The Anonymous Widower

Capacity Crunch At Chester – Borderlands Line

The Capacity Crunch At Chester article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways talked about the Borderlands Line.

The article says this about the line and the passenger service.

The line is currently worked by two ATW Class 150/2 Sprinter units, which do their best to maintain the clockface hourly frequency. The Wrexham-Bidston Rail Users Association told the Wales & Borders franchise inquiry performance is far from ideal, highlighting late running frequently leads to trains being turned back at Shotton, meaning they do not reach Bidston to connect with Merseyrail services to Liverpool and leaving lengthy gaps at intermediate stations in England.

The article then talks about electrifying the line, but Network Rail have indicated that this would cost £207million. Apparently, third-rail electriication now needs palisade fencing along the track.

Enter The Class 455 Flex Train

In The Class 319 Flex Units To Be Class 769, I commented on the report, that Porterbrook were also looking at converting Class 455 trains to bi-modes.

Consider.

  • These trains could probably work Merseyrail’s tunnels, as they are closely related to the current trains.
  • They have quality 2 x 2 interiors.
  • They meet all regulations.
  • Performance is similar to the current trains.
  • They are four-cars.
  • Porterbrook will have ninety-one trains to place, when South Western Railway replaces them with Aventras.

The only problem is that the interiors are very red, which might upset half of Merseyside.

But I think it is possible that we could see Class 455 Flex trains working the Borderlands Line.

  • From Wrexham to Bidston, they would use their on-board diesel engines.
  • At Bidston, they would change from diesel to third-rail electric power.
  • From Bidston to Liverpool, they would join the queue of trains from the Wirral and go round the newly-rebuilt Loop Line.

I’m pretty sure, that if Merseyrail have signalled the Loop appropriately, that there would be enough capacity in the Loop to run two trains per hour (tph) between Wrexham and Liverpool.

Based on the following current timings.

  • Liverpool Lime Street -to Bidston – 17 minutes
  • Bidston to Wrexham – 1 hour

With a few performance tweaks, I suspect that a Class 455 Flex train could do the round trip in well under three hours.

So three trains could easily handle the current hourly service, but would give the following advantages.

  • Direct access to Liverpool City Centre.
  • Four-cars instead of two.
  • A much better interior.

The only problem would be checking that the Class 455 trains would fit the tunnels in the Loop Line. But seeing, that  the Class 455 trains, were built as a successor to the Class 508 trains used by Merseyrail, I suspect they fit.

Could Class 319 Flex Trains Be Used?

The reason I looked at Class 455 Flex trains first is that in a article in the June 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled ‘319 Flex’ Units To Be Class 769, this is said.

The company reports considerable interest in the concept and expects further orders soon, while it is also considering transferring the concept to other rolling stock, such as Class 455 EMUs.

As Porterbrook will soon receiving around ninety of these trains from South Western Railway, these struck me as possibilities for the Borderlands Line.

If you look at Merseyrail’s current Class 507 and Class 508 trains, Class 455 trains and Class 319 trains, they all appear to have a similar 2.82 metre width and a 3.58 metre height.

So if Class 319 Flex trains could work the tunnels under Liverpool, what would this do to service on the Borderlands Line.

  • Their 90 mph as opposed to 75 mph operating speed could bring the round trip under two and a half hours.
  • Five trains would be needed for a 2 tph service.
  • Wrexham to Liverpool times of under an hour and fifteen minutes should be possible.
  • The better performance of the trains would allow extra stops to be made with ease.
  • The trains can have First Class seats and fully-accessible toilets.

In Wales Orders Some Golden Oldies, I noted how Arriva Trains Wales are acquiring five Class 319 Flex trains as cover for the refurbishment of Class 150 and Class 158 trains on the Cardiff Valley Lines.

So once all of these diesel trains have been refurbished, will we be seeing the Class 319 Flex trains moved to the Borderlands Line?

July 27, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Capacity Crunch At Chester – HS2

The Capacity Crunch At Chester article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways didn’t say much about HS2.

This is said about HS2 services and North Wales.

There are aspirations in North Wales for additional services to Crewe by 2027, when HS2 is due to begin operating between London and Crewe.

This is said about Liverpool and Chester and HS2.

Liverpool City Region’s rail strategy envisages Chester-Crewe electrification enabling Merseyrail services to Crewe, connecting East Wirral and Ellesmere Port to HS2.

And then there is The Constellation Partnership.

This is a massive project to take advantage of the opportunities of Crewe being just 55 minutes away from London.

This is their mission statement.

This is a boundary breaking partnership between two Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP) and seven Local Authorities, with strong Ministerial backing from Government, and a unified fast-track approach to plan-led economic development, making it all the more powerful an investment proposition.

These partners share a single vision – a single economic footprint creating a coherent investment market boosted by the international investment magnet of High Speed Rail connectivity. This is an unbeatable growth opportunity for investors.

With powerful Government backing, the partnership’s ambition is to deliver 100,000 new homes and 120,000 new jobs by 2040.

The partners range from Stafford in the South to Warrington in the North and from Stoke-on-Trent in the East to Chester in the West.

Liverpool To Crewe Via Chester

Merseyrail’s new Stadler FLIRTs are being designed, so that they can eventually run on both 750 VDC third-rail and 25 KVAC overhead electrification, so if Crewe to Chester is electrified, Liverpool will get its wish of direct services from East Wirral and Ellesmere Port to Crewe.

Chester To Crewe

If the line is electrified, which I feel will happen, Chester to Crewe probably needs a service of four trains per hour (tph), to take passengers to HS2.

Two of these services will probably go to Liverpool and the other two to North Wales.

But because of the connectivity at Chester, services could also come from Shrewsbury or Wrexham.

Conclusion

Don’t underestimate the effects HS2 will have on trains in the Mersey Dee area.

July 17, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 1 Comment

Capacity Crunch At Chester – Halton Curve

The Capacity Crunch At Chester article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways talks about the Halton Curve.

The curve will allow services between Liverpool Lime Street, South Liverpool and Liverpool Airport to Chester and North Wales.

The article says this.

Initially, Merseytravel will subsidise an hourly Chester-Liverpool service via the Halton Curve, as a first step in the development of enhanced services using the curve.

It then goes on to quote Huw Jenkins if Merseytravel as saying.

It would be a priority for the new Wales and Borders franchise to introduce regular services via the curve to Liverpool from significant stations in North Wales, including Bangor, Llandudno and Wrexham.

The business case for the Halton Curve is also stated to include.

  • Bangor to Liverpool in 140 minutes.
  • Llandudno to Liverpool in 130 minutes.
  • Create an alternative route between Liverpool and Cardiff via Chester and Shrewsbury.

I would suspect that the direct service between Cardiff and Liverpool will take about three and a half hours in something like a Class 802 train.

These trains could also probably travel between Liverpool and Shrewsbury in around ninety minutes, giving access to all the West Wales services at Shrewsbury station.

Conclusion

I have a feeling that when we look back on the reinstatement of the Halton Curve in a couple of decades, it could be a raging success and a very bad case of what I call London Overground Syndrome.

This is my definition of the disease.

This disease, which is probably a modern version of the Victorian railway mania, was first identified in East London in 2011, when it was found that the newly-refurbished East London Line and North London Line were inadequate due to high passenger satisfaction and much increased usage. It has now spread across other parts of the capital and across the UK, despite various eradication programs.

It is usually solved by adding more capacity.

July 17, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

Capacity Crunch At Chester

This is the title of an article by Rhodri Clark in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, which discusses the various rail issues that will be tackled around the City of Chester.

This is the sub-title to the article.

Pressure is mounting for rail infrastructure and service enhancements to alleviate road congestion in the thriving Mersey Dee region.

The Modern Railways article discusses the following.

Halton Curve

HS2

Mid-Cheshire Line

Sandbach To Northwich

Each is discussed in separate posts.

July 16, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

Capacity Crunch At Chester – Mid-Cheshire Line

The Capacity Crunch At Chester article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways has a section about the Mid-Cheshire Line.

The section opens with this paragraph.

Trains on the Mid-Cheshire Line, from Chester to Manchester via Stockport and Altrincham, provide interchange with Manchester Metrolink at Altrincham, but the average speed from Chester to Altrincham is 30 mph, which again is uncompetitive with car journey times.

Despite this and only an hourly service, Knutford station has in a footfall in excess of 500,000.

There are other problems.

  • The train timetable is not commuter-friendly to Chester.
  • Connections to and from London are bad at Chester.
  • Sunday services are two-hourly.

But Network Rail are on the case and are lengthening platforms, so frequencies can be increased.

Manchester Airport Western Link

The Wikipedia entry for the Mid-Cheshire Line talks about a western link to Manchjester Airport, which would start from near Mobberley.

Conclusion

Upgrading the Mid-Cheshire Line and Sandbach To Northwich must have possibilities.

July 16, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

Capacity Crunch At Chester – Sandbach To Northwich

The Capacity Crunch At Chester article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways talks about reopening passenger services between Sandbach and Northwich stations on an existing freight-only line to serve Middlewich.

This is said.

The principal demand would be for travel to Manchester, but campaigners say an additional service from Middlewich to Chester would relieve the A556 of peak traffic congestion and serve tourists, including people who hire canal boats in Middlewich.

The proposal would also involve a new station at Gadbrook Park, a Business Improvement District near Northwich, where increasing numbers of people are employed.

In Looking For Holmes Chapel Road Station, I talked about a proposed Middlewich station.

Three factors will increase the chances of this route being reopened.

  • Class 769 trains (formerly Class 319 Flex trains) would be ideal for this route.
  • Track and signalling appear to be ready.
  • If the Mid-Cheshire Line is improved, this route could join it to Crewe.
  • The arrival of HS2 at Crewe in 2027.

This short route has a lot going for it.

Conclusion

I think this will be opened before 2027.

 

July 16, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 2 Comments