-right corner.
  3. The triangular Chippenham Junction, pointing North to Ely, South to Newmarket and East to Bury St. Edmunds and Ipswich.

Having lived in that area for nearly thirty years, I believe that this is a much-needed station.

  • Stations in the area, with the exception of Cambridge North are short of car parking.
  • There would be two tph to/from Bury St. Edunds and Ipswich.
  • There would be one tph to Cambridge, Cambridge North, Cambridge South , Ely and Peterborough.

I suspect that there could be shuttle trains to provide extra services to Cambridge and Ely.

A shuttle train could run between A14 Parkway, Cambridge South, Ely and back to A14 Parkway, calling at all intermediate stations.

Double-Tracking

The report says that some single-track sections may need to be converted to double-track.

The major section of double-tracking would be between Coldhams Lane and Chippenham Junctions on the Cambridge Branch of the Ipswich-Ely Line.

A new chord would be built at Colhams Lane Junction, so that trains could run between Ely and Bury St. Edmunds via Newmarket.

This Google Map shows the area.

 

Note.

  1. The Cambridge to Norwich line running North South at the left of the map.
  2. The curve of the Cambridge Branch of the Ipswich-Ely Line at the bottom of the map.
  3. The extensive open space of Coldhams Common.

I have a feeling that building the chord will be a difficult planning process.

Electrification

The report says that there could be some additional electrification.

Ely North Junction

The report recommends that this junction is grade separated.

Ely North Station

The report recommends building a new Ely North station, which would be about one-and-a-half miles from Ely station.

Existing Stations

The report says this about existing stations.

Expansion of Cambridge, Norwich, Reedham, Kings Lynn and Manningtree
stations with remodelling of the station throat layouts.

I don’t think any modifications will be that difficult.

Felixstowe Tram-Train

This was said in the report.

Introduction of a tram-train service on the Felixstowe branch, with doubling between Derby Road and Felixstowe and street running through
Ipswich.

I was rather surprised. But why not?

The tram-train could even go down to the sea-front.

I explore this more in Could There Be A Tram-Train Between Ipswich And Felixstowe?.

Haughley Junction

Thr report recommends that this junction is grade separated.

This is one the most important projects to improve rail services in East Anglia.

Linespeed Increases To 100 mph

Greater Anglia’s fleet of Class 745, Class 755 and Class 720 trains are all 100 mph trains and the Great Eastern Main Line is a 100 mph route, all the way from London to Norwich.

It would seem that to improve services, that where possible linespeeds are increased to 100 mph.

  • The Breckland Line between Ely and Norwich, currently has a linespeed of around 75-90 mph and is double-track and  fairly straight across flat countryside.
  • The Ipswich-Ely Line between Ely and Ipswich, has a linespeed of up to 75 mph, and is mainly double-track and fairly straight across flat countryside.
  • The Cambridge Branch of the Ipswich-Ely Line is mainly single track and would probably be more difficult to upgrade.

Knowing the lines and East Anglia well, I suspect that these lines could be substantially given a linespeed of 100 mph.

Stansted Airport Station – Additional Platform

Stansted Airport station needs more capacity and may require the doubling of the tunnel under the runway.

Warren Hill Tunnel

The report recommends that Warren Hill Tunnel at Newmarket is doubled and that from Coldham Lane Junction to Chippenham Junction is also doubled.

This Google Map shows  the Western portal of the tunnel.

Note.

  1. The road  across the top is Old Station Road.
  2. The dark shadow at right angles to the road is the cutting leading to the tunnel.
  3. There seems to be plenty of space to widen the cutting.

And this Google Map shows  the Eastern portal of the tunnel.

Note.

  1. The road is the Bury Road.
  2. The cutting leading to the tunnel portal is in the top left of the picture.
  3. The actual portal appears to be under the Bury Road.

This page on the Newmarket Local History web site, gives details about railways in Newmarket. The site says that the tunnel is exactly a kilometre in length and built on a curve.

I can see that doing these tunnel works will not be without opposition from the Racing Industry at Newmarket.

I shall talk about this more later.

The Freight Locomotive Of The Future

Before discussing freight, I will describe the freight locomotive of the future.

Rail Operations Group have just ordered ten Class 93 locomotives from Stadler.

  • These are a tri-mode locomotive able to use electric, diesel or battery power.
  • They will probably be able to haul the heaviest freight train at 100 mph, using electric power.
  • They will be slower under diesel power, but they can use battery power for extra grunt.
  • They will also find applications in hauling 100 mph passenger trains on partially electrified lines.

Other manufacturers will follow Stadler in developing similar hybrid locomotives, which will haul larger freight trains faster and with less pollution, than the current generation of locomotives.

Freight

Part of the EWRC’s  freight plan  is to make it easier to get the massive number of freight trains between Felixstowe and the Midlands and the North.

This is an extract from the report.

Note that doubling of Warren Hill Tunnel at Newmarket and redoubling between Coldham Lane Junction and Chippenham Junction is included in the infrastructure requirements.

It is assumed that most freight would operate via Newmarket, with a new north chord at Coldham Lane Junction, rather than pursuing further doubling of the route via Soham.

I indicated , these points earlier.

  • ,Building a chord across Coldhams Common will not go down well with the residents of Cambridge.
  • The plans for a double-track railway through Newmarket will not go down well with the Racing Industry.

I would also suspect that the logistics of building a second tunnel at Warren Hill, could be a nightmare, given the twenty-four hour nature of horse-racing.

So why have EWRC decided to route most freight trains through Newmarket?

Currently, freight trains going to/from Felixstowe use one of four routes.

  • They go via London and cross the city on the crowded North London or Gospel Oak to Barking Lines.
  • They go to Peterborough and take a cross-country route to Nuneaton, which is slow and has a notorious level crossing in the centre of Oakham.
  • They go to Peterborough and take a diversion route through Lincoln.
  • They go to Peterborough and up the East Coast Main Line, which is increasingly crowded.

None of these are perfect routes for freight trains.

Looking into the future, by the late 2020s, the following will have happened.

  • An increasing number of freight trains will be running to/from Felixstowe.
  • High Speed Two will have opened, which will release paths for freight trains on the electrified West Coast Main Line.
  • Hybrid Electric/diesel/battery freight locomotives  will be commonplace and hauling most long-distance inter-modal freight trains.
  • The East West Rail Link will have opened between the West Coast Main Line and Cambridge.

It appears to me, that there could be a plan to create extra routes for freight trains to/from Felixstowe, using the East West Rail Link.

  • Services between Felixstowe and West Coast Main Line destinations like Birmingham, Carlisle, Glasgow, Liverpool and Manchester, will use the East West Rail Link between the West Coast Main Line and Cambridge.
  • Services between Felixstowe and Midland Main Line destinations like Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield, will use the East West Rail Link between the Midland Main Line and Cambridge.
  • Services between Felixstowe and South Western and Western destinations like Bristol, Southampton and Wales, will use the East West Rail Link between the Great Western Main Line and Cambridge.

Services between Felixstowe and East Coast Main Line destinations like Doncaster, Edinburgh, Leeds and Newcastle will still use the traditional route via Ely and Peterborough.

It seems to me, that as many as two freight trains in every hour in both directions will need to take the route between Felixstowe and the East West Rail Link through Bury St. Edmunds, Newmarket, Cambridge and Cambridge South stations.

This number of freight trains would make it essential, that there is a double-track railway from Chippenham Junction to Cambridge.

The Coldhams Chord also seems to be an important part of the plans of the EWRC.

This is to allow freight trains between Peterborough and Felixstowe to use the upgraded double-track route through Newmarket.

Once on the electrified Fen Line at Coldhams Junction, freight trains with a hybrid locomotive could use the electrification to Ely.

At Ely, the trains would then be able to take the Peterborough-Ely Line to continue on their way.

These points should be noted.

  • Currently freight trains between Felixstowe and Peterborough, have to cross the double-track Fen Line at Ely and it could be that operationally it would be easier, if they used the route via Coldhams Lane junction.
  • The level crossing at Ely station is being sorted.
  • The Fen Line between Cambridge and Ely is an electrified double-track and except at Waterbeach station, it would probably be relatively easy to add additional tracks.
  • Cambridge North station appears to have a double-track by-pass line for freight trains.
  • For some years, I’ve believed that the thirty miles of the Peterborough-Ely Line should be improved and electrified, as this would give a valuable electrified diversion route, if the East Coast Main Line were to be closed South of Peterborough.

So if a freight train were to be hauled by a hybrid locomotive, it would surely be able to use electrification between Peterborough and Coldhams Lane Junction.

The distance between Coldhams Lane Junction and Haughley Junction, where the electrification from Ipswich ends is forty miles. The terrain is also very undemanding.

I would be very surprised if in a few years, a powerful hybrid locomotive couldn’t haul the heaviest freight train on this route.

Conclusion

The East West Rail Link will have far reaching consequences for Norfolk, Suffolk and North Essex.

  • Most towns and cities with perhaps a population of upwards of 30,000 will have a two trains per hour service to Cambridge, Bedford, Milton Keynes, Oxford and Reading.
  • Some services will be direct, but many will involve a same- or cross-platform change at a station like Cambridge, Ipswich or Norwich.
  • East Anglia will have much better hourly connections to Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham and Sheffield.
  • There will be much improved capacity for freight trains to/from Felixstowe.

I feel very positive about what has been said.

February 20, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An Addenbrooke’s Train Station Has Got The Thumbs-Up From The Transport Secretary

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in the Cambridge News.

These are my thoughts.

Location

Cambridge South station, if they follow the convention of the name of the newly-opened Cambridge North station, has the ideal location.

  • It is South of the City of Cambridge in a similar position to how Cambridge North station is North of the City.
  • The Cambridgeshire Guided Busway could be diverted to serve the station.
  • Addenbrooke’s Hospital and the Cambridge Biomedical Campus could be a short walk or a travelator ride away.
  • Addenbrooke’s bus station could be moved to be adjacent to the new train station.
  • Services between both Liverpool Street and Kings Cross stations and Cambridge would call.
  • There is space for a large car park for both train passengers and hospital patients and visitors.
  • In the future, trains on the East West Rail Link will be able to call.

The location would also allow trains or guided buses on a reopened Stour Valley Railway to call.

Trains

When Thameslink opens fully, it looks like the trains going through Cambridge South station could include.

  • 1 tph – CrossCountry – Birmingham New Street to Stansted Airport.
  • 1 tph – Greater Anglia – Norwich to Stansted Airport.
  • 2 tph – Greater Anglia – Liverpool Street to Cambridge/Cambridge North/Ely
  • 3 tph – Great Northern – Kings Cross to Cambridge/Cambridge North
  • 1 tph – Great Northern – Kings Cross to Kings Lynn
  • 2 tph – Thameslink – Brighton to Cambridge/Caambridge North
  • 2 tph – Thameslink – Maidstone East to Cambridge/Caambridge North

Note tph is trains per hour.

This totals to twelve tph. And that’s only for starters.

  • The East West Rail Link will surely add 2 tph to Oxford.
  • All these services to Kings Cross and St. Pancras must surely hit Greater Anglia’s Liverpool Street services. Will this mean they use some of their massive fleet of new trains to provide extra services to Liverpool Street and Stansted.

It should also be noted that Greater Anglia serves the City, Stratford and connects to Crossrail, whereas Great Northern doesn’t!

The Stour Valley Railway

If Cambridge continues to be one of the most successful cities in the world, I can’t believe that the Stour Valley Railway won’t be reinstated as another route across East Anglia.

I discuss this proposal in detail in An Affordable Reinstatement Of The Stour Valley Railway.

I came to this conclusion.

Reinstatement of the Stour Valley Railway  would be the ultimate modern railway for one of the world’s most high-tech cities.

I think it will be built at some time.

Cost

The usual suspects will complain about Cambridge South station being another station in a city near London, that already has two stations.

This is said about the cost of Cambridge North station in Wikipedia.

On 19 August 2015, Cambridge City Council approved Network Rail’s new plans for the station, which were not substantially different from the original plans put forward by Cambridgeshire County Council in 2013. Following Network Rail’s intervention, the cost of the station was revised upwards to £44 million.

When first proposed by Cambridgeshire County Council in around 2007, at the cost was £15 million, with a benefit-cost ratio of 3.09.

So much for Network Rail’s costing systems.

Incidentally, Kirkstall |Forge station in Leeds, which is a two-platform station on an electrified line with full step-free access cost £16 million. So as Cambridge South will probably have an extra platform and lots of parking, I would reckon £25 million would cover the cost of building the station.

To put this sum in context, two Cambridge companies have recently been sold.

These two deals must have generated a lot of tax revenue.

Conclusion

A start on Cambridge South station should be made next week.

 

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

Cambridge Gets Its Own Mini-Crossrail

This morning I went to see the very newly-opened Cambridge North station.

The station is probably best described as a Parkway station close to the Cambridge Science Park and the A14 on the Northern Side of Cambridge.

The station is not short of facilities and service pattern.

  • Two through platforms and one bay platform, all capable of taking a 12-car Class 700 train.
  • Two avoiding lines for freight trains.
  • Full step-free access.
  • 450 car park spaces.
  • Parking under cover for a thousand bikes.
  • Access to the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway.
  • Close to the A14.
  • Customer toilets.
  • A proper ticket office and several ticket machines.
  • A square outside to meet people if it’s sunny.
  • Retail units and some greenery will be added later.
  • Currently, it is planned for about four trains per hour to stop at Cambridge North station in each direction.

According to this article on the BBC, the station cost £44million.

It is all pretty impressive and practical.

Are Cambridge, Cambridge North, Waterbeach and Ely stations the first four stations of a Cambridge Mini-Crossrail or Metro?

Consider.

  • Cambridge South station could be built close to Addenbrooke’s Hospital.
  • Lines fan out from Ely to Bury St. Edmunds and Ipswich, King’s Lynn, Norwich and Peterborough.
  • Lines will fan out to the South of Addenbrooke’s to Bedford, Hitchin and Kings Cross, Stansted and Liverpool Street.
  • Cambridge station has more platforms than many terminal stations.
  • Cambridge North station has space for extra platforms.
  • A lot more trains could stop in the stations.

It will be interesting to see how the system develops in the future.

May 21, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

Cambridge Should Have A Metro System Like Barcelona

This was the title on this article in the Cambridge News.

This map shows the proposition.

It is probably a reasonable aspiration for the city, but the plan proposed would be very expensive, as the proposer suggests a tunnel under Cambridge.

In Making Sense Of The New East Anglia Franchise, I had a section entitled A Cambridge Metro. Some of this post is an update of the previous one.

So what do we know is actually happening?

Cambridge’s £750Million City Deal

This article in the Cambridge News is entitled Three new train stations and £750m City Deal projects to fuel Cambridge public transport revolution.

These rail improvements are mentioned in the article.

  • New stations at Addenbrooke’s, Cherry Hinton and Fulbourn.
  • Cambridge to Kings Lynn service increase from one to two trains per hour (tph)
  • Two tph to Stansted.
  • March to Wisbech rail reinstatement.
  • Cambridge to Ipswich service increase to two tph
  • East Coast Main Line rail capacity improvements between Huntingdon and Peterborough
  • A new station at Alconbury on the East Coast Main Line.
  • Reinstate the ‘Newmarket west curve’ to allow direct services to run between Ely and the new station at Soham to Newmarket and Cambridge.
  • Double tracking of railway line between Ely and Soham.

Cambridge is bursting and needs more local transport systems and the City Deal and other funding recognises that!

Services Through Cambridge

Within a few years, all of these services will arrive at one or all of Cambridge, Cambridge North and the proposed Cambridge South stations.

  • Greater Anglia from Ipswich
  • Greater Anglia from Liverpool Street
  • Greater Anglia from Norwich
  • EastMidlands Trains and CrossCountry from Peterborough
  • Greater Anglia and CrossCountry from Stansted Airport
  • East West Rail Link from Bedford, Milton Keynes and Oxford
  • Great Northern from Kings Cross
  • Great Northern from King’s Lynn
  • Thameslink from Brighton
  • Thameslink from Maidstone East
  • Thameslink from St. Pancras

Cambridge is taking over the world. Or at least making it a much better place!

Cambridge Crossrail?

These services could be organised, so they ran more efficiently.

Consider.

  • Perhaps they could call at Cambridge South, Cambridge, Cambridge North and Ely stations in an appropriate order as they pass through the City in a North-South direction.
  • It might be better if services from the South were run back-to-back with services from the North.
  • Greater Anglia are already proposing a Norwich-Stansted Airport service.
  • Great Northern already run a King’s Lynn-Kings Cross service.
  • Cambridge has four bay platforms for terminating trains.
  • Cambridge North station  will have a South-facing bay platform.
  • Ely station has had a South-facing bay platform

I think it very likely that after a meeting in one of Cambridge’s excellent real ale hostelries, a very adequate core service can be developed through Cambridge.

Could this core service do for Cambridge, what other Cross-City services have done for Berlin, Birmingham, Leipzig, Liverpool, Newcastle and Paris?

On published plans the following will be running in a year or so, between Ely and the site of Cambridge South station.

  • 1 train per hour (tph) between Norwich and Stansted Airport
  • 1 tph between Birmingham and Stansted Airport
  • 1 tph between Kings Cross and Kings Lynn.

In addition Thameslink will have 2 tph between Cambridge North and Brighton via St. Pancras and London Bridge, so the three Cambridge stations could have a 5 tph connection.

The Bombardier Aventra

Greater Anglia have ordered 89 five-car and 22 ten-car Aventras and they obviously have plans to use them all efficiently.

The Aventra has a slightly unusual and innovative electrical layout.

This article in Global Rail News from 2011, which is entitled Bombardier’s AVENTRA – A new era in train performance, gives some details of the Aventra’s electrical systems. This is said.

AVENTRA can run on both 25kV AC and 750V DC power – the high-efficiency transformers being another area where a heavier component was chosen because, in the long term, it’s cheaper to run. Pairs of cars will run off a common power bus with a converter on one car powering both. The other car can be fitted with power storage devices such as super-capacitors or Lithium-Iron batteries if required.

This was published six years ago, so I suspect Bombardier have improved the concept.

It looks like the length and capacity of a ten-car Aventra is equivalent to that of a twelve-car formation of Class 317Class 321 or Class 360 trains.

So on a rough estimate the Aventras are equivalent  to about 200 four-car units.

Currently Greater Anglia have 170 four-car electric trains, ignoring the Class 379 trains, which will be replaced by Stadler Flirts.

Greater Anglia appear to have increased the fleet by the equivalent of thirty four-car trains or another twenty five-car Aventras than they would need to replicate current services.

When you consider that for some of their routes, the faster and quicker-stopping Aventras, should provide current service with fewer trains, you wonder what Greater Anglia are going to do with these spare trains?

Bombardier’s concept of a pair of cars sharing the electrical components, that I indicated earlier, is a good one from an engineering point of view.

It shares the weight of heavy components and would allow a weighty high-capacity energy storage device to be easily installed, to give sufficient range to go between say Ely and Peterborough stations, which is a distance of just twenty-five miles.

In addition, suppose though the train was packaged in a passenger-friendly skin, that made it look more as much like a tram than a train!

You would have a train, that would be equally at home using the electrification on the 100 mph Great Eastern Main Line or running silently through the countryside at a leisurely 40-50 mph using onboard energy storage.

In the following sections, I’ll investigate how Aventras could expand the basic core service around Cambridge.

Turn-Up-And-Go Services

Where I live in Dalston in East London, the London Overground run services at what they call a Turn-Up-And-Go service of four trains per hour (tph).

Merseyrail use this frequency on some of their lines, as do Birmingham and Leeds.

This should be the aim for services to and from Cambridge.

Commuting Into Cambridge

Many travel into Cambridge every day for work.

  • The trains are crowded.
  • Many travel with bicycles.
  • The Cambridge Park-and-Ride is very busy.
  • It is not unknown for commuters to unfold their Brompton in a Park-and-Ride and cycle to work.
  • The City Centre seems grid-locked with traffic and walkers most of the day.

The conclusion is that extra capacity is needed.

Cambridge North Station

Cambridge North station will provide extra capacity in the North of the City and better access to the Science Park.

But extra thought will need to be put into services at the station.

Consider.

There are no plans for a direct service between Cambridge North and Bury St. Edmunds and Ipswich.

  • There is only one tph to Norwich.
  • There is only one tph to Peterborough.
  • Will CrossCountry’s Birmingham to Stansted service stop at both Cambridge and Cambridge North stations?

A chord at Ely Dock Junction would create a route between Suffolk and Cambridge North station.

Rail Lines Into Cambridge

In a few years,  these rail lines will bring passengers to Cambridge.

From the late 2020s, the lines will be joined by the East-West Rail Link..

The Guided Busway

Cambridge has spent a lot of money developing the Guided Busway.

One of the main reasons for developing the Southern section of the Guided Busway was to serve Addenbrooke’s Hospital and the surrounding cluster of health-related companies and research establishments.

Now that Addenbrooke’s is getting a new Cambridge South station, will the  Guided Busway be less important?

Possibly, but the station will probably rule out any extension of the Busway at its Southern end.

The Guided Busway will also call at both Cambridge and Cambridge North stations. Surely, passengers who are using the busway to go North of Cambridge will change transport mode at Cambridge North station.

It looks to me, that when Cambridge North and Cambridge South stations are fully operational, that the busway’s main purpose will be to bring passengers to and from the two new stations.

Services Via The West Anglia Main Line

Services to London Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport on the fully-electrified West Anglian Main Line, consist of the current services.

  • 1 tph fast to Liverpool Street
  • 1 tph semi-fast to Liverpool Street
  • 1 tph to Stansted Airport.

When Greater Anglia receive their Stadler Flirts, the operator will add a one tph Norwich to Stansted Airport service.

All except one of these services are fast services with limited stops and two will only go as far as Stansted Airport.

As the Aventras will be able to cruise at a fast speed and thus keep out of the way of the express Flirts, could we see some extra local services on the line, that will improve local journeys and connections to Bishops Stortford, Cambridge and Stansted Airport?

Commuting, shopping and leisure activities in Cambridge would certainly be easier if your local station had four tph.

Services Via The Cambridge And East Coast Main Lines

Services to London Kings Cross via the fully-electrified Cambridge  Line will consist of the current services.

  • 1 tph fast to London Kings Cross
  • 1 tph semi-fast to London Kings Cross

Thameslink will add the following services.

  • 2 tph to Brighton – Semi-fast stopping at  Royston, Baldock (peak only) Letchworth Garden City, Hitchin, Stevenage
  • 2 tph to Maidstone East – Stopping at  all stations.

These might replace the current semi-fast service to Kings Cross.

Stations like Letchworth Garden City, Baldock and Royston currently get two tph to Cambridge and will get four tph when Thameslink opens.

But surely a Turn-Up-And-Go service of four tph at a lot more stations, would pull more passengers out of the woodwork.

So why not run Aventras from Cambridge to a suitable station to improve the service?

There may be a problem with Greater Anglia running this service, as the Cambridge Line is Great Northern territory, but if that is the case, Great Northern should join the party around Cambridge.

Services To Bedford, Milton Keynes And Oxford

The East West Rail Link and Cambridge South station  could be delivered in the late 2020s.

I will deal with local services on this line later.

Services To Norwich

The one tph from Norwich to Cambridge will be replaced by a one tph Norwich to Stansted Airport service, so in practice those living in Cambridge will only notice a destination change and a new larger train.

North of Ely, the service will actually be two tph, as there is a one tph Norwich-Nottingham service.

This service pattern will be sufficient for a few years, but I can see a time, when there is a need for two tph on the Cambridge-Norwich route, with possibly one extended to Yarmouth.

This service frequency is not sufficient for a commuter route into Cambridge.

As an example, Thetford station has just two tph in each direction between Norwich and Ely, with only one tph going to Cambridge. Miss a train and wait an hour doesn’t attract customers!

The line is not electrified between Ely and Thetford, but the distance is only a small amount over twenty miles, which could be in out-and-back range for an Aventra running on onboard energy storage.

So an Aventra running using onboard power could probably run a four tph Turn-Up-And-Go service from Cambridge as far as Thetford with the following stops to the North of Ely.

What would four tph in addition to the current two tph do to this area?

Services To Peterborough

Cambridge to Peterborough currently has only one tph, with three tph between Ely and Peterborough.

This means that Peterborough with all its connections to the North of England and Scotland, is not a particularly difficult journey, but a rather infrequent journey from Cambridge.

But it needs a Turn-Up-And-Go service of four tph from the two Cambridge stations.

The Ely-Peterborough Line is a major freight artery, but it is not electrified.

However, the section without electrification is just over twenty miles, so an Aventra with onboard storage could manage it with ease and charge the energy storage at both ends.

There are also just two stations on the line at March and Whittlesea.

So why not open a few more stations on the line and give them a decent four tph service between Cambridge and Peterborough?

This Google Map shows the location of the former Peterborough East station.

Surely, with everything going on in the area and need to develop more housing, a station is needed here.

Extension To Wisbech

The track already exists and if ever there was a town that needed a two tph rail link to Cambridge , it is Wisbech, which is less than ten miles from the main Ely-Peterborough Line. Even if the main line isn’t electrified, Wisbech is probably within range of 2020 battery technology from Ely.

The Service To Nottingham

East Midlands Train run a one tph service between Nottingham and Norwich.

Perhaps, as services from Cambridge develop, it might be better for this Nottingham service to terminate at Cambridge.

This would give Cambridge direct access to Nottingham and Leicester, but it would also give the service to Peterborough an increased frequency

If this were to be done, a second Cambridge-Norwich service should probably be added, to restore two tph to Norwich.

Services To Bury St. Edmunds And Ipswich

Network Rail have thought long and hard about what to do with services from Ipswich to Cambridge and Peterborough over the years.

Greater Anglia’s solution is to run the following services using bi-mode Flirts.

  • 1 tph from Ipswich to Cambridge
  • 1 tph from Colchester to Peterborough.

This will give the following.

  • Services quicker by a few minutes.
  • Two tph between Kennett, Bury St. Edmunds, Stowmarket and Ipswich.
  • More capacity.

But the service to Cambridge and Newmarket and Bury St. Edmunds is as now!

  • There is only one tph from Ipswich, Bury St. Edmunds and all the other stations East of Kennett.
  • The service only goes to Cambridge and not Cambridge North or the proposed Cambridge South stations.
  • There is an alternative route with a change at Ely.

Bury St. Edmunds and Newmarket need two tph to both Cambridge stations! And  they need that service now!

Currently trains from Ipswich, Bury St. Edmunds and Newmarket take 79, 42 and 22 minutes respectively to get to Cambridge.

Cambridgeshire County Council also has plans to reopen Fulbourn and Cherry Hinton stations, which with the current trains would probably add five minutes to the current timings.

Could a new bi-mode Flirt go from Ipswich to Cambridge in an hour as opposed to the current one hour nineteen minutes?

  • Is the current timing based on a single-car 75 mph Class 153 train or a 100 mph Class 170 train, that works the route today?
  • The bi-mode Flirts could run on electricity from Ipswich to Haughley unction.
  • There are eight stops on the route, where a minute or two could be saved.
  • Step-free train access from the platform could be provided
  • Haughley Junction could be improved.
  • Wikipedia quotes the line-speed as 40-75 mph, which surely could be raised.
  • Fast turnbacks with a driver change could be performed at Cambridge and Ipswich.

It might just be possible to do Ipswich to Cambridge in an hour.

I can’t believe that this is not an aspiration of Greater Anglia.

It would give.

  • A headline-grabbing one hour trip between Ipswich and Cambridge.
  • ,Currently, Greater Anglia probably use two Class 170 trains on the route, so two trains could give a 2 tph service.
  • Ipswich to Bury St. Edmunds would get a three tph service.

But there would still be a need to change at Cambridge to get to Cambridge North and Cambridge South stations.

A Cambridge Eastern Metro

In the plans for the Cambridge region in the Cambridge News, these two points are made.

  • Reinstate the ‘Newmarket west curve’ to allow direct services to run between Ely and the new station at Soham to Newmarket and Cambridge.
  • Double tracking of railway line between Ely and Soham.

Obviously, these assume that there is a new station at Soham.

This Google Map shows the triangular junction on Newmarket Heath, where the Newmarket West Curve has been lifted.

 

The railway from Bury St. Edmunds splits into two, with one branch curving round the British Racing School and going North to Ely and the other curving South to go in a short tunnel under Newmarket to get to Newmarket station.

The reinstatement of the West Curve would enable a service to run between Ely and Cambridge stopping at the following stations.

  • Soham – New station
  • Fordham – New station
  • Newmarket
  • Dullingham
  • Fulbourn – New station
  • Cherry Hinton – New station

I have added another station at Fordham.

I estimate Ely to Newmarket will take 13 minutes making the journey time 35 minutes between Ely and Cambridge, as opposed to 16 minutes by the direct route.

This route could open up various route possibilities in addition to being a longer route between Ely and ambridge.

  • It certainly gives Newmarket a better service to Cambridge.
  • Services could terminate the other side of Ely at Kings Lynn, Peterborough, Thetford or Wisbech.
  • With reverses at Cambridge and Ely, a loop service would connect Newmarket and the East of Cambridge to Cambridge North station.
  • The loop service could be extended to Cambridge South station.

I’m sure Greater Anglia have better ideas based on how passengers travel.

A Rebuilt Newmarket Station

Network Rail had a plan to rebuild Newmarket station with an island platform to give interchange between Ely and Peterborough services via the Newmarket West Curve and those going East to Bury St. Edmunds and Ipswich.

Could a train going from Peterborough and Ely to Cambridge via Soham be timed to be in Newmarket station at the same time as one going from Cambridge to Ipswich?

Consider.

  • With two tph on both services in both directions, it would be an efficient way to improve services without buying lots of trains.
  • Perhaps one Ely service would go to Peterborough and the other to Thetford.
  • Ely and Ipswich would have a two extra services in each hour, with just a step across the platform at Newmarket.
  • Newmarket, Fulbourn and Cherry Hinton would have four tph to Cambridge.
  • Newmarket would have two tph to Ely.

There are a lot of possibilities.

Extension To Haverhill

There was a very good railway from the South of Cambridge to Haverhill and onto Sudbury, Marks Tey and |Colchester. But the last train ran on the Stour Valley Railway in 1967.

Greater Anglia have plans for the Eastern end of this route and it will be extended to Colchester Town station with probably two tph to Sudbury.

I suspect that Greater Anglia regret that British Rail closed this line fifty years ago, as two tph running between Colchester Town and Cambridge North stations via Colchester, Marks Tey, Sudbury, Haverhill, Cambridge South and Cambridge stations, wouldn’t be just a nice little earner, but quite a valuable gold-mine.

I believe that Greater Anglia will be running Colchester Town to Sudbury using Aventras with onboard energy storage, away from the overhead wires.

I also believe that by the time the line was extended from Sudbury to Cambridge South, that battery technology will have advanced enough to power a train from Marks Tey to Cambridge South.

Cambridge would gain a new route into the City, using the best that modern British technology can do!

An Aventra Between Marks Tey And Cambridge

After taking on a full load of electricity on the Great Eastern Main Line, a train would just trundle from Marks Tey to Sudbury, Haverhill and on to Cambridge.

  • The route would be nearly all single track.
  • There would be no need for any electrification.
  • Signalling would be conventional.
  • There would be no level crossings.
  • All stations would be single platform, with appropriate facilities.
  • A passing loop might be provided at perhaps Sudbury.
  • Trains might even run on the street in Haverhill, with perhaps three stops in the town.
  • When running on the street, the trains would obey the rules that street-running trams, do in places like Birmingham, Edinburgh and Nottingham.

It wouldn’t look like a conventional railway, but to the operator and the authorities that’s what it would be.

To anybody living or walking in the countryside, it would just be a silent electric vehicle passing at an appropriate speed.

As it’s going to work out of Cambridge, the interior would be geared to the needs of the bicycle-friendly city.

With a range of fifty miles on onboard energy storage, it would have no difficulty with these services.

  • The Cambridge Eastern Metro
  • Marks Tey To Cambridge Via Sudbury And Haverhill.
  • Ely To Thetford
  • Ely to Peterborough
  • Extension To Wisbech

Where else could these trains take the rail network in Cambridge?

Along The East West Rail Link

All the plans for the East West Rail Link are about long distance services services between Oxford, Milton Keynes, Bedford and Cambridge.

But why if you have a 100 mph electrified railway between two important cities, should it not have a two or even four-train per hour stopping service between the cities.

Modern trains are able to execute a station stop so quickly compared to trains of twenty years ago, that having a stopping train on a main line, isn’t the liability, that it was even a few years ago.

So on the East West Rail Link between Cambridge and Bedford will we be seeing four tph, that stop at all stations in addition to the fast expresses?

In the map that introduced this post, a service to Cambourne is shown.

This Google Map shows the location of Cambourne to the West of Cambridge.

Cambourne is at the top of the map, just South of the A428 road.

The red arrow at the bottom right, indicates the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory,

The East West Rail Link passes to the North of the observatory, which used to use the old track bed, as a track for radio telescopes and then goes to the South of Cambourne.

Perhaps a single track branch line could be built.

Conclusion

A Metro in Cambridge will develop because of these factors

  • Cambridge needs to reach out to the hinterland, as it is growing fast.
  • A high-frequency cross-city line with three important stations in a row will happen.
  • Greater Anglia have bought a lot of five-car Aventras.
  • Aventras will be able to run using onboard energy storage.
  • A lot of the lines radiating from Cambridge have capacity for extra services and are electrified.

But the biggest factor will be that towns and cities around Cambridge will want part of the prosperity.

 

 

March 31, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment