The Anonymous Widower

Flirt Akku And Class 755 Train Compared

This article on Focus Transport is entitled 224-kilometre Battery Range For FLIRT Akku – Stadler Sets World Record For Guinness Book Of Records.

These facts about the record run are given.

  • The route was from from Berlin to Warnemünde.
  • It appears to have been independently verified.
  • The distance was 224 kilometres or 139 miles.
  • This distance is more than London to Great Yarmouth via Norwich.
  • It is reported that the temperature was around zero, which is not very battery-friendly.

No mention was made in the article of the number of passengers on board or the average speed.

Various articles have stated that the Flirt Akku is a three-car train, but I was not sure, if it included a PowerPack car like the Class 755 train.

So I flew my virtual drone over the route and got this picture.

Compare the front end with this picture of a Class 755 train at Lowestoft.

And the side view with this diagram of the trains, that I clipped from Wikipedia.

I can come to these conclusions.

  • The two front ends are very different, although the basic layout of doors and windows appears the same.
  • The Akku seems to have a flatter side.
  • The Akku lacks the PowerPack of the British train.

It also looks like the Greater Anglia train has better step-free access between between train and platform. But then you never seem to find good step-free access on German trains.

Some extra information and thoughts .

Testing The Flirt Akku

This article on Railvolution is entitled FLIRT AKKU Research Project Completed.

The article comprehensively described the testing process  and gave more details of the train.

  • The train was running at 140 kph or 87 mph.
  • This speed is available from the catenary or battery.
  • Battery charging takes twenty minutes.
  • The train seats 154 passengers in a 2 + 2 configuration.

The train appears to be roughly the same size and performance as a three-car Class 755 train.

Range On A Battery-Electric Class 755 Train

The battery range needed on various Greater Anglia routes are as follows.

Ipswich and Cambridge – 41.3 miles

  • Ipswich and Felixstowe – 15.6 miles
  • Ipswich and Lowestoft – 48.9 miles
  • Ipswich and Peterborough – 71.2 miles
  • Norwich and Great Yarmouth – 18.3 miles
  • Norwich and Lowestoft – 23.5 miles
  • Norwich and Sheringham – 30 miles
  • Norwich and Stansted Airport – 53.7 miles
  • Marks Tey and Sudbury – 11.8 miles

Note.

  1. Cambridge, Ely, Ipswich, Norwich and Peterborough are stations with full electrification.
  2. I suspect some services will need charging at the remote station.

It looks like to handle all routes will need a train with a range of around 80 miles or around 129 kilometres.

Conclusion

I don’t think that it would be impossible for Stadler to create a battery-electric Class 755 train with enough range.

December 24, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Is There A Case For A Round-The-Wash Service Between Doncaster And Ipswich/Norwich?

I suggested this service in The Integrated Rail Plan For The North And Midlands And The East Coast Main Line.

Effectively, it would join East Midlands Railway’s Doncaster and Peterborough service with Greater Anglia’s Cambridge and Ipswich service.

  • The service could go via Scunthorpe, Grimsby Town, Cleethorpes, Grimsby Town, Market Rasen, Lincoln, Sleaford, Spalding, Peterborough, March, Ely, Cambridge North, Cambridge, Newmarket, Bury St. Edmunds and Stowmarket.
  • There would be reverses at Cleethorpes and Cambridge.
  • There may be extra stops in Lincolnshire and across Suffolk.
  • The service would not use the East Coast Main Line, but would use the new Werrington Dive-Under and the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Line to the East of the East Coast Main Line.
  • The frequency would be one train per two hours (1tp2h).
  • Ideal trains could be Class 755 trains, perhaps running on batteries or hydrogen.

It would be paired with a new Doncaster and Norwich service, that could partly replace East Midlands Railway’s Liverpool and Norwich service.

  • The service could go via Scunthorpe, Grimsby Town, Cleethorpes, Grimsby Town, Market Rasen, Lincoln, Sleaford, Spalding, Peterborough, March, Ely, Cambridge North, Cambridge, Cambridge North, Ely, Thetford, Attleborough and Wymondham.
  • There would be reverses at Cleethorpes and Cambridge.
  • There may be extra stops in Lincolnshire and across Norfolk.

As with the Ipswich train it would not use the East Coast Main Line and have a frequency of 1tp2h.

The Objectives Of The Service

I believe this service could have several objectives.

Remove Slower Trains From The East Coast Main Line Between Peterborough And Doncaster

There aren’t many except freight, but this plan could provide a better solution to the Liverpool and Norwich service.

Providing Better Connections To The Biggest Growth Point In The UK – Cambridge

Cambridge needs better connections, so that it can bring in the staff and workers, that the high-tech capital of the UK needs.

Better Connection Of East Anglia And Lincolnshire To Northern England And Scotland

In Peterborough and Doncaster the route has two main interchanges to bring about these connections.

Promoting Tourism

For a start the route has five cathedrals; Bury St. Edmunds, Ely, Lincoln, Norwich and Peterborough and the historic city of Cambridge.

But I do believe that there are numerous places, where tourists might stay on the route and use it to explore the East of the country.

A Few Questions

These are a few questions.

Would The Route Be Electrified?

I don’t believe it will be fully electrified for two reasons.

Freight locomotives will increasingly become hydrogen-powered and also be able to use electrification, where it exists.

Plans by the likes of Hitachi ABB Power Grids and Furrer and Frey are likely to enable discontinuous and battery-electric trains to be able to work the route.

This philosophy would avoid all the disruption and reconstruction of structures of electrification and probably be much more affordable.

Would York Or Leeds Make A Better Northern Terminal For The Route?

Both have possibilities.

  • York would need running on the East Coast Main Line.
  • Leeds would probably need trains capable of 125 mph running.

On the other hand both Leeds and York would have superb connectivity.

Conclusion

I feel this would be a very valuable new service and it could be created without building any new infrastructure other than perhaps some strategic stations.

November 25, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Would A Lumo-Style Service Work Between King’s Cross And Norfolk?

This is a bit of a fantasy and you’ll never know the real reason why I have written it!

With the upgrade of the East Coast Main Line to full digital signalling, there will be a problem South of Hitchin with 140 mph Azumas and Hitachi Class 802 trains and similar from Grand Central , Hull Trains and Lumo hogging the fast lines to and from King’s Cross. I first wrote about it in Call For ETCS On King’s Lynn Route.

One solution would be to replace the current Class 387 trains with a 140 mph train , such as a Hitachi Class 802 variant. This would enable these fast King’s Lynn and Cambridge trains to join the 140 mph trains on a fast run to and from King’s Cross.

The Future Of Cambridge

Cambridge is one of the UK’s four world cities, with its heritage and lately its high position in any technology league table.

The Current Rail Service Between London And Cambridge

Currently, it has a good service into King’s Cross, Liverpool Street and St. Pancras.

  • Great Northern – two tph to King’s Cross – A stopping train using Class 700 or Class 387 trains.
  • Great Northern – one tph between Ely and King’s Cross – A fast train using Class 387 trains.
  • Great Northern – one tph between King’s Lynn and King’s Cross – A fast train using Class 387 trains.
  • Thameslink  – two tph to Brighton – A semi-fast train using Class 700 trains.
  • Greater Anglia – two tph to Liverpool Street – A semi-fast train using Class 720 or Class 379 trains.

Note.

  1. tph means trains per hour.
  2. The similar Class 387 and Class 379 trains are both late-model Bombardier Electrostars with sensible seats and a large number of tables. Both train types can or could be modified to run at 110 mph.
  3. The Class 700 trains are unsuitable for the route, as they have ironing-board seats and no tables. These are only 100 mph trains.
  4. The Queen’s bottom doesn’t like the Class 700 trains.

A large proportion of the passengers and commuters between to and from Cambridge work in high-tech or information-rich businesses and I believe if the trains were more geared to this market they would attract passengers away from the roads.

The Cambridge Employment Problem

Fast-growing Cambridge is taking over the region and it is always looking for towns and villages to develop as places for dormitories and to build premises for the hundreds of high-tech businesses.

This is one of the reasons why Greater Anglia acquired new Stadler Class 755 trains to run services from Cambridge to Bury St. Edmunds, Ipswich, Norwich, Peterborough and Stansted Airport.

If you’re going to lure Cambridge’s well-paid high-tech commuters out of their cars, you must give them an equivalent seat to their car. The Class 379, 387 and 755 trains do this.

Living In Norfolk And Suffolk And Working In Cambridge

This has always been the choice of many who work in Cambridge, but using rail into Cambridge didn’t really take-off seriously until modern three-car Class 170 trains replaced the single-car Class 153 trains.

Greater Anglia have followed the upward trend in passenger numbers, by running hourly  four-car Class 755 trains from Cambridge to both Ipswich and Norwich.

Before the pandemic, it was starting to look like Norwich and Cambridge would soon need a second service, especially with the planned opening of the new Cambridge South station in 2025.

Addenbrooke’s Hospital And The Cambridge Biomedical Campus

Cambridge South station is being built to serve Addenbrooke’s Hospital and Cambridge Biomedical Campus, which intend to be create the foremost medical research cluster in the world.

Staycations And Holiday Homes In East Anglia

Life is changing because of the covids and more people are taking staycations or buying holiday homes.

And many are following the example of the Queen and going to Norfolk for their relaxation.

The Undoubted Need To Improve Rail Services Between London King’s Cross And Norfolk Via Cambridge

These factors convince me that there is a need for a new or repurposed rail service  between London King’s Cross and Norfolk via Cambridge.

  • The need to provide a high-class commuter service between London and Cambridge.
  • The need to bring workers into Cambridge from Norfolk.
  • The need to provide a fast high-class rail link to Cambridge South station with all its medical research.
  • The need to provide a comprehensive working environment on the trains.
  • The need to cater for all those people relaxing in Norfolk after a hard week in London.

It is my view, that a radical design of train is needed for this route.

  • It would need to have a high-class interior.
  • It would need at least a 125 mph capability, so that it can use the fast lines between Hitchin and King’s Cross.
  • The train may need the ability to split and join.
  • It would need an independent power capability for running on the Breckland Line between Ely and Norwich.
  • Because of Cambridge and because East Anglia is easy country for cycling, it would need a sensible capacity for cycles.

I also believe that because of the need to decarbonise, the train should be zero-carbon.

These are my thoughts.

Operating Speed

Because of running on the fast lines between Hitchin and King’s Cross with the 140 mph trains from the North, I suspect that an operating speed of at least 125 mph is needed. But if the Hitachi trains of LNER, Hull Trains, Lumo and in the future possibly other operators like Grand Central, will be capable of 140 mph, this speed could be desirable.

Speed limits once the trains have left the East Coast Main Line at Hitchin North junction are as follows.

  • Hitchin and Cambridge – 90 mph
  • Cambridge and King’s Lynn – 90 mph
  • Ely and Norwich – 75-90 mph

I can see Network Rail using their expertise to raise the speed limit on sections of these lines.

Flighting Of Trains On The East Coast Main Line

To increase capacity on the East Coast Main Line, I believe that at some point in the not too distant future that trains will be flighted. This will involve two or more trains leaving King’s Cross in a sequence and proceeding with all trains at a safe distance from each other.

I can envisage a flight like this from King’s Cross.

  • An Edinburgh train with York as the first stop – Leaves at XX.00
  • A Leeds train with Doncaster as the first stop – Leaves at XX.03
  • A Lincoln train with Peterborough as the first stop – Leaves at XX.06
  • A Cambridge train with Stevenage as the first stop – Leaves at XX.09

Note.

  1. The Edinburgh train would set the speed.
  2. Trains would maintain their time behind the lead train.
  3. Everything could be controlled by the digital signalling.
  4. Gaps between the trains would be sufficient for a safe stop.
  5. No train in the flight would make a station stop unless it was the last train in the flight.
  6. The last train in the flight would drop off and go to their destination.

As there are at least two tph to Edinburgh, Leeds and Cambridge, there would be two main flights per hour leaving King’s Cross, with the second flight perhaps incorporating a service to Hull.

Digital signalling and precise driving would enable the flights to be built in the opposite direction into King’s Cross.

The big advantage would be that instead of needing eight paths per hour on the East Coast Main Line, only two would be needed.

All trains would need to have similar performance, so this is another reason why the Cambridge trains need to be at least 125 mph trains.

Train Interiors

Lumo has broken new ground in train interiors.

  • It is one class.
  • Everybody gets a decent seat.
  • Everybody gets good legroom.
  • Everybody gets some form of table.
  • There are decent-sized overhead racks for hand-baggage and coats.
  • There is space for bicycles and heavy luggage appropriate to the route.

This can be built on to provide a good working and playing environment suited to the passengers who would use a fast King’s Cross and Norfolk service via Cambridge.

  • Lots of tables for four, as in the high-class Electrostars.
  • Better bicycle storage.
  • Better alignment of seats with windows.

Hitachi could obviously produce a train to this specification.

But what about other manufacturers.

Stadler’s Class 755 trains are surely a possibility.

  • A senior driver from Greater Anglia told me that the design speed for a Class 755 train is 200 kph or 125 mph.
  • They have good seats.
  • They have flat floors.
  • They have large windows.
  • They have step-free access between train and platform.
  • Like the Hitachi trains, they are in service.

I believe the closely-related Class 745 trains are probably the best commuter trains in the UK and are the only alternative to the Hitachi trains on a125 mph fully-electrified route.

Bridging The Electrification Gap Between Ely And Norwich

Between Norwich and Ely stations is 53.8 miles and this section is not electrified, although both stations have full electrification.

The line is not heavily used with typically only two passenger trains and the occasional freight trains in each direction in an hour.

This Hitachi infographic describes the Hitachi Regional Battery Train.

A 90 km. range could be sufficient to cover the gap between Norwich and Ely.

Could Hitachi build a Class 802 train or similar with a battery range of 90 km or 56 miles?

Certainly, a speed of 100 mph would probably be sufficient to bridge the gap in a decent time.

Improving The Breckland Line

The Breckland Line is the route between Cambridge and Norwich.

  • Cambridge and Norwich is 68.5 miles
  • Only the sixteen miles between Cambridge and Ely North junction is electrified.
  • There are thirteen stops between the two cities.
  • A typical time is 79 minutes
  • This is an average speed of just 52 mph.
  • The operating speed is 75-90 mph.

I am sure that Network Rail can squeeze a few minutes here and there to get the operating speed up to the 100 mph of the Great Eastern Main Line.

But the big problem at Norwich is the Trowse swing bridge.

It is only single track and it is likely that this bridge will be replaced soon.

This Google Map shows Trowse junction, a short distance South of the swing bridge.

Note.

  1. The electrified double-track of the Great Eastern Main Line goes across the map from North East to South West.
  2. The double-track railway to the East of the main line is the unelectrified Breckland Line to Cambridge, which turns West and goes under the main line.
  3. On the West of the main lines are the Victoria sidings that I wrote about in Greater Anglia Completes Directly-Managed Norwich Victoria Sidings Project.

As the replacement of the swing bridge will require some work to be done to the electrification, I wonder if at the same time Network Rail would electrify the Norwich end of the Breckland Line.

There must be a balance point adding electrification or batteries to the trains.

As the Breckland Line has few freight trains, electrification is not needed for freight.

Ticketing

A high-speed high-capacity service as I’m proposing must be easy to use.

It is a classic route, where nothing short of London-style contactless ticketing will do, as I’m certain this encourages people to use the trains.

As East Anglia is self-contained and has few services that don’t terminate in the area or in London, I am certain that this could be achieved.

If you remove First Class as Greater Anglia has done on many services, you actually simplify the ticketing, so a Lumo-style mid-class is ideal.

High Speed Train Services

Currently Great Northern run two tph from King’s Cross to Ely via Cambridge.

  • One service is extended to King’s Lynn.
  • I could see the second service extended to Norwich.

Both services would need to be run by 125 mph trains because of the speed of other trains on the East Coast Main Line.

Conclusion

I think duch a system would be possible.

November 21, 2021 Posted by | Health, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Route Map Of The East West Main Line

This image shows a schematic map of the East West Main Line.

Note.

  1. There is a lot of detail at the Eastern end. Is that the East Anglia influence in the Partnership?
  2. Bury St. Edmunds has been missed out. Is that the Ipswich influence in the Partnership?
  3. Of the four new stations only Winslow is not in Cambridgeshire. Is that the Cambridge influence in the Partnership?

It should also be noted that there are two links at the East, to the two ports of Freeport East; Felixstowe and Harwich.

Conclusion

This map makes a bold statement.

Related Posts

Birth Of The East West Main Line

Freight On The East West Main Line

October 7, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Cambridge Station To Get Another Platform Lengthening

Of all the stations I use regularly, Cambridge seems to have more expansion programs than any other station I know.

When I first used it regularly it had the following platforms.

  • One long through platform split into two numbered 1 and 4 to handle most traffic.
  • Two bay platforms pointing North for services to Ipswich and Norwich.
  • Two bay platforms pointing South to London.

These have since been joined by a pair of through platforms to the East of the main lines through the station.

Wikipedia says this about Platforms 1 and 4.

  • Platform 1 is a 12-car bi-directional through platform generally used for southbound services to London King’s Cross and northbound services to King’s Lynn. It is also used for some early morning northbound services to Ely and for some late evening terminating services.
  • Platform 4 is a bi-directional 10-car through platform generally used for northbound services to Ely, King’s Lynn and Birmingham New Street. It is also used for some early morning southbound services to London King’s Cross and London Liverpool Street and for some terminating late evening services.

I was told today, that Platform 4 is going to be lengthened by forty metres at its Northern end.

  • This will make Platforms 1 and 4 the same length.
  • It will probably allow twelve-car trains to be run from London to both Cambridge North and Kings Lynn stations.

As both Greater Anglia and Great Northern already have twelve-car trains, adding forty metres of new platform is probably an affordable way to increase capacity between Cambridge and London.

A West Anglia High Speed Service

I like the concept of a high speed service Between King’s Cross and Cambridge.

Cambridge is sucking in the best scientific, engineering and financial talent in the UK and a high speed service to and from London would be ideal for reverse commuters.

Trains would be as I described in Will Hitachi Announce A High Speed Metro Train?.

  • The trains would run non-stop between King’s Cross and Cambridge.
  • The trains would run every thirty minutes.
  • Between London and Hitchen, the trains would run at up to 140 mph under digital signalling on the East Coast Main Line.
  • Between Hitchin and Cambridge, the trains would run at up to 100 mph on the Cambridge Line.
  • When Cambridge South station opens, the trains would stop at the station.
  • I would run a pair of trains to Cambridge station, where they would split with one train going to King’s Lynn and the other to Norwich.
  • Trains could split in the lengthened Platform 4 in Cambridge station.
  • Returning to London, they would join in Platform 1 at Cambridge station.
  • The King’s Lynn portion would stop at all stations to King’s Lynn.
  • The Norwich portion would stop at Cambridge North and then all stations to Norwich.
  • The 54 miles between Ely and Norwich would be on battery power.
  • All stations to the North of Ely would get a service every thirty minutes.

I can see other services like this starting all over the country.

  • London Euston and Milton Keynes, Rugby and Coventry.
  • London Kings Cross and Leeds
  • London Kings Cross and Lincoln, Grimsby and Cleethorpes
  • London Paddington and Bristol
  • London Paddington and Cardiff
  • London Paddington and Oxford
  • London St. Pancras and Leicester, Derby and Nottingham.
  • London Waterloo and Portsmouth, Southampton and Bournemouth.

Note.

  1. The enabling factor would be trains running at 140 mph under full digital control.
  2. Existing 140 mph trains like Class 390 and Class 395 trains could also be used.

The services would generally handle shorter distances than High Speed Two and fill in the gaps left by that network.

 

August 4, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

The Cambridge Re-signalling, Relock and Recontrol Project

This project is Network Rail’s big signalling project in the Cambridge area and it is fully described in this document on the Network Rail web site.

The project is called the C3R Project for short and its scope is described in this Network Rail infographic.

Note.

  1. 125 miles of track are to be resignalled.
  2. Seventeen stations are likely to be resignalled.
  3. Eight level-crossings are to be upgraded.

Network Rail’s document splits the project into five sections.

  • Cambridge Power Signal Box – This will be upgraded.
  • Safety Interlocking Equipment – This will be upgraded with a computer-based system.
  • Closure Of Three Signal Boxes – Control will be relocated to Cambridge Power Signal Box.
  • Seven Level Crossing Upgrades – These will be upgraded to full barrier crossings.
  • Land Acquisition – As necessary to complete the works.

Upon completion the project will have replaced around 690 signalling assets.

Network Rail also say that the outline design contract to Alstom and it is expected to be completed in the last quarter of 2021.

Network Rail also says this about completion.

Subject to obtaining the necessary consents and design approvals, the detailed design and delivery of the signalling upgrade could begin by end of 2021 and be complete around the end of 2024.

My experience of project management and the railways of East Anglia, says that subject to one caveat, that this is a reasonable timescale.

The Level Crossing Problem

The problem could be the level crossings, as local interests are very protective of their supposed right to cross unhindered.

I particularly remember the Little Cornard Derailment, because a solicitor, who regularly instructed my late wife, was seriously injured in the derailment.

This is the first paragraph of the Wikipedia entry.

The Little Cornard derailment occurred on 17 August 2010 when a passenger train collided with a road vehicle on a level crossing on the Gainsborough Line near Little Cornard, Suffolk, and partly derailed. The vehicle, a tanker lorry, had begun crossing over the track when the Class 156 train from Sudbury destined for Marks Tey struck it whilst travelling at a speed of approximately 40 miles per hour (64 km/h)

Note.

Although, my late wife had died in 2007, one of her barrister colleagues told me of the link.

East Anglia and other rural parts of the UK suffer regularly from this type of accident.

This Google Map shows a 3D visualization of the site of the derailment.

It appears to be rather remote.

I am totally appalled that there was such primitive safety equipment on this crossing.

  • I have worked in seriously dangerous chemical plants, where Health and Safety rules forbade anyone entering the plant without full training.
  • As a sixteen-year-old in 1963, I was designing and installing systems on industrial guillotines, so that workers didn’t lose their hands.
  • A proportion of work, I did whilst working for ICI was about Health and Safety.
  • I have travelled extensively in tour buses in Eastern Europe and seen some appealing driving at level crossings.
  • According to a Hungarian friend, if you want to see bad driving at level crossings try Russia. He put it down to the local firewater.

This experience leeds me to believe that one of two things should be done with all level crossings on the railway.

  1. There should be a strong safety system on the crossing.
  2. The level crossing should be closed.

Will Network Rail be allowed by local interests to upgrade all the crossings they need?

The Level Crossings Network Rail Propose To Upgrade

These are the crossings Network Rail propose to upgrade.

Meldreth Road Level Crossing

This Google Map shows the Meldreth Road level crossing.

Note.

  1. Meldreth Road is the A10 between Cambridge and Royston.
  2. The double-track rail is the Cambridge Line between Cambridge and the East Coast Main Line.
  3. The line has a maximum speed of 90 mph.
  4. In every hour there are up to 10-12 passenger trains per hour (tph) through the level crossing.
  5. There are perhaps ten other trains per day, or less than one tph.

The ABC Railway Guide gives a line speed of 90 mph and adds these risk factors.

  • Sun Glare
  • Frequent Trains

It is very much a classic case of a busy railway crossing a busy road.

I also think that Network Rail has another problem here.

Pressure from train operators and passengers, could lead to more and faster trains through this level crossing.

In my view, the best solution to that problem would be to drop the railway into a cutting and put the road on a bridge over the top.

But this would be a very expensive and disruptive solution, which might mean that the road and/or railway were to be closed for several months.

The only other solution would be to run all trains between Royston and Cambridge under the control of digital signalling and Automatic Train Operation.

Trains would be timed so, that trains in opposite directions crossed on the level crossing, when the full barriers were down to stop traffic.

If this could be done, it could have various effects.

  • This would halve the number of level crossing closures in every hour.
  • The timekeeping might even impress drivers.
  • It might even train drivers to expect two trains, so if one was a minute or so late, they might be more prepared to wait.

This technique would give whole new meaning to a double cross.

This page on the My Councillor web site, gives details of opposition to the project by Councillor Susan van der Ven.

Six Mile Bottom Level Crossing

This Google Map shows the Six Mile Bottom level crossing.

Note.

  1. The road is the A1304 which is the main link between Newmarket and the South.
  2. The road can get very busy, when there is a big race meeting.
  3. The rail track is only single track.
  4. The line has a maximum speed of up to 75 mph.
  5. In every hour there are no more than one passenger tph in both directions.
  6. There are some occasional freight trains over the crossing.

The ABC Railway Guide gives a line speed of 60 mph and adds these risk factors.

  • Large Numbers Of Users
  • Sun Glare

I used to drive across this level crossing regularly, when I lived in the area and the trouble is that it is on a straight road, that encourages high speed.

Legend has it, that this was one of public roads used by Vincent to test their high performance motorcycles.

In the time I lived near the crossing, I can remember a serious accident between a car and a train, at the crossing.

It would appear that a partial solution has been applied.

This video shows how much brighter LED lights have been fitted to the crossing.

 

Let’s hope this encourages drivers to slow down, when the crossing is closed.

How many other level crossings would be improved with bright LED lights like these?

Dullingham Level Crossing

This Google Map shows the Dullingham level crossing.

Note.

  1. The current barriers are operated manually by the signalman in Dullingham signal box.
  2. The road is a local road and the small amount of traffic could probably be easily handled by an automatic crossing with full barriers.
  3. The rail line is the same at that at Six Mile Bottom, but is double-track.

The ABC Railway Guide gives a line speed of 60 mph and adds these risk factors.

  • Poor Visibility for Approaching Road Vehicles
  • Crossing is Near a Station
  • Crossing Approach
  • Sun Glare

From my local experience, I suspect that an automatic crossing with full barriers might even cause less delay to road traffic.

Milton Fen Level Crossing

This Google Map shows the Milton Fen level crossing.

Note.

  1. The road is a local road and the small amount of traffic could probably be easily handled by an automatic crossing with full barriers.
  2. The railway is the Fen Line between Cambridge and Ely.
  3. It looks like there are three passenger tph and the occasional freight trains through this crossing.
  4. The line speed of the rail line is 75 mph.

The ABC Railway Guide gives a line speed of 75 mph and adds these risk factors.

  • Sun Glare
  • Frequent Trains

It should also be noted that I can find reports of serious accidents and deaths on this crossing.

It looks to me, that an automatic crossing with full barriers could work well on this level crossing.

Waterbeach Level Crossing

This Google Map shows the Waterbeach level crossing.

Note.

  1. The road is a local road, but could the traffic be easily handled by an automatic crossing with full barriers?
  2. The railway is the Fen Line between Cambridge and Ely.
  3. It looks like there are three passenger tph and the occasional freight trains through this crossing.
  4. The line speed of the rail line is 75 mph.
  5. Waterbeach station is split with one platform either side of the level crossing, which is used by passengers to cross the line.

The ABC Railway Guide gives a line speed of 75 mph and adds these risk factors.

  • Poor Visibility for Approaching Road Vehicles
  • Crossing is Near a Station
  • Crossing Approach
  • Large Numbers of Users
  • Blocking Back
  • Frequent Trains

It should also be noted that Network Rail rate this crossing as high risk.

There is probably a long-term solution for this level crossing

Under Future Plans in the Wikipedia entry for Waterbeach station, this is said.

Plans to develop a New Town of 8,000 to 9,000 homes on the former Waterbeach Barracks site have been outlined by South Cambridgeshire District Council. As part of the proposal, there are plans to relocate the station to a new site and extend the platforms to accommodate 12 car trains.

Surely, a well-designed transport network to serve all these houses would see the level crossing closed and a new station built at a convenient location.

Dimmocks Cote Level Crossing

This Google Map shows the Dimmocks Cote level crossing.

Note.

  1. The road is the A1123, so could the traffic be easily handled by an automatic crossing with full barriers?
  2. The railway is the Fen Line between Cambridge and Ely.
  3. It looks like there are three passenger tph and the occasional freight trains through this crossing.
  4. The line speed of the rail line is 75 mph.

The ABC Railway Guide gives a line speed of 75 mph and adds these risk factors.

  • Infrequent Trains
  • Deliberate Misuse or User Error

It should also be noted that Network Rail rate this crossing as high risk.

Croxton Level Crossing

This Google Map shows the Croxton level crossing.

Note.

  1. The road is the A1075, so could the traffic be easily handled by an automatic crossing with full barriers?
  2. The railway is the Breckland Line between Norwich and Ely.
  3. It looks like there are two passenger tph and the occasional freight trains through this crossing.
  4. The line speed of the rail line is 75-90 mph.

It should also be noted that Network Rail rate this crossing as high risk.

The ABC Railway Guide gives the line speed as 40 mph and adds these risk factors.

  • Poor Visibility for Approaching Road Vehicles
  • Crossing Approach
  • Large Numbers of Users
  • Sun Glare
  • Deliberate Misuse or User Error

This crossing sounds like it could be an accident waiting to happen.

Although, I would feel that installing similar lights to those at Six Mile Bottom could be a big help!

Summarising The Proposed Level Crossing Upgrades

I can split these by topic.

Full Barrier installation

It would appear that all barriers can probably be replaced with the latest full barrier technology.

Improved Lighting

The video from Six Mile Bottom was impressive and probably shows how fairly simple improvements can increase safety.

Local Opposition

On this brief summary of all the level crossings, that Network Rail propose to upgrade to automatic crossing with full barriers, it would appear that only the Meldreth Road crossing is seeing opposition from local interests. Although, I do have doubts, that the development of all those houses at Waterbeach will ever happen because of local opposition.

Major Construction Works

It would appear that only two upgrades could require major works.

Meldreth Road – But only if it was felt that a substantial solution was needed.

Waterbeach – If a new station were to be built to cater for future housing development.

The others would only need barrier replacement and other appropriate improvements.

I would also feel that most of the work could be carried out without major disruption to train services or road traffic.

Modern Digital Signalling With Automatic Train Operation

Modern digital signalling with in-cab displays and a measure of automatic train operation offers three main gains to train operators and passengers.

  • More services can be squeezed safely into the existing network, without building controversial and expensive new lines.
  • Trains can run at higher average speeds.
  • Trains can run to timetable easier.

It should be noted that South of Doncaster the East Coast Main Line is being converted to this type of signalling and this will allow the Azumas and other trains to run at 140 mph, where the track allows, to speed up services between King’s Cross and the North.

Services Between King’s Cross and Cambridge

South of Hitchin, some services between King’s Cross and Cambridge share the lines with the expresses to and from the North.

For that reason the 100 mph Class 700 trains and the 110 mph Class 387 trains, would be out of their speed range like Morris Minors on the M1.

In 2018, I wrote Call For ETCS On King’s Lynn Route, based on an article in Rail Magazine, which called for 125 mph trains to Cambridge and King’s Lynn, so they wouldn’t slow the expresses.

It does appear to me that the digital signalling part of the C3R Project will enable 125 mph trains to run between King’s Cross and King’s Lynn via Cambridge.

  • Oxford has 125 mph non-stop local trains to London, so why not Cambridge?
  • A nine-car Class 800 train has a similar seating capacity to a twelve-car Class 700 train, but the seats are better and the train can travel at 125 mph.
  • These trains would significantly reduce the fifty minute journey time between King’s Cross and Cambridge.

This would be a real Cambridge Express.

Developing Services Around Cambridge

Just as full digital signalling is helping London to expand its railways with Crossrail and Thameslink. I believe that the C3R Project will help to squeeze more trains through Cambridge.

In a few years time, I believe Cambridge will have a core route consisting of Cambridge North, Cambridge and Cambridge South stations with much expanded services to Bury St. Edmunds, Ely, Ipswich, Kings Lynn, London, Norwich, Peterborough, Stansted Airport, Stevenage and Wisbech.

Ten years ago, I was told by one of Cambridge’s eminent thinkers, that Cambridge needed the connectivity to bring in the people that the economy needs.

The pandemic has changed things, but not Cambridge’s desire to create more businesses expand.

A Connection To Peterborough

Peterborough is the other half of Cambridgeshire’s area and shares the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority with Cambridge.

Peterborough station is well connected to the North and Midlands.

  • LNER’s connect the station to most stations  on the East Coast Main Line.
  • It has hourly services to Birmingham, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester and Nottingham.

But the connection between Cambridge and Peterborough is not of the quality and frequency that the two cities need.

A Connection To Stevenage

Stevenage is an important manufacturing and technology centre, with a strong presence in aerospace.

Stevenage station is well connected to the North and South.

  • LNER and other services connect the station to most stations South of Leeds and York on the East Coast Main Line.
  • The new service from East Coast Trains will provide a direct service to Newcastle and Edinburgh with a frequency of seven trains per day (tpd).
  • It has a direct suburban line to King’s Cross.
  • It has a direct suburban line to Moorgate.

Stevenage seems to be acquiring more long distance services as time progresses.

But the connection between Cambridge and Stevenage is currently poor, at just two tph, which stop everywhere.

Improve the connection between Cambridge and Stevenage and have more calls of services to and from the North at Stevenage and Cambridge and \stevenage would benefit.

Currently, the fast Cambridge services take 27 minutes to do the 30.3 miles between Cambridge and Stevenage, which is an average speed of 67.3 mph.

A Connection To Wisbech

Progress seems to be being made on a service between Cambridge and Wisbech, which I wrote about in Hope For Wisbech Line Revival.

This was the conclusion of that post.

I very much feel that the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority and Network Rail can create a very useful branch line to Wisbech.

There is not much infrastructure to be built and upgraded.

    • A new station will be built at Wisbech, which I feel is likely to be a Park-and-Ride on the A47.
    • A bay platform will probably need to be reopened at March station.
    • March station will need to be step-free.
    • There may be a station and a passing loop at Coldham.
    • Track and signalling will need to be replaced.

But the big project needed is the remodelling at Ely, which will have to be done to increase capacity, through the bottleneck.

Greater Anglia’s Class 755 trains would appear to be ideal for the branch and could operate on battery power.

This connection could be a very valuable connection.

It certainly looks like there are better plans to connect Wisbech to Cambridge, than there are to improve the connections between Cambridge and Peterborough and Stevenage.

Conclusion

The C3R Project will give the Cambridge compatible signalling with the East Coast Main Line and I feel increasingly Cambridge could be treated as a series of stations just off the East Coast Main Line and we might see some services develop, that seem strange to today’s travellers.

A simple example could be a Regional Metro running between Peterborough and Stevenage.

  • It would call at March, Ely, Waterbeach, Cambridge North, Cambridge, Cambridge South, Royston and Hitchin.
  • It would run at a frequency upwards of two tph.
  • It could even connect to Lincoln.

Other North-South services through Cambridge like Thameslink and Norwich and Stansted would combine to give perhaps six tph through the three main Cambridge stations.

The C3R Project will open up lots of possibilities.

 

 

 

 

 

June 3, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Thoughts On Faster Trains On Thameslink

The Class 700 trains used by Thameslink only have an operating speed of 100 mph.

I do wonder, if that is a fast enough operating speed for all Thameslink routes.

Sharing The Midland Main Line With 125 mph Trains

A couple of years ago, I travelled back into St. Pancras with a group of East Midlands drivers in a Class 222 train.

They told me several things about the route including that the bridge at the South of Leicester station would be difficult to electrify, as it was low and the track couldn’t be lowered as one of Leicester’s main sewers was under the tracks at the bridge. Perhaps, this is one place, where discontinuous electrification could be used on the Midland Main Line.

They also told me, that sometimes the Thameslink trains were a nuisance, as because of their 100 mph operating speed, the 125 mph Class 222 trains had to slow to 100 mph.

Upgrading Of The Midland Main Line South Of Bedford

The electrification of the Midland Main Line South of Bedford is being updated, so that it is suitable for 125 mph running.

An Analysis Of Services On The Midland Main Line South Of Bedford

The current Class 222 trains are capable of 125 mph and will be replaced by Class 810 trains capable of the same speed on both diesel and electricity.

Currently, a Class 222 train is capable of doing the following on a typical non-stop run between St. Pancras and Leicester.

  • Covering the 30 miles between St. Albans and Bedford in 17 minutes at an average speed of 106 mph.
  • Covering the 50.3 miles between Bedford and Leicester in 30 minutes at an average speed of 100.6 mph.
  • Maintaining 125 mph for long stretches of the route, once the trains is North of London commuter traffic at St. Albans

I can estimate the timings on the 79.2 miles between Leicester and St. Albans, by assuming the train runs at a constant speed.

  • 100 mph – 47.5 minutes
  • 110 mph – 43.2 minutes
  • 125 mph – 38 minutes
  • 140 mph – 34 minutes

Note.

  1. I have done the calculation for 140 mph, as that is the maximum operating speed of the Class 810 train with full in-cab digital signalling.
  2. Trains have been running at 125 mph for a couple of decades on the Midland Main Line.
  3. To get a St. Pancras and Leicester time add another 14 minutes, which is the current time between St. Pancras and St. Albans of a Class 222 train.
  4. Some Off Peak trains are timed at 62-63 minutes between St. Pancras and Leicester.
  5. A time of under an hour between St. Pancras and Leicester might be possible and the Marketing Department would like it.
  6. As Thameslink trains between Bedford and St. Albans stop regularly, they are on the slow lines of the four-track railway, to the North of St. Albans.
  7. South of St. Albans, Thameslink trains often run on the fast lines.

I can expect that East Midlands Railway will want to be running their new Class 810 trains as far as far South as they can at 125 mph, to speed up their services. When the signalling allows it, they’ll want to run at 140 mph.

So they won’t want to see Thameslink’s slow trains on the fast lines.

  • But if you look at the Thameslink trains that do run on the fast lines between St. Albans and St. Pancras, they appear to be the four trains per hour (tph) that run to and from Bedford.
  • Of these trains, two tph terminate at Brighton and two tph terminate at Gatwick Airport.
  • The average speed of a Class 222 train between St. Albans and St. Pancras assuming 14 minutes for the 19.7 miles is 84.4 mph.

So it looks to me that a 100 mph Thameslink train could be able to get away without slowing the East Midland Railway expresses.

But then that is not surprising, as for many years, the Class 222 trains worked happily with 100 mph Class 319 trains.

Is There Scope For Extra And Faster Services Into St. Pancras?

I have only done a simple calculation, but I do wonder if there is scope for the following.

  • Increasing the frequency of trains for both Thameslink and East Midlands Railway.
  • Saving a few minutes on East Midlands Railway services.

Consider.

  • The new Class 810 electric trains will probably have better acceleration and deceleration than the current Class 222 diesel trains, when working using electric power.
  • East Midlands Railway is introducing Class 360 trains that were built as 100 mph trains by Siemens, who are now upgrading them to 110 mph trains.
  • Can Siemens do the same for the Class 700 trains and create a sub-fleet capable of 110 mph running?
  • All trains will be running under full in-cab digital signalling with a large degree of automatic train control.

I feel that if the Class 700 trains had the extra speed, they would make the planning of services South of St. Albans easier and allow the Class 810 trains to both run faster and provide more services.

Sharing The East Coast Main Line With 125 mph Trains

The following Thameslink services run up the East Coast Main Line past Stevenage.

  • Cambridge And Brighton – Two tph – Stops at Royston, Ashwell and Morden (1 tph), Baldock, Letchworth Garden City, Hitchin, Stevenage, Finsbury Park, London St Pancras International, Farringdon, City Thameslink, London Blackfriars, London Bridge, East Croydon, Gatwick Airport, Three Bridges, Balcombe, Haywards Heath and Burgess Hill
  • Cambridge and Kings Cross – Two tph – Stops at Foxton, Shepreth, Meldreth, Royston, Ashwell and Morden, Baldock, Letchworth Garden City, Hitchin, Stevenage, Knebworth, Welwyn North, Welwyn Garden City, Hatfield, Potters Bar and Finsbury Park
  • Peterborough and Horsham – Two tph – Stops at Huntingdon, St Neots, Sandy, Biggleswade, Arlesey, Hitchin, Stevenage, Finsbury Park, London St Pancras International, Farringdon, City Thameslink, London Blackfriars, London Bridge, East Croydon, Coulsdon South, Merstham, Redhill, Horley, Gatwick Airport, Three Bridges, Crawley, Ifield, Faygate (limited) and Littlehaven

Note.

  1. Services are generally run by Class 700 trains, although lately the Kings Cross service seems to use Class 387 trains, which have a maximum speed of 110 mph and a more comfortable interior with tables.
  2. It is intended that the Cambridge and Kings Cross service will be extended to Maidstone East by 2021.

In addition there are two Cambridge Express and Fen Line services.

  • Kings Cross and Ely – One tph – Stops at Cambridge and Cambridge North.
  • Kings Cross and King’s Lynn – One tph – Stops at Cambridge, Cambridge North, Waterbeach, Ely, Littleport, Downham Market and Watlington

Note.

  1. These services are generally run by Class 387 trains.
  2. Cambridge and King’s Cross is timetabled at around fifty minutes.

Adding all of this together means that slower services on the East Coast Main Line are comprised of the following in both directions.

  • Three tph – 110 mph – Class 387 trains
  • Four tph – 100 mph – Class 700 trains

These seven trains will have to be fitted in with the 125 mph trains running services on the East Coast Main Line, for LNER, Grand Central, Hull Trains and East Coast Trains.

There are also the following problems.

  • All trains must navigate the double-track section of the East Coast Main Line over the Digswell Viaduct and through Welwyn North station.
  • The King’s Cross and Cambridge service stops in Welwyn North station.
  • Full in-cab digital signalling is being installed on the East Coast Main Line, which could increase the speed of the expresses through the double-track section.

Could the introduction of the Class 387 trains on the Cambridge and King’s Cross service have been made, as it easier to fit in all the services if this one is run by a 110 mph train?

However, the full in-cab digital signalling with a degree of automatic train control could be the solution to this bottleneck on the East Coast Main Line.

  • Trains could be controlled automatically and with great precision between perhaps Hatfield and Stevenage.
  • Some expresses might be slowed to create gaps for the Cambridge and Peterborough services.
  • The Hertford Loop Line is also getting full in-cab digital signalling, so will some services be sent that way?

In Call For ETCS On King’s Lynn Route, I talked about a proposal to improve services on the Fen Line. This was my first three paragraphs.

The title of this post, is the same as that on an article in Edition 849 of Rail Magazine.

The article is based on this document on the Fen Line Users Aoociation web site, which is entitled Joint Response To Draft East Coast Main Line Route Study.

In addition to ETCS, which could improve capacity on the East Coast Main Line, they would also like to see journey time reductions using trains capable of running at 125 mph or faster on the King’s Lynn to Kings Cross route.

My scheduling experience tells me that a better solution will be found, if all resources are similar.

Hence the proposal to run 125 mph trains between King’s Cross and King’s Lynn and probably Ely as well, could be a very good and logical idea.

If the Class 700 trains were increased in speed to 110 mph, the trains through the double-track section of the East Coast Main Line would be.

  • One tph – 110 mph – Class 387 trains
  • Four tph – 110 mph – Class 700 trains
  • Two tph – 125 mph – New trains

Note.

  1. This would probably be an easier mix of trains to digest with the high speed services, through the double-track section.
  2. I like the idea of extending the Ely service to Norwich to give Thetford, Attleborough and Wymondham an improved service to London, Cambridge and Norwich.

The new trains would probably be a version of Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train.

  • It would need to be capable of 125 mph on the East Coast Main Line.
  • If the Ely service were to be extended to Norwich, this section would be on battery power.

There are certainly a lot of possibilities.

But as with on the Midland Main Line, it looks like for efficient operation, the operating speed of the Class 700 trains on the route needs to be increased to at least 110 mph.

Could Faster Class 700 trains Improve Services To Brighton?

These are the Thameslink services that serve Bedford, Cambridge and Peterborough, that I believe could be run more efficiently with trains capable of at running at speeds of at least 110 mph.

  • Bedford and Brighton – Two tph
  • Bedford and Gatwick Airport – Two tph
  • Cambridge and Brighton – Two tph
  • Cambridge and Maidstone East – Two tph
  • Peterborough and Horsham – Two tph

Note.

  1. I have assumed that the Cambridge and King’s Cross service has been extended to Maidstone East as planned.
  2. Eight tph serve Gatwick Airport.
  3. Four tph serve Brighton.

The Gatwick Express services have a frequency of two tph between London Victoria and Brighton calling at Gatwick Airport is already run by 110 mph Class 387 trains.

It would appear that if the Bedford, Cambridge and Peterborough were run by uprated 110 mph Class 700 trains, then this would mean that more 110 mph trains would be running to Gatwick and Brighton and this must surely improve the service to the South Coast.

But it’s not quite as simple as that, as the Cambridge and Maidstone East services will be run by eight-car trains and all the other services by twelve-car trains.

Conclusion

There would appear to be advantages in uprating some or possibly all of the Class 700 trains, so that they can run at 110 mph, as it will increase capacity on the Brighton Main Line, East Coast Main Line and Midland Main Line.

 

 

April 6, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beeching Reversal – Reopening Sawston Station

This is one of the Round 3 bids of Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

Sawston is a village in South Cambridgeshire, which is shown in this Google Map.

Note.

The West Anglia Main Line and the A1301 road both run North-South to the West of the village.

The railway calls at Whittlesford Parkway station at the bottom of the map.

The A505, which is a main route between West Suffolk and the M11 and the A1 (M) runs across the bottom of the map.

The new Sawston station is proposed to be in Mill Lane close to the old Spicers factory.

This second Google Map shows the area of the proposed station.

Note.

  1. There would appear to be space for a station.
  2. The site is not far from the Western edge of the village.
  3. There is already a comprehensive road junction, that would serve the station.

This third Google Map shows the area of the Whittlesford Parkway station.

Note.

  1. The station running North-South towards the West of the map.
  2. The large car-park to the East of the station.
  3. The smaller car-park to the West of the station.
  4. The station has a Holiday Inn hotel.

I have used the station hundreds of times and I believe that it could be made into a first class transport hub for commuters and visitors to Cambridge.

  • It has good road connections to North Hertfordshire, West Suffolk and North West Essex.
  • It has large amounts of car parking, that ten years ago was rarely full.
  • A step-free footbridge with lifts, needs to be added.
  •  There needs to be better bus connections to local villages.
  • There needs to be a bus connection to the Imperial War Museum Duxford.

I don’t believe massive amounts of money would be needed to realise the full potential of this station.

Services through Whittlesford Station And The Proposed Site Of Sawston Station

Currently, the following services run through Whittlesford station in the Off Peak.

  • Greater Anglia – 2 tph – Liverpool Street and Cambridge North
  • Greater Anglia – 1 tph – Stansted Airport and Norwich
  • CrossCountry – 3 tpd – Stansted Airport and Birmingham New Street

Note.

  1. tph is an abbreviation for trains per hour.
  2. tpd is an abbreviation for trains per day
  3. All Greater Anglia services call at Whittlesford Parkway,  Cambridge and Cambridge North stations and will probably call at Cambridge South station, when it opens.
  4. The CrossCountry service only calls at Audley End station between Stansted Airport and Cambridge.

I believe that the minimum services should be as follows to provide an adequate service, after the opening of Cambridge South station.

  • 4tph – Whittlesford Parkway and Cambridge North stopping at Cambridge South and Cambridge.
  • 2 tph – Liverpool Street and Cambridge North stopping at Whittlesford Parkway, Cambridge South and Cambridge.
  • 1 tph – Stansted Airport and Norwich stopping at Whittlesford Parkway, Cambridge South, Cambridge and Cambridge North.
  • 1 tph – Stansted Airport and Birmingham New Street stopping at Whittlesford Parkway, Cambridge South, Cambridge and Cambridge North.

There could even be a Cambridgeshire Metro serving all stations between Stansted Airport and Ely.

  • All services could be run by electric or bi-mode trains.
  • Possible stops would be Elsenham, Newport, Audley End, Great Chesterford, Whittlesford Parkway, Shelford, Cambridge South, Cambridge, Cambridge North and Waterbeach.
  • As they do now some fast services would skip smaller stations.
  • More important stations like Audley End, Whittlesford Parkway, Cambridge South and Cambridge North would get a 4 tph service to Cambridge
  • Other stations would get an appropriate service.
  • I would also like to see two fast tph between Cambridge and King’s Lynn, Liverpool Street, Norwich, Peterborough and Stansted.

I think that such a timetable would be possible, if the performance of Greater Anglia’s new trains were to be used to the full.

Could An Extra Stop Be Added At The Proposed Site Sawston Station?

Each extra stop adds extra time to the timetable.

Consider.

  • The faster Liverpool Street and Whittlesford Parkway takes sixty minutes with six stops.
  • The slower Liverpool Street and Whittlesford Parkway takes seventy-four minutes with twelve stops.
  • Greater Anglia’s trains through Whittlesford Parkway and the proposed Sawston station will probably be 100 mph Class 720 trains.

I think it would be reasonable to assume that every extra stop would add 120-150 seconds to the journey time.

As Cambridge South station will be added anyway, will passengers mind up to five minutes added to the timetable?

I doubt with the faster accelerating trains, that there would be a problem about an extra stop at Sawston, but the lengthening of journey times between Cambridge and London may be a problem.

A Possible Alternative Solution

Could there be a possible alternative solution based on improving facilities and services at Whittlesford Parkway station?

  • The service at Whittlesford Parkway station would be increased to 4 tph to Cambridge North, with stops at Shelford, Cambridge South and Cambridge.
  • The service at Whittlesford Parkway station would be increased to 2 tph to Stansted Airport, with stops at Audley End.
  • A step-free bridge with lifts must be installed.
  • An improved bus-service between Sawston and Whittlesford Parkway is needed.
  • An improved bus-service between the Imperial War Museum Duxford and Whittlesford Parkway is needed.
  • Both bus services could be back-to-back and probably should be run every fifteen minutes.
  • As it serves a museum, why not run some heritage buses in the Summer?
  • There should be good cycling provision between Whittlesford Parkway station and Sawston and other surrounding villages.

I very much feel, that improving Whittlesford Parkway station, may be a better value solution, than building a new station at Sawston!

Conclusion

Building a new station at Sawston may not be the best way to improve public transport in the area.

 

March 22, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Trip To Grantham Station – 4th November 2020

I hadn’t intended to go to Grantham station, but that’s what I did on the last day before lockdown.

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been talking to a guy in Lincolnshire, who read Energy In North-East Lincolnshire, on this blog.

Last week, we both realised that we’d worked together in the 1970s, when he worked at a bank in the City, and I did some data analysis for the section, where he worked.

He is unwell with cancer at the moment and suggested I come down and see him in Skegness, where he now lives with his wife.

So I arrived at Grantham and found that the connecting train was running nearly an hour late and even then it was terminating at Boston.

After a quick exchange of texts, I told him the bad news and he gave me the good news, that his condition had improved and would be able to see me after Christmas and/or lockdown.

Luckily, I was able to change my ticket and took the next train back to London, after taking these pictures of the station.

I just had time to have a last drink of Aspall cyder before lockdown, in the station bar.

These are some thoughts.

Platform Layout At Grantham

The Wikipedia entry for Grantham station says this about the platforms.

It is composed of four platforms; platforms 1 and 2 are on the East Coast Main Line and are responsible for express services between London and Scotland. Platform 1 serves exclusively London King’s Cross via Peterborough and Stevenage; Platform 2 serves cities of northern England and Edinburgh. Platform 2, 3 and 4 are formed from a large island platform structure. Platform 3 is a bay platform at the northern end of the station that is used to allow local trains to reverse, while Platform 4 is a two-way platform that is used by East Midlands Railway. Only Platform 1 has amenities, including toilets, refreshments and a buffet.

This Google Map shows the station.

Note.

  1. Platforms are numbered 1 to 4 from East to West.
  2. Platforms 1 and 2 are long enough to take two five-car Class 800 trains working as a pair.
  3. Platform 4 may be long enough for these pairs of trains or could be made so.
  4. All trains to and from Nottingham call in Platform 4.
  5. Trains from Nottingham to Peterborough call in Platform 4 before crossing over to the down lines.
  6. There would appear to be no easy way for a Southbound train on the East Coast Main Line to access Platform 4.
  7. Platform 3 didn’t get much use on the day I visited.

There is also an avoiding line to allow freight and other passing trains to avoid going through the platforms.

Services Through Grantham Station

Services stopping at Grantham are as follows.

  • LNER – One tp2h – London Kings Cross and Harrogate via Stevenage, Grantham, Doncaster, Wakefield Westgate, Leeds
  • LNER – One tp2h – London Kings Cross and Bradford Forster Square via Stevenage, Grantham, Doncaster, Wakefield Westgate, Leeds
  • LNER – One tp2h – London Kings Cross and Lincoln via Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham and Newark North Gate
  • LNER – One tp2h – London Kings Cross and York via Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham, Newark North Gate, Retford and Doncaster.
  • Hull Trains – Five tpd – London Kings Cross and Hull via Stevenage, Grantham, Retford, Doncaster, Selby, Howden and Brough
  • Hull Trains – Two tpd – London Kings Cross and Beverley via Stevenage, Grantham, Retford, Doncaster, Selby, Howden, Brough, Hull and Cottingham.
  • East Midlands Railway – One tph – Liverpool Lime Street and Horwich via Peterborough and Nottingham
  • East Midlands Railway – One tph – Nottingham and Skegness

Note.

  1. tph is trains per hour
  2. tp2h is trains per two hours.
  3. tpd is trains per day.

Adding the services together, there is a frequent service between Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham and Newark North Gate.

Train Timings Between London Kings Cross and Grantham

The fastest trains take 67 minutes between London Kings Cross and Grantham.

  • The distance is 105.5 miles
  • This would be an average speed of 94.5 mph.
  • The East Coast Main Line is being upgraded with in-cab digital ERTMS signalling, which will allow 140 mph running.
  • The works at Kings Cross station will have increased the station’s capacity.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a time between London Kings Cross and Grantham, of under an hour, time-tabled in the near future.

Could There Be A London Kings Cross and Nottingham Service Via Grantham?

On this page on UK Rail Forums, this was posted in 2010.

According to today’s East Midlands news on BBC1, Network Rail is considering inviting tenders to run a faster service from Nottingham to London King’s Cross via Grantham, from 2014. The present service of around 1hr 45m is considered too slow by passengers.

How would this new service be reconciled with the much-publicised capacity constraints at Welwyn and at King’s Cross itself? Will the proposed possible service be diesel-powered under the wires from Grantham, or will the Grantham-Nottingham stretch be electrified? Interesting times.

Technology has changed since 2010 and the East Coast Main Line has improved.

  • King;s Cross station is being sorted.
  • Digital ERMTS signalling is coming to the East Coast Main Line
  • Hatachi’s new Class 800 trains have arrived and could go between Grantham and Nottingham on diesel power.
  • Grantham and Nottingham takes 35 minutes on a service with three stops, that’s timed for a Class 153 train.
  • Grantham and Nottingham is just over twenty miles.

As I said earlier, that I believe Grantham and London could be inside an hour, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Nottingham and London Kings Cross service in under an-hour-and-a-half.

But it could be better than that?

Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train

This is the train that could unlock the potential of a London Kings Cross and Nottingham service.

This Hitachi infographic gives details of the train.

Note that the train has a range of 90 kilometres or 56 miles, at speeds of up to 100 mph.

The trains would be ideal for a London Kings Cross and Nottingham service.

  • They would charge the batteries, whilst using the electrification on the East Coast Main Line.
  • The battery range is such, that it would not need any charging between leaving Grantham and returning there from Nottingham.
  • They could travel at speeds of up to 140 mph on the East Coast Main Line, once the digital ERTMS  signalling is installed.
  • Stops could be at Stevenage, Peterborough and Grantham.

LNER’s five-car Class 800 trains, which are branded Azumas can be turned into Regional Battery Trains, by replacing the three diesel engines with battery packs.

I would suspect that times of around eighty minutes, between London Kings Cross and Nottingham, could be in order.

A Park-And-Ride For Nottingham And London

Nottingham has several Park-and-Ride sites, that are served by the trams. of the Nottingham Express Transit, which already calls at Nottingham station.

Would another site on the rail line between Grantham and Nottingham be useful?

This map shows. where the rail line crosses the A46, near its junction with the A52.

Note the Grantham and Nottingham line running across the top of the map and the big junction between the A52 and the A46.

It looks to be a good place for a Park-and-Ride station, if it was decided one needed to be built.

There might also be sites further in towards Nottingham, close to the racecourse or the Holme Pierpoint National Watersports Centre.

A Combined Nottinghamshire And Lincolnshire Service

I originally called this section a Combined Nottingham And Lincoln Service, but I don’t see why it can’t serve most of both counties.

Consider.

  • Birmingham, Brighton, Cambridge, Oxford and Southend get two services from the capital by different routes.
  • Hitachi’s Class 800 trains can Split/Join in around two minutes.
  • Running five-car Class 800 trains all the way between London Kings Cross and Lincoln is not a good use of a valuable train path on the East Coast Main Line.
  • Lincoln is just 16.5 miles and 24 minutes from the East Coast Main Line.
  • Nottingham is 22 miles and could be 20 minutes from the East Coast Main Line.
  • Both Lincoln and Nottingham would be in battery range for a return trip from the East Coast Main Line.
  • Platforms 1, 2 and 4, at Grantham are long enough to handle two Class 800 trains, running as a pair and regularly pairs call in Platforms 1 and 2.

I believe it would be possible for a pair of Regional Battery Trains to do the following.

  • Leave London Kings Cross and run to Grantham in an hour, stopping at Stevenage and Peterborough.
  • Stop in Platform 4 at Grantham station, where the trains would split.
  • One train would continue on the East Coast Main Line to Newark North Gate station, where it would leave the East Coast Main Line and go to Lincoln.
  • The other train would continue to Nottingham.

Note.

  1. Coming back, the process would be reversed with trains joining in Platform 1 or Platform 4 at Grantham.
  2. There may need to be some track and signalling modifications, but nothing too serious or challenging.

Connections to other parts of Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire would be as follows.

  • Nottingham and Nottinghamshire would be connected using the Nottingham Express Transit and the Robin Hood and Maid Marian Lines from Nottingham station.
  • All stations between Grantham and Nottingham would be reached from either Grantham or Nottingham.
  • All stations to Boston and Skegness would be reached from Grantham.
  • All stations between Newark and Lincoln would be reached from either Lincoln or Newark.
  • All stations between Doncaster and Lincoln would be reached from either Doncaster or Lincoln.
  • All stations between Peterborough and Lincoln would be reached from either Lincoln or Peterborough.
  • All stations to Market Rasen, Grimsby Town and Cleethorpes would be reached from Lincoln.

Note.

  1. I feel that some Lincoln services could be extended to Cleethorpes via Market Rasen and Grimsby Town.
  2. Hopefully, a timetable could be developed, so that no connection was overly long.

Most of the distances are not unduly long and I would hope that most secondary services could be battery electric trains, which would be charged in the larger stations like Boston, Cleethorpes, Doncaster, Grantham, Lincoln, Mansfield, Nottingham, Peterborough, Sleaford, Spalding and Worksop.

Doncaster, Grantham and Peterborough already have 25 KVAC overhead electrification and this could be used to charge the trains, with possibly some small extensions.

The other stations will need a number of systems to charge the trains, as they pass through.

Some stations will be suitable for the installation of the standard 25 KVAC overhead electrification, but others will need specialised charging systems.

It appears that Adrian Shooter of Vivarail has just announced a One-Size-Fits-All Fast Charge system, that has been given interim approval by Network Rail.

I discuss this charger in Vivarail’s Plans For Zero-Emission Trains, which is based on a video on the Modern Railways web site.

There is more about Vivarail’s plans in the November 2020 Print Edition of the magazine, where this is said on page 69.

‘Network Rail has granted interim approval for the fast charge system and wants it to be the UK’s standard battery charging system’ says Mr. Shooter. ‘We believe it could have worldwide implications.’

Vivarail’s Fast Charge system must surely be a front-runner for installation.

What frequency of the Combined Nottinghamshire And Lincolnshire service would be needed and could be run?

Consider.

  • Currently, Lincoln is served with one tp2h with a five-car Class 800 train running the service.
  • The Lincoln service alternates with a one tp2h service to York, which also calls at Retford and Doncaster.
  • Work is progressing on increasing the number of high speed paths on the East Coast Main Line.

Obviously, an hourly service to both Nottingham and Lincoln would be ideal and would give most of the two counties an hourly service to and from London Kings Cross with a single change at either Doncaster, Grantham. Lincoln, Newark, Nottingham or Peterborough.

  • An hourly service might be difficult to timetable because of the York service.
  • But I don’t believe it would be impossible to setup.

Especially if after, the Eastern leg of High Speed Two opens, East Coast Main Line services from London Kings Cross to North of York are replaced in part, by High Speed Two services.

The Effect Of High Speed Two

High Speed Two will build a new station at Toton called East Midlands Hub station.

  • The station will be situated about halfway between Nottingham and Derby, with frequent connections to both cities.
  • There will be frequent services to Birmingham, Leeds, London, Newcastle and Sheffield.
  • I wouldn’t be surprised to see a direct service to Edinburgh and Glasgow from the station.
  • There will be a lot of economic growth around the station.

I very much feel, that a lot of passengers were travel to East Midlands Hub station for both long distance trains and to access the Derby-Nottingham area.

A Cambridge And Birmingham Service

In How Many Trains Are Needed To Run A Full Service On High Speed Two?, I proposed a Cambridge and Birmingham Curzon Street service.

This is what I said.

The obvious one is surely Cambridge and Birmingham

  • It would run via Peterborough, Grantham, Nottingham and East Midlands Hub.
  • It would connect the three big science, engineering and medical centres in the Midlands and the East.
  • It would use High Speed Two between Birmingham Curzon Street and East Midlands Hub.
  • It could be run by High Speed Two Classic-Compatible trains.

It might even be a replacement for CrossCountry’s Stansted Airport and Birmingham service.

Timings for the various legs could be.

  • Cambridge and Peterborough – CrossCountry – 49 minutes
  • Peterborough and Grantham – LNER – 19 minutes
  • Grantham and Nottingham -Best Estimate – 20 minutes
  • Nottingham and Birmingham Curzon Street – Midlands Rail Engine – 33 minutes

Note.

  1. This totals to two hours and one minute.
  2. The current service takes two hours and forty-four minutes.
  3. The Ely and Peterborough and Grantham and Nottingham legs are not electrified.

If the route were to be fully electrified or the trains were to be fitted with batteries, the time via High Speed Two, would surely be several minutes under two hours.

Conclusion

These objectives are possible.

  • An hourly service between London Kings Cross and Grantham, Lincoln, Newark and Nottingham.
  • A very much more comprehensive train service for Nottingham and Lincolnshire.
  • A two hour service between Cambridge and Birmingham.

Most of the services would be zero carbon.

No major infrastructure would be needed, except possibly completing the electrification between Nottingham and Ely, some of which is probably needed for freight trains anyway.

Alternatively, the High Speed Two Classic-Compatible trains could be fitted with batteries.

 

November 9, 2020 Posted by | Health, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Stevenage Station’s New Fifth Platform Opened A Year Early

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Rail Engineer.

This is the introductory paragraph.

A new £40 million platform and track at Stevenage station has been completed more than a year ahead of schedule.

Yesterday, it appears that the first scheduled train left Stevenage for Moorgate at 0502.

Will This Be Good For Travellers?

A few thoughts!

Stevenage Hospital

One of my old school friends lives in Cuffley. From that part of Hertfordshire, the hospital, patients use is in Stevenage. He can drive, but not everybody can!

LNER

Currently, LNER run an hourly service between Stevenage and Leeds, with an hourly service between Stevenage and Lincoln or York via Newark.

North From Enfield, Palmers Green, Southgate, Winchmore Hill and Wood Green

If you live in Enfield or the old London boroughs of Southgate or Wood Green, it could be easier to pick up trains for the North from Stevenage, rather than Kings Cross.

Not Bad For Me Too!

Even, where I live now, which is a mile or so East of Highbury & Islington station, if the timing is right, I can walk or get a bus for four stops to Essex Road station and get a train to Stevenage and then change for Leeds and the North.

East Coast Trains

East Coast Trains will be starting a fast, low-cost London Kings Cross and Edinburgh service, which will call at Stevenage.

Grand Central Trains

Grand Central Trains are currently shut down because of COVID-19, but will they call at Stevenage station, when they restart?

Hull Trains

Some Hull Trains services between London Kings Cross and Hull, call at Stevenage.

Hitachi’s Class 80x Trains

LNER, East Coast Trains and Hull Trains, all run versions of Hitachi’s Class 800 trains or similar.

These trains are built for performance and an extra stop at Stevenage station can probably be incorporated in the timetable without any penalty.

So will we see more trains stopping at Stevenage, if the train operators think it will be worthwhile?

Could Some Services From The North Terminate At Stevenage?

The Digswell Viaduct and the double-track section through Welwyn North station are the major bottleneck on the East Coast Main Line.

But a train returning North at Stevenage wouldn’t go over the viaduct.

Stevenage already has or could have excellent connections to the following.

  • Cambridge, Stansted Airport and East Anglia
  • Moorgate and the City of London and Crossrail.
  • North East London

If keen pricing can encourage travellers to use Stevenage instead of Kings Cross, I can see operators wanting to run extra services, that could start at Stevenage.

I can also see Greater Anglia getting in on the act.

Could Greater Anglia’s Ipswich and Cambridge service be extended to Stevenage via the planned Cambridge South and Royston stations?

Could the service be timed to offer cross-platform interchange with their Norwich and Stansted Airport, at Cambridge South station?

Four important extra services would be created with a step-free interchange.

  • Ipswich and Stansted Airport – 106 minutes – Step-free walk across at Cambridge South station
  • Ipswich and Stevenage – 115 minutes – New direct service
  • Norwich and Stansted Airport – 107 minutes – Existing service
  • Norwich and Stevenage – 116 minutes – Step-free walk across at Cambridge South station.

A large number East Anglian rail journeys would be simpler.

Car Parking

Will there be enough car parking at Stevenage station?

I suppose, it would be possible to build a Stevenage Parkway station between Stevenage and Watton-at-Stone stations.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note, that the railway seems to mark the development limit for the town.

The high performance of the Class 717 trains, would probably mean, that there would be no lengthened journey times.

Conclusion

This project appears to have been well-thought through!

 

 

August 4, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments