The Anonymous Widower

Northern Powerhouse Rail – Connecting Sheffield To HS2 And On To Leeds

In this article on Transport for the North, which is entitled Northern Powerhouse Rail Progress As Recommendations Made To Government, one of the recommendations proposed for Northern Powerhouse Rail is connecting Sheffield to High Speed Two and on to Leeds.

Northern Powerhouse Rail’s Objective For The Sheffield and Leeds Route

Wikipedia, other sources and my calculations say this about the trains between Leeds and Sheffield.

  • The distance between the two stations is 39 miles
  • The current service takes around 40 minutes and has a frequency of one train per hour (tph)
  • This gives an average speed of 58.5 mph for the fastest journey.
  • The proposed service with Northern Powerhouse Rail will take 28 minutes and have a frequency of four tph.
  • This gives an average speed of 84 mph for the journey.

This last figure of 84 mph, indicates to me that a fast route will be needed.

But given experience of 100 mph lines in other parts of the UK, 100 mph trains and infrastructure could make this demanding objective of twenty-eight minutes between Sheffield and Leeds a reality

Connecting Sheffield To High Speed Two

Sheffield is to be accessed from a branch off the Main High Speed Two route to Leeds.

This map clipped from High Speed Two’s interactive map, shows the route of the Sheffield Branch, from where it branches North West from the main Eastern Leg of High Speed Two.

Note.

  1. Orange indicates new High Speed Two track.
  2. Blue indicates track that High Speed Two will share with other services.
  3. The orange route goes North to Leeds, along the M1
  4. The blue route goes North to Chesterfield and Sheffield, after skirting to the East of Clay Cross.
  5. The orange route goes South to East Midlands Hub station.

This second map, shows where the Erewash Valley Line joins the Sheffield Branch near the village of Stonebroom.

Note.

  1. Red is an embankment.
  2. Yellow is a cutting.
  3. The Sheffield Branch goes North-West to Clay Cross, Chesterfield and Sheffield
  4. The Sheffield Branch goes South-East to East Midlands Hub station.
  5. The Sheffield Branch goes through Doe Hill Country Park.
  6. The Sheffield Branch runs alongside the existing Erewash Valley Line, which goes South to Langley Mill, Ilkeston and the Derby-Nottingham area.

The Sheffield Branch and the Erewash Valley Line appear to share a route, which continues round Clay Cross and is shown in this third map.

Note

  1. Doe Hill Country Park is in the South-East corner of the map.
  2. The dark line running North-South is the A61.
  3. Running to the West of the A61 is the Midland Main Line, which currently joins the Erewash Valley Line at Clay Cross North junction.

High Speed Two and the Midland Main Line will share a route and/or tracks from Clay Cross North junction to Sheffield.

This fourth map, shows where the combined route joins the Hope Valley Line to Manchester to the South West of Sheffield.

Note.

  1. Sheffield is to the North East.
  2. Chesterfield is to the South East,
  3. Totley junction is a large triangular junction, that connects to the Hope Valley Line.

These are some timings for various sections of the route.

  • Clay Cross North Junction and Chesterfield (current) – 4 minutes
  • Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield (current) – 17 minutes
  • Chesterfield and Sheffield (current) – 13 minutes
  • Chesterfield and Sheffield (High Speed Two) – 13 minutes
  • East Midlands Hub and Chesterfield (High Speed Two) – 16 minutes
  • East Midlands Hub and Sheffield (High Speed Two) – 27 minutes

As Class Cross North Junction and Sheffield are 15.5 miles, this means the section is run at an average speed of 53 mph.

Can I draw any conclusions from the maps and timings?

  • There would appear to be similar current and High Speed Two timings between Chesterfield and Sheffield.
  • The various junctions appear to be built for speed.

The Midland Main Line will be electrified from Clay Cross North Junction to Sheffield, so that High Speed Two trains can use the route.

What will be the characteristics of the tracks between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield?

  • Will it be just two tracks as it mainly is now or will it be a multi-track railway to separate the freight trains from the high speed trains?
  • Will it have a high enough maximum speed, so that East Midland Railway’s new Class 810 trains can go at their maximum speed of 140 mph?
  • Will it be capable of handling a frequency of 18 tph, which is the maximum frequency of High Speed Two?

Surely, it will be built to a full High Speed Two standard to future-proof the line.

Before finishing this section, I will answer a few questions.

Would It Be Possible For Class 810 Trains Fitted With Batteries To Run Between London St. Pancras And Sheffield?

East Midlands Railway’s new Class 810 trains could be fitted with batteries to become Regional Battery Trains with the specification, given in this Hitachi infographic.

Note.

  1. This would give the trains a range of 90 kilometres or 56 miles on batteries, if a number of diesel engines were exchanged for batteries.
  2. The trains would only be a few mph slower on batteries, than the current Hitachi trains on diesel.
  3. The Class 810 trains have four diesel engines. Is this to enable 125 mph running on diesel?

By perhaps replacing two diesel engines with batteries and using the remaining two diesel engines as range extenders or some other combination, I feel that Hitachi might be able to obtain a longer self-powered range for the train.

Consider.

  • Between Sheffield and Clay Cross North Junction will be fully-electrified and at 15.5 miles, it will be long enough to fully-charge the batteries on the train.
  • Between London St. Pancras and Market Harborough will be fully-electrified and at 83 miles, it will be long enough to fully-charge the batteries on the train.
  • The section between Market Harborough and Clay Cross North Junction is not electrified and is 66 miles.

I feel that Hitachi and their partner; Hyperdrive Innovation can design a battery electric Class 810 train, that can travel between London St. Pancras and Sheffield, without using a drop of diesel.

A great advantage of this approach, is that, as more electrification is added to the Midland Main Line, as it surely will be, the trains will be able to use the wires to reduce journey times.

I believe there are two sections on the Midland Main Line. where traditional electrification is less likely.

  • The bridge at the Southern end of Leicester station is low and would need to be rebuilt causing immense disruption to both road and rail in the city.
  • Between Derby and Alfreton is the World Heritage Site of the Derwent Valley Mills. Will electrification be fought by the heritage lobby?

Both sections may eventually be electrified at some far off date in the future.

Why Is There A Spur Of Electrification At Totley Junction?

This map clipped from High Speed Two’s interactive map, shows the Southern Leg of Totley Junction, where the Hope Valley Line joins the Midland Main Line.

Note that a short length of electrification is shown, between the Midland Main Line and a tunnel on the Southern leg.

This Google Map shows the same area.

Note, that the line disappears into a tunnel.

  1. In Northern Powerhouse Rail -Significant Upgrades And Journey Time Improvements To The Hope Valley Route Between Manchester And Sheffield, I indicated, that running battery electric trains between Manchester and Sheffield would be a possibility and could be a way of meeting Northern Powerhouse Rail’s objectives for the route.
  2. A short length of electrification might help battery electric trains turn out to go South.
  3. I don’t think any passenger trains ever go that way now, but I have seen articles and heard complaints from passengers, that want a better service between Derby and/or Nottingham and Manchester.
  4. It might also help with the decarbonisation of freight trains to and from the quarries.

I also suspect, that if building High Speed Two in Manchester temporarily reduced the capacity of Manchester Piccadilly station, trains could use the Hope Valley Line to get to the city, as they have done previously, with Project Rio.

Accessing The Infrastructure Depot At Staveley

This map clipped from High Speed Two’s interactive map, shows the location of the infrastructure depot at Staveley.

Note.

  1. Chesterfield is shown by the large blue dot.
  2. High Speed Two’s Sheffield Branch runs North from Chesterfield station.
  3. High Speed Two’s Eastern Leg runs down the Eastern side of the map.
  4. Two spurs from East and West go towards each other and would meet to the North of the town of Staveley.

The infrastructure depot will be located where they meet.

The route from the Sheffield Branch uses the Barrow Hill Line, which might be reopened as another passenger route between Chesterfield and Sheffield.

I wrote about this idea in Reinstatement Of The Barrow Hill Line Between Sheffield And Chesterfield.

If the line is being upgraded and electrified as far as Barrow Hill for the Infrastructure Depot, would it be worthwhile to create a new electrified route into Sheffield?

I also wrote in Could East Midlands Railway’s Liverpool And Norwich Service Avoid A Reverse At Sheffield By Using the Barrow Hill Line?, that the Barrow Hill Line might be an alternative route for the Liverpool and Norwich service.

When the railway routes in the area of the Infrastructure Depot are developed, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some routes changed.

Between Sheffield And Meadowhall Stations

One of the original designs for High Speed Two had it calling at Meadowhall station.

This map clipped from High Speed Two’s interactive map, clearly shows High Speed Two running across Sheffield.

Note.

  1. Sheffield station is the big Blue dot in the South-West corner of the map.
  2. The M1 runs across the North-East corner of the map.
  3. The railway between Sheffield and Meadowhall stations already exists.
  4. Sheffield and Meadowhall stations are 3.5 miles apart and trains take seven minutes.

Is there any reason, why High Speed Two trains shouldn’t serve both Sheffield and Meadowhall stations, by just taking the existing line across the city?

Taking The Wakefield Line Towards Leeds

In extending to Meadowhall, High Speed Two’s route seems to be taking the current Wakefield Line.

This map clipped from High Speed Two’s interactive map, clearly shows High Speed Two passing through Sheffield and Rotherham and then going towards Leeds.

Note.

  1. Orange indicates new High Speed Two track.
  2. Blue indicates track that High Speed Two shares with other lines.
  3. The Wakefield Line is shown in blue and has stations at Meadowhall, Swinton, Bolton-upon-Dearne, Goldthorpe and Thurscoe.
  4. The main High Speed Two leg to Leeds is shown in orange.

It looks to me, that High Speed Two are aiming to provide a route, so that trains going to Sheffield can extend the journey to Leeds.

As Leeds will have three tph to and from London, why is this service being extended to Leeds?

I will explore a few reasons why in the next few sub-sections.

It’s Convenient For Running Trains

Consider.

  • High Speed Two are saying London and Sheffield will be one hour and twenty-seven minutes.
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail have an objective of Leeds and Sheffield in twenty-eight minutes.
  • One hour and fifty-five minutes could be a convenient time for a London and Leeds service, as it could be a four hour round trip.

But High Speed Two are saying London and Leeds will be one hour and twenty-one minutes.

It looks to me, that it is a convenient way to serve Meadowhall, Rotherham, Bolton-upon-Dearne, Goldthorpe and Thurscoe stations

High Speed Two Through Rotherham

This map clipped from High Speed Two’s interactive map, clearly shows High Speed Two passing through Rotherham to the North of the Parkgate Shopping Park.

Note.

  1. High Speed Two is the bright blue line running North-East from the Western edge of the map.
  2. The grey blocks are the stores in the Shopping Park.
  3. The Rotherham Parkgate tram-train stop is marked.

This Google Map shows a similar area.

To the East of the Parkgate Shopping Park, is a large brownfield site, as this Google Map shows.

Could Rotherham have a station on the line North of this site?

  • The rail line running SW-NE across this map is drawn in blue on High Speed Two’s interactive map.
  • Rotherham Masborough station used to be in this area.

If High Speed Two is supposed to be a railway for all the people, or at least as many as possible, surely there should be a station in the town.

High Speed Two Through Bolton-upon-Dearne

In July 2019, I wrote a post called Sheffield Region Transport Plan 2019 – A New Station At Barnsley Dearne Valley.

So have High Speed Two taken on this feature of the Sheffield Region Transport Plan 2019, to add another station to their list of destinations?

Approach To Leeds

This map clipped from High Speed Two’s interactive map, clearly shows route High Speed Two will take to approach Leeds from the South East.

Note.

  1. Leeds station is the blue dot in the North West corner of the map.
  2. High Speed Two is shown in orange and continues North to York, where it joins the East Coast Main Line.
  3. Wakefield is in the middle at the bottom of the map and is on the Wakefield Line and the current route for LNER’s expresses from London.

It looks to me, that Leeds and Sheffield will eventually end up with two faster routes between the two cities.

  • An upgraded Wakefield Line
  • A route based on the Southern section of the Wakefield Line and the Eastern leg of High Speed Two route to Leeds.

If High Speed Two’s trains are to be able to get across Sheffield and call at Sheffield, Meadowhall, Rotherham and Barnsley Dearne Valley stations, then these conditions must be met.

  • The trains must be High Speed Two’s Classic-Compatible trains or a train to a similar specification.
  • Some platform lengthening might be needed to allow the two hundred metre long trains to call.
  • The Wakefield Line must be electrified between Sheffield and just North of Goldthorpe station, where it will be able to join the link to the Eastern leg of High Speed Two.

It would probably be sensible to electrify the Wakefield Line all the way to Fitzwilliam station, from where the line is electrified all the way to Leeds.

This would enable the following.

  • Electric trains to run between Sheffield and Leeds via Wakefield Westgate station.
  • Would Northern Powerhouse Rail’s objective of a twenty-eight minute journey be achieved?
  • East Midlands Railway could run their Class 810 trains between London St. Pancras and Leeds under electric power.
  • High Speed Two could serve Leeds before the Northern infrastructure of the Eastern leg of High Speed Two is complete.
  • High Speed Two could offer services to Wakefield, Barnsley and Rotherham via Sheffield.

I can see reasons for early upgrading of the Wakefield Line.

Conclusion

It appears that High Speed Two are planning an electrified route through Sheffield between Clay Cross North Junction on the Midland Main Line and Goldthorpe station on the Wakefield Line.

Once complete it would enable the following.

  • Rotherham and Barnsley to have direct electric services to and from the capital.
  • When East Midlands Railway introduce their new Class 810 trains, the electrification North of Clay Cross North Junction would mean faster services and less running on diesel power.
  • I believe these Class 810 trains could run between London and Sheffield, if their four diesel engines are replaced with batteries, which would power the trains between Clay Cross North Junction and Market Harborough.
  • The electrification at Sheffield would allow battery electric trains to work between Manchester and Sheffield as I outlined in Northern Powerhouse Rail -Significant Upgrades And Journey Time Improvements To The Hope Valley Route Between Manchester And Sheffield.

It is my view that the following projects should be started as soon as possible.

  • Electrification between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield station.
  • Electrification of the Wakefield Line between Sheffield and Fitzwilliam stations.
  • Provision of new stations at Rotherham and Barnsley Dearne Valley on the Wakefield Line.

These projects could deliver worthwhile improvements in services in a couple of years, rather than the tens of years for High Speed Two.

 

 

 

 

November 24, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Could East Midlands Railway’s Liverpool And Norwich Service Avoid A Reverse At Sheffield By Using the Barrow Hill Line?

When East Midlands Railway’s service between Liverpool and Norwich runs between Chesterfield and Stockport stations, the train goes via Sheffield station, where the train reverses.

In Reinstatement Of The Barrow Hill Line Between Sheffield And Chesterfield, I talked about the reinstatement of the Barrow Hill Line, which could be used as an alternative route between Sheffield and Chesterfield.

The Norwich and Liverpool train would enter Sheffield station in the other direction, so there would be no need for the train to reverse direction or the driver to change ends.

There must be a very sensible reason, why the Barrow Hill route is not used.

July 14, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Reinstatement Of The Barrow Hill Line Between Sheffield And Chesterfield

This is one of the successful bids in the First Round of the Restoring Your Railway Fund.

The Route

This Google Map shows where the Barrow Hill Line starts at Tapton Junction near Chesterfield station.

Note.

  1. Chesterfield station is less than a mile to the South.
  2. The left railway going North is the Midland Main Line to Sheffield
  3. The right railway going North is the Barrow Hill Line.

The Barrow Hill Line turns slightly to the East and this Google Map shows it passing through Barrow Hill, which gives the route its name.

Note.

The historic Barrow Hill Roundhouse and some rail-related businesses to the North of the line.

There used to be a station here called Barrow Hill! What a surprise!

The Wikipedia entry for Barrow Hill station has a section called Modern Traffic, where this is said.

At 22 June 2013 the line is part of the Midland Main Line. It is used predominantly for freight, with a handful of passenger trains going the “long way round” from Chesterfield to Sheffield via the Old Road and Darnall largely to retain staff route knowledge in case of diversions.

The Wikipedia entry for the station also has a section called Possible Future, which is worth a read, as it lists other mothballed rail lines in the area, that could be developed.

Follow the Barrow Hill Line to the North-East and it goes through a mix of agricultural land, industrial dereliction, modern factories and nature reserves before it splits near Beighton.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note.

  1. The rail lines splitting by the Rother Valley Country Park at Beighton Junction.
  2. Barrow Hill is to the South.
  3. There used to be a station at Beighton.
  4. Woodhouse station is in the North West corner of the map.
  5. Woodhouse station is on the Sheffield-Lincoln Line, which can be seen crossing the area.
  6. Trains taking the left fork at Beighton Junction can go to Sheffield via Woodhouse and Darnall stations.
  7. Trains taking the right fork go under the Sheffield-Lincoln line and have connections to a large number of destinations for both freight and passengers.

It looks to me, that it is proposed to convert this long-way round route, into a second route between Sheffield and Chesterfield.

  • Stations exist at Woodhouse and Darnall.
  • Stations used to exist at Barrow Hill, Eckington & Renishaw, Killamarsh West  and Beighton.
  • The route would surely be very useful, when the Midland Main Line route between Sheffield and Chesterfield is updated for High Speed Two.
  • The route might also be very useful for East Midlands Railway to develop services to Rotherham and other places to the East of Sheffield.
  • I’ve found a train that takes this route between Chesterfield and Sheffield and with no stops it took twenty-five minutes.
  • Typically, the direct route takes about eleven minutes.

I can see several possibilities for local, regional and national services using the Barrow Hill Line.

I have a few questions.

Would The Barrow Hill Line Be Electrified?

It has been stated that High Speed Two and the Midland Main Line will share an electrified corridor from Clay Cross North Junction to Sheffield via Chesterfield.

  • So as both stations will be electrified, it would not be any problem to rustle up a good electricity supply to power an electrified Barrow Hill Route.
  • Electrification might narrow the fourteen minute difference between the routes.
  • Electrification would allow East Midlands Railway‘s new Class 810 trains to have a second electrified route into Sheffield.
  • Is there a case for a service between London and the South of England and the South and East of Sheffield?

I think electrification of the Barrow Hill Line is more than a possibility.

Would Gauge-Clearance For Electrification Be Difficult?

As the route is already cleared for freight trains with the largest containers, it won’t be as difficult as some routes.

Could Tram-Trains Be Used Between Sheffield And Chesterfield On The Barrow Hill Line?

In Sheffield Region Transport Plan 2019 – A New Tram-Train Route To A New Station At Waverley, I talked about a plan by the Sheffield Region for a new tram-train route between Sheffield station and a new housing district of Waverley on the Sheffield-Lincoln Line.

  • Waverley is between Darnall and Woodhouse stations.
  • The new Advanced Manufacturing Park would also be served.
  • Tram-trains could venture further down the Sheffield-Lincoln Line, if that was so desired.

If tram-trains were used on the Barrow Hill Line, between Sheffield and Chesterfield, both routes would share the track between Sheffield and Darnall stations.

Note that tram-trains would be able to share tracks with all electric trains used around Sheffield, including freight trains and the Class 810 trains.

Note that the stations for tram-trains can be much simpler and even share platforms with full-size trains.

The pictures show Class 399 tram-trains at Rotherham Parkgate and Rotherham Central stations.

  • I feel with innovative design, the whole route between Sheffield and Chesterfield could be run using tram-trains.
  • The route could be electrified with 25 KVAC overhead wires.
  • Instead of taking the Sheffield fork at Beighton Junction, the tram-trains could also take the right fork and link Chesterfield with Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Swinton.
  • These tram-trains also come with batteries, if that is needed.

Barnsley, Chesterfield, Rotherham and Sheffield could be getting a lot of better connectivity and the Barrow Hill Line is key.

Conclusion

This looks to be a very sensible project.

  • It could be run with either trains or tram-trams.
  • It should be electrified, so could be zero-carbon.
  • Tram-trains could be used to make stations simpler.
  • It could give an alternative route for electric trains to Sheffield station.
  • The track is already there and regularly used.

But surely the biggest reason to built it, is that it appears to open up a lot of South and South-East Sheffield and North-East Chesterfield for development.

 

May 25, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments