The Anonymous Widower

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

Is Cambridge Going To Save The World From Global Warming?

Watch this video!

And then visit Superdielectrics web site.

It does appear to be a  bunch of mad scientists in Cambridge, who’ve come up with the bizarre idea of using the material in soft contact lenses as an energy storage medium.

Link Up With Rolls-Royce

And then there’s this press release on the Rolls-Royce-Royce web site, which is entitled Rolls-Royce Links Up With UK-based Superdielectrics To Explore Potential Of Very High Energy Storage Technology.

Conclusion

I have been observing technology since the 1960s.

This is either one of those scientific curiosities , like cold fusion, that appear from time-to-time and then disappear into the scientific archives or a game-changer

I suspect we’ll know in a couple of years.

But even if it is isn’t the solution to affordable and massive energy storage,, that will save the world, I believe that one of the teams of men and women in white coats, somewhere in the world will crack the problem.

 

May 2, 2019 Posted by | World | , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Compelling Case’ Put Forward For £4bn Metro Network For Cambridgeshire

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

There is a “compelling case” for a metro scheme for Greater Cambridge after a feasibility report has claimed it could create 100,000 jobs and 60,000 new homes, but could cost £4bn.

The feasibility study was commissioned by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA), and mayor James Palmer declared there was a compelling case for the new regional transport network covering 88 miles.

Other details of the Cambridge Autonomous Metro include.

  • Turn-Up-and-Go service.
  • It would use trackless electric vehicles.
  • Across Cambridge in twelve minutes.
  • 7.5 miles of underground corridors under the City.
  • Cambourne, Haverhill, Huntingdon, Mildenhall, St. Ives, St. Neots and Waterbeach would be served.

I think that the route network is feasible and if any City in England can fund such a scheme it is Cambridge.

I can see the point about trackless electric vehicles, as illustrated by this picture.

It looks to me, that the track is just a road with a cycle track alongside.

But would it be better to use tram-trains and the Karlsruhe model?

  • This would enable the system to use the heavy rail tracks to Bury St. Edmunds, Ely, March, Newmarket and Wisbech.
  • Bury St. Edmunds certainly needs a frequent service to Cambridge.
  • East West Rail Consortium has a plan for a Parkway station on the A14, which needs a frequent connection to Cambridge.
  • The technology is proven.

Hopefully, tram-trains have been rejected for good reasons.

But does the proposed system fit well with the East-West Rail Link.

 

 

March 20, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 5 Comments

Roaming Around East Anglia – Coldhams Common

I took the spacious three-car Class 170 train from Cambridge to Newmarket.

This Google Map shows the area, where the Cambridge to Ipswich Line via Newmarket leaves the main Cambridge to Ely route.

The Cambrifge-Ipswich line is the loop at the bottom of the map crossing the green space of Coldhams Common.

These are pictures, I took as my train passed.

The East West Rail Consortium have plans for this rail line.

In this document on their web site, this is said.

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.

So would it be possible to fit, the required chord between the two railway lines?

I suspect that a double-track chord would be preferred and there might be some extra tracks between Cambridge and Ely.

This Google Map shows the area in more detail.

Note the level crossing shown in my pictures.

The main problems in the way of a double-track chord that would allow trains to pass between the routes to Ely and Newmarket, would appear to be the industrial Buildings and the level crossing that gives access across the rail line.

But I don’t think that this will be the major problem, as industrial premises can always be relocated, especially if the compensation is good.

I estimate that it is likely, that two heavy freight trains in every hour in both directions should be passing across the quiet green space of Coldhams Common.

Would this be acceptable to the nearby residents and the users of the Common?

  • The East West Rail Consortium are well funded and I suspect they have a cunning plan here, that could put a double track railway through this sensitive area.
  • If the landowner of these industrial buildings happened to be Network Rail, that would surely help, as they would co-operate.
  • There also appears to be very little housing alongside the Cambridge-Ipswich rail line.

I could see a solution, where more of the industrial buildings than needed were removed and some of the land given over to extend Coldhams Common.

March 3, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

DfT Keen To Encourage Rail Travel For Football Fans

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in Issue 873 of Rail Magazine.

I was moved to send this letter to the magazine.

Was this title on page 17 of Issue 873 serious or an ironic joke?

I am a seventy-one-year-old Ipswich fan and Season Ticket holder, who lives in London, within walking distance of Liverpool Street station on a fine day.

Over the last six or seven years, I have been unable to see Home matches as often, as I would like, as on perhaps half of weekend match days, there have been no trains running on the Great Eastern Main Line, due to the constant maintenance. Or is it a complete rebuilding for 140 mph trains?

To be fair, I have occasionally used the replacement buses, but the problem is that they make the journey well over an hour longer. So on a match day, there is no time left for anything else!

I had to watch the two Ipswich-Norwich matches on television, as on both these Sundays to get to the match by mid-day was impossible and probably needed an overnight stay!

I accumulated my very adequate pension pot, by writing software to schedule resources on complicated projects. Surely, Network Rail, Greater Anglia, the Premier League and the EFL can agree a plan that is better than the current shambles.

Greater Anglia surely have the means to improve the situation arriving in their depots.

Pairs of  four-car Class 755 trains could run reduced services via Cambridge.

  • If the line is blockaded between Ipswich and London, then a direct service could be run between Norwich and London via Ipswich and Cambridge.
  • If the line is blockaded between Ipswich and Norwich, then a direct service could be run between Norwich and London via Cambridge.

Although, this has nothing to do with football, pairs of Class 755 trains would also be useful for running a service between Peterborough and London, when the Southern section of the East Coast Main Line is closed.

I shall add a few extra notes to this on-line version of the letter.

Class 755 Trains

Points about Class 755 trains.

  • They are 100 mph trains on both electric and diesel, and probably have similar performance to the current Class 90 locomotive/Mark 3 coaches that run between Liverpool Street and Norwich.,
  • Capacity of a pair of Class 755 trains is 458 seats, as against the 514 seats of the current stock.
  • The interior will be suitable for services between London and Norwich.
  • The trains and their crews will probably be certified for all of Greater Anglia’s Network.
  • A single train is eighty metres long and a pair would be 160 metres.
  • The trains should fit all important main-line stations on the Greater Anglia Network.

I also suspect that these trains could run into Kings Cross station, either using the East Coast Main Line or the Hertford Loop Line.

They are blockade-busters par excellence.

February 26, 2019 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nervous Operators Force Network Rail To Defer King’s Cross Plan

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

King’s Cross station has to be closed for three months, so that tracks, electrification and signalling can be replaced and modernised for about 1.5 miles from the buffer stops at the station.

The original dates of the closure were to have been between December 2019 and March 2020, but now it looks like it could be delayed by up to a year.

The article on the web site, is a shortened version of the article in the magazine, where this is said.

Closure dates have yet to be announced, and NR is still developing a passenger handling strategy which could include long-distance services at Finsbury Park or some services terminating at Peterborough. Some trains could even be rerouted into London Liverpool Street.

I wonder, if Network Rail’s planners are cursing that the around thirty miles between Peterborough and Ely is not electrified.

If it were electrified, it would allow electric trains as well as diesel and bi-mode trains to access Liverpool Street station via the West Anglia Main Line.

What Benefits Would There Be From Electrifying Peterborough To Ely?

I can imagine Oxford-educated civil servants in the Department of Transport and The Treasury dismissing calls for more electrification in the backwater of East Anglia, after the successful electrification to Norwich in the 1980s.

But now Cambridge is powering ahead and East Anglia is on the rise, with the massive Port of Felixstowe needing large numbers of freight trains to other parts of mainland UK.

This East Anglian success gives reasons for the electrification of the Peterborough-Ely Line.

Direct Electric Trains Between Peterborough And Cambridge

I have met Cambridge thinkers, who believe that Peterborough is the ideal place for businesses, who need to expand from Cambridge.

Peterborough has the space that Cambridge lacks.

But the transport links between the two cities are abysmal.

  • The A14 is only a two-lane dual-carriageway, although a motorway-standard section is being added around Huntingdon.
  • Peterborough station has been improved in recent years.
  • The direct train service is an hourly three-car diesel service between Birmingham and Stansted Airport, which doesn’t stop at the increasingly-important Cambridge North station.

The road will get better, but the rail service needs improvement.

  • There needs to be at least two direct trains per hour (tph) between Cambridge and Peterborough.
  • They would stop at Cambridge North, Waterbeach, Ely and March.
  • End-to-end timing would be under an hour.
  • Greater Anglia will have the four-car bi-mode Class 755 trains, which would be ideal for the route from next year.

If the Peterborough- Ely Line was electrified, Greater Anglia could use five-car Class 720 trains.

An Electric Diversion Route For The East Coast Main Line

The works at Kings Cross station, and the possible proposal to run some trains into Liverpool Street station, show that an electric diversion route would be useful, when there are closures or problems on the East Coast Main Line.

In the case of the Kings Cross closure, if Peterborough were to be used as the terminal for some trains from the North, then I suspect some high-capacity Class 800 trains could shuttle passengers to Liverpool Street.

If the date of the Kings Cross closure is 2020, then certain things may help.

  • Crossrail will be running.
  • Extra trains will be running from Finsbury Park to Moorgate.
  • Hull Trains will be running bi-mode Class 802 trains.
  • There could be more capacity on the West Anglia Main Line.
  • There could be more capacity and some longer platforms at Liverpool Street.

What would really help, is the proposed four-tracking of the West Anglia Main Line.

The latter could prove extremely useful, when Network Rail decide to bite the bullet and four-track the Digswell Viaduct.

Extending Greater Anglia’s Network

Greater Anglia have bought new bi-mode Class 755 trains.

This would appear to be more than enough to covering the current services, as they are replacing twenty-six trains with a total of fifty-eight coaches with thirty-eight trains with a total of one hundred and thirty-eight coaches.

That is 46 % more trains and 137 % more coaches.

The new trains are also genuine 100 mph trains on both electricity and diesel.

Obviously, Greater Anglia will be running extra services, but with the explosive growth around Cambridge, coupled with the new Cambridge North station, I feel they will be running extra services on the Peterborough to Cambridge route and perhaps further.

The new Werrington Grade Separation will make a difference.

  • It will open in a couple of years.
  • Trains between Peterborough and Lincoln won’t block the East Coast Main Line.
  • The Leicester route could also be improved.

So services to and from Lincoln and Leicester would probably be easier to run from Cambridge and Stansted Airport.

CrossCountry run a service between Birmingham New Street and Stansted Airport stations.

  • The service stops at Coleshill Parlway, Nuneaton, Leicester, Melton Mowbray, Oakham, Stamford, Peterborough, March, Ely and.Cambridge and Audley End stations.
  • The service doesn’t stop at Cambridge North station.
  • The service is run by an inadequate Class 170 train, which sometimes is only two coaches and totally full.
  • Trains take just over three hours ten minutes for the journey.

Will Greater Anglia take over this route? Or possibly run a second train as far as Leicester?

Their Class 755 trains with better performance and specification would offer the following.

  • Electric running between Ely and Stansted Airport stations.
  • Greater passenger capacity.
  • wi-fi, plugs and USB sockets.
  • A three hour journey both ways.
  • The extra performance would probably allow an extra important stop at Cambridge North station.

The new trains would certainly offer what passengers want.

CrossCountry run an extra train between Birmingham New Street and Leicester, so perhaps at the Western end, the Greater Anglia service need only go as far as Leicester.

At the Stansted end of the route, there will be an hourly train between Stansted Airport and Norwich, so there could be scope for perhaps cutting one the services back to Cambridge.

Obviously, time-tabling would sort it out to the benefit of the train operators and passengers, but I can envisage a set of services like this.

  • Norwich and Stansted Airport – Greater Anglia – 1 tph
  • Birmingham New Street and Stansted Airport – CrossCountry – 1 tph
  • Leicester and Cambridge – Greater Anglia – 1 tph
  • Colchester and Peterborough – 1 tph
  • Norwich and Nottingham (Currently Liverpool Lime Street) – 1 tph

Adding these up you get.

  • Stansted Airport and Cambridge – 2 tph – As now!
  • Stansted Airport and Cambridge North – 2 tph – New service!
  • Cambridge and Ely – 4 tph – At least!
  • Ely and Peterborough – 4 tph – At least!
  • Cambridge and Peterborough – 2 tph – Up from 1 tph
  • Stansted Airport and Peterbough – 1 tph – As now!
  • Cambridge and Leicester – 2 tph = Up from 1 tph.

This pattern or something like it would be much better for all.

If the Ely-Peterborough section of the were to be electrified then it would enable the following.

  • A reduced journey time for electric or bi-mode trains.
  • If required Greater Anglia could run an extra electric service using Class 720 trains between Stansted Airport and Peterbough.

I said earlier that the Werrington Grade Separation will make it easier to run services between Peterborough and Lincoln.

So why not add an hourly service between Cambridge and Lincoln?

I can envisage, when the West Anglia Main Line is four-tracked at the southern end, that there might be enough capacity for a Liverpool Street to Lincoln service via Cambridge, Cambridge North, Ely, Peterborough, Spalding and Sleaford.

But whatever happens Greater Anglia’s choice of bi-mode Class 755 trains, seems to give them the flexibility to match services to passengers needs.

Electro-Diesel and Battery-Electric Freight Locomotives

The Class 88 locomotive is an electro-diesel freight locomotive, that can use either power from overhead electrification or an pnboard diesel engine.

I believe that locomotives like this will become more common and that eventually, we’ll see a battery-electric heavy freight locomotive.

I wrote about the latter in Thoughts On A Battery/Electric Replacement For A Class 66 Locomotive.

The Peterborough-Ely Line will see increasing numbers of trains hauled by these powerful electric locomotives, with either diesel or battery power to propel them over the gaps in the electrification.

Electrifying the line would speed these hybrid trains through and increase the capacity of the route.

Conclusion

Network Rail have annoyed the train operators with their planning and timing of the upgrade at Kings Cross station.

It looks to me, that the part of the problem, is that there is no viable electrified secondary route to London.

Bi-mode trains can use the Peterborough-Ely Line to go to Liverpool Street via Cambridge.

This line is one of those routes that sits in a sea of electrification, which carries a lot of traffic, that would bring several benefits if it were to be electrified.

  • Direct electric trains between Cambridge and Peterborough, would greatly improve the spasmodic service between the two cities, with large economic benefits to the county.
  • An electric diversion route would be created from Peterborough to Liverpool Street via Ely and Cambridge.
  • It would allow Greater Anglia to develop routes West of Cambridge to places like Lincoln and Leicester using their future fleet of Class 755 trains.
  • It would also make it easier for battery-electric freight locomotives to cover the busy freight route between Felixstowe and Peterborough.

I also feel that it wouldn’t be the most difficult route to electrify.

The Fens are flat.

There is no history of mining.

The track is fairly straight and simple.

I suspect that it could become a high-quality 90-100 mph, electrified line.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With

 

 

December 8, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are Greater Anglia Buying So Many Class 755 Trains, So They Can Run A Better Service During Constant Works On The Great Eastern?

Yet again, they were rebuilding the Great Eastern Main Line, so I didn’t get to football at Ipswich yesterday.

It’s not that I mind the buses, but it means two things.

  • I have to leave so early, that I can’t do my weekly shop before I go.
  • I also get back so late that I will miss Strictly on the television.

There is also the problem, that Ipswich is one of the worst places to find a gluten-free meal, unless you go to Pizza Express.

I often have my lunch before I travel or take it on the train from Leon or M & S.

For some time now, I’ve suspected that Greater Anglia have ordered a lot more Class 755 trains, than they need, based on a train-for-train replacement basis

It now becomes obvious why!

At weekends, they will link four-car trains together and run four trains per hour on the following routes.

  • Norwich to Cambridge
  • Ipswich to Cambridge

One train in four will continue to and from London after Cambridge.

On the other hand, it could be a plot by Norwich fans in Greater Anglia’s headquarters in Norwich to annoy Ipswich fans!

 

 

September 23, 2018 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Oxford’s Nimbys Are Getting Angry!

I keep finding articles on the web, like this article on the Oxford Times, which is entitled First Person: The Campaign To Keep Oxfordshire As It Is Now.

The title says it all.

It is all about opposition to the Oxford to Cambridge Expressway, which everybody wants in someone else’s back-yard.

My feelings are as follows.

  • A fully-electrified freight route should be built between Southampton and the West Coast Main Line, preferably with 25 KVAC overhead wiring.
  • The East West Railway should provide at least two fast trains per hour between Heathrow and Cambridge, via Reading, Oxford, Milton Keynes and Bedford.
  • I would accelerate the construction of the East West Railway.

Only as a last project, would I build the Oxford to Cambridge Expressway.

April 27, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

More Thameslink Trains Serving The East Coast Main Line From May 20th 2018

The National Rail timetable is now showing the following new Thameslink trains serving the East Coast Main Line.

There will be two trains per hour (tph) between Peterborough and Horsham.

  • XX:26 and XX:56 – Peterborough
  • XX:08 and XX;38 – Finsbury Park
  • XX:00 and XX:30 – London Bridge
  • XX:08 and XX:38 – Horsham

Note.

  1. Trains take two hours and 45 minutes.
  2. Stops include Huntingdon, St. Neots, Hitchin, Steveange and Finsbury Park, to the North of the Thames.
  3. The trains call at St. Pancras Thameslink, Farringdon, City Thameslink and London Bridge in the core.
  4. Stops include East Croydon, Gatwick Airport, Three Bridges and Crawley to the South of the Thames.
  5. The first train is 05:24 from Peterborough.

Trains generally leave Horsham at XX:25 and XX:55.

There will be one tph  between Cambridge and Brighton.

  • XX:54 at Cambridge
  • XX:52 – Finsbury Park
  • XX:15 – London Bridge
  • XX:19 – Brighton

Note.

  1. Trains take two hours and 25 minutes.
  2. Stops include Royston, Hitchin, Steveange and Finsbury Park, to the North of the Thames.
  3. The trains call at St. Pancras Thameslink, Farringdon, City Thameslink and London Bridge in the core.
  4. Stops include East Croydon, Gatwick Airport, Three Bridges and Haywards Heath to the South of the Thames.
  5. The first train is 05:54 from Cambridge.

Trains generally leave Horsham at XX:07.

But going to Gatwick, I might go to Finsbury Park, where I can now get three trains per hour to the Airport.

  • XX:08 taking around 70 minutes
  • XX:38 taking around 70 minutes
  • XX:52 taking around 52 minutes

But coming back, I would take the first train to London Bridge, from where I’d get a 141 bus to just outside my door.

Are The Trains Acceptable?

For my journey of an hour to Gatwick, the trains are just about acceptable.

But, in some ways, I think that passengers from Cambridge and Peterborough will only use Thameslink to South of East Croydon occasionally, as over two hours in a Class 700 train, is an experience, passengers will be reluctant to repeat.

I would do the following.

  • Add wi-fi and power sockets.
  • Add a few tables to make some groups of four seats, suitable for families.
  • Add seat-back tables.
  • Make the seats more comfortable.

I’d love to have five minutes with the idiot who signed off the order for these trains, which must be the worst new trains on the UK network. Perhaps, that’s not being harsh enough. I suspect they could be the worst new trains in the world!

I’ve had better passenger comfort in a Pacer, that I wrote about in Is This Really A Pacer In A New Outfit?.

But that journey was only between Rotherham and Sheffield, not say Cambridge and Gatwick.

April 12, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

London Has A New Underground Line

On Friday, I went between Brighton and Cambridge stations on one of the first Thameslink services on the route.

I wrote about it in Observations On Thameslink Between Brighton And Cambridge.

That journey took me on London’s new Underground Line between London Bridge and Finsbury Park stations.

The following trains are going North from London Bridge to Finsbury Park.

  • 11:29 – Horsham to Peterborough – Arrives at Finsbury Park at 11:52
  • 12:49 – Brighton to Cambridge – Arrives at Finsbury Park at 13:13
  • 15:04 – Horsham to Peterborough – Arrives at Finsbury Park at 15:27
  • 15:34 – Brighton to Cambridge – Arrives at Finsbury Park at 15:57

And the following trains are going South from Finsbury Park to London Bridge.

  • 10:59 – Peterborough to Horsham – Arrives at London Bridge at 11:24
  • 12:09 -Cambridge to Brighton – Arrives at London Bridge at 12:37
  • 14:29 – Peterborough to Horsham – Arrives at London Bridge at 14:55
  • 15:11 – Cambridge to Brighton – Arrives at London Bridge at 15:37

All journeys take around 23-25 minutes, with stops at Blackfriars, City Thameslink, Farringdon and St. Pancras International stations.

It may officially be part of Thameslink, but it will function like a convewntional Underground Line, but with bigger trains.

The Underground Alternative

If you look at Transport for London’s Journey Planner, this give a time of twenty minutes for a journey between London Bridge and Finsbury Park, using the Northern and Victoria lines with a change at Euston.

That is also not a step-free or wheel-chair friendly route.

Obviously, at the moment, most passengers have no choice, as there is only four trains per day in each direction on the new Thameslink route.

But when a Full Service is running, with a train every ten minutes, things will be very different.

My Access To Thameslink

Timings to Thameslink stations from my house are as follows.

  • Finsbury Park – 15 mins by 141 Bus and Piccadilly Line
  • London Bridge – 25 mins by 21 or 141 Bus
  • London Bridge – 31 mins  using Transport for London’s Journey Planner’s recommended route via Dalston Junction and Canada Water.

The latter probably explains why Londoners are generally Grade 1 Duckers-And-Divers!

I suspect, when I go to Gatwick Airport, I’ll go via Finsbury Park, using the mini-cab from around the corner or a black cab, as both will be quicker.

I suspected right. Returning from Finsbury Park station to home this evening, took ten minutes and cost a tenner.

A Preview Service

Thameslink are only running a preview service between London Bridge and Finsbury Park at the current time.

On my Friday trip, it was particularly noticeable, that passengers were thin on the ground between the two stations.

  • But then passengers probably didn’t know about the service and may have been confused seeing a train going to Cambridge.
  • It’s also not shown on the Tube Map.
  • I didn’t notice any advertising for the new route.

So how do you use something that you don’t know about?

The Full Service

This route will have the following characteristics, when Thameslink open it fully.

The Route Will Serve The City of London Well

These factors will help this section of Thameslink serve the City of London.

  • Step-free stations at Farringdon, City Thameslink and London Bridge ring the South and West of the City of London.
  • Crossrail with an interchange with Thameslink at Farringdon also gives a quick route to the East of the City of London and Canary Wharf.
  • The City of London is also planning a lot of pedestrianisation.

Other developments like Crossrail and the expansion of Bank station and the Docklands Light Railway, will make London’s financial district, one of the best connected by public transport in the World.

The Route Will Have Tourist Attractions

The route could have been designed for tourists.

  • London Bridge station has London and Tower Bridges, Southwark Cathedral, Borough Market, HMS Belfast and the Shard.
  • But the most spectacular modern architecture at London Bridge, is the station itself, with its lifts, escalators, fifteen platforms and a shopping centre.
  • Blackfriars is a unique station, as it spans the Thames with entrances on both banks, and it is the world’s largest solar-powered bridge.
  • Blackfriars station is a short walk along the river from the Tate Modern and the Millennium Bridge.
  • Many good walks along the river start from Blackfriars.
  • City Thameslink station dates from 1990 and it shows, but it is close to St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Old Bailey, so it attracts visitors at both ends of the moral spectrum.
  • Farringdon station will be a major interchange, where Crossrail and Thameslink connect, so don’t let unsuitable organisations build all the hotels this area will attract.
  • Farringdon is close to two of London’s iconic markets; Smithfield meat market and the attached wife market.
  • Saint Pancras International station is a fur coat and no knickers station, as although it looks good, it’s practicality is suspect.
  • If they’d given the job to the architect, who updated Kings Cross station next door, they would have got a a more practical station.
  • Finsbury Park station is a place, where you go and explore the local area, which is vibrant and full of history.
  • You may even get as far as Alexandra Palace or Manor House, where I saw John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers with a very drunk Eric Clapton in the 1960s.

It is a line to explore London.

Six Trains Per Hour

There will be six trains per hour (tph), which will run All Day.

  • Two tph – Peterborough to Horsham – twelve-car
  • Two tph – Cambridge to Brighton – twelve-car
  • Two tph – Cambridge to Maidstone East – eight-car

This gives a six tph service between Finsbury Park and London Bridge and also a four tph service to East Croydon and Gatwick Airport.

Two Additional Trains Per Hour In The Peak

In the Peak, there will be two tph, that run from Welwyn Garden City to Sevenoaks.

But they will go via Elephant and Castle rather than London Bridge.

Thameslink must have their reasoning behind this service, but I have some questions.

  • Would commuters in the Peak prefer to go to London Bridge?
  • Would passengers from Sevenoaks and Welwyn Garden City like an All Day service?

These questions and others will be answered in the next few years, as hameslink develops.

Full Step-Free Access At London Bridge Station

London Bridge station has full step-free access for all the following services.

  • Thameslink
  • Services to and from Cannon Street station
  • Services to and from Waterloo East and Charing Cross stations.
  • Jubilee and Northern Lines of the Underground
  • Terminating services at London Bridge
  • Several bus routes, including my bus home!

Note.

  1. Passengers will use the escalators to get to the right destination.
  2. Thameslink passengers will use the island platform to reverse direction.
  3. It took me just two minutes to change from Platforms 2/3 to Platforms 8/9.
  4. Going from Platform 6/7 to the bus station was under three minutes and a 141 Bus was just getting ready to leave.
  5. Passengers can walk across London Bridge to the City of London.

There are few stations better than London Bridge anywhere in the world!

Full Step-Free Access at Finsbury Park Station

Finsbury Park station is being updated to have full step-free access for the following services.

  • Thameslink
  • Great Northern Services to Cambridge, Kings Lynn and Peterborough
  • Northern City Line services to and from Moorgate station
  • Piccadilly and Victoria Lines. of the Underground.

There will also be same-platform interchange between Thameslink and Northern City Line services.

The Improved Northern City Line At Finsbury Park Station

The Northern City Line will be substantially improved.

  • New Class 717 trains have been ordered.
  • This could mean an increased All Day service of perhaps 10-12 tph.
  • Moorgate station will be on Crossrail.
  • There will be a same-platform interchange with Thameslink at Finsbury Park station.
  • Hopefully, the terrible stations on the route will be improved.

This line will change from being a crowded, outdated backwater of the UK rail system to an important modern link to the City of London and Crossrail from large parts of North and North-East London.

The Link To Crossrail

The link between Thameslink and Crossrail at Farringdon station will probably be heavily used, if it is well-designed and fully-step free. Which I suspect it will be, until proven otherwise!

Don’t forget too, the link to the Metropolitan and Circle Lines at this key station, which is much better than the link at St. Pancras

Step-Free Access At All The Intermediate Stations Between London Bridge and Finsbury Park

Access at Blackfriars, City Thameslink, Farringdon and St. Pancras stations are all fully step-free.

The Fastest Way To Gatwick Airport And Brighton From North London

My friend lives in Walthamstow and always goes to Gatwick Airport by using the Victoria Line and Gatwick Express.

  • This takes twenty-three minutes for the Victoria Line and thirty minutes for the train.
  • The Thameslink route via Finsbury Park, takes nine minutes for the Victoria Line and an hour for the train.

Note.

  1. Both trains will run every fifteen minutes, when the full Thameslink service is running.
  2. The Thameslink timing is only the time of the Preview Service. Will the Full Service be faster?
  3. Finsbury Park and Victoria will both be fully step-free within a year or so.
  4. The trains on Gatwick Express will be more comfortable.
  5. The walk at Finsbury Park is shorter than at Victoria.
  6. The Thameslink route will be more affordable.

Everybody will have their own preference.

The biggest winners will be.

  • Those living on the Northern reaches of the Piccadilly Line, who will have a full step-free interchange to Thameslink at Finsbury Park
  • Those living on the Northern City Line, who will have a same-platform interchange to Thameslink at Finsbury Park.
  • Those who walk, cycle or take a bus or cab to Finsbury Park.

Gatwick Airport could be a big winner, as a whole area of North London and Hertfordshire now has a new excellent direct connection to the Airport.

What Still Needs To Be Done?

It is a well-thought out route, but some things still need to be done.

Is Six Tph Enough Trains Between London Bridge And Finsbury Park?

I ask this question, with my scheduling hat on!

At the moment of the 24 tph through the Snow Hill Tunnel, two-thirds of the trains go up the Midland Main Line, with just a third on the East Coast Main Line.

I think that, when Thameslink increase the frequency through the central core, that they will increase the frequency through Finsbury Park.

Could Two Tph From The Sutton Loop Go To Welwyn Garden City?

Curremtly, four tph start at St. Albans City station, go through London, then round the Sutton Loop, before returning to St. Albans City.

Would it be desirable to start two of these services from Welwyn Garden City station?

It will all depend on operational issues and the routes passengers take.

City Thameslink And St. Paul’s Stations Need A Connection

I believe this is possible and I wrote about it in A Pedestrian Connection Between City Thameslink Station And St. Paul’s Tube Station.

 

Should The Docklands Light Railway Be Extended To City Thameslink, Euston And St. Pancras?

I wrote about this extension in detail in A Connection Between City Thameslink Station And The Docklands Light Railway.

Could Thameslink Connect To The Waterloo And City Line?

I wrote about this connection in Could The Waterloo And City Line Have An Intermediate Station At Blackfriars?

Development of new trains for the Underground, will make this link possible.

 

Should Thameslink Be On The Tube Map

I wrote about this in Thameslink Should Be On The Tube Map.

All Of Thameslink Should Be In The Oystercard Area

Gatwick Airport is already in the Oystercard area, but it is silly that Oyster cards and contsctless cards can’t be used on all Thameslink services.

Conclusion

The possibilities for Thameslink and the effects it will have will be enormous.

 

March 11, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments