The Anonymous Widower

ElecLink: A Wholly Successful First Week Of Operations

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from the Getlink Group.

These are the first three paragraphs.

Getlink is delighted with the good first week of commercial operations of its electrical interconnector, ElecLink, marked by the success of the initial auctions and the first transfers of energy through the cable.

The first auctions for short term capacity (day ahead) held since 24 May were met with great success. The entire capacity available was sold, confirming the interest of the sector for this new interconnection. The first monthly auctions will take place from 01 June, for the month of July and will be accessible via the JAO platform.

From an operational perspective, the go-live of the cable was also achieved successfully. For this world’s first, ElecLink delivered an excellent quality of service to its customers.

Note.

  1. Getlink is the manager and operator of the Channel Tunnel.
  2. ElecLink has a capacity of 1,000 MW.
  3. The interconnector was privately-funded.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see more privately-funded interconnectors like this, as they increase our energy security and can be a nice little earner for their owners.

June 5, 2022 Posted by | Energy | , , , | 17 Comments

GB Railfreight Plans Order For Future-Proofed Bi-Mode Locomotives

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

GB Railfreight is planning to order a fleet of main line electro-diesel locomotives with a modular design which would facilitate future replacement of the diesel engine with a battery or hydrogen fuel cell module.

The rest of the article gives clues to the deal and the specification of the locomotives.

  • Negotiations appear to have started with Stadler for locomotives to be built at their Valencia plant.
  • Twenty locomotives could be ordered initially, with options for thirty.
  • The locomotive will be Co-Co bi-modes.
  • The diesel engine will be for heavy main line freight and not just last-mile operations.
  • They would be capable of hauling freight trains between Ipswich and Felixstowe, within two minutes of the times of a Class 66 locomotive.
  • They will be of a modular design, so that in the future, the diesel engine might be replaced by a battery or fuel cells as required and possible.

They have provisionally been called Class 99 locomotives.

These are my thoughts.

EuroDual or UKLight?

Stadler make two types of bi-mode locomotives.

But the two types are closely related and open up other possibilities.

This paragraph from the Eurolight wikipedia entry, explains the various versions.

The type has been intentionally developed to support use on secondary lines without limiting power or speed performances, making it suitable for mixed traffic operations. Specific versions of the Eurolight have been developed for the United Kingdom market, and a 6-axle Co’Co’ machine for narrow gauge Asian markets, named UKLight and AsiaLight respectively. Furthermore, an electro-diesel locomotive derivative of the UKLight that shares much of its design, referred to as the Stadler Euro Dual, has also been developed and introduced during the late 2010s.

It looks like the customer can get the locomotive they want.

GB Railfreight would probably need locomotives to this specification.

  • Slightly narrower than a EuroDual, to fit the UK loading gauge.
  • Three-axle bogies to handle the weight of the larger locomotive.
  • A body bigger than the UK Light to be large enough for the diesel engine.
  • It would probably help if the locomotive could go anywhere that a Class 92 locomotive could go, so it could handle their duties if required.

This leads me to the conclusion that GB Railfreight will get a slightly narrower EuroDual.

Weight Issues

The weights of various locomotives are as follows.

  • Class 66 Locomotive – 129.6 tonnes
  • Euro Dual – 126 tonnes
  • Class 90 Locomotive – 84.5 tonnes
  • Class 92 Locomotive – 126 tonnes

All locomotives have six axles, except for the Class 90 Locomotive which has four.

I don’t think there will be any weight issues.

Power On Electricity

These are the power of the locomotives on electricity.

  • Class 66 Locomotive – Not Applicable
  • Euro Dual – Up to 7 MW
  • Class 90 Locomotive – 3.7 MW
  • Class 92 Locomotive – 5 MW

GB Railfreight can probably have what power is best for their routes.

Operating Speed On Electricity

These are the power of the locomotives on electricity.

  • Class 66 Locomotive – Not Applicable
  • Euro Dual – 100 mph
  • Class 90 Locomotive – 110 mph
  • Class 92 Locomotive – 87 mph

GB Railfreight can probably have what power is best for their routes, but I suspect they’d want it to be as fast as a Class 90 locomotive.

Power On Diesel

These are the power of the locomotives on diesel.

  • Class 66 Locomotive – 2.5 MW
  • Euro Dual – Up to 2.8 MW
  • Class 90 Locomotive – Not Applicable
  • Class 92 Locomotive – Not Applicable

To be able to handle trains, that a Class 66 locomotive is able to, 2.5 MW would probably suffice.

Could The Locomotives Use The Channel Tunnel?

I suspect that diesel locomotives are not liked in the Channel Tunnel because of all that flammable diesel.

But in the future, when there is a battery-electric variant, I would suspect that would be allowed.

In UK To France Automotive Train Service Launched, I talked about Toyota’s new service between Toton in England and Valenciennes in France via the Channel Tunnel. A locomotive with sufficient battery range might be ideal for this service, if it could handle the Market Harborough and Toton section, which is likely to be without electrification for some years.

Will The Locomotives Have Third Rail Shoes?

If their power on electricity is such that they can stand in for Class 92 locomotives, then there may be a need to fit all or some of the locomotives with third rail shoes.

As an example, they might be useful in taking freight trains to and from Southampton or the Channel Tunnel.

Conclusion

I feel that, as the locomotive must fit current routes and schedules, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see the following specification.

  • UK loading gauge.
  • Co-Co
  • Class 90 locomotive power and operating speed on electricity of 3.7 MW and 110 mph.
  • Class 66 locomotive power and operating speed on diesel of 2.5 MW and 75 mph.
  • Ability to change between electric and diesel power at speed.
  • Ability to haul a heavy freight train out of Felixstowe.
  • Ability to haul passenger trains.

Stadler will have one eye on the fact, that if they get this design right, this order for up to fifty locomotives could be just the start.

It certainly seems a locomotive designed for the UK’s railway system.

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 3, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Is A High Capacity Freight Route Being Created On The Midland Main Line?

In the January 2022 Edition of Modern Railways, there is a section, which is entitled Mixed Fortunes For Freight In IRP, where IRP is short for Integrated Rail Plan For The North And Midlands.

In the section, this is said about freight on the Midland Main Line.

Whilst HS2 does relieve the MML, electrification of the route north from Kettering via Derby to Sheffield is of relatively limited use to freight, which is generally routed via Corby and Toton to Chesterfield and Rotherham. That said, assuming electrification of the passenger route includes the slow lines from Leicester to Trent and through Chesterfield, it does provide a base on which freight electrification can be built.

This would involve wiring Corby to Syston Junction (north of Leicester), Trent Junction to Clay Cross (south of Chesterfield) and Tapton Junction (north of Chesterfield) to Rotherham Masborough and Doncaster.

As with the ECML, this ‘freight’ electrification would provide a diversionary route and thus greater resilience for East Midlands Railway services.

In addition, gauge clearance throughout from Corby as part of this package would also be highly beneficial in creating a direct route from the ‘Golden Triangle of Logistics’ in the East Midlands to the North East and Scotland for consumer goods supply chains, boosting modal shift to rail and decarbonisation.

It does seem to be a cunning plan worthy of Baldrick at his best.

So is it feasible?

Which Routes Do Freight Trains Use Now?

Christmas in a pandemic, is not a particularly good time to look at the routes freight trains take.

But by looking at Real Time Trains, I can say this.

  • Many trains take the route via Corby and Syston Junction, rather than the direct route via Market Harborough and Leicester.
  • Leicester is quite busy with freight as trains between Felixstowe and places on the West Coast Main Line, go through the station.
  • Very few freight trains seem to take the route via Derby and the Derwent Valley Mills.
  • Most freight trains between East Midlands Parkway and Chesterfield seem to take the Erewash Valley Line via Toton and Ilkeston.

I don’t think the pattern will change much, if I look at the trains around the end of January.

What Do I Mean By European-Size Freight Trains?

The Wikipedia entry for loading gauge says this about about the route through the Channel Tunnel and up the Midland Main Line.

UIC GC: Channel Tunnel and Channel Tunnel Rail Link to London; with proposals to enable GB+ northwards from London via an upgraded Midland Main Line.

Note.

  1. . GC is 3.15 metres wide by 4.65 metres high.
  2. GB+ is 3.15 metres wide by 4.32 metres high.
  3. GB+ is intended to be a pan-European standard, that allows piggy-back services.
  4. British gauging is so complicated, it isn’t specified in standard units. It must be a nightmare for rolling stock designers.

I’ll take an easy way out and assume that by European-Size Freight Trains, I mean that the route must be cleared for GB+ gauge.

Could Kettering and Syston Junction Via Corby Be Cleared For European-Size Freight Trains?

According to a Network Rail Map from February 2010, the current clearance is as follows.

  • Kettering and Oakham – W7
  • Oakham and Syston Junction – W8

Note.

  1. Oakham and Peterborough is also W8
  2. The main problem seems to be that between Corby and Oakham, there are five tunnels; Corby, Glaston, Manton, Seaton and Wing.
  3. There are also a few overbridges and several level crossings, but they don’t look too challenging.
  4. Between Corby and Oakham, there is the magnificent Welland viaduct, which has eighty-two arches and is Grade II Listed.
  5. Ideally, freight operators would like to run European gauge piggy-back services, with road trailers travelling on flat wagons, as they do in CargoBeamer services.

It would be a tough call to satisfy my last point, but if it can be done it would allow all Midland Main Line freight trains to take the Corby diversion and this would remove the problems of running European gauge trains through Leicester station.

This Google Map shows a section of the Welland viaduct.

It could be key, as it is fully double-track.

But could it support two heavy freight trains at the same time?

But it would be some sight to see, long European-sized freight trains running over the viaduct.

Could The Midland Main Line Between Syston And Trent Junctions Be Cleared For European-Size Freight Trains?

The route is cleared to W7 or W8 between the two junctions and on inspection with my virtual helicopter, I suspect it wouldn’t be that challenging to upgrade.

It would also be sensible to clear the Castle Donnington Line for European-size freight trains, so that they could reach the East Midlands Gateway freight terminal.

This Google Map shows the location of the East Midlands Gateway.

Note.

  1. East Midlands Parkway station is marked by the red arrow in the North-East corner of the map.
  2. Castle Donnington circuit is in the South West corner of the map.
  3. The long East-West runway of East Midlands Airport is clearly visible.
  4. East Midlands Gateway is to the North of the airport.

This second Google Map shows East Midlands Gateway in more detail.

Note.

  1. In the North-East corner is Maritime Transport’s rail freight terminal.
  2. The M1 runs North-South at the Eastern edge of the map.
  3. East Midlands Gateway Logistics Park with two Amazon sheds is in the middle.
  4. The runway at East Midlands Airport is clearly visible.

The Integrated Rail Plan for the North And Midlands has already announced that High Speed Two will join the Midland Main Line to the South of East Midlands Parkway station to serve Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield.

  • This new line will have to go past the airport, either to the North of the Logistics Park or South of the Airport.
  • Could there be a station here, both for passengers and the workers at a very busy freight airport and Logistics Park?
  • Currently, trains between the rail terminal and London, London Gateway and the Port of Felixstowe have to reverse North of the rail terminal to access the terminal.
  • All the rail links between the Midland Main Line and East Midlands Gateway would need to be built to accept European-size freight trains, to ensure maximum flexibility.

It strikes me, that there are a lot of extra features that could be added to the rail network between the Midland Main Line and East Midlands Gateway.

Could The Erewash Valley Line Via Ilkeston Be Cleared For European-Size Freight Trains?

Consider.

  • According to a Network Rail Map from February 2010, the Erewash Valley Line is cleared to W8.
  • According to Wikipedia, it is the second busiest freight route in the East Midlands.
  • Network Rail have spent £250 million on the line in recent years to improve junctions and improve signalling.
  • The route doesn’t have a large number of passenger services.

These pictures show Ilkeston station on the Erewash Valley Line.

Note.

  1. The recently rebuilt bridge and the separate avoiding line.
  2. The Class 158 train under the bridge is 3.81 metres high.

As the European gauge; GB+ is 4.32 metres high, I would feel that Ilkeston station can handle European-size freight trains.

I have flown my virtual helicopter all the way over the Erewash Valley Line from Toton to Clay Cross North junction.

  • It looks as if most of the not many bridges are either recent or could be updated to handle the large European-sized freight trains.
  • It should also be noted that in many places there is a third track or space for them.
  • There are three stations and the Alfreton tunnel.

After this quick look, I feel that the Erewash Valley Line will be able to handle European-size freight trains.

Could Tapton Junction to Rotherham Masborough and Doncaster Be Cleared For European-Size Freight Trains?

This route has very few bridges and I doubt updating wouldn’t cause too many problems.

CargoBeamer

Would it be possible for one of CargoBeamer’s piggy-back trains carrying trailers to run between the Channel Tunnel and the rail terminal at East Midlands Gateway Logistics Park or perhaps another terminal further up the Midland Main Line?

If they could use the Gospel Oak and Barking Line to access the Midland Main Line, I don’t see why not!

Conclusion

It appears that it should be possible to allow European-size freight trains to run between the North of England and the Channel Tunnel.

 

 

January 9, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

RENFE Aims To Compete With Eurostar On Paris – London Route

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

There are a lot of issues in this article and there does seem to be a degree of rivalry between French and Spanish rail operators.

In From Madrid To London, I describe a journey by train from Madrid to London via Barcelona and Paris.

These three paragraphs were the end of that post.

I finally arrived in London at 18:30 or just thirteen hours forty minutes after leaving Madrid.

This journey will get quicker, as for quite a way along the south coast of France, the trains don’t run on high speed lines. I can’t find any references to the distances on the journey, although Madrid to Barcelona and Paris to London are given as 621 and 495 kilometres respectively. Map Crow gives the Barcelona to Paris distance at 831 kilometres. I know this isn’t accurate and is probably a bit short, but that gives a total of 1947 kilometres, so my journey was at an average speed of 142 kmh. This compares with an average speed of 200 and 220 kmh on the first and last legs from Madrid to Barcelona and Paris to London respectively.

If the centre section was capable of an end-to-end average of 200 kmh, then a time from Madrid to London of under ten hours should be possible, especially if it was one train all the way.

I suspect that the ultimate aim of RENFE is to run a direct Madrid and London service.

  • It would go via Barcelona, Perpignan, Lyon and Marne-la-Vallée–Chessy.
  • It would bypass Paris to the East.
  • It would serve Charles de Gaulle Airport and Disneyland Paris.
  • A sub-thirteen hour journey would certainly be possible with the existing infrastructure.

Note.

  1. There would be lots of opportunities to split the journey.
  2. Travellers regularly fly thirteen hours around the world. C and myself have done it with three kids in steerage.

My statement in the earlier post was ambitious and relied on building a new LGV across the South of France.

Conclusion

It could be an interesting way to travel between London and Spain.

October 26, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Construction Ramps Up At £260 Million Mossend International Railfreight Park In Scotland

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

This is the first paragraph.

The development of a major new low carbon, multi-modal rail freight facility located in the heart of Scotland has taken a significant step forward with the laying of a private rail track to facilitate construction. Once complete, Mossend International Railfreight Park (MIRP) will provide 2.2 million sq ft of logistics space and Scotland’s first 775-metre electric rail terminal.

This looks to be all good stuff.

But Glasgow has needed the capability to handle 775-metre electric freight trains for some time.

So what took politicians so long to decide to upgrade the MIRP, as surely the ability to handle the longest electric freight trains will surely encourage the following?

  • The movement of freight from road to rail.
  • A reduction in freight traffic on the roads of Scotland and to a lesser extend England.
  • The ability to run electric freight trains between Glasgow and Continental Europe.

If freight ramps up after the MIRP is completed, there’ll probably be a need for the following.

Some new highly capable locomotives like the Class 93 locomotive.

More than the proposed 16 trains per day (tpd).

They will certainly need the planned 24/7 operation.

This Google Map shows the site of the MIRP at the current time.

It will be interesting to see how the site grows.

 

October 5, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Getlink And CargoBeamer Team Up To Launch The First Unaccompanied Cross-Channel Service By Rail

The title of this post, is the same as that of this Press Release from Getlink.

This is the first paragraph and a half.

Eurotunnel and CargoBeamer have signed a partnership which will see the launch of a new, 100% unaccompanied rail freight transport service across the Short Straits, from Calais to Ashford.

The extension of the rolling motorway from Perpignan to Ashford is a logical step in developing a future international intermodal network between the Channel and the Mediterranean. A second route from Domodossola, in the Alps region, to Calais will also be extended to Ashford after its launch in early October.

These are other points from the press release.

  • Both new railway services will prevent 8,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions.
  • They will help to partially resolve the shortage of truck drivers in the UK and Europe.
  • They will relieve traffic congestion on motorways.

It sounds like it could be a worthwhile service with more than the obvious winners.

Who Is CargoBeamer?

This is their web site and it displays an introductory video and this mission statement.

The Road to Rail Sustainable Transport Solutions

CargoBeamer use specially designed rail wagons and this page, which is entitled The Unique CargoBeamer Technology, explains how it works.

This is a claim from the web site.

As soon as the train has arrived, all semi-trailers are transferred automatically and with the simple push of a button. It takes CargoBeamer just 20 minutes to unload 36 semi-trailers from an intermodal train and load the same number at the same time. Both steps simply happen simultaneously. By comparison, a conventional crane terminal needs around three to four hours to handle such a train.

That is certainly not slow.

This video gives a full explanation about how CargoBeamer works.

Note.

  1. They can carry all types of trailers.
  2. The video shows the terminal built on a straight single-track line, where freight trains enter, load and unload and leave.

I must admit I like the design of the terminals, which they describe as Compact2 and Compact3, which gives a clue as to their design.

Their first terminal has opened in Calais and is described in this Press Release, which is entitled CargoBeamer Opens Terminal In Calais.

What Routes Are CargoBeamer Planning?

According to their web site, CargoBeamer have opened or are planning terminals at the following places.

  • Ashford – UK
  • Calais – France
  • Domodossola – Italy
  • Duisburg – Germany
  • KaldenKirchen – Germany
  • Perpignan – France
  • Poznan – Poland

Routes opened or planned include.

  • Domodossola – Calais – Ashford
  • KaldenKirchen – Domodossola
  • Perpignan – Calais – Ashford
  • Poznan – Duisburg

You can certainly understand, why Calais is their first terminal.

Serving The UK 

 

This article on Railway Gazette is entitled CargoBeamer Network Extended To The UK.

This is a paragraph.

Eurotunnnel told Railway Gazette International the aim was to build up to operating whole trains through the tunnel as the market develops, and ultimately to run trains to destinations further inland.

That seems a clear statement of intent.

Ashford could be an easy terminal to develop and I suspect it could be between Ashford and Folkestone, where the Channel Tunnel Rail Link and the M20 run close together. The compact size of the terminal would surely help.

The other sensible place for a terminal would be Barking, which can accept trains to the larger European gauge.

But it would be convenient, if trains could be run through the Channel Tunnel to places like Birmingham, Cardiff, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Scotland.

Gauge clearance of routes to the European size would be a challenging, expensive and disruptive process.

But in Gauge Improvements Across London, I indicated that an enhanced gauge of W12 could be possible through London on the Gospel Oak to Barking and North London Lines.

But seeing that CargoBeamer appear to be targeting the UK, perhaps they have an innovative wagon design for services to the UK, which could have a height limit for trucks.

September 21, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Getlink Launches A New Innovative Unaccompanied Rail Freight Cross-Channel Service

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from Getlink.

This is the first two paragraphs.

From September 18, 2021, a new cross-Channel freight service will be open to all transporters, using an unaccompanied mode through the Channel Tunnel. The service will benefit of Getlink’s unique customs expertise for the passage through the border

The crossing will be managed by Eurotunnel Le Shuttle Freight and will operate 24 hours a day and six days per week. Departures will be from the Group’s two terminals in Calais or Folkestone. The capacity will be 8,300 trailers per year. The Eurotunnel Border Pass will allows transporters to speed up the border crossing by digitising their administrative exchanges with the border authorities.

The service is designed to compliment the decarbonisation plans of both the French and UK Governments.

It looks like this could be a sensible idea.

But 8,300 trailers per year only equates to around 26-27 trailers per day. So do they just fill up one train per day?

One article on the Getlink service says that DFDS have launched a rival service for unaccompanied trailers between Calais and Sheerness.

September 14, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 2 Comments

Calais – Mediterranean Rail Motorway Bids Called

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

The government has called for expressions of interest to operate a lorry trailer carrying service between the English Channel port of Calais and the Mediterranean port of Sète south of Montpellier. Submissions are required by May 16.

Further details include.

  • It is aimed to start the service in 2022.
  • Government financial help  ight be available.
  • In French it is called an autoroute ferroviaire.
  • There is also a similar service between Perpignan and Paris.
  • I would expect the service saves carbon emissions.

This certainly seems like a good idea.

I do wonder if we will eventually see trains carrying trucks running between Barking and Sete through the Channel Tunnel.

  • The loading gauge will probably allow it.
  • It would be electrically hauled all the way.
  • Other destinations in Europe would be possible.
  • It might need less drivers, who would only work in the UK or Europe.
  • Would it help with Covid-19 bio-security?

If not Barking, what about to the Freeport being developed at Dagenham by the Thames?

It would

 

 

April 9, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 3 Comments

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/Travel | , , , , , , , | 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/Travel | , , , | 2 Comments