The Anonymous Widower

Beeching Reversal – Reopening Harston 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.

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

Note.

  1. The A10 winding its way North and South through the village.
  2. Cambridge is five miles to the North.
  3. The triangular road junction in the middle of the village with Station Road leading off to the South East.
  4. The Cambridge Line crosses the South-East corner of the map, at a right angle to Station Road.

This Google Map shows the former station site at an enlarged scale..

Note.

  1. There is plenty of space.
  2. There is a level crossing.
  3. The railway is double-track.

There’s even a Harston History page for the station, so if the architect’s decide to go retro, they can visit it for design inspiration.

My initial thoughts are that compared to some of the proposals for Beeching Reversal this one is practical and not over ambitious.

These are some of my thoughts.

Car Parking

Currently, there are the following stations between Cambridge and Hitchin.

Note.

Only Royston station has more than minimal parking provision.

The addition of Harston and Cambridge South stations will probably mean, that a lot of thought will be given to parking at all the stations between Cambridge and Hitchin.

Cambridge South like Cambridge North will probably have extensive parking to also serve Addenbrooke’s Hospital and Cambridge Bio-Medical Campus.

Whittlesford Parkway station on the line between Cambridge and Liverpool Street has very adequate parking provision.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Harston station having a couple of hundred parking spaces.

East West Railway

In Looking At The East West Railway Between Bedford And Cambridge, I looked at the route of the East West Railway as it approaches Cambridge.

I very much doubt that this new railway will go through Harston station.

But Harston station will beef up the capacity on the Cambridge Line to bring more workers to one of the science and engineering capitals of the world.

Cambridgeshire Autonomous Metro

There are also plans for the Cambridgeshire Autonomous Metro.

This map shows the proposed layout of the Cambridgeshire Autonomous Metro.

Note that the green section will be in tunnel.

I doubt that the Cambridgeshire Autonomous Metro will run to Harston, as it most likely will run on rubber-tyred wheels and probably wouldn’t mix well with heavy rail.

Train Service

Currently, the current trains run through the station in the Off Peak.

  • Thameslink – 2 tph – Cambridge and Brighton
  • Thameslink – 2 tph – Cambridge and King’s Cross
  • Great Northern – 1 tph – King’s Cross and Ely
  • Great Northern – 1 tph – King’s Cross and King’s Lynn

Note.

  1. tph is an abbreviation for trains per hour.
  2. All trains are fast services, except for the Cambridge and King’s Cross service, which stops at all stations.
  3. When Cambridge South station opens, I suspect nearly all services will stop at that station.
  4. The Great Northern services also stop at Cambridge North station.
  5. In Call For ETCS On King’s Lynn Route, I talked of the possibility of running 125 mph trains on Great Northern services between King’s Cross, Cambridge, Cambridge North, Ely and King’s Lynn.

I suspect that it will be likely only the Thameslink stopping train will call at Harston station, just as it is the only service that calls at Foxton, Shepreth and Meldreth stations.

  • But is two tph enough for a Park-and-Ride station?
  • Whittlesford Parkway station already has three tph to and from Cambridge.
  • I suspect there will be a second Stansted and Cambridge service which mean Whittlesford Parkway station gets four tph to Cambridge,

I suspect Hartston station needs four tph to give a Turn-Up-And-Go service.

Barrington Quarry And Landfill

This Google map shows the location of the Barrington Quarry and Landfill, with respect to Harston.

Note.

  1. Barrington Quarry and Landfill is in the North-West corner of the map.
  2. Harston is in the North-East corner of the map.
  3. The A10 road runs South-West from Harston to Foxton station, where there is a level crossing, where the Cambridge Line crosses the road.
  4. Foxton station has a freight-only line linking it to the quarry.

This second Google Map shows Foxton station in detail.

Note the rail line to Barrington curving away to the North West.

This document from CEMEX is entitled Barrington Quarry – Restoration Project.

It appears that the quarry will be restored and some of the land will be used for new homes.

As all the track is already in place, would it be possible to run a 2tph service between Barrington and Cambridge North station?

  • It could call at  Harston, Cambridge North and Cambridge stations.
  • Harston station would get a four tph service.
  • Cambridge gets more much-needed housing connected to the city.

It could also be run using battery-electric trains that would be charged using the electrification between Foxton and Cambridge North stations.

Conclusion

Taking everything together, it appears to me, that Harston station could improve the rail network to the South West of Cambridge.

March 21, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Transport Secretary Urged Not To Derail Aylesbury Spur Plans

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

This is the sub-heading of the article.

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

I think this Aylesbury link needs very careful thinking.

There are certainly a lot of issues to consider.

The Aylesbury Link

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

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

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

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

High Speed Two

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

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

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

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

Consider.

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

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

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

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

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

A High Speed Two Station At Calvert

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

This Google Map shows the area.

Note.

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

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

Note.

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

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

Note.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This could enable a service between say Cardiff and Edinburgh.

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

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

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

Rolling Stock For The East-West Rail Link

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

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

I said this.

Consider.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

High Speed Two could have a station at Calvert.

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

To be continued…

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

Thoughts On COVID-19 On Merseyside

Merseyside is in trouble with the covids.

These are the number of lab confirmed cases per 100,000 population for local authorities in the area, as of the 1st October 2020.

  • Halton – 1108.1
  • Knowsley – 1388
  • Liverpool – 1244.5
  • Sefton – 1037.6
  • St. Helens – 1230.4
  • Wirral – 1185.5

My London Borough of Hackney, which is demographically, a bit like poorer parts of Liverpool, has a rate of 524.3.

But the gold standard to my mind is Cambridge, which has a rate of only 380.6.

Oxford, which is a very similar city to Cambridge has a much higher rate of 799.5,

Why Is Cambridge Doing So Well?

I was diagnosed as a coeliac at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, twenty-three years ago.

According to my consultant in the City at the time, Cambridge has a VERY high level of diagnosed coeliacs.

He told me, that he had more coeliac  patients, than any other gastroenterologist in the UK.

So why is the number of coeliacs so high in Cambridge?

I feel it is because Cambridge had a Whack-a-Coeliac policy in the 1990s, where they attempted to diagnose as many coeliacs as they could find.

I was certainly diagnosed at that time and judging by the speed they did the initial diagnosis, I suspect, they were using one of the first genetic tests. They were also doing endoscopies without anaesthetic to increase throughput!

Coeliacs, Cancer And The Covids

Diagnosed coeliacs on a gluten-free diet have a strong immune system, which helps protect them from cancer, as has been shown by Joe West at Nottingham University.

I should also add, that none of my coeliac acquaintances have had a severe dose of the covids.

So does our stronger immune systems give us protection from the covids?

This could explain, why an area like Cambridge has a lower level of the covids than Oxford.

Why Is Merseyside In Trouble?

The Irish, because of historic famine, have higher levels of coeliac disease.

Comedians from the City have joked about Liverpool being the capital of Ireland for decades.

Could it be that there is a high percentage of undiagnosed coeliacs on Merseyside?

If this is true, could these undiagnosed coeliacs, with poorer immune systems, be easy pickings for the covids?

Conclusion

These actions should be taken.

  • Merseyside needs a Whack-a-Coeliac policy, if it doesn’t have one! It would certainly, improve cancer rates!
  • Every in-patient with the covids, should be given a quick blood test for coeliac disease.
  • Other research needs to be done to find out the any link between coeliac disease and the covids!

Not for nothing is coeliac disease regularly called the Many-Headed Hydra by some doctors and researchers.

 

 

 

October 1, 2020 Posted by | Health | , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Route Selected For Cambridge Metro Link Between New A1307 Travel Hub And Biomedical Campus

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the Haverhill Echo.

This Google Map shows the Fourwentways intersection between the A1307 and A11 roads, where the travel hub will be created.

The travel hub will be South-West of the roundabout, which I know well, as it was only a few miles from where I lived.

It will improve the bus connection between Haverhill and the Biomedical Campus and the City of Cambridge.

It would appear that the Stour Valley Railway, is being recreated by extending the Cambridgeshire Busway.

The closure of the Stour Valley Railway in 1967, was one of the most ill-judged of the Beeching closures, that were solidly backed by the government of Harold Wilson, who believed that everyone should have their own car and that railways wouldn’t be needed. They also believed that all goods should go by truck. Is that what you get, when your Transport Secretary is an ex-lorry driver and a former boss of the lorry-drivers trade union?

We now have a Government backing these two projects.

  • The rebuilding of the Varsity Line between Oxford and Cambridge, which Beeching recommended for retention, but Wilson still closed.
  • The extension of the Cambridgeshire Busway to Haverhill.

As with so many projects around the country, all these totally unjustified cuts are being reversed.

But these railways should never been closed in the first place.

 

July 9, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Should The NHS Adopt A Whack-A-Coeliac Policy?

The Wikipedia entry for Whac-a-Mole, says this about the colloquial use of the name of an arcade game.

In late June 2020, Boris Johnson based the UK’s COVID-19 strategy on the game.

Because of the high number of diagnosed coeliacs in the Cambridge area, I believe that I was diagnosed to be coeliac, by possible use of a Whack-a-Coeliac policy at Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge, in the last years of the Twentieth Century.

  • I was suffering from low B12 levels and my GP sent me to the hospital to see a consultant.
  • It was only a quick visit and all I remember, is the speed with which the nurse took my blood.
  • A couple of days later, I received a letter from the hospital, saying it was likely I was a coeliac and it would be confirmed by an endoscopy.
  • A point to note, is that I had my endoscopy with just a throat spray and this must have increased the efficiency and throughput and reduced the  cost of the procedure.

The only way, I could have been diagnosed so quickly would have been through an analysis of my genes and blood. But I was never told, what method was used.

I have a few further thoughts.

My Health Since Diagnosis

It has undoubtedly improved.

Cancer And Diagnosed Coeliacs On A Gluten-Free Diet

Joe West of Nottingham University has shown, that diagnosed coeliacs on a gluten-free diet have a 25% lower risk of cancer compared to the general population.

That is certainly a collateral benefit of being a coeliac. But is it being a coeliac or the diet?

I’m no medic, but could the reason be, that diagnosed coeliacs on a gluten-free diet have a strong immune system?

Coeliac Disease Is A Many-Headed Hydra

I have heard a doctor describe coeliac disease or gluten-sensitivity as a many-headed hydra, as it can turn up in so many other illnesses.

Type “coeliac disease many-headed hydra” into Google and this article on the NCBI , which is entitled Gluten Sensitivity: A Many Headed Hydra, is the first of many.

This is the sub-title of the article.

Heightened responsiveness to gluten is not confined to the gut

My son; George was an undiagnosed coeliac, who had a poor diet consisting mostly of Subways, cigarettes and high-strength cannabis. He died at just thirty-seven of pancreatic cancer.

Did George have a poor immune system, which was useless at fighting the cancer?

Undiagnosed Coeliac Disease In The Over-Sixty-Fives

In A Thought On Deaths Of The Elderly From Covid-19, I used data from Age UK and Coeliac UK to estimate the number of coeliacs in the UK over the age of sixty-five. I said this.

Age UK has a figure of twelve million who are over 65 in the UK. If 1-in-100 in the UK are coeliac, that is 120,000 coeliacs over 65.

But some research shows that the number of coeliacs can be as high as 1-in-50.

If that 120,000 were all diagnosed, I would have several coeliacs amongst my over-65 friends. I have just one and she is self-diagnosed.

Are all these undiagnosed coeliacs out there, easy targets for diseases like cancer and COVID-19?

The Ease Of Testing For Coeliac Disease

I was worried that my granddaughter was coeliac and I asked my GP, how difficult a test is to perform.

He said, that a genetic test is usually quick and correct and only a few borderline cases need to be referred to a consultant.

Diagnosis has moved on a lot in twenty years.

Cambridge, Oxford and Covid-19

Six weeks ago I wrote Oxford And Cambridge Compared On COVID-19, to try to find out why the number of Covid-19 cases are so much lower in Cambridge than Oxford.

Checking today, the rate of lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents is as follows.

  • Cambridge 336.6
  • Oxford 449

So why the difference?

In the related post, this was my explanation.

Is the large number of diagnosed coeliacs around Cambridge, the reason the area has a lower COVID-19 rate than Oxford?

It sounds a long shot, but it could be a vindication of a possible Whack-a-Coeliac policy at Addenbrooke’s in the last years of the Twentieth Century.

Conclusion

I think the NHS should seriously look at a Whack-a-Coeliac problem!

  • The health of a large number of people would improve.
  • There would be less cancer in the UK.
  • A better combined National Immune System might help in our fight against the next virus to follow COVID-19.

It would be a very simple testing program, that would be mainly in the hands of the GPs.

 

 

July 6, 2020 Posted by | Health | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Oxford And Cambridge Compared On COVID-19

In Is There A Link Between Historic Coal Mining And COVID-19?, I mentioned this article in The Times, which is entitled Pressure To Free London From Lockdown As Cases Fall.

The article gives an interactive table, which is entitled Number Of Cases By Area.

Three figures are given.

  1. Registered cases
  2. Cases per 100,000 of the population.
  3. Cases in the last two weeks.

These figures are for areas around Oxford.

  • Oxford – 615, 399, 90
  • South Oxfordshire – 358, 255, 36
  • West Oxfordshire – 324, 295, 50

And these figures are for areas around Cambridge

  • Cambridge – 222, 177, 20
  • South Cambridgeshire – 206, 131, 10
  • East Cambridgeshire – 111, 124, 12
  • West Suffolk – 205, 115, 18

So why are COVID-19  cases in Cambridge so much lower than Oxford?

Consider.

  • Both cities and surrounding counties have a similar character.
  • Both have well-respected hospitals, medical schools and medical research.
  • Air pollution appears to be low in both areas.
  • Both cities probably have a similar ethnic mix and large student populations.

As I used to live near Cambridge, I have my own mad personal theory.

Addenbrooke’s Hospital

I have used several hospitals in my life, but only two changed my life totally.

  • I had my vasectomy in the old Hackney Hospital.
  • Addenbrooke’s, who with a simple blood test decided I was probably coeliac.

So perhaps, I’m biased.

But consider these possible facts.

  • My coeliac consultant at Addenbrooke’s told me, that he had more patients with the disease than any other in the UK.
  • The manager at Carluccio’s in Cambridge, told me that they sold more gluten-free food, than any other restaurant in the group.
  • In 1997, I was diagnosed fast, because Addenbrooke’s were using a new genetic test. I was later checked using an endoscopy.

Could it be that someone at Addenbrooke’s had decided they wanted to find all the coeliacs in and around Cambridge?

What would be the effects of diagnosing as many coeliacs as you could find in an area?

  • A doctor of my acquaintance talked of coeliac disease as the many-headed hydra, as it led to so many other medical problems. So extra diagnosed coeliacs might improve health statistics in an area.
  • Personally, I have said good-bye to migraines, nail-biting and lots of joint pains, after going gluten-free.
  • I also haven’t had a serious dose of flu since diagnosis. Since 2005, I’ve probably had the flu jab.
  • Joe West at Nottingham University, has shown that coeliacs on a gluten-free diet have lower cancer rates than the general population.

Consider.

  • Immunotherapy is a medical technique, where the patient’s immune system is activated or suppressed to help them fight a disease.
  • Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease, where gluten causes damage to the gut.

So could coeliacs on a gluten-free diet have a more powerful immune system?

Undiagnosed Coeliacs

Coeliac disease is genetic, with mine coming from an Ashkenazi Jewish ancestor from Konigsberg in the Baltic.

  • Other roots of coeliac disease are Irish, Italian and black people, who have slaves as ancestors.
  • There was no test for coeliac disease in children until 1960.
  • There was no genetic test for coeliac disease until the late 1990s.
  • Research has shown that coeliacs are at least 1-in-100 of the UK population, but could be higher.

If coeliacs on a gluten-free diet have a good immune system, do undiagnosed coeliacs have a poorer one?

Oxford And Cambridge Compared

Is the large number of diagnosed coeliacs around Cambridge, the reason the area has a lower COVID-19 rate than Oxford?

Conclusion

What do I know?

I’m just a mad engineer and mathematician with coeliac disease.

 

 

May 23, 2020 Posted by | Health | , , , , | 1 Comment

Thoughts On Coeliacs And Covid-19 In Cambridgeshire

I was diagnosed as a coeliac by Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.

  • One of the consultants there told me, that they had a very high number of coeliacs on the books and the number was one of the highest in the country.
  • I also used to eat in Carluccios in the centre of Cambridge and the manager once told me that they did an Annual Dinner for the local branch of Coeliac UK.
  • He also told me, that they had the highest gluten-free sales in the group.

I think it is fairly likely that Cambridge has a lot of diagnosed coeliacs.

But it is not a place with health problems, that jump out of the pages of the tabloids.

My theory is that because Cambridge does a lot of gastroenterology research, they have a good rate in finding coeliacs.

So how is Cambridgeshire doing in the COVID-19 pandemic?

In Five Eastern Counties, I said this about COVID-19 in Cambridgeshire and Suffolk, where a lot of patients go to Addenbrooke’s.

  • Cambridgeshire – 673 of 852,523 or 0.08%
  • Suffolk – 936 of 768,556 or 0.12%

Both seem to be low. How do they compare to Oxfordshire?

  • Oxfordshire – 1515 of 887, 564 or 0.17%

I wouldn’t have thought that Oxfordshire would have a rate twice that of Cambridgeshire!

  • The counties are similar in population.
  • Both have proportions of industry, farming and academia
  • The cities of Oxford and Cambridge are similar in character

Could it be that Addenbrooke’s has diagnosed most of the coeliacs in Cambridgeshire?

I’m no medical expert, but someone should look at it!

 

April 30, 2020 Posted by | Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

Consultation On The Cambridge Autonomous Metro

Issue 900 of Rail Magazine has an article called Have Your Say On Plans For Cambridge Metro Network.

These are the introductory paragraphs.

The Cambridge and Peterborough Combined Authority has launched a public consultation into outline plans for the Cambridge Autonomous Metro (CAM)

Under current proposals the CAM network would comprise a tunnelled section beneath Cambridge city centre, and four regional routes, radiating out towards St. Neots, Alconbury, Mildenhall and Haverhill.

This is a map clipped from the proposals.

Note.

Sections shown in green are tunnelled.

Sections shown in blue are on the surface.

Some sections would appear to reuse parts of the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway.

These are a few of my thoughts.

Rolling Stock

This picture from the consultation, shows possible rolling stock.

It could be a version of Van Hool’s ExquiCity BRT tram-bus, which is used is Belfast, Geneva, Metz and Parma – To name just four!

A hydrogen-powered version has also recently been introduced in Pau in France.

Could this be the version, that will be preferred for Cambridge?

  • It would be carbon and pollution free.
  • It could use exclusively green hydrogen, created from renewable electricity. Pau uses a hydrogen-generation system from ITM Power.
  • Would hydrogen-power encourage passengers to use the system?
  • It might borrow ideas from the Glider system in Belfast, which is diesel-electric powered.
  • Each Belfast Glider vehicle can hold 105 passengers.

A hydrogen-powered system would surely be ideal for working in the tunnels under Cambridge.

Tunnels

This article on the BBC is entitled Cambridge Metro: Engineer Says Underground Will Work.

In the article, Professor John Miles of Cambridge University says.

Britain was a world leader in boring small tunnels

It will be tight in the cramped city, but it should be possible.

Conclusion

Oxford will want one!

 

 

 

March 9, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Are Train Services Around Norfolk And Suffolk Unbalanced?

Consider the following services in trains per hour (tph) after Greater Anglia’s proposed changes in their franchise.

  • Cambridge and Bury St. Edmunds- 1 tph
  • Cambridge and Ipswich – 1 tph
  • Cambridge and Norwich – 1 tph
  • Cambridge and Peterborough – 1 tph
  • Cambridge and Stansted Airport – 2 tph
  • Ipswich and Bury St. Edmund’s – 2 tph
  • Ipswich and Colchester – 4 tph
  • Ipswich and Lowestoft – 1 tph
  • Ipswich and Norwich – 3 tph
  • Ipswich and Peterborough – 1 tph
  • Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth – 0 tph
  • Norwich and Great Yarmouth – 2 tph
  • Norwich and Lowestoft – 1 tph
  • Norwich and Peterborough – 1 tph

Note.

  1. Most services are a measly 1 tph. Especially, if you’ve walked or cycled to a bleak station and just missed a train.
  2. Norwich and Ipswich get 3 tph, whereas Norwich and Cambridge and Ipswich and Cambridge get just 1 tph.
  3. East West Rail will add an extra 1 train per two hours on the Norwich and Cambridge and Ipswich and Cambridge routes, but improvements are needed now.

I would recommend.

  • Two tph between Cambridge and Ipswich, Norwich and Peterborough.
  • A direct Norwich service to Kings Cross, via Ely and Cambridge.
  • Building Cambridge South station tomorrow!
  • Terminate the Ipswich and Cambridge service at Cambridge South.
  • All passing services would stop at Cambridge South.
  • Add a second Ipswich and Cambridge service that terminated at Stansted Airport.
  • Run a high-frequency local shuttle between Ely and Cambridge South stations.
  • Improve the frequency on as many of the other routes as possible.

The could also be some new stations.

East-West Eail Link

This report on the East-West Rail web site is entitled Eastern Section Prospectus and gives full details of their proposals for the train services along the East-West Rail Link, to the East of Cambridge.

These are the main proposals as regards passengers.

  • A new A14 Parkway station will be built to the North of Newmarket, where the railways and the A14 and A11 cross.
  • Passenger services between Ipswich and Felixstowe will be replaced by a four tph tram-train running on the Felixstowe Branch Line and through the streets of Ipswich. Read all about it in Could There Be A Tram-Train Between Ipswich And Felixstowe?.
  • The current hourly Ipswich and Cambridge service will be replaced or more likely augmented by an hourly Manningtree and Oxford via A14 Parkway, Cambridge and the East-West Rail Link.
  • Combined with the Colchester and Peterborough service, there will be two tph between Ipswich and A14 Parkway via Needham Market, Stowmarket and Bury St. Edmunds.
  • The current hourly Norwich and Standsted via Cambridsge service will be replaced or more likely augmented by a Reading and Great Yarmouth service via Cambridge and Norwich.

The two new East-West Rail Link services, which could be run by a train similar in design and performance to one of the new Hitachi expresses would act as both local and long distance trains to and from Cambridge and the West.

A Cambridge Crossrail?

Cambridge dominates the whole of the East of England and has a voracious appetite for more people to work in the high-tech businesses.

  • Travel to Cambridge by train in the morning from London and there are large numbers of commuters going North.
  • A large quantity of housing is being built at places like Bury St. Edmuds, Cambourne, Haverhill, Huntingdon, Lakenheath, Newmarket, Peterborough, Royston, Soham, Thetford and Wisbech.

Some places, where large developments are happening, have poor or no rail access to the City.

I believe the solution is a  high-frequency local shuttle across the City.

  • The core stations would be Ely, Waterbeach, Cambridge North, Cambridge and Cambridge South.
  • The core frequency would be up to twelve tph  between Cambridge South and Ely.
  • Cambridge South station would turnback most Cambridge Crossrail services in the South.
  • There could be additional Southern terminals at Haverhill, Royston and Stansted Airport
  • Ely station would turnback most Cambridge Crossrail services. in the North.
  • There could be additional Northern terminals at A14 Parkway, Bury St. Edmunds, Thetford and Wisbech.

Most of the infrastructure is already in place, but the following would be needed.

  • Improvement of Ely station.
  • Building of a junction, so that trains and passengers could go between Cambridge North and Bury St. Edminds stations without a change of train nor a reverse.
  • Reinstate the Wisbech Branch with a new station in the town.
  • Build the new Cambridge South station.
  • Connect Haverhill to the West Anglia Main Line with a simple single-track branch.

The core section would use the same platforms as other trains on the route, to make interchange between services easier and stations more affordable.

A14 Parkway Station

Rereading this article, I believe that this station should be built as soon as possible.

Conclusion

Services in Cambridgeshire, Notfolk and Suffolk can be improved greatly and they need to be to allow, the UK’s premier Powerhouse to grow.

November 27, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

South Lincolnshire, West Norfolk And The North Netherlands

These three areas are very similar.

This sentence comes from the Wikipedia entry for The Fens, which are found where Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire and Norfolk come together.

Most of the Fenland lies within a few metres of sea level. As with similar areas in the Netherlands, much of the Fenland originally consisted of fresh- or salt-water wetlands. These have been artificially drained and continue to be protected from floods by drainage banks and pumps.

I have heard it said, that The Fens owe a lot of their landscape to the Dutch, as it was the Dutch, who originally had a lot to do with draining the land.

It should also be noted, that one of the most famous people from the area is Commander George Vancouver of the Royal Navy, who was the son of John Jasper Vancouver, a Dutch-born deputy collector of customs in King’s Lynn. He gave his name to the Canadian city of Vancouver.

The Dutch have returned in that two of the three rail franchises in the area, are under the control of the Dutch company; Abellio; Greater Anglia (GA) and East Midlands Railway (EMR).

Current and future services through the area include.

  • GA – Stansted Airport and Norwich via Ely and Cambridge
  • GA – Liverpool Street and King’s Lynn via Ely and Cambridge
  • GA – Colchester and Peterborough via Ipswich, Bury St. Edmunds and Ely
  • EMR – Norwich and Nottingham
  • EMR – Peterborough and Doncaster via Spalding, Sleaford and Lincoln
  • EMR – Nottingham and Skegness via Grantham, Sleaford and Boston
  • CrossCountry – Birmingham and Stansted Airport via Peterborough, Cambridge and Ely.
  • Great Northern – King’s Cross and King’s Lynn via Ely and Cambridge
  • Thameslink – King’s Cross and Peterborough
  • Thameslink – King’s Cross and Cambridge

Note.

Most services are hourly, with some London services at a higher frequency.

  1. EMR are planning to increase certain early, late and Sunday services, so there may be improvements.
  2. GA are planning to introduce new Class 755 trains pn diesel services and new Class 720 trains on electric services.
  3. The Ely, Cambridge North and Cambridge corridor can have a frequency as high as eight trains per hour (tph)

Will EMR and GA work together to improve services in the area they jointly serve?

These are a few of my thoughts.

A Look At The North Of The Netherlands

In The Train Station At The Northern End Of The Netherlands, I looked at what the Dutch are doing in the North of the country, near to the city of Groningen.

  • Groningen is a city of around 200,000 people and a major rail hub, with services fanning out through the flat landscape.
  • The trains are mainly Stadler GTWs, which are the forerunners of GA’s Class 755 trains.
  • The Dutch are developing a hydrogen-based economy in the area, which I described in The Dutch Plan For Hydrogen.

Are Abellio looking to bring some of the ideas from the Netherlands to the UK?

I think to a certain extent, we’re going the same way. For instance, in the North of Lincolnshire a lot of development is going on to develop an energy economy based on offshore wind and energy storage.

The Cambridge Effect

Cambridge effects the whole of the area, in its demand for housing and premises for research, development and manufacture.

The Cambridge And Peterborough Problem

I used to play tennis, with a guy, who was promoting Peterborough as an expansion area for Cambridge. Peterborough is a city, with space and good connections to London and the North, by rail and the A1 road.

,But the problem is that the road and rail links between the two cities are atrocious, with a two-lane dual-carriageway and an hourly three-car diesel train.

It is my view, that the gap in the electrification between Ely and Peterborough should eventually be removed.

  • The land is flat.
  • The route is thirty miles long.
  • The route was recently upgraded to take the largest container trains, so electrification, surely wouldn’t be too difficult.
  • The biggest problem would probably be dealing with the numerous level crossings.

Electrification would allow.

  • More frequent and faster passenger trains between Cambridge, Ely and Peterborough.
  • Freight trains between Felixstowe and the North would be easier to haul using electro-diesel locomotives like the Class 88 and Class 93.
  • It would create an electrified diversion route for trains on the East Coast Main Line.

After electrification, it would be possible to have a much-needed four tph service between Cambridge and Peterbough with stops at Cambridge North, Waterbeach, Ely, Manea, March and Whittlesea.

  • Cambridge and Peterborough sstations both have several platforms, that could be used to terminate extra services.
  • The service could be extended to Cambridge South station, when that is built in a few years.

GA’s Class 755 trains could even provide the service without electrification.

What About Wisbech?

Wisbech is a town of 33,000 people without a passenger rail link.

But it does have the Bramley Line.

This is the introductory paragraph in Wikipedia.

The Bramley Line is a railway line between March and Wisbech in Cambridgeshire, England. A number of proposals are currently being investigated relating to the possible restoration of passenger services along the route.

The Association of Train Operating Companies and various politicians have supported creating a passenger service between Wisbech and Cambridge via March and Ely.

The service could be as follows.

It would use an existing single-track line, which would probably just need upgrading.

  • Cambridge and Wisbech would take around forty-five minutes.
  • A train would take two hours for the round trip.
  • An hourly service would take two trains.

What is useful, is that the length of the branch line is short enough, that it may be possible to be run the service using One Train Working.

Improvements Between Cambridge And King’s Lynn

This article on Rail Technology Magazine is entitled Work On £27m East of England Upgrades Set To Begin.

It lists the work to be done and the benefit in these two paragraphs.

The upgrades, between Cambridge and King’s Lynn, will include two platform extensions at Waterbeach and a platform extension at Littleport.

This will allow the introduction of eight-car services during peak times, providing passengers with more seats and a better experience.

The works will certainly add capacity for commuters to and from Cambridge and London.

Will the upgrade at Waterbeach station allow Greater Anglia’s four-car Class 755 trains to call.?

There is a section in the Wikipedia entry for Waterbeach station, which is entitled Future Plans, where 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.

This is more housing for Cambridge and I’m sure that the promised Norwich and Stansted Airport service will call.

Will Services Be Joined Back-To-Back At Peterborough?

Train companies sometimes find that joining two services together in a busy station is a good idea.

  • It may use less trains and drivers.
  • It uses a through platform rather than two bay platforms.
  • Trains could be turned in a more convenient station.

A proportion of passengers don’t have to change trains.

Note.

  1. |East Midlands Railway are joining the Doncaster and Lincoln, and Lincoln and Peterborough services into one service.
  2. Greater Anglia are extending the Peterborough and Ipswich service to Manningtree.
  3. Greater Anglia are extending the Norwich and Cambridge service to Stansted Airport.

But East Midlands Railway are also splitting the Norwich and Liverpool service into two.

These are the services that are planned to terminate at Peterborough.

  • Peterborough and Colchester via Ipswich, Bury St. Edmunds and Ely
  • Peterborough and Doncaster via Spalding, Sleaford and Lincoln

As I said earlier, I would’ve be surprised to see extra Cambridge and Peterborough services to increase capacity between the two cities.

Current timings of the various sections are as follows.

  1. Peterborough and Lincoln – one hour and twenty-three minutes
  2. Lincoln and Doncaster – fifty-four minutes
  3. Peterborough and Ipswich – one hour and thirty-nine minutes
  4. Ipswich and Colchester – nineteen minutes
  5. Peterborough and Cambridge – fifty minutes

Adding up 3 and 4 gives a Colchester and Peterborough timing of one hour and fifty-eight minutes. But the new Class 755 trains are faster and will be running at full speed on electrification for sections of the journey.

With the turnround at both ends, a round trip would be under four hours. This would mean that four trains would be needed for an hourly service.

Adding up 1 and 2 gives a Peterborough and Doncaster timing of two hours and seventeen minutes.

With the turnround at both ends, a round trip would be under five hours. This would mean that five trains would be needed for an hourly service.

Could these two services be run back-to-back to create a Colchester and Doncaster service?

It would take four hours and fifteen minutes or nine hours for a round trip. This would mean that nine trains would be needed for an hourly service.

This is the same number of trains that would be needed for the two separate services.

The two companies might decide to run a joint service, but!

  • In whose colours would the train run?
  • Would there be crewing difficulties?
  • If a train fails, it would probably be a long way from home.
  • It has been felt sensible to split the five hour and thirty-five minute Norwich and Liverpool services.

Would it be possible to run a service between Cambridge and Lincoln?

  • Adding up 1 and 5 gives a timing of two hours and thirteen minutes.
  • With the turnround at both ends, a round trip would be under five hours.
  • This would mean that five trains would be needed for an hourly service.

It would be possible, but would the convenience attract enough passengers to make the service viable?

Would It Be Worth Reinstating March And Spalding?

There used to be a railway between March and Spalding.

Wikipedia says this about the closure of the route.

When the line closed between March and Spalding in 1982,[3] freight traffic was diverted through Peterborough station instead of cutting across the western edge of the Fens to avoid the line through Peterborough station

Some have called for the route to be reinstated to enable freight trains to by-pass Peterborough, when travelling between Felixstowe and the route to the North through Spalding, Sleaford, Lincoln and Doncaster.

  • It is not a long route.
  • It could provide a passenger route between Cambridge and Lincoln.

I suspect that Network Rail looked at this scheme as an alternative to the Werrington Dive Under, which has been costed at £200 million.

Wikipedia says this about the Werrington Dive Under.

The project will see the construction of 1.9 miles (3 km) of new line that will run underneath the fast lines, culverting works on Marholm Brook and the movement of the Stamford lines 82 feet (25 m) westwards over the culverted brook. The project, coupled with other ECML improvement schemes (such as the four tracking from Huntingdon to Woodwalton) will improve capacity on the line through Peterborough by 33% according to Network Rail. This equates to two extra train paths an hour by 2021, when the work is scheduled to be completed.

A thirty-three percent capacity increase seems a powerful reason to build the Werrington Dive Under.

Would it also enable a faster route for trains between King’s Cross and Lincoln?

As to whether the direct route between March and Spalding will ever be reinstated, this will surely depend on several factors.

  • The number of freight trains needing to go between Felixstowe and Doncaster.
  • The maximum number of freight trains, that can use the freight route, through Spalding, Sleaford and Lincoln.
  • Whether a passenger service on the route is worthwhile.

There are also protests about the number of freight trains already using the route.

I can see the capacity of the freight route being increased and the route being made a more friendly neighbour, after the opening of the Werrington Dive Under.

  • Level crossings will be replaced by bridges.
  • Adoption of zero-carbon locomotives.
  • Installation of noise-reduction measures.

The line might even be electrified.

Peterborough After Werrington

If we assume that the services stay as currently proposed, the following trains will stop at Peterborough on their way to either Cambridge or Lincoln.

  • GA – Peterborough and Ipswich or Colchester – Platform 6
  • EMR – Peterborough and Lincoln or Doncaster- Platform 1 or 2
  • EMR- Norwich and Nottingham – Platform 7
  • EMR- Nottingham and Norwich – Platform 6
  • CrossCountry – Stansted Airport and Birmingham – Platform 7
  • CrossCountry – Birmingham and Stansted Airport- Platform 6

Note.

  1. Trains going to Cambridge use Platform 6.
  2. Trains coming from Cambridge  use Platform 7
  3. The Ipswich or in the future; Colchester service uses Platform 6 to turnback.
  4. The Lincoln or in the future; Doncaster service uses Platform 1 or 2 to turnback.
  5. Platform 6 and 7 is a new island platform with direct access to the Stamford Lines and the tracks in the Werrington Dive Under that connect to Spalding, Sleaford and Lincoln.

This means that after the Werrington Dive Under opens in a couple of years, the Peterborough and Doncaster service will stop in the wrong side of the station.

So it is likely, that Doncaster services will continue from the Werrington Dive Under into Platform 6 or 7 in Peterborough station.

As the Colchester service will probably still turnback in Platform 6 could we see the Doncaster and Colchester services timed to be in the island platform 6 & 7 at the same time.

Passengers would just walk a few metres between the two trains.

This Google Map shows the lines South of the station.

The Peterborough-Ely Line can be seen running East-West, to the South of the River Nene and then going under the East oast Main Line, before connecting to Platforms 6 and 7 on the West side of the station.

This Google Map shows the station.

Note the three island platforms, which are numbered 6 & 7, 4 & 5 and 2 & 3 from West to East.

The Wikipedia entry for Peterborough station, says this about Platforms 6 & 7.

Platforms 6 & 7: These new platforms were commissioned over the Christmas break 2013, and are now used by CrossCountry services between Stansted Airport/Cambridge via Ely and Birmingham New Street via Leicester; East Midlands Trains services between Norwich and Liverpool; and Greater Anglia services to Ipswich.

North from Peterborough station and just South of the site of the Werrington Dive Under is the Cock Lane Bridge. I took these pictures in November 2018.

Note the three fast lines of the East Coast Main Line on the Eastern side and the two Stamford Lines on the Western side.

Just North of thie bridge, the Stamford Lines will split and trains will be able to continue to  Stamford or cross under the East Coast Main Line towards Lincoln.

As there is a loop for freight trains through Peterborough station, the Werrington Dive Under will be able to handle sufficient trains.

Conclusion

The layout of Peterborouh station and the Werrington Dive Under will give Abellio a lot of flexibility to improve services in South Lincolnshire and West Norfolk.

Network Rail gets a lot of criticism, but you can’t fault the design and what lies behind it, in this instant!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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