The Anonymous Widower

How Will HS4Air Affect Heathrow Southern Railway?

Heathrow Southern Railway will be an East-West railway through Heathrow using the existing tunnels, which will connect Basingstoke and Woking to Pasddington via Heathrow and Old Oak Common.

On the other hand HS4Air will be a North-South railway through Heathrow probably in a deep tunnel.

I suspect that numerous escalators, lifts and travelators will be the only connections between the two railways and the various terminals in the airport.

Conclusion

I can see no reason, why both railways can’t be built separately.

Co-operation could be useful to both railways.

If the two railways have a well-designed interchange under Heathrow, this would open up journey possibilities like Southampton-Paris with a change at the airport.

HS4Air is more than just a railway connecting airports and the North of England to the Channel Tunnel.

July 26, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Plans Revealed For £10bn High-Speed Railway To Connect Britain’s Busiest Airports, HS1 and HS2

The title of this post is the same as this article on Global Rail News.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Developers are submitting plans for a new high-speed line to the UK’s Department for Transport (DfT) in response to a call for market-led proposals.

Named ‘HS4Air’, the proposed £10 billion railway will connect HS1 at Ashford to HS2 North West of London with stops at Heathrow and Gatwick airports and a spur connection to the Great Western main line.

This map from Expedition Engineering shows the route.

To minimise environmental disruption, the following should be noted.

  • There is a North-South tunnel under Heathrow Airport.
  • HS4Air follows the M25 to the South-West of London.
  • Several miles of the route between Heathrow and Gatwick is in tunnel to the West of Horsham.
  • There is a West-East tunnel under Gatwick Airport.
  • The Ashford to Tonbridge Line would become part of HS4Air.

There will also be stations at Ashford, Tonbridge, Gatwick and Heathrow.

This further diagram from Expedition Engineering shows the various possible routes.

Note the following about HS4Air.

  • Four major airports; Gatwick, Heathrow, Birmingham and Manchester, will be connected to the Channel Tunnel.
  • Wikipedia suggests, that the line could be extended to a reopened Manston Airport.
  • A Paris to Manchester passenger service via Gatwick, Heathrow and Birmingham, is proposed.
  • High-speed connecting services from Cardiff, Oxford and Manchester to Ashford are proposed.
  • HS2’s major interchanges of Birmingham International and Crewe, are served.
  • Freight routes from Liverpool and Southampton to the Channel Tunnel will be enabled.

It looks a good basis to connect the rest of the UK to the services through the Channel Tunnel.

The article also gives some sample journey times.

  • Ashford-Gatwick: 25 minutes
  • Manchester-Heathrow: 1 hour 10 mins
  • Heathrow-Gatwick: 15 minutes;
  • Cardiff-Heathrow: 1 hour 40 mins
  • Birmingham-Paris: 3 hours
  • Manchester-Paris: 3 hours 40 minutes (My Estimate)

Intriguingly, the Manchester-Paris time, is the same as Eurostar’s current time between London and Amsterdam.

Conclusion

The plan seems to be well-thought out and it gives a good increase in connectivity from Wales, the West Country and the Midlands and North of England to Heathrow, Gatwick and the Channel Tunnel.

But I can see a few problems.

  • Will the residents of the North Downs accept a high-speed railway through their area?
  • If freight routes from Liverpool and Southampton to the Channel Tunnel are established, will residents object to masses of noisy freight trains?
  • Will there be pressure for more tunnels?

On the other hand Expedition Engineering are saying that needed extensions to the UK’s electricity grid can be laid underground along the same route.

July 25, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Is It Back To The Future In Manchester?

In the 1970s British Rail, proposed three tunnel projects in the North

  • A Loop and Link  in Liverpool that linked railways from North, South and the Wirral underneath the City Centre.
  • A tunnel under Newcastle.
  • The Picc-Vic Tunnel,  under Manchester.

All three tunnels were designed to connect the railways on both sides of the cities.

  • Liverpool got the much-loved and successful Northern and Wirral Lines of Merseyrail in 1977.
  • Newcastle got the much-loved and successful Tyne and Wear Metro in 1980.
  • Manchester got nothing, as Harold Wilson cancelled it, like Maplin Airport and the Channel Tunnel.

Am I right in thinking that the Channel Tunnel was resurrected later and opened in 1994? It is now much-loved and successful!

Finally, the Government and a lot of opposition MPs and unions have decided that Maplin be replaced by a third runway at Heathrow.

Will that be cancelled by Boris, David, Jeremy, Ruth or Vince?

Today, this article has been published on Rail Magazine, which is entitled Option For Underground Station At Manchester Piccadilly.

Apparently, to integrate Northern Powerhouse Rail into the HS2 station at Manchester Piccadiily station, one option is to go underground.

So are those ideas and surveys of the 1970s being looked at for a solution?

 

July 9, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Getlink Pushes Budget Train Service Between London And Paris To Rival Eurostar

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on I-News.

Getlink is the infrastructure company, who actually own the tunnel and they have commissioned research into the idea, as this paragraph indicates.

Currently, Eurostar trips take around 2.2o hours and depart from St Pancras. The new link between Stratford and Paris would take just over three hours, but 25-30 per cent lower operating costs would mean lower fares for passengers. The numbers come from consultancy firm Roland Berger, and was commissioned by Getlink.

Elsewhere, the article says that the service will go to Roissy, which would be convenient for Charles de Gaulle Airport.

I do wonder, if someone has their eye on a couple of Eurostar’s retired Class 373 trains.

In 2011, I posted  about an idea for a Trans Manche Metro.

 

July 7, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Eurostar Platforms At Waterloo Station Are Being Brought Back Into Use

When travelling to Shepperton, I walked from Waterloo East station to the balcony at Waterloo station.

You get a good view of the disused Eurostar plaforms, which are being brought back into use.

I also took a few as my train left the station.

At least this monument to bad planning of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, is being put to a laudable use of providing more capacity at Waterloo.

There’s some more pictures from before the work started in Waterloo’s Blue Elephant.

October 31, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

Is This French Punishment For Brexiters?

This article on the BBC web site is entitled Dover ferry port passengers hit by traffic chaos. This is said.

Holidaymakers have been hit by delays of up to 12 hours through Kent to get to the Port of Dover, with many being stuck in traffic overnight.
Port authorities said delays built up due to French border checkpoints being understaffed overnight during heightened security levels.

There’s always some problem with the French and the Channel every summer.

But this summer it appears to be worse!

Could it be that the French are showing Brexiters, that they control the border?

After all, we never seem to get a problem with the Belgians!

The strange thing last night, as I came in from Brussels on Eurostar, was that there was some form of overcrowding in the terminal at St. Pancras.

 

July 23, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 2 Comments

Crossrail Extension To Gravesend

A possible Crossrail Extension to Gravesend has been safeguarded, although  because Crossrail doesn’t call at St. Pancras for Eurostar, I feel that extending Crossrail to Ebbsfleet International station to catch Continental trains there, would be part of any extension to Gravesend.

This Google Map shows both Ebbsfleet International and Gravesend stations.

Ebbsfleet International And Gravesend Stations

Ebbsfleet International And Gravesend Stations

Ebbsfleet International is to the West and Gravesend is to the East.

There would have to be some major construction work, but it would probably be feasible.

However this Google Map of Gravesend Station shows a serious problem.

Gravesend Station

Gravesend Station

As can be seen, it is a very cramped site. These pictures show the station.

I doubt any extension to Gravesend will terminate at Gravesend station.

There is a page on the Crossrail web site, which is entitled Safeguarding. This is said.

An additional extension from Abbey Wood to Gravesend and Hoo Junction, has been safeguarded however there are no current plans to extend the railway beyond the route currently identified.

This is a Google Map of the Hoo Junction area to the East of Gravesend.

Hoo Junction

Hoo Junction

Currently, it is occupied by a freight yard. It certainly could be used as the terminus, but it is about ten kilometres East of Ebbsfleet International station.

So could a train on the North Kent Line that runs from the current Crossrail terminus at Abbey Wood to Gravesend, do a detour to Ebbsfleet International?

This Google Map shows the lines in the Ebbsfleet International area.

Lines Around Ebbsfleet

Lines Around Ebbsfleet

The North Kent Line starts in the top left at Swanscombe station, crosses over the lines into Ebbsfleet International. It then goes through Northfleet station, before going off in a South-Easterly direction to Gravesend.

A connection could surely be built so that after passing Swanscombe station, the trains on the North Kent Line could pass through Ebbsfleet International, rather than through Northfleet station.

An alternative would be to provide a proper connection perhaps using a travelator between Northfleet and Ebbsfleet International stations.

One problem to sort out would be the level of services through Abbey Wood, that continue on to Ebbsfleet International and Gravesend.

 

 

December 1, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 5 Comments

Should We Increase Rail Freight To Avoid Calais And The Migrants?

The BBC has quoted the French Police Chief at Calais as saying that the number of trucks trying to use the ferries and Eurotunnel has dropped.

Is this because it’s now the Summer holidays and the drivers have flown to their holidays or could it be that at last the needs of freight transport between the UK and Europe are being increasingly fulfilled by the obvious alternative, that hopefully would be totally useless to the migrants? – Direct freight trains between UK and Europe.

I wrote on this in December 2014 calling the post, Would Reorganising Cross-Channel Freight Cut Illegal Migration?

I stand by what I said then.

You have to remember, that a lot of freight flows between the UK and Europe are large and predicable. This is a few freight categories that I know go by rail over the channel.

  1. Car components including complete engines for Ford and BMW.
  2. Complete vehicles. Four years ago, you didn’t see car trains on the Gospel Oak to Barking and North London Lines, but now they are quite common.
  3. Fresh fruit from Spain to the UK.
  4. Steel products for Tata Group between Wales and The Netherlands

Are cargoes like Scottish fish and meat from all parts of the UK something that will be going on that list? These would only need refrigerated containers, that you see all over the railways. With meat too, there are no welfare issues and as a beef farmer once told me, dead carcasses pack three times better in a refrigerated truck, than livestock.

 

I have also found this informative article on the DB Schenker web site. It isn’t dated unfortunately, but it makes a lot of general points. This is the first two paragraphs.

When the Channel Tunnel between Calais in northern France and Folkstone on the southeastern coast of England opened in 1995, many forecasted a bright future for rail freight transport between Great Britain and continental Europe. An enormous amount of effort and money went into the construction of the two-track rail tunnel. The high hopes for the groundbreaking project have not yet been met, however. In fact, only 1.1 million metric tons of freight was transported by rail via the tunnel under the English Channel in 2010, less than before the 50-km tunnel opened.

High prices in particular have prevented rail freight transport from making greater use of the tunnel. Competition between freight forwarders that use the truck shuttle has kept prices in check. Eurotunnel charges a higher, constant price for block trains, however, and as a result, only a few providers can afford the transfer.

The last part in particular blames the high charges and the charging method  of Eurotunnel. Governments should apply pressure here.

The article does talk about problems with the UK loading gauge, which hopefully are being fully addressed now.

At least thought freight trains between the UK and Europe can now get from Barking in East London to virtually anywhere in Europe.

Perhaps, the UK Government should use taxation and tax relief to encourage more freight flows across the Channel to go on freight trains.

The losers would be UK haulage firms and drivers, but they can’t find Cross-Channel trade very profitable and stress-free at the moment.

August 1, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Should We Link HS2 And HS1?

According to this article on the Global Rail News web site, there has been speculation over the weekend in the Press that there will be a direct link between HS1 and HS2.

There are two main reasons why the HS1 and HS2 should be directly linked.

Obviously, in a decade or so, it would be very nice to get on a train in Birmingham and then be in Paris or Brussels without changing trains in under three hours.

Within a decade, the amount of freight going between the Midlands, North and Scotland, and the Channel Tunnel and the ports in the Thames Estuary is going to have grown substantially! So if HS1 was connected to HS2 and the West Coast Main Line by a full-size tunnel, the freight trains could be diverted deep under London. This would free-up the North London and the Gospel Oak to Barking Lines for much-needed passenger services.

A few years ago, digging a full size tunnel between HS1 under Islington to say Old Oak Common would have been an immensely difficult project, but Crossrail and other tunnelling projects around the world have changed all that.

My insight into the minds of those who create these big projects, makes me think, that if HS1 and HS2 are linked directly, it will be used for other purposes.

But above all we must boldly go!

July 13, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Crossrail And The Channel Tunnel Rail Link Compared

The differences between the ventilation and access shafts in Crossrail and the Channel Tunnel Rail Link seem to be more than you would think.

Those in the newer tunnel appear to be smaller and possibly lesser in number. Certainly after a redesigned Crossrail abandoned eight further shafts, which must have been a substantial saving.

Perhaps too, as Crossrail has stations in its tunnels under London, the number of shafts can be reduced.

If you look at the pictures of the five Channel Tunnel ventilation shafts, you will see a series of brutal brick towers more equivalent to Napoleonic War defence installations, than anything built in this century. None of those for Crossrail have yet been built, but they seem to be innovative structures that enhance rather than confront their environment. This page on the Fereday-Pollard web site shows a few concepts. I particularly like this visualisation of the concept for the ventilation shaft in Mile End Park.

Mile End Park Ventilation Shaft

Mile End Park Ventilation Shaft

This is another almost cheeky concept from this page on the Acanthus Architects web site.

Crossrail Ventilation Shaft By Acanthus

Crossrail Ventilation Shaft By Acanthus

This Google Earth image may show the location of this ventilation shaft.

Ranelagh And Westbourne Bridges

Ranelagh And Westbourne Bridges

The shaft is above the Royal Oak portal by the elevated A40 Westway between Ranelagh and Westbourne Bridges over the Great Western Main Line into Paddington station.

I think it all points to Crossrail 2 being simpler still! But then with my experience of watching projects for many years, as each version of a series of similar projects gets implemented, the engineers and managers ratchet up the design quality, speed of construction and efficiency.

April 12, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment