The Anonymous Widower

Cross City Connect Proposes HS1-HS2 Link

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in the January 2020 Edition of Modern Railways.

The article is only sketchy giving only a few details of the proposal.

  • The link would connect HS2 at Old Oak Common to HS1 at Rainham.
  • HS2 would not connect to Euston.
  • There would be intermediate stations at South Bank Central, Canary Wharf and Barking.

This map, that was posted in the RailUK forums, shows the route.

These are my thoughts on various points of the plan.

The Tunnel Route And South Bank Central Station

The proposed tunnel route is shown in red on the map.

These are my thoughts on the main tunnel.

Western Section – Old Oak Common To South Bank Central Station

This Google Map shows the area of London between Old Oak Common Elizabeth Line Depot and the South Bank.

Note.

  1. The depot is in the North-West corner marked with the red arrow.
  2. The Thames as it curves around the South Bank is in the South East corner of the map.
  3. The Serpentine in Hyde Park can be picked out.

I think that the tunnel would go deep under the West London Line and Hyde Park before cutting away East to the Thames.

Note that when a similar tunnel was dug deep under East London for High Speed One, there wasn’t too much difficulty. But that was twenty-five years ago and tunnelling techniques have surely improved.

There is also all the knowledge, that has been accumulated by the boring of Crossrail and the Thames Tideway Tunnel.

South Bank Central Station

This second Google Map shows the Thames between the London Eye and Blackfriars station.

Blackfriars Bridge, Blackfriarts station, The Hayward Gallery. The National Theatre, The Royal Festival Hall, Waterloo bridge and Waterloo station can all be picked out.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the various lines in the area.

Note.

  1. There seem to be few lines by the Thames on the South Bank, with just the Bakerloo and Northern Lines crossing the area.
  2. The Waterloo & City Line crosses further to the East.
  3. I would suspect, that as most of the buildings in the area of the South Bank have been built since 1950, that detailed plans and surveys exist of the South Bank.
  4. Even Waterloo Bridge was built as recently as the Second World War, which is young for many of the bridges across the Thames.

This leads me to believe that a substantial station could be built under the South Bank.

  • It would have long platforms roughly following the line of the Thames.
  • It could be connected to Waterloo station at the South-Western end.
  • Connections could surely be made to the Bakerloo and Northern Lines and possibly to the Jubilee Line.
  • The Northern Line is being extended to Battersea Power station.
  • The Bakerloo Line could be extended to South East London.
  • There are possible plans to extend Charing Cross station over Hungerford Bridge, which could be connected as well.
  • Could the station be connected to Blackfriars station at the North-Eastern end?
  • Could tunnels be built under the Thames to connect the station to the North Bank?

It seems to me, that there are lots of possibilities to make the proposed Soiuth Bank Central station a very well-connected station.

This Google Map may offer a clue as to where the station could poke its head into the South Bank.

Going from West to East across the map, the following can be seen.

  • The approach road to Waterloo Bridge.
  • The National Theatre
  • The IBM Building.
  • The London Studios

The last is the interesting building, as it has been sold to Mitsuibishi Estates to be developed as luxury housing. It is also a large site of 2.5 acres and there used to be a tower on the site, so I suspect there could be space for a station in the basement and an entrance or two on the surface.

It would certainly be a wonderful location to arrive at in London.

  • Walk to the West and you pass The Nation Theatre, the Hayward Gallery, the Queen Elizabeth Hall and the Festival Hall before arriving at Hungerford Bridge and the footbridges to the North Bank, Charing Cross station and Trafalgar Square.
  • Walk further West and you pass the London Eye and come to Westminster Bridge, with The Palace of Westminster, Westminster Abbey and Parliament Square on the other side of the River.
  • Walk to the East and you pass Blackfriars station, that sits above the river and the Tate Modern, before arriving at the Millenium Bridge that leads to St. Paul’s Cathedral.
  • South Bank Central station could even have a pier for the Thames Clippers.

It would certainly be a Central station, worthy of the name.

In this post entitled Walking Between Blackfriars And Hungerford Railway Bridges, there are a series of pictures I took on the walk.

These pictures show the section around the studios.

Note thaty the river walk is a tree-lined boulevarde and there is an accessible beach.

It should also be noted that the Thames Tideway worksite locations are on the North side of the river at this point of the river, so this could leave space for the Cross City Connect tunnel to be towards the South Bank.

South Bank Central Station And Canary Wharf Station

This Google Map shows the route between the South Bank and Canary Wharf.

Note.

  1. The South Bank is in the North-West corner of the map.
  2. East Enders fans will be able to recognise the O2 at the Eastern side of the map.
  3. Canary Wharf is to the West of the O2 in the bend of the River.

I suspect that the tunnel could be bored roughly along the line of the River before passing under Canary Wharf, where there could be a deep-level station.

Potential Station – Canary Wharf

Canary Wharf station is only labelled as a potential station.

This Google Map shows the Canary Wharf Crossrail station.

Is the design of the station such, that extra lines could be placed alongside or under the Crossrail tracks and connected to the existing station?

There certainly must be a suitable place for a potential station at Canary Wharf, otherwise it wouldn’t have been proposed.

The station would give access to Crossrail, the Docklands Light Railway and the Jubilee Line.

I also expect that the Canary Wharf Group would be very co-operative and could make a contribution to the cost of the station.

Canary Wharf Station To Barking And Rainham

This Google Map shows the final section from Canary Wharf to Rainham.

Note.

  1. Canary Wharf and the O2 at the West of the map.
  2. The London City |Airport to the East of the O2, with the water alongside the runway.
  3. Rainham station marked by a red arrow at the East of the map.

It would appear that the route of the tunnel could be under the River or the runway at the City Airport.

But it should be born in mind, that High Speed One was dug under Barking and there wasn’t too much trouble.

Potential Station – London City Airport

As the Cross City Connect tunnel could pass under the terminal building at the Airport, could a station be built here?

I suspect not!

  • Passengers at the Airport go to many of the destinations of the rail service.
  • I don’t think there will be enough passengers to justify the station.
  • London City Airport is expanding the terminal and they probably wouldn’t want to change things now.

The Airport wants a Crossrail station and that is more likely.

Potential Station – Barking

Barking station is only labelled as a potential station.

The map from carto.metro.free.fr, shows another potential station at Barking.

It is a well-connected station.

Could a two track high speed station with two-platforms per track, be built underneath the current station and connected to it by escalators and lifts?

It would probably not be a much more difficult station to design and build, than Whitechapel station on Crossrail.

CCC-HS1 Interface

This Google Map shows the rail lines and roads around Dagenham Dock station.

Stand on the London-bound platform and whilst waiting for a c2c train, Eurostars and Javelins speed by behind you.On the map, you can just see the Jigh Speed One tunnel portal to the West of the station.

The two pairs of tracks; c2c and High Speed One run parallel through Rainham station, until they split with the c2c tracks going towards the river and Purfleet and Grays station and High Speed One threading its way through the approaches to the Dartford Crossing and its tunnel under the Thames.

This Google Map shows the area to the South-East of Rainham station, which is in the North-West corner of the map.

Note the A13 road linking East London to the junction with the M25 in the East, which is to the North of the Lakeside Shopping Centre.

This Google Map shows the North Western corner of the previous map.

Note.

  1. Rainham station at the top of the map.
  2. The two c2c tracks running South East from the station.
  3. The two High Speed One alongside the c2c tracks.
  4. The dual carriageway of the A13 road.

There is a large empty triangular area of land between the road and the four railway tracks. As I’ll mention it several times, I’ll call it the Rainham triangular site in future.

I suspect that the Cross City Connect tunnel will break off from High Speed One to the South-East of Rainham station , with a portal in the Rainham triangular site.

A train between Paris and Birmingham or Manchester would do the following.

  • Take High Speed One as now.
  • After stopping as required at Ashford and/or Ebbsfleet stations, it would cross under the Thames.
  • At Rainham it would take the Cross City Connect tunnel.

After stopping as required  at South Bank Central and Old Oak Common stations, it would take High Speed Two for the North.

Boring The Tunnel

The Rainham triangular site could be the place from where to bore the tunnel. Or at least the Eastern part!

  • There is a lot of space.
  • Linings and other heavy materials and equipment, could be brought in by rail using High Speed One.
  • Tunnel spoil could be conveyored to the river and taken away in barges.

Would tunnelling techniques have improved enough to go between Rainham and Old Oak Common in one continuous bore?

Would There Be A Station At Rainham?

All services going through the Cross City Connect tunnel would need to terminate somewhere.

Some would go all the way to the Continent and in the near future they could terminate at some of all of the following destinations.

  • Amsterdam
  • Bordeaux
  • Brussels
  • Cologne
  • Frankfurt
  • Geneva
  • Paris

High Speed Two’s trains would be compatible with the Channel Tunnel, but ridership would be variable along say a Manchester and Paris route.

So some services would need to terminate in the London area.

As the line to Euston would be abandoned in the Cross City Connect plan, a new station will be needed to terminate trains.

There are two possibilities.

  • Old Oak Common, which because of its connections to Crossrail, the Overground and the Great Western Railway will be the place of choice for many to catch High Speed Two.
  • A new station at Rainham.

Both should be built.

Rainham High Speed station would be built in the Rainham triangular site.

  • It has good road access to the UK’s motorway network.
  • c2c services would call to give South Essex access to High Speed services
  • Southeastern Highspeed services would call to give Kent access to High Speed services.
  • Continental services would call to give access to alternative routes to or through London.
  • Some High Speed Two services to and from the North would terminate at the station.

There is probably space for an extensive train depot on the site.

Consider a service between Geneva and Glasgow.

  • Most travellers would fly on this route as it would be in the order of eight hours by train.
  • I suspect though that London and Geneva at possibly six hours could attract more traffic.

A well-planned station at Rainham would probably cater for the masochists who wanted to do the long journey by High Speed Rail in a day.

But the interchange at Rainham would be invaluable for passengers travelling between the Continent and Canary Wharf or Westminster.

  • Canary Wharf is served directly.
  • Westminster is a short walk over the Thames or one stop on the Jubilee Line from South Bank Central station.
  • Try going between St. Pancras International and Canary Wharf or Westminster quickly without changing trains or using a taxi.
  • The proposed Crossrail 2 won’t make these journeys any easier.
  • The Cross City Connect Route would be faster.

As Canary Wharf is connected to Crossrail and Old Oak Common to the Overground, access to the Greater London area would be much improved with a change at Rainham High Speed station.

Cross City Connect, also gives access to these services to places, that will not be served by High Speed Two.

  • South Western Railway services from Waterloo, which will be close to South Bank Central station.
  • Great Western Railway services will be available at Old Oak Common.

Travellers wanting classic service to the North would go as now, via St. Pancras.

The only thing missing is a connection to Crossrail, which would give direct access to Liverpool Street and Paddington.

I think that Rainham High Speed station would become a very important station.

Tunnel Size And Number

High Speed Two is being built to a loading gauge of UIC GC, which is similar to the Channel Tunnel. The Channel Tunnel bores are 7.6 metres in diameter.

The biggest tunnel under London will be the one currently being dug for the Thames Tideway Scheme.

  • It will be 25 kilometres long.
  • The diameter is 7.2 metres.
  • It will be up to seventy metres below the surface.

For much of its route, it follows the Thames in a similar manner to the Cross City Connect tunnel.

Cross City Connect would need one tunnel of this size for each track.

Could two tracks share a single tunnel?

Theoretically, I think they could, but it could cause problems in station design.

Station Design

Would the Cross City Connect need four tracks and platforms at each station?

High Speed One stations at Stratford, Ebbsfleet and Ashford stations effectively have four tracks and platforms, due to the security need of separating domestic and International passengers.

But as all trains these days, including those on Eurostar and the Javelins working suburban services have doors on both sides, surely there is an engineering solution.

  • South Bank Central and any other Central London stations would have platforms on both sides
  • All platforms would have level access between train and platform and platform doors.
  • Platform doors would be designed to work with all trains using the route. I have ideas how this could be done.
  • The domestic platforms would be the two platforms between the two tunnels. This would mean domestic passengers could board and leave the trains with the minimum of fuss. They could also reverse direction if they should need.
  • The International platforms would be on the outside and would have the extra security checks needed.
  • International and domestic services would only open doors to the appropriate platform.

If a solution to the security problem can be found, then two tunnels would be sufficient.

Four tunnels would blow the budget.

Train Operating Speed In The Tunnel

Consider.

  • High Speed Two has been designed with an operating speed of 225 mph.
  • The Chanel Tunnel has a maximum operating speed of 100 mph.
  • The Channel Tunnel track could possibly handle 120 mph.
  • Crossrail has an operating speed of 90 mph.

It should also be noted that the faster the trains go, the greater the pressure on infrastructure like platform edge doors and the passengers waiting on the platforms outside the doors.

I would suspect that the maximum operating speed of trains in the Cross City Connect tunnel would not  be hoigher than 100 mph, but with a possibility of increasing it up to 125 mph in the future.

Train Frequency

Note that the design frequency of High Speed Two is twenty-one trains per hour (tph).

If Thameslink and Crossrail have been planned for twenty-four tph, with an objective of going to thirty tph, I don’t see why, we shouldn’t see twenty-four tph or even thirty tph running through the Cross City Connect tunnel.

Summing Up The Tunnel Route And South Bank Central Station

These are my conclusions on the tunnel route.

  • It uses London’s geography and the tunnelling-friendly clay soil to advantage.
  • The designers of the scheme have found an easy place to build a well-connected station at South Bank Central.
  • It also appears that the Eastern portal at Rainham, is on a site with plenty of space.
  • Could the Eastern portal make a good site from where to build the tunnel.

Overall, it appears to be a very viable project.

Passenger Services

When Phase Two of High Speed Two, these services are currently planned to run into Euston.

  • 3 tph – Birmingham Curzon Street – via Old Oak Common and Birmingham Interchange (2 tph)
  • 2 tph – Liverpool – via Old Oak Common, Stafford (1 tph), Crewe (1 tph) and Runcorn
  • 3 tph – Manchester – via Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange and Manchester Airport (2 tph)
  • 1 tph – Preston – via Old Oak Common, Warrington Bank Quay and Wigan North Western
  • 2 tph – Glasgow – via Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange (1 tph), Preston and Carstairs
  • 2 tph – Edinburgh – via Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange (1 tph), Preston, Carstairs and Edinburgh Haymarket
  • 3 tph – Leeds – via Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange, East Midlands Hub (1 tph), Chesterfield (1 tph) and Sheffield Midland (1 tph)
  • 2 tph – Sheffield – via Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange, East Midlands Hub and Chesterfield (1 tph)
  • 1 tph – York via Old Oak Common and Birmingham Interchange
  • 2 tph – Newcastle – via Old Oak Common (1 tph) and Birmingham Interchange and York.

Adding these up gives a frquency of twenty-one tph between Old Oak Common and Birmingham Interchange.

The Dutch believe that five trains per day (tpd) will be viable between London and Amsterdam and it looks like this frequency will be running by the end of 2021.

Obviously, passenger numbers will be determined by where passengers want to go, but I think that there should be at least this minimum service between the Continent and the North.

  • 3 tpd – Glasgow
  • 3 tpd – Liverpool
  • 3 tpd – Birmingham Curzon Street
  • 3 tpd – Manchester
  • 3 tpd – Leeds

I believe that High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail will be combined, as I described in Changes Signalled For HS2 Route In North.

This could result in a service between London and Hull that  called at Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange, Crewe, Manchester Airport, Manchester, Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds.

I estimated timings from London to various cities as follows.

  • Birmingham – 49 minutes
  • Liverpool – 66 mins
  • Manchester – 66 mins
  • Leeds – 92 mins
  • Hull – 130 minutes

It looks like there could be a direct service between Paris or Brussels to the North in these times.

  • Birmingham – Under three hours
  • Liverpool – Under four hours
  • Manchester – Under four hours
  • Leeds – Around four hours
  • Hull – Under five hours

Get the design of Rainham High Speed station right and the right timetable and timings would only be a few minutes longer with a cross-platform interchange at Rainham High Speed or Birmingham Interchange station.

The merging of High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail could enable services with these frequencies.

  • 4 tpd – Paris or Brussels and Birmingham
  • 4 tpd – Paris or Brussels and Glasgow
  • 4 tpd – Paris or Brussels and Manchester, Huddersfield, Leeds and Hull.
  • 4 tpd – Paris or Brussels and Liverpool

Note.

  1. These services would be pairs of trains, eith the two trains would splitting and joining at Lille. One train would go to and from Brussels and the other to and from Paris.
  2. The services would add one tph to traffic through the busy Channel Tunnel and to High Speed Two between Old Oak Common and Birmingham Interchange.
  3. There would be several extra services per day, with a change at Rainham High Speed station.
  4. Birmingham would get four tpd at Birmingham Curzon Street and another twelve tpd at Birmingham Interchange.
  5. The trains from Brussels could have Amsterdam, Cologne and Frankfurt as their terminus.

I could see these services giving the airlines a good kicking.

  • Manchester and Paris has seven flights per day, but the route could have four direct tpd and three tph with a change at Rainham.
  • Glasgow and Paris appears to have just two flights per day.
  • A 200 metre long train could seat over 500, whereas an Airbus A320 seats around 200.

Would you fly between Paris and Birmingham, Liverpool or Manchester, if you could go by train in under four hours?

Freight Services

Why not? Especially at night!

Design the platform edge door correctly and freight trains would be able to pass through the Cross City Connect tunnel.

Much of the container traffic between the UK and Europe should go by rail, and this tunnel makes it possible.

Issues That Must Be Considered

There are a few issues that must be considered.

St. Pancras Station

I think that long-term St. Pancras station will have capacity and access problems for trains and passengers.

  • The six Eurostar platforms are probably not enough, if more services want to use the station.
  • The lounges and passport control need more space.
  • At times, the station concourse is overcrowded.
  • Crossrail 2 and/or better access to the Underground is needed now.
  • Getting from St. Pancras to Canary Wharf, Euston and Westminster is not easy.

You also regularly hear Eurostar passengers moaning and say that they preferred Waterloo as the terminal.

Building Cross City Connect solves all the problems and effectively gives London five stations, that can be used for the Continent at Canary Wharf, Old Oak Common, Rainham, Saint Pancras and South Bank Central.

Southeastern’s HighSpeed Services

Southeastern’s HighSpeed services to and from Kent, only have two London destinations; Stratford and St. Pancras.

  • Cross City Connect seem to be suggesting that some of these services take their new tunnel and go to Birmingham.
  • They would connect the services to the new stations at Canary Wharf and South Bank Central.
  • The current Class 395 trains are only 140 mph trains and might be to slow for the 225 mph High Speed Two.
  • But their speed would be fine on an upgraded West Coast Main Line.

I’m sure that space could be found at Milton Keynes, Tring or Watford Junction for a platform to handle four tph through the Cross City Connect tunnel to Rainham and Kent.

London would get another Crossrail!

And talking of Crossrail, the services could take the Crossrail route to Reading and possibly Oxford.

There is great potential to use some of those paths through the Cross City Connect tunnel to link passengers to the major Continental interchange at Rainham High Speed station.

Stratford International Station

At present this station is really only a domestic station for Southeastern’s HighSpeed services between St. Pancras and Kent.

  • Continental services do not stop.
  • The only connections are to buses and the Docklands Light Railway.
  • It is badly-connected to Crossrail, the Greater Anglia services and the Underground, at the main Stratford station.
  • Underneath the station is the High Meads Loop, which is connected to the West Anglia Main Line and used to be used to terminate Stansted Expresses.

It is a design crime of the worst order.

But it could be so much better.

  • A better connection with a travelator could connect the two Stratford stations.
  • A Lea Valley Metro could be developed using the High Meads Loop as a terminus.
  • Stansted Airport and Cambridge services could also use the High Meads Loop.
  • Platforms could be added to the High Meads Loop, that would connect direct to the International station.

I also feel some Continental services should stop, as this would give them easy access to the important Crossrail.

Stratford could be the station, that ties London, East Anglia and South Essex together and gives them good links to the Continent.

A Future Thames Estuary Airport And Thames Barrier

I feel that in the next three decades, there is at least a fifty percent chance, that London will build an airport in the Thames Estuary.

The Airport would probably be some miles to the East, but the Cross City Connect tunnel and Rainham High Speed station could be valuable parts of the rail system serving that Airport.

Look at the section called Future in the Wikipedia entry for the Thames Barrier.

A new barrier will be needed in the next fifty years.

It could include rail and road crossings.

It could incorporate a large Airport.

There may even be tidal power generation.

As there will be extensive developments on both sides of the Thames, more transport infrastructure will be needed and the Cross City Connect tunnel and the Rainham High Speed station will play their part.

Immigration Control And Security

This could have a large effect on station design, as domestic and International passengers will need to be kept apart.

Cross City Connect are saying that four tracks might be needed; two for domestic services and two for International ones.

However, I believe that a four-platform station with just two tracks (and tunnels!), that kept domestic and International passengers apart could be built.

Earlier I said this.

  • South Bank Central and any other Central London stations would have platforms on both sides
  • All platforms would have level access between train and platform and platform doors.
  • Platform doors would be designed to work with all trains using the route. I have ideas how this could be done.
  • The domestic platforms would be the two platforms between the two tunnels. This would mean domestic passengers could board and leave the trains with the minimum of fuss. They could also reverse direction if they should need.
  • The International platforms would be on the outside and would have the extra security checks needed.
  • International and domestic services would only open doors to the appropriate platform.

I certainly think, there is a solution, that can be used with just two tracks.

Euston Station

If the Cross City Connect route is built, what happens at Euston?

Operationally, Euston may have problems with the number of platforms and their length, as many of London’s terminal stations do.

But Euston’s biggest problem is the connection to the Underground.

  • It is a cramped station.
  • It is not step-free.
  • The Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan Lines call in the separate Euston Squiare station about two hundred metres away.

I understand that these problems were to be fixed with the rebuilding of the station.

So what happens now?

Will there be more demolition of the station and the surrounding buildings?

Conclusion

There’s more to this project, than meets the eye!

 

January 3, 2020 Posted by | Transport, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Spain – Luxembourg Rail Motorway Service Launched

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Railway Gazette.

This is the first paragraph.

A ‘rail motorway’ service carrying unaccompanied lorry trailers 1 219 km between Barcelona and Luxembourg was launched on February 19. 

This is the fifth such service to be operated across France and will be operated five times a week, with a sixth service to be added in April.

One of these services takes unaccompanied lorry trailers between Calais and a terminal near Perpignan, so you might wonder why this service doesn’t start in the UK.

The only place, that it could serve in the UK would be Barking, due to our antique loading gauge not being able to accept piggyback trailers.

So we can’t really link the UK to this freight network.

There is an excellent discussion on Rail Forums, which goes through the issues.

Barking

Barking is probably not the best place for a terminal for unaccompanied lorry trailers.

It is close to the heavily-congested M25, but surely trains of unaccompanied trailers could be assembled in other parts of the UK and taken to Barking.

But rail lines connecting Barking to the North include the North London and Gospel Oak to Barking Lines, both of which would need drastic gauge enhancement to take the traffic. As these routes are crowded London commuter routes, this work would go down like a whole squadron of lead balloons.

Specialist Freight

If you stood by the Gospel Oak To Barking Line for twenty-four hours, you would see some specialist freight trains going through, often carrying cars or vehicle components.

I think there will be growth in this sector, perhaps for high-value or perishable cargo, in purpose-built trains. But it would only take a few trucks off the roads.

There is also the problem, that a lot of specialist cargo is only one way.

  • Minis go from Oxford to Europe.
  • Ford cars and vans go from Europe to the UK.
  • Perishable fruit and vegetables go from Southern Europe to the UK.
  • Scotch whisky and seafood would go from Scotland to Europe.

I am certain, there is a profitable market niche here to pair compatible cargoes.

High Speed Parcel Traffic

Could we also see a network of overnight high speed parcel trains linking Europe’s major conurbations and commercial centres?

Conclusion

Neither specialist freight or high speed parcel trains will make much of a dent in the number of trucks, that will continue to clog the motorways to the Port of Dover.

 

 

February 20, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

It’s All About Going Dutch For Eurostar!

In today’s Times, there is an article called Eurostar Sets Pace As Channel Tunnel Booms.

The article says.

Passengers on the Eurostar trains topped 3 million in the quarter, in increase of 12 per cent.

Apparently, there has been a big increase on the Amsterdam route, with more to come.

  • A third daily service will start next summer.
  • Direct return journeys could be possible next year.
  • Five London-Amsterdam return journeys could follow.

That all looks good and I’m sure it would be better if the terrible connecting trains to North Germany, that I wrote about in From Amsterdam To Hamburg The Hard Way,  were to be improved.

October 24, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

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 | Transport | , , , | 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 | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 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 | Transport | , , , , , | 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 | Transport | , , , , | 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 | Transport | , , , | 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 | Transport | , , , , | 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 | Transport | , , , | 5 Comments