The Anonymous Widower

Comparing Ride And Perceived Performance In Class 170 And Class 755 trains

I had intended to go to Norwich and Sheringham today, to take some pictures of Class 755 trains at Sheringham station.

Unfortunately, when I got to Norwich, the Sheringham train was a Class 170 train, so as I was running late, I came back.

But as I had travelled to Norwich in a twenty-year-old Class 170 train and returned in a brand-new Class 755 train, I was able to compare their ride and passenger performance on the well-maintained and straight Breckland Line.

The Class 170 train has a good ride and I’ve never felt to complain, even when travelling at 100 mph on some CrossCountry and Greater Anglia routes.

But I did feel that the Class 755 train had a smoother ride.

I did time the 755 at 90 mph on parts of the route, but at most times it was doing a motr sedate 75 mph.

Could it be that twenty years has enabled train dynamics to have been improved using computer simulation?

Intriguingly, the three-car Class 170 train is twenty percent heavier and has half the power of the four-car Class 755 train, which probably results in more sprightly acceleration for the new train.

Could this acceleration mean that the trains will be faster on a route with lots of stops?

 

November 11, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sunday Train Services To Improve Across Region – But Not On All Routes

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the East Anglian Daily Times.

This is the first paragraph.

An hourly service is being introduced on three Suffolk rail routes seven days a week from December.

The improved routes are.

  • Ipswich and Cambridge
  • Ipswich and Lowestoft
  • Lowestoft and Norwich.

There will also be an extra Sunday train between Ipswich and Felixstowe.

It is also reported that Greater Anglia can’t start their planned hourly service between Ipswich and Peterborough, as Network Rail haven’t done the work yet!

This service is one of Greater Anglia’s new flagship services and will be very important.

  • It connects Ipswich and Bury St. Edmunds to Ely and Peterborough on an hourly basis.
  • With other services it creates a two trains per hour (tph) service between Ipswich and Bury St. Edmunds.

Network Rail need to get this one sorted.

September 26, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Greater Anglia’s Norwich And Stansted Airport Service Starts On December 15th 2019

The annual December timetable change on December 15th 2019, will see Greater Anglia bringing in their new service between Norwich and Stansted Airport stations start as an hourly service.

The Route

Between Norwich and Ely stations, the route is on the Breckland Line.

  • It is not electrified, except for a short section at the Norwich end.
  • It is a full double-track, except for the single-track Trowse Bridge, that it shares with the Great Eastern Main Line on the approach to Norwich.
  • The operating speed is between 75-90 mph.
  • There are intermediate stations at Shippea Hill, Lakenheath, Brandon, Thetford, Attleborough, Spooner Row and Wymondham.

There is potential to increase the line speed, perhaps add some extra stations and remove the antiquated Trowse Bridge.

South from Ely through Cambridge to Stansted Airport, the route is a busy, fully-electrified double-track line.

The New Timetable

The Sunday journeys are as follows

  • Journey time appears to be a couple of minutes over two hours both ways.
  • Most services seem to leave Stansted at XX:09
  • First Northbound train is 08:18
  • Last Northbound train is 21:11
  • Most services seem to leave Norwich at XX:03
  • First Southbound train is 09:03
  • Last Southbound train is 20:03
  • Calling points appear to be Audley End, Wittlesford Parkway, Cambridge, Cambridge North, Ely, Brandon, Thetford, Attleborough and Wymondham.

Weekday services appear to be more-or-less similar.

  • Northbound services take around 6-9 minutes less than two hours.
  • Most services seem to leave Stansted at XX:48
  • First Northbound train is 05:27
  • Last Northbound train is 21:11
  • Southbound services take around 3-9 minutes less than two hours.
  • Most services seem to leave Norwich at XX:27 or XX:33
  • First Southbound train is 08:33
  • Last Southbound train is 19:27
  • Calling points are the same.

My Observations follow.

Convenience And Capacity

It is currently actually quicker by a few minutes to use the following services.

  • East Midland Railway’s service between Norwich and Ely
  • CrossCountry’s service between Ely and Stansted Airport.

These two trains can be very overcrowded at times and the new four-car Class 755 trains are much better and have more capacity, than the other services, which are often just two-car Class 158 or Class 170 trains.

Two Trains Per Hour Between Norwich And Stansted Airport

It also appears that the service with the single change at Ely will still be possible after the timetable change.

Thjis means that Norwich and Stansted Airport will have a two trains per hour (tph) service.

Train Timings

It would appear that the times between Cambridge and Norwich are very similar before and after the timetable change.

So it doesn’t appear that Greater Anglia are taking advantage of the superior performance of the new Class 755 trains.

How Many Trains Will Greater Anglia Need For The Norwich And Stansted Airport Service?

The current service between Norwich and Cambridge stations has a three hour round trip, so three trains are needed to provide the hourly service.

It looks like the Norwich and Stansted Airport service has a four hour round trip, so four trains will be needed to provide the hourly service.

Extending the Norwich and Cambridge service to Stansted Airport needs just one extra train.

How many extra passengers will Greater Anglia attract?

Whittlesford Parkway Gets An Extra Hourly Service To And From Cambridge

The extended hourly service between Norwich and Stansted Airport will call at Whittlesford Parkway station, which will increase the frequency on the busy commuter route between the Parkway station and Cambridge City Centre.

When we lived near Newmarket and C was practising as a barrister, she would sometimes go to Norwich up to tyree times a week. I wouldn’t be surprised to find that travellers between Whittlesford Parkway and Norwich stations are rather more numerous than the forecast.

  • The train will take about ninety minutes and driving about seventy-five.
  • The Class 755 trains have wi-fi.
  • There is a lot of parking at Whittlesford Parkway station.
  • Will Greater Anglia put a snack trolley on the train?

C would have certainly used the service, as Whittleford Parkway station was around fifteen minutes from where we lived.

What Will Greater Anglia Do With Lakenheath And Shippea Hill Stations?

These two stations are By Request and only get a few services a week.

Consider.

  • The modern Class 755 trains with their high performance and short dwell times could probably selectively stop at these stations without degrading the train timings.
  • Cambridge needs satellite development to provide housing and commercial development.
  • The future of RAF Mildenhall is uncertain and it could be sold for housing.
  • It could be argued that Cambridge needs a new Park-and-Ride station to the North to take the pressure off Ely station.

This Google Map shows RAF Lakenheath and the Breckland Line running Easy-West between Ely and Norwich.

Note.

  1. RAF Mildenhall is to the South-West of RAF Lakenheath.
  2. The railway going across the North side of the map through Shippea Hill, Lakenheath and Brandon stations.
  3. Most of the land is aricultural and very flat.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see substantial development of the railway through the area in the next ten or twenty years.

What Will Greater Anglia Do With Spooner Row Station?

Spooner Row station is another By Request station on the Breckland Line bertween Attleborough and Wymondham stations..

Spooner Row is not a busy station, although as this Google Map shows it is just off the main A11 road.

Noyr that Spooner Row station is in the South-East corner of the map.

Perhaps with more services and some increased car parking, it might pick up commuters and shoppers for Cambridge and Norwich it might become a convenient station for local residents travelling to and from Stansted Airport.

Could There Be A Norwich And Dereham Service?

Greater Anglia seems to be working closely with the Mid Norfolk Railway, which runs between Wymondham station on the Breckland Line to the town of Dereham.

  • In Aerial Pictures Show New Trains Housed In Mid-Norfolk, I showed how the heritage railway was storing trains for Greater Anglia.
  • According to Wikipedia, it would appear that several million pounds were spent to i8mprove the railway and its signalling, so that Greater Anglia’s new trains could be safely stored.
  • The line is mainly single track and signalled for an hourly service.
  • The yard at Dereham station seems to be regularly used for freight purposes, including loading damaged rolling stock on to road vehicles. It is also used by Network Rail for storage of track plant.
  • Train operating companies and heritage railways are increasingly working together for their mutual benefit.

As an InterCity 125 trains has recently been beyond Dereham, I wouldn’t rule out Greater Anglia running a new service between Norwich and Dereham, with a future aim of extension to Fakenham.

Because of the limitations of the track, it could probably only be a limited service.

Can Capacity Be Increased If Needed?

Having lived near Cambridge for nearly thirty years of my life, I believe that there will come a time, when one four-car train between Norwich and Stansted Airport will not be enough.

  • Two tph could be run on the route, which is relatively lightly used by other services.
  • Longer trains could be created or two three-car trains could be run as a six-car train.
  • The current speed limit of 75-90 mph of the Breckland Line,  can probably be increased closer to the 100 mph of the Great Eastern Main Line.

Higher speeds would shorten journey times and increase capacity.

Could We See 125 mph Trains From Kings Cross To Kings Lynn And Norwich?

In Call For ETCS On King’s Lynn Route, I talked about putting digital signalling on the Kings Cross and Kings Lynn route and running 125 mph trains via Cambridge.

If the Kings Cross and Kings Lynn route were to be upgraded for faster running, this would also upgrade the proposed Kings Cross and Norwich route as far as Ely.

This would make it very feasible to run the following serrvices using 125 mph trains like Class 800 trains.

  • Kings Cross and Kings Lynn
  • Kings Cross and Norwich

Because of their speed these trains would help to open up capacity between Hitchin and Kings Cross.

I feel that these 125 mph bi-mode trains could do the trip between Kings Cross and Norwich in ninety minutes, which would match the time via Ipswich.

Do I Have Any Criticism?

My main criticism is that the service between Norwich and Stansted Airport, doesn’t have trains that run early and late enough.

Wil lthe service be timed to better fit the services out of the Airport?

Further Development Of The Breckland Line

This report in the Ely Standard from 2015, is entitled Could Railway Revolution See New Station Built at Ely North?.

These improvements are listed.

  • A new four-platform station North of Ely would improve connectivity.
  • A service between Kings Cross and Norwich via Cambridge is suggested.
  • Improvements in services across East Anglia.

A cost of a billion pounds is mentioned.

125 mph Trains From Kings Cross To Kings Lynn And Norwich

In Call For ETCS On King’s Lynn Route, I talked about putting digital signalling on the Kings Cross and Kings Lynn route and running 125 mph trains via Cambridge.

If the Kings Cross and Kings Lynn route were to be upgraded for faster running, this would also upgrade the proposed Kings Cross and Norwich route as far as Ely.

This would make it very feasible to run the following serrvices using 125 mph trains like five-car Class 800 trains.

  • Kings Cross and Kings Lynn
  • Kings Cross and Norwich

The two services could even split and join at the proposed Ely North station to make full use of the paths into Kings Cross.

The 125 mph or more operating speed of these trains on the East Coast Main line would help to increase capacity between Hitchin and Kings Cross.

I estimate that these 125 mph bi-mode trains could do the trip between Kings Cross and Norwich in ninety minutes, which would match the time via Ipswich.

Norwich could have the following services.

  • Three tph to and from London via Ipswich
  • Two tph to and from London via Cambridge
  • Two tph to and from Stansted Airport via Cambridge.

It sounds fantastic, but if we are to get travellers out of their cars, they must be given a high quality train service.

Conclusion

The improved Norwich and Stansted Airport service will be the first major improvement brought in by Greater Anglia.

September 25, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Future Stansted Airport Train Services

Currently, the following services go to Stansted Airport station, in trains per hour (tph)

  • Four tph – Stansted Express – Liverpool Street
  • One tph -CrossCountry – Birmingham New Street via Cambridge, Peterborough and Leicester
  • One tph – Greater Anglia – Cambridge via Audley End and Whittlesford Parkway

Greater Anglia have plans to change the services.

  • Extend the Norwich and Cambridge service to Stansted Airport.
  • Reintroduction of a Stansted Express service between the Airport and Stratford is mentioned in Wikipedia.

With two very long and one shorter platform, the Airport station has plenty of capacity.

Stansted Express Journey Times And Trains Required

Currently, Stansted Express services run at a frequency of four tph, that take fifty minutes between London and the Airport.

If a turnround time of ten minutes is added, then it takes trains two hours to do a round trip between London and the Airport.

So this means that thse numbers of trains are needed for the following frequencies.

  • One tph – Two trains
  • Two tph – Four trains
  • Four tph – Eight trains

As Greater Anglia have ordered ten Class 745/1 trains for Stansted Express, these would be able to provide a reliable service with eight in service, one as a spare and one in maintenance.

A Stansted Express service to Stratford would take the same time and would need similar numbers of trains.

Norwich and Stansted Airport Journey Times And Trains Required

The timing for the proposed service between Norwich and Stansted Airport, can be estimated by taking the timing of current services.

  • Norwich and Cambridge – One hour 20 minutes
  • Cambridge and Stansted Airport – 30 minutes

Both services are run by reasonably-modern 100 mph diesel trains.

Add in a ten minute turnround at both ends of the route and it should be possible to schedule a Stansted Airport and Norwich round trip in four hours.

Greater Anglia is introducing new bi-mode Class 755 trains on this route.

  • The trains will be designed for fast stops.
  • The trains will run on electricity on the nearly forty miles between Stansted Airport and Ely and around Norwich.
  • The trains will run on diesel between Ely and Trouse Junction, just to the South of Norwich.
  • The trains will probably be abe to achieve 100 mph on a good proportion of the route.
  • The trains will probably be four-cars.

It would need four trains to run the proposed one tph service.

The current Norwich and Cambridge service probably needs three trains, so extending to Stansted Airport will need an extra train.

This seems to be good value for passengers, the Cities of Cambridge and Norwich, Stansted Airport and Greater Anglia.

Could There Be A Norwich And London Service Via The West Anglia Main Line?

I can remember seeing steam-hauled expresses thundering between Liverpool Street and Norwich in the 1950s, through places like Brimsdown.

They are long gone, but they gave places like Wymondham and Thetford a direct rail link to London.

Greater Anglia’s future plans will connect these towns and others directly to Stansted Airport, but could they go all the way to London?

What do the mathematics show?

The section timings of a Norwich and London service via Cambridge and Stansted Airport would be as follows.

  • Norwich and Cambridge – One hour 20 minutes
  • Cambridge and Stansted Airport – 30 minutes
  • Stansted Airport and London – 50 minutes

This is just two hours and forty minutes.

Add in a few minutes for the reverse at Stansted Airport and the turnround at either end and I believe a round trip could be comfortably within six hours.

It would therefore mean that six trains would be needed to run an hourly service between London and Norwich.

  • Stops could be Tottenham Hale, Broxbourne, Harlow Town, Bishops Stortford, Stansted Airport, Audley End, Whittlesford Parkway, Cambridge, Cambridge North, Ely and all stations to Norwich.
  • The London terminal could be Liverpool Street or Stratford.
  • If Stratford were to be used, trains could be turned round in the High Meads Loop.
  • Trains would be Class 755 trains, which are bi-mode and capable of 100 mph running.
  • Between London and Ely, the trains would take advantage of the electrification.

The service would give a lot of stations a direct connection to Stansted Airport, that would be complimentary to the Stansted Express.

It would require just two more trains, than the planned Norwich and Stansted Airport service.

The advantages of the service would be.

  • Stations between Thetford and Norwich would get direct London and Stansted Airport services.
  • Stratford would get a very useful direct service to Stansted Airport.

Greater Anglia would serve two markets with the extended service and just two extra trains, over the planned service.

If Greater Anglia say a London and Norwich via Stansted Airport service will never happen, they are being economical with the truth.

Could Class 755 Trains With Batteries Bridge The Electrification Gap,Between Ely And Trowse Junction?

The distance between the electrification at Ely station and Trowse Junction, South of Norwich, is just under fifty-three miles.

I believe that the tri-mode four-car Flirts for Trains for Wales are similar to Greater Anglia’s Class 755 trains, with three of the Deutz diesel engines replaced with 100-120 kWh batteries.

Would this be enough power to take the train across the electrification gap?

Consider.

  • There is electrification at both ends and the batteries could be full, on entering the unelectrified section.
  • The route is very gentle.
  • There are a few stops, but the trains will have regenerative braking to charge the batteries.
  • The trains could retain a single diesel-engine,, should livestock on the line cause the service to be suspended.

For these and other reasons, I suspect that in a couple of years, diesel will be relegated to emergency use only between Norwich and Stansted Airport.

The Herd Of Wannabe Unicorns In The Room

Other places have elephants, but the City of Cambridge has herds of wannabe unicorns.

For those of you, unfamiliar with the term, Wikipedia defines unicorn like this.

A unicorn is a privately held startup company valued at over $1 billion.

Cambridge is expanding at a fast rate and it needs public transport systems to bring in the workers, visitors and investors.

  • A new Cambridge North station has been built.
  • A guided busway linking Addenbrooke’s and Papworth Hospitals and the Cambridge Biomedical Campus to the City Centre has been built.
  • A new Cambridge South station is being planned.
  • The East-West Rail Link will connect Cambridge to Oxford.

Road travel in the local area is not an option.

Currently, most rail services radiate from Cambridge station, but like London and other cities are proving, Cambridge needs Cross-City services.

A high-frequency North-South route is being created  across the City.

  • To the North of the City is Ely station.
  • North of Ely station, lines fan out to Peterborough, Kings Lynn and Norwich.
  • From North to South across the City, there will be Waterbeach, Cambridge North, Cambridge and Cambridge South  stations.
  • South of Cambridge South station, lines will fan out to Bedford and Oxford, Royston, Hitchin and Kings Cross and Audley End, Stansted Airport and Livepool Street.

In addition routes to Bury St. Edmunds, Ipswich and Felixstowe reach out to the East.

The current North-South train services include.

  • 1 tph – Birmingham New Street and Stansted Airport
  • 1 tph – Kings Lynn and Kings Cross
  • 1 tph – Cambridge and Norwich
  • 2 tph – Cambridge and Brighton
  • 2 tph – Cambridge and Liverpool Street
  • 2 tph – Cambridge and Kings Cross

The number of these services will grow.

Will More Stations Be Built Or Reopened Between Stansted Airport And Norwich?

I know the route, South of Cambridge better than I know it to the North.

To the South of Cambridge, the current stations could be sufficient, with improved car and bicycle parking and provision for electric cars.

To the North, there appear to be new housing developments under consideration and surely, these will need good public transport to and from Cambridge.

Does The Norwich and Stansted Airport Service Need Two Trains Per Hour?

I have a feeling that Greater Anglia think, that East Anglia’s generally one tph services between major towns and cities is not enough.

Greater Anglia have said they will do the following.

  • Increase the Ipswich and Norwich frequency from two to three tph.
  • Run two tph between Ipswich and Kennett via Bury St. Edmunds.

I talked previously about Cambridge and its  herd of wannabe unicorns.

I believe strongly, that the Cambridge Effect will in a couple of years, mean that the frequency between Norwich and Stansted Airport will need to be doubled.

But will Greater Anglia have enough trains?

Greater Anglia are  purchasing a fleet of 38 Class 755 trains with a total of 138 carriages to replace 27 assorted trains with a total of 58 carriages.

  • This is a forty percent increase in the number of trains.
  • This is nearly two and a half times as many carriages.
  • The average number of carriages per train is raised from 2.1 to 3.6.

That is a massive increase in train capacity.

There should be enough for either.

  • Eight trains for two tph between Norwich and Stansted Airport.
  • Twelve trains for two tph between Norwich and London via Stansted Airport.

These would be increases of four and eight trains respectively on Greater Anglia’s  current plan for a one tph service between Norwich and Stansted Airport.

Conclusion

Greater Anglia have enough trains to run a two tph service between Norwich and London via Stansted Airport.

I believe that the Cambridge Effect will create enough demand to necessitate expansion of the proposed one tph service between Norwich and Stansted Airport into a Norwich and London via Stansted Airport service.

  • Frequency will be two tph.
  • New commuter-friendly stations could be built.
  • The Southern terminal could be Stratford to give a second route to Stansted Airport from London.

Greater Anglia would be satisfying two markets with one train.

 

 

June 26, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

More Than A Thousand People In This Town Want A Rail Service To Cambridge

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Cambridgeshire Live.

This is the first three paragraphs.

t’s a town talked about more for its struggling market than its booming businesses.

But more than a thousand people in St Neots have signed a petition wanting to see that end.

The petition, which was started by Michelle Woodbridge, a resident from the town, wants the ‘forgotten’ area to be part of a new rail connection between Oxford and Cambridge – which people believe may revitalise the area.

St. Neots station is on the East Coast Main

  • It is to the East of the town.
  • The station has a new footbridge with lifts.
  • It has an half-hourly Thameslink service between Peterborough and Horsham, with extra services in the Peak.
  • There is a bus connection to Cambridge

This Google Map shows the Eastern area of the town around the railway station.

Note.

  1. The large area of development to the East of the station.
  2. The A428 road running across the bottom half of the map.
  3. The A428 is being upgraded and could become a dual-carriageway route to Cambridge via Caxton Gibbet, Cambourne and Madingley.

The East-West Rail Link between Oxford and Cambridge is planned to cross the East Coast Main Line at Sandy and then take a Southerly route to Cambridge South station.

The Route Option B is described like this in Wikipedia.

Route B involves running from the Marston Vale line to a new Bedford South station before then running to a relocated Sandy (to the north Tempsford area or south of St. Neots). The route heads east to a new station in Cambourne before swinging south to join the existing line northbound to Cambridge.

It does seem a bit of a roundabout route, but the new station at Tempsford could be a well-placed Park-and-Ride station for Cambridge.

I don’t think that the choice of route between Bedford and Cambridge will be easy.

However, certain factors may help in the design of the route.

An Improved A1 Road

The A1 road runs North-South to the West of the East Coast Main Line.

The road is only a two lanes in each direction and probably needs improvement.

So the improvements could be done in conjunction with the building of the East-West Rail Link.

The East Coast Main Line Is Four Tracks

Much of the East Coast Main Line is four tracks or could be made so, through St. Neots and Sandy stations.

Both stations have four platforms.

Sandy Station Could Be An Interchange Between The East-West Rail Link And The East Coast Main Line

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sandy station developed into a comprehensiove interchange station, either in its present position or slightly closer to St. Neots.

It would  be served by the following services.

  • East Coast Main Line services between Kings Cross, the North of England and the East of Scotland.
  • Tramslink services between London and Peterborough.
  • East-West services between Cambridge and Oxford via Bedford and Milton Keynes.

It would also be a Park-and Ride station for London, Bedford and Cambridge.

The East Coast Main Line Will Be Digitally Signalled

This must help increase the numbers of trains on the Route.

Greater Anglia Are Ambitious

I just wonder if there was a flyover at Sandy station, if trains could use the East Coast Main Line and the East West Rail Link to create a new service from Cambridge to Peterborough via Cambridge South, Sandy, St. Neots, and Huntingdon.

It would suit Greater Anglia’s ambitions and the 100 mph Class 755 trains could handle the partially-electrified route with ease.

There could even be a circular service, where trains returned from Peterborough via March, Ely, Waterbeach and Cambridge North.

  • The trains would not terminate at Cambridge, but would go through the three Cambridge stations in order.
  • Four trains per hour (tph), with two going via Sandy and two via Ely could be handled in a single platform at Peterborough.

I estimate the following times are possible

  • Cambridge and Peterborough via Sandy – 60 minutes
  • Cambridge and Peterborough via Ely – 50 minutes

Two tph doing the circular route in both directions would need eight trains. All stations would get at least two tph service to Cambridge and Peterborough.

Conclusion

I can see a time when there is a direct service between Peterborough and Cambridge via Cambridge South, Sandy, St. Neots, and Huntingdon.

St. Neots would have a two tph service to Cambridge South, Cambridge, Cambridge North, Ely and Peterborough.

March 8, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Roaming Around East Anglia – Cambridge Station Square

Cambridge station now has a station square with a hotel, a pub, several coffee shops, a convenience store and a taxi rank, which is a big difference from when I left Suffolk ten years ago.

It is so much better than the crowded space squeezed between the car parking.

As a pedestrian, I like it! I was able to walk to everything I would need like a coffee, some gluten-free snacks, a bed, a decent meal, bus or a taxi.

The only thing missing is a proper tram to take you to the City Centre.

How many towns and cities need a station square like this in the UK?

March 3, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

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

Where Will Greater Anglia Deploy The First Class 745 Trains?

This article on Railway Gazette is entitled ‘Gorgeous Beast’ Will Change Perception Of Rail Travel.

This is unusual language, when you’re talking about modern diesel and electric trains, especially when it comes from the CEO of a financial company investing in trains, as a safe long-term investment for money like pension funds.

But if the Class 755 trains cause Mark Swindell to use such language, they must have something about them.

Perhaps, it’s the fact that they follow the layout of the legendary and much-loved by some, Class 442 train, which also had a power-car in the middle. It is informative to compare the Class 442 train with a four-car Class 755/4 train.

  • The 442’s power-car is electric, whilst the 755/4’s is diesel/electric and can be diesel/electric/battery.
  • The 442 has seats for 346 in two classes, whilst the 755/4 has 229 in a single class.
  • The 442 has 1200 kW of power, whilst the 755/4 has 2600 kW on electric power and 1920 kW on diesel-electric power
  • Both are 100 mph trains, although the 442 holds the World Record for a third-rail train at 108 mph.

I am drawn to the following conclusions about the Class 755 train.

Passenger Comfort

Passengers will have plenty of space, in addition to the customer comforts, which appear to be of a high standard.

Some passengers might miss First Class, but will the extra space compensate.

Power

The power figures quoted in the Railway Gazette show the following.

  • In electric mode, the train will have more than double of the power of the 442.
  • In diesel-electric mode, the train has sixty percent more power, than the 442.

This will mean that the train should have superb acceleration.

Top Speed

With all this power, the planned operating speed of 100 mph will be determined more by the track, signalling and other trains, rather than any limitations of the trains.

There are three improvements in Network Rail’s Improvement Pipeline, that will allow faster running by Class 755 trains.

  • Trowse Swingbridge
  • Haughley Junction doubling
  • Ely Area service improvements

The improvement will help these services by Class 755 trains.

  • Norwich to Stansted Airport via Ely, Cambridge North and Cambridge.
  • Peterborough to Colchester via Ely, Bury St. Edmunds and Ipswich
  • Cambridge to Ipswich

I could also see the operating speed on the Breckland Line raised.

Routes

How will the routes be affected by trains with a better performance?

Norwich To Stansted

Currently, the two legs take.

  • Norwich to Cambridge – 1:24
  • Cambridge to Stansted – 0:39

Which adds up to a convenient 2:03.

With the faster trains and eight stops, it looks like this route could be done several minutes under two hours, with a round trip of four hours, which would need four trains for a one train per hour (tph)service.

Ipswich to Cambridge

Currently, this route takes 1:16 with eight stops.

This is not very convenient and the time savings needed to get the route under an hour will not be easy.

Colchester to Peterborough

Currently, the two legs take.

  • Colchester to Ipswich – 0:19
  • Ipswich to Peterborough – 1.41

Which adds up to a convenient 2:00.

With the faster trains, it looks like this route could be done several minutes under two hours, with a round trip of four hours, which would need four trains for a one tph service.

Ipswich to Lowestoft

Currently, this route takes 1:26 with nine stops.

With the faster trains, it looks like this route could be done several minutes under one-and-a-half hours, with a round trip of three hours, which would need three trains for a one tph service.

It also looks like up to three trains per day will run from London to Lowestoft.

So Which Route Will Get The New Trains First?

Greater Anglia will obviously deploy them, where there is the greatest need for extra capacity or there is the greatest return to be made!

I think, we’ll see them on the Lowestoft route or between Cambride and Norwich first.

They’ll certainly be worth waiting for, if Mark Swindell is right.

September 22, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cambridge Station Has Changed

Cambridge station is a Grade II Listed building, that over the last few years has been extended with a new pair of platforms capable of handling the longest trains and a step-free footbridge to access them.

But I haven’t been to the station for a couple of years and was surprised to see how the buildings outside have changed.

It used to be cluttered outside with taxis, buses, cycles and cars queuing for the car park everywhere.

Now, it’s a big pedestrianised square.

 

April 11, 2018 Posted by | Transport | | Leave a comment

Greater Anglia, The Fen Line And Class 755 Trains

Greater Anglia currently operates two trains per day between King’s Lynn and Liverpool Street stations, in the Morning Peak

  • 05:17 – 07:25 – 2 hr. 8 min.
  • 06:17 – 08:25 – 2 hr. 8 min.

This is matched by three trains a day between Liverpool Street and King’s Lynn, in the Evening Peak.

  • 17:07 – 19:08 – 2 hr. 1 min.
  • 18:-07 – 20:10 – 2 hr. 3 min.
  • 19:07 – 21:05 – 1 hr 58 min.

Note.

  1. The two Morning Peak trains stop at Watlington, Downham Market, Littleport, Ely, Cambridge North, Cambridge, Whittesford Parkway, Audley End, Bishops Stortford and Tottenham Hale.
  2. The three Evening Peak trains call similarly, but miss out Cambridge North.
  3. Services are run by Class 317  or Class 379 trains.

All the passenger trains on the Fen Line including Great Northern’s Class 387 trains, are four x twenty metre cars, which can run as four, eight or twelve cars.

Maximum Length Of Trains On The Fen Line

This article in the Eastern Daily Press is entitled Plans For Longer Trains Between King’s Lynn And London Could Be Delayed.

Reading it, I get the following impressions.

  • The Fen Line can currently accept four-car trains.
  • Eight-car trains are needed.
  • Plans have been or are being developed to lengthen all platforms to accept eight car trains.
  • Network Rail are quoted as saying “The King’s Lynn eight car scheme is amongst the CP5 projects that have funding.”

Extending further might well be out of the question, on grounds of cost and inconvenience to passengers, whilst the work is carried out.

Greater Anglia’s Trains And The Fen Line

There is a problem for Greater Anglia, as both the Class 317 and Class 379 trains are being moved on.

Class 745 Trains

The thirty x four-car Class 379 trains, that work the express West Anglia Main Line services are being replaced with ten x twelve-car Stadler Class 745 trains.

These trains will be too long for the Fen Line.

Class 720 Trains

Five-car Class 720 trains would fit the Fen line and as they are 100 mph trains, like the Class 317 and Class 379 trains, they could handle the current service.

Class 755 Trains

Greater Anglia currently have the equivalent of twenty-eight assorted diesel trains in different lengths, which they are replacing with thirty-eight bi-mode Class 755 trains.

These are.

  • 100 mph trains.
  • Bi-mode trains with the ability to run on electric or diesel.
  • Compatible with the Class 745 trains.

Fourteen will be three-car trains and twenty-four will be four-car trains.

Greater Anglia, have already said they will run services to and from Liverpool Street from Lowestoft, so will they use the extra trains to run services to and from Liverpool Street to important East Anglian towns?

It is worth looking at the capacity of the various trains.

  • Class 379 train – four-car – 189 2nd/20 1st
  • Class 755 train – three-car  – 166 2nd
  • Class 755 train – four-car  – 224 2nd
  • Class 720 train – five-car – 430 2nd

Would a four-car Class 755 train have sufficient capacity for a service between  Kings Lynn and Liverpool Street?

I think the answer is probably in the affirmative, but a six or seven car train couple be created, by joining two trains together, if required.

So if the Class 755 trains can provide direct Liverpool Street services for Kings Lynn and Lowestoft, what other towns could get a direct service to London?

  • Bury St. Edmunds – Either via Newmarket and Cambridge or Stowmarket and Ipswich
  • Cromer/Sheringham via Norwich and Ipswich
  • Norwich via Wymondham, Attleborough, Thetford, Ely and Cambridge
  • Peterborough via March and Cambridge
  • Yarmouth via Via Norwich and either Ipswich or Cambridge.

I can remember, when some of these towns had services to Liverpool Street.

Trains could also split and join at Cambridge and Ipswich to save paths on the main lines to London.

Could trains go up to London in the Morning Peak and return in the Evening Peak?

If there was sufficient demand, they could return in mid-morning and come back to Liverpool Street in mid-afternoon, in time for the Evening Peak.

If so, how many trains would be needed?

  • Bury St. Edmunds (35k) – 1
  • Cromer (7k)/Sheringham (7k) – 1
  • King’s Lynn (43k) – 3
  • Lowestoft (70k) – 1
  • Norwich via Cambridge – 2
  • Peterborough – 1
  • Yarmouth (47k)  – 1

The figures in brackets are the population

Considering, that my rough calculation, showed there were ten spare trains, these numbers seem feasible.

I have some questions.

  • How many Class 755 trains will be able to link together?
  • Will platforms needed to be extended at Liverpool Street
  • Could Lincoln be reached from London, via a reopened March to Spalding Line via Wisbech?
  • Could a Yarmouth and Lowestoft service to London be created by reopening the chord at Reedham?
  • Would it be a good idea to have a dozen First Class seats in the Class 755 trains doing the London commute.

I feel that Greater Anglia have ambitious plans.

Conclusion

From this rather crude analysis, it appears that Greater Anglia will be using the Class 755 trains as three and four car electric trains on the electrified lines to Cambridge, Ipswich and Norwich and then using their diesel power to create new direct routes to the capital.

I also suspect, trains will split and join at Cambridge, Ipswich and Norwich to reduce the number of paths needed to and from London. After all one twelve-car  train is cheaper to run than three four-car trains!

Could Greater Anglia be bringing forward a timetable, where any town in East Anglia, with a population of over say 10,000, gets at least one fast train to London in the morning and back in the evening?

As the tracks, signals and stations are already there, away from the main lines, there may be little that needs doing.

If not, Greater Anglia have bought too many trains.

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 10, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment