The Anonymous Widower

Should The Blackpool South Branch Be Electrified?

I can find nothing on the Internet, which states whether the branch line between Kirkham and Wesham and Blackpool South stations will or won’t be electrified.

However, I did get create this Google Map of Kirkham West Junction, where the lines to the two Blackpool stations divide.

Note.

  1. Kirkham and Wesham station is to the East.
  2. Blackpool North station is to the North-West.
  3. Blackpool South station is to the South-West.

This image was captured during the recent construction phase on the Blackpool Branch Lines.

As my train to Blackpool North on Monday afternoon passed the junction I took these pictures.

It looks to me, that the contractors are doing the following.

  • Improving the junction.
  • Laying some new track at the start of the branch line.
  • I also think, that the junction is being electrified.

The electrification could be for the following reasons.

  • It is the start of electrification of the branch.
  • Network Rail are providing an electrified turn-back facility at Krkham and Wesham station.
  • It could also be sensible future-proofing to make sure the branch can be electrified easily in the future.

If the branch is going to be worked by Class 769 trains or other bi-mode or battery powered trains, then I believe the work becomes clearer.

  • Trains from Blackpool South would have an electrified place, where they can change to electrical power and wait until the main lines are clear before crossing over to the Preston-bound track.
  • Trains to Blackpool South would be able to wait in Kirkham and Wesham station, until the line to Blackpool South was clear.
  • Trains to Blackpool South  could of course start their journey, as soon as the train from Blackpool South is waiting to cross over, using the new track, that is visible in my pictures.

The works will also create a very safe junction at Kirkham West.

The Blackpool South Branch 

The branch line has the following characteristics.

But there are other issues that should be considered.

Football At Bloomfield Road

If you are going to football at Bloomfield Road, as I have several times, Blackpool South is the closest station.

Blackpool Pleasure Beach

Blackpool Pleasure Beach has its own station, but there are reports on the Internet, that the walk between the station and the theme park needs to be improved.

An Increase In Capacty And Frequency

I once travelled between Colne and Blackpool South stations on a beautiful sunny day in early September.

  • Northern had laid on a pair of Pacers, working as a four-car train.
  • They were packed with families going for a day on the coast.

The conductor told me this often happens, when the weather is good.

When I passed through Preston station earlier in the week, I might have seen a notice, saying that the service between Colne and Blackpool South will run all week.

Passing Loops

There is no passing loop on the branch, so it makes it very difficult to run a more passenger-friendly two tph.

Until, the works at Kirkham West Junction are complete we probably won’t know if the junction is being designed, so that a train entering the branch could wait safely for a train to emerge from the branch.

But this would be more for reliable operations, than increasing frequency of trains.

The Open Championship At Royal Lytham And St. Annes

Ansdell and Fairhaven station is nearest to the course at Royal Lytham.

  • The Open Championship is a very important event on the golfing calendar.
  • Other important golfing events are also held on the course
  • Royal Lytham and St.Annes, last held the Open in 2012 and 2001. So it might come back to Royal Lytham in the mid-2020s.

Ansdell and Fairhaven station used to have two platforms, as described in Wikipedia.

The station was set out as an island platform with tracks on both faces until the singling of the line in the 1980s. Trains now only use the southern face. A disabled access ramp now covers the northern part of the station.

So could a rebuild of the station do the following?

  • Restore two platforms on an island at the station.
  • Put in full disabled access.
  • Create a passing loop.
  • Lomger platforms might be a good idea.

This Google Map shows the station.

Note.

  1. The disabled ramp winding away.
  2. The platform is probably about a hundred metres long.
  3. It would appear that there is space at the far end to extend the platform.

I suspect that an ambitious architect with vision, could design a station that met all objectives.

Rebuildng Of The Railway Between Skipton And Colne

The link between Skipton and Colne stations is promoted by SELRAP and has now been backed by the Government and large businesses like Drax, who say it would improve efficiency of biomass deliveries.

This map from Wikipedia shows the route.

Note that if the missing link is built, it does the following

  • Creates another much-needed route across the Pennines
  • Creates a second route between Leeds and Blackpool
  • Encourages visitors to the area.
  • Creates an easy link between Lancashire and the Settle and Carlisle Line.
  • Creates an alternative and faster freight route across the Pennines.

It could even become an iconic route famed for the scenery.

I feel that if this missing link were to be reinstated, it would be very well-used by passengers.

This increase in passengers would surely increase traffic between Colne and Blackpool South stations, means more pressure for two tph.

How Fast Could A Train Go Between Kirkham & Wesham and Blackpool South Stations?

Currently, the Class 142 trains take around 27-29 minutes to do the journey six intermediate stops.

Trains like a Class 769 train have improved performance.

  • They are being converted from Class 319 trains, that were built for high frequency commuter services.
  • The trains have two double-doors on each side of each of the four carriages.
  • Seat layout diagrams show the possibility of wide aisles and a lot of 2+2 seating.
  • They are faster, as the Class 142 trains have an operating speed of 75 mph and this article on Rail Magazine, says that the Class 769 trains can do 91-92 mph on diesel.
  • They have better acceleration and braking.
  • They can probably carry out stops much faster.

Newer trains built in the last couple of years will be even better.

Other factors will also speed up the service.

  • Level access between train and platform at all stations.
  • Relaying the track to allow higher operational speeds.
  • Modern signalling.
  • High-quality train driving and operation.

I am sure that the the time for a train to go from Kirkham and Wesham to Blackpool South and back will be substantially reduced.

But is it possible to do the trip in under thirty minutes, so that two tph will be possible?

Could Two Tph Be Run Between Preston and Blackpool South Without Electrification?

I believe that the Class 769 trains could be fast enough to run a two tph service on the Blackpool South branch, when passenger numbers say it is needed and track and station improvements have been completed.

An express shuttle could be provided for big events at Royal Lytham.

  • It would run between Preston and Blackpool South stations.
  • It would stop at Kirkham and Wesham and Ansdell and Fairhaven
  • The platforms at Ansdell and Fairhaven  and Blackpool South stations were to be lengthened to accept two Class 769 trains working as an eight-car train.

Network Rail would only need to lengthen two platforms and increase the operating speed of the line.

Effectively, by replacing a 1980s scrapyard special with a refurbished train of the same vintage and improving the track, the capacity of the Blackpool South Branch can be increased.

If some platforms were to be lengthened, it should be possible to run eight-car trains for events like the Open Championship at Royal Lytham.

Who needs electrification?

The Blackpool South Branch certainly doesn’t!

 

 

 

 

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April 20, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 3 Comments

Nineteen Tri-Mode Flex Class 769s For GWR

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

This brings the number of  Class 319 trains to be converted to Class 769 trains, to thirty five.

  • These will be tri-mode trains and able to operate on 25 KVAC  overhead and 750 VDC third rail electrification and diesel power.
  • The Rail Magazine article, says they will support the introduction of refurbished Class 387 trains on Heathrow Express and on services from reading to Gatwick and Oxford.
  • The trains would release diesel Class 165/166 trains to improve services in the Bristol area.

Although, there appears to have been so sighting of a Class 769 train on the UK network, the trains must have shown up well in testing, as no-one would order nineteen trains, that didn’t meet the specification.

According to the Future section in the Wikipedia entry  for the Class 319 trains, there are forty-five of the trains sitting in sidings off lease.

So there won’t be a shortage of trains to modify.

I do find this story rather heartwarming.

When the Advanced Passenger Train project fell well behind schedule, Terry Miller and his team at Derby, came up with a proposal for a High Speed Diesel Train, which when launched in 1975 was known as the InterCity 125.

But that wasn’t the end of the story.

The design of the Mark 3 carriages was used by British Rail to build large numbers of electric and diesel multiple units, of which the Class 319 train was just one of seventeen classes of train based on the Mark 3.

The legacy of Terry Miller and his team echos down the years.

The Class 769 train is one of several of those echos.

April 20, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

No Wires At Salford Crescent Station – 17th April 2018

These pictures show the state of the electrification at Salford Crescent station.

Note that there were no overhead wires through the station and also on the line to Salford Central and Manchester Victoria station. There still appears to be a lot of work to do.

Under Improvements the Wikipedia entry for the station says this.

In 2007, Network Rail recognised that Salford Crescent could not cope with existing passenger levels, leading to platform overcrowding. It suggested expansion of the station with extra platforms, greater use of it as an interchange and use as a terminus for services from east of Manchester. It also raised the possibility of moving the station.

In 2012, improvement work started at the station, including platform extensions, a new rain canopy and the relocation of the ticket office to street level. The works were completed in October 2013 and officially opened by Mayor of Salford, Ian Stewart.

This Google Map shows the station.

I think, it will be a tight fit for extra platforms, as the station is surrounded on all sides by Salford University.

The solution would probably be to build on top of a new station, that was in a strong concrete box.

Changing Trains At Salford Crescent Station

Today, I arrived at Salford Crescent on a train running between Bolton and Manchester Victoria stations.

As I needed to go to Manchester Piccadilly station, I left on a train running between Blackpool North and Manchester Airport stations.

Consider.

  • In the few minutes, I was on the station, I must have heard staff asked, which train do I get to Piccadilly or Victoria, several times.
  • Surrey Quays station handles three routes at the South end of the Thames Tunnel and currently  handles sixteen trains per hour (tph)
  • With high-quality signalling and a measure of automatic train control, I could expect Salford Crescent station to handle at least 12 tph, in both directions.
  • Is the island platform wide enough?
  • Is loading slowed as a lot of trains calling at the station are just two cars, with four doors?
  • Is loading slowed as many of the trains, aren’t step-free from the platform to the train?
  • Are there always staff on the platform.

I believe that operation of the station could be improved.

Reversing Direction At Salford Crescent Station

The current island layout allows passengers to change direction by walking across the platform.

As an example, if you go between Farnworth and Swinton stations, one of the recommended routes is via Salford Cresent.

An Improved Design For Salford Crescent Station

Perhaps before deciding to rebuild the station, serious work should be done to see if the station throughput in terms of trains and passengers can be improved.

My ideas would include.

A Wider Platform

This picture shows the island platform at Canonbury station.

It could handle a whole company of Grenadier Guards and all their kit, whereas Salford Crescent would struggle with a platoon.

Canonbury’s wide platform also has the following in the centre.

  • A large covered shelter.
  • A large number of seats.
  • A coffee stall

It also allows passengers to stand well-back when a train goes through the station, without stopping.

Note that Canonbury is a station, where the platforms are uncovered. Would this be a wise idea in Manchester, even with a large central shelter?

Lomger Trains

a lot of trains going through Salford Crescent station are just two cars.

Northern‘s new trains will include, the following electric trains and bi-mode trains.

32 – four-car Class 319 trains

12 – four-car Class 331 trains

31 – three-car Class 331 trains, which will replace the Class 323 trains.

11 – four-car Class 769 bi-mode trsins.

If all trains calling at Salford Crescent were four-cars or more, this would probably mean at least eight doors, which would would speed up loading and unloading.

This would reduce dwell times at the station and increase capacity in terms of the number of trains per hour.

Level Access Between Platform And Trains

If the platforms are widened, I susopect with Harrington Humps, that this could be achieved.

This picture shows two Hsrrington Hump is at Canonbury.

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If passengers in wheelchairs, buggy-pushers and those  pulling heavy cases could just walk or push the,selves across.

Again, this would reduce dwell times and increase capacity.

Better Information

Given that I heard passengers asking the same question, I suspect that better informayion, could make the station easier fot  interchang passengers.

Using the displays on Thameslink and at London Bridge station would be a good start.

An Up Escalator

Sal;ford Central station has a long set of stairs and a lift.

Many passengers with movement difficulties would welcome an up escalator.

Conclusion

I believe that a much improved station can be creased , without the expence of adding a new platform.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 17, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Northern’s Plans For Between Preston And Ormskirk

The service on the Ormskirk Branch Line between Preston and Ormskirk stations is an infuriating one.

  • The Class 153 trains that run the service seem to be unreliable when I use it.
  • The frequency is roughly hourly and not clockface by any means.
  • Sometimes the trains are very full.
  • The signalling appears to be old-fashioned.

But it seems that from May 21st, things will be getting better.

The timetable shows the following.

  • Trains leave Ormskirk hourly from 07:01 until 23:11 and take 31 minutes to get to Preston.
  • Trains leave Preston hourly from 06:26 until 21:26 and take 30 minutes to get to Ormskirk.

Journey times are actually similar to now, so I would assume they are for a Class 153 train.

What a pity, that the round trip will take over an hour.

Northern will need two trains to run this service, but if they could do a round trip in an hour, only one train would be needed.

Consider.

The Class 153 train is only a 75 mph train.

Part of the journey is along the electrified West Coast Main Line.

Northern have or soon will have faster trains in their fleet

I suspect that any one of these trains could achieve the hourly round trip.

All would offer increased capacity and better quality interiors.

The Class 769 train would handle the route with ease.

  • The train could use the electrification on the West Coast Main Line.
  • The train is faster.
  • It is a four-car train.

I doubt it will happen, but the trains could continue on the Merseyrail network, if their third-rail electrification shoes, were to be refitted.

But who knows what will happen if Merseyrail and Northern decide to bring the railways between Blackpool, Kirkby, Ormskirk, Preston, Southport and Wigan into the twenty-first century?

There’s certainly a lot happening in the area at the timetable change on May 20th.

  • Blackpool to Liverpool gets an electric hourly service.
  • Blackpool to Manchester Airport gets an hourly service, which will go electric in time.
  • Ormskirk to Preston gets a proper hourly service.
  • Wigan North Western to Alderley Edge gets a new service using Class 769 trains.
  • Wigan North Western to Stalybridge gets a revamped service using Class 769 trains.

Porterbrook’s affordable bi-mode Class 769 train seems to be fully involved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 15, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

What Rolling Stock Will Northern Use Between Blackpool North And Manchester Airport Stations From Tomorrow?

I was alerted to the opening of the service, by this article in Rail Technology Magazine, which is entitled Blackpool To Preston Route To Reopen After Major 5-Month Transformation.

As I was coming up to see someone on Tuesday, I’ve decided to come up on the first Virgin from Euston at 16:33 to Blackpool North station.

My train coming up from London, is I suspect a Class 221 train, as I’m in First in Coach E. So I’ll be diesel-hauled all the way.

I have read somewhere that four-car trains will be running between Blackpool North and Manchester Airport stations, so as these trains will be going via Bolton, where there is still no electrification, I would expect, that Northern will be running a couple of Class 156 trains on this route.

But the route would also be an ideal one to introduce the long-awaited Class 769 trains!

  • Trains call at Poulton-le-Fylde, Preston, Buckshaw Parkway, Chorley, Horwich Parkway, Bolton, Salford Crescent, Deansgate, Oxford Road, Piccadilly and Heald Green.
  • It is electrified, except for between Preston and Deansgate, which could be ready in May 2018.
  • The trains are four-cars with a universal access toilet, so are a step up from the previous rolling stock.

In their news release on the reopening of the Blackpool to Preston route, Northern says this.

Train services between Preston and Blackpool North will resume from Monday 16 April 2018 initially with one train per hour allowing time for driver training on the route.

Obviously, drivers have to learn the route, but as Northern have a fleet of thirty-two Class 319 trains, I suspect they have enough drivers to handle this fleet, when they eventually get to run between Blackpool North and Manchester Airport.

I think it’s unlikely, but I wouldn’t be completely surprised to see Class 769 trains working this route for training purposes.

In Does A New Service Start Between Wigan North Western And Alderley Edge Stations Using Class 769 Trains On May 20th?, I came to the conclusion that from May 20th, Northern will be adding these two hourly services using Class 769 trains.

  • Wigan North Western and Alderley Edge
  • Wigan North Western and Stalybridge

So will the training of the drivers be completed between Blackpool North and Preston?

Blackpool North And Liverpool Lime Street

I have been exploring this route on the timetable.

I found these trains running from Blackpool North to Liverpool Lime Street.

  • Sundays from April 22nd an hourly train between 11:00 and 22:00
  • Monday to Saturday from April 20th a direct train at 18:02.
  • Sundays from May 21st an hourly train between 08:30 and 22:00
  • Monday to Saturday from May 21st an hourly service between 06:00 and 22:00

And these trains running from Liverpool Lime Street to Blackpool North.

  • Sundays from April 22nd an hourly train between 08:47 and 20:47
  • Monday to Saturday from April 20th a direct train at 07:56.
  • Sundays from May 21st an hourly train between 06:36 and 22:15
  • Monday to Saturday from May 21st an hourly service between 06:00 and 22:00

I would assume that all trains would be served by Class 319 trains.

I think that Northern are being canny here.

  • Liverpool Lime Street and Blackpool North services will be run from the next weekend, with an hourly Sunday service. This will sort out any possible problems with an hourly service, before it is introduced on May 20th.
  • They have added a couple of trains to help commuters between Liverpool and Blackpool.
  • There is still a lot of capacity between Preston and Blackpool North for training.

It will be interesting to see how passengers react to the new timetable on May 20th.

 

April 15, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 4 Comments

Two Trains Per Hour Between Manchester Piccadilly And Buxton Stations From May 21st

If you are going between Manchester Piccadilly and Buxton stations tomorrow, just after ten in the morning, the trains are as follows.

  • 10:49 – 11:58 – 59 minutes
  • 11:49 – 12:58 – 59 minutes

But do the journey on May 21st and the trains will be as follows.

  • 10:11 – 11:06 – 55 minutes
  • 10:47 – 11:49 – 62 minutes
  • 11:11 – 12:06 – 55 minutes
  • 11:47 – 12:49 – 62 minutes

Returning on or after May 21st, the trains will be as follows.

  • 10:02 – 10:56 – 54 minutes
  • 10:34 – 11:36 – 62 minutes
  • 11:02 – 11:56 – 54 minutes
  • 11:34 – 12:36 – 62 minutes

Note.

  1. Two extra trains have been added to the service, to give two trains per hour (tph)
  2. The faster trains stop at Stockport, Davenport, Woodsmoor, Hazel Grove, Disley, New Mills NewTown, Whaley Bridge and Chapel-en-le-Frith.
  3. The slower trains have additional stops at Levenshulme, Heaton Chapel, Furnace Vale and Dove Holes.

As the times aren’t that different to the current ones, I suspect that the timings could be achieved by the current Class 156 trains, that work the route.

I have seen an early copy of Porterbrook’s brochure for the Class 319 Flex train, which is now the Class 769 train.

This is an extract.

Porterbrook determined that the most arduous route would be Manchester Piccadilly to Buxton, which has a steep gradient and multiple stops along its 25 mile route 9(8 miles of which is electrified). This anlysis was included to give confidence that the Class 319 Flex would be comparable to existing Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) technology across a range of different routes, stopping patterns and gradients.

Take a quick look at the Buxton Line on Wikipedia.

This is said.

Due to steep gradients on this line, Class 142 and Class 153 DMUs are banned from the section of line between Hazel Grove and Buxton. Therefore, services to Buxton are worked by Class 150 and Class 156 DMUs. Also Class 158 DMUs were once blocked from operating on the line to Buxton due to the possibility of the large roof-mounted air vents striking low bridges on the route.

Note the two extracts both say “to Buxton”, as obviously, the trains can use the free power boost of gravity on the way down.

If Class 769 trains were to be used on the Manchester Piccadilly to Buxton service, the following would apply.

  • Between Manchester Piccadilly and Hazel Grove, the trains could use the electrification.
  • They are four-car trains as opposed to the two-car Class 156 trains that currently run the service.
  • The service could be extended on the other side of Manchester, when the electrification is finally complete.

I think there’s every chance that Northern are preparing to run Class 769 trains, on the route for which they were designed.

Instead of just one two-car tph, as at present, Buxton could be getting two four-car tph.

Capacity could be increased by four times.

 

 

April 10, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

Does A New Service Start Between Wigan North Western And Alderley Edge Stations Using Class 769 Trains On May 20th?

On the Wikipedia entry for Class 769 trains, this is said about the introduction into service of the trains by Northern.

Scheduled to begin entering service in May 2018, Northern plans to deploy its Class 769 units on the Windermere branch line and also their Manchester Airport to Windermere, Wigan North Western to Alderley Edge and Wigan North Western to Stalybridge services

I have looked at the National Rail timetable for the 19th of May and looked up getting between Wigan North Western and Alderley Edge station involves a change at Manchester Piccadilly station.

But look at the journey on the 21st of May and there is an hourly direct train.

  • First train – 08:50
  • Last train – 19:50
  • Journey time – 78 minutes

The train will stop at Hindley, Westhoughton, Bolton, Salford Crescent, Deansgate, Manchester Oxford Road, Manchester Piccadilly, Levenshulme, Heaton Chapel, Stockport, Cheadle Hulme, Handforth and Wilmslow.

In the other direction, the service is as follows.

  • Hourly
  • First train – 06:49
  • Last train – 19:48
  • Journey time – 70 minutes

It is an ideal route for a Class 769 train.

  • Between Wigan North Western and Bolton is not electrified.
  • I also suspect that Bolton and Salford Crescent won’t have the wires completed by the 20th of May.

Manchester will be getting another cross-city service courtesy of a thirty-year-old electric train, with a couple of diesel engines slung underneath.

Wigan North Western And Stalybridge

An hourly service from Wigan North Western to Stalybridge also appears to be in the timetable from the 21st of May.

  • First train – 08:08
  • Last train – 22:50
  • Journey time – 59 minutes

The trains will stop at Hindley, Westhoughton, Bolton, Moses Gate, Farnworth, Kearsley (Manchester), Salford Crescent, Salford Central, Manchester Victoria and Ashton-under-Lyne.

In the other direction, the service is as follows.

  • First train – 06:30
  • Last train – 21:29
  • Journey time – 63-66 minutes

It is another ideal route for a Class 769 train.

  • Between Wigan North Western and Salford Central not fully electrified.

As the current service between Wigan Wallgate and Stalybridge seems to have been discontinued, it looks like Pacers and elderly diesels are being replaced by electric trains.

Conclusion

It looks to me, that as the electrification through Bolton and Salford Crescent, that Northern are doing the best they can with what they have available.

I estimate that Northern will need around six trains to run these two services, one of which is new and the other a change of terminus from Wallgate to North Western at Wigan.

 

 

April 10, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Improving The Train Service Between Rose Grove And Colne Stations

The East Lancashire Line is the line that runs across the town of Burnley on the spectacular Bank Top Viaduct.

  • One train per hour in each direction runs between Blackpool South station on the coast and Colne station in the hills.
  • The five stations on the route; Burnley Barracks, Burnley Central, Brierfield, Nelson and Colne, are all single-platform stations.
  • Only Burnley Central station is more than rudimentary.
  • All station have platforms long enough for two Class 150 trains working as a four-car unit.
  • The line joins the cross-Pennine Calder Valley Line at Gannow Junction to the East of Rose Grove station.

In the Wikipedia entry for Colne station, this is said.

The remainder of the branch from Gannow Junction (near Rose Grove) to Nelson was also reduced to single track in December 1986 and so the entire line from there is now operated as a 6 1⁄2 miles (10.5 km) “long siding” with no intermediate passing loops (this restricts the service frequency that can operate along the branch, as only one train can be on the branch at a time).

It would thus appear that without track and/or signalling works, the service along the line will be restricted to an hourly train.

Track Improvements

To make improvement of the line more difficult, the line crosses Burnley town centre on the High Bank Top  Viaduct.

This second picture was taken from a train crossing the viaduct.

North of Burnley Central station, the terrain gets more rural and if needed the installation of a passing loop would be easier, than on the Bank Top Viaduct.

Station Improvements

I have been in a four-car train on the line, so I feel it could be theoretically easy to double the capacity by running four-car trains instead of the current two-car Class 150 trains.

This picture was taken of a pair of two-car diesel units, that took me between Colne and Blackpool South stations.

  • Most platforms seem to be long enough, but more shelters and ticket machines are needed.
  • Only Burnley Central station has booking office and a warm waiting room.
  • By hint of the simplicity of the stations, several are step-free.

Improvements to the stations are needed, but no station needs substantial rebuilding.

Signalling Improvements

The signalling of the line between Rose Grove and Colne stations would appear to rely on only one train being on the line at any one time.

In order to have more than one train on the branch a more sophisticated signalling system is needed.

Service Improvements

The November 2017 Edition of Modern Railways indicates that the Sunday service on this line will increase from two-hourly to hourly.

I was on the line on a sunny Sunday a few years ago and the four-car train was packed with families going to Blackpool for the day.

If anything this Sunday improvement will hasten the need for the doubling of service frequency between Blackpool South and Colne.

Could Two Trains Per Hour Work Between Rose Grove And Colne Stations?

The signalling would have to be improved for safety reasons, as the current safety system of one train on the branch would be inadequate.

If trains left Rose Grove and Colne stations on the half hour, then trains would call at Burnley Barracks station at the following times.

  • xx:03 – Service U1 going up
  • xx:17 – Service D1 going down
  • xx:33  – Service U2 going up
  • xx:47 – Service D2 going down

Time for Burnley Central would be as follows.

  • xx:06 – Service U1 going up
  • xx:14 – Service D1 going down
  • xx:36 – Service U2 going up
  • xx:44 – Service D2 going down

Times for Brierfield would be as follows.

  • xx:09 – Service D1 going down
  • xx:11 – Service U1 going up
  • xx:39 – Service D2 going down
  • xx:41  – Service U2 going up

Times for Nelson would be as follows.

  • xx:06 – Service D1 going down
  • xx:14 – Service U1 going up
  • xx:56 – Service D2 going down
  • xx:44  – Service U2 going up

Times for Colne would be as follows

  • xx:00 – Service D1 starts to go down
  • xx:20 – Service U1 arrives
  • xx:30 – Service D2 starts to go down
  • xx:50 – Service U2 arrives

Note.

  1. The trains take twenty minutes for the trip.
  2. U1, U2 are two services going up to Colne.
  3. D1, D2 are two services going down from Colne.

It would appear that a passing loop would be needed between Burnley Central and Brierfield stations. Looking from my helicopter at this section of line, a lot is in open country and there would appear to be space for a long passing loop.

Rolling Stock Improvements

The current rolling stock is inadequate and staff and passengers on the line have told me, that the route between Blackpool South and Colne stations, needs four-car services at times.

Because the Western end of the route will be electrified between Preston and Blackpool and Liverpool, there is a strong case for bi-mode trains, be they refurbished ones like Class 769 trains or new trains. Northern has new Class 195 trains on order, but they are pure diesels.

Given that the route may get extra electrification between Preston and Blackburn, if the Calder Valley Line is improved, Class 195 trains are probably not an ideal solution.

Class 769 Trains Between Blackpool South And Colne Stations

Current plans will see electrification of the route between Preston and Kirkham and Westham stations.

This would mean that nearly ten miles of the Blackpool South to Colne route will be electrified.

So would it be sensible to call for Bedpan Specials or Class 769 trains, which could make use of the electrification?

Consider.

  • According to a technical specification that I’ve seen, the trains have been designed to handle the Buxton Line, which is stiffer than the hill up to Colne.
  • The trains are four cars.
  • I believe, that three Class 769 trains would replace the current trains, which could then be appropriately scrapped or refurbished.
  • If more electrification is added between Blackburn and Blackpool South, the trains will take advantage.

I also believe that with a passing loop and modern signalling, that the extra performance of the Class 769 trains might make it possible to run two trains on the route with careful planning and precise driving.

But above all, the Class 769 trains are affordable and are probably available within a year.

An interesting observation, is that Northern have increased their order by three trains recently. So have they decided to use them on the Blackpool South to Colne service?

How Would A Re-Opened Skipton To Colne Rail Link Affect The East Lancashire Line Services?

There has started to be increased speculation lately, that the rail link between Skipton and Colne will be reopened. Chris Graying even mentioned this line in the House of Commons.

If the rail link were to be reopened, it would create another route across the Pennines between Lancashire and Yorkshire.

  • It would be unlikely to be a high-capacity or high-speed link.
  • There is electrification at both ends.
  • The line would be ideal for bi-mode trains like a refurbished Class 769 train or a new Class 755 train.
  • Colne could be upgraded to a single-platform through station.

Two trains per hour between Leeds and Preston through a scenic part of the Pennines would be a major development and tourism asset.

It could actually improve services on the Lancashire side of the border,, as services would no longer have to be turned back at Colne, but would do this at either Skipton or Leeds.

 

December 13, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

A Walk Between Burnley Manchester Road And Burnley Central Stations

This is another walk in Burnley to go with A Walk Between Burnley Barracks And Burnley Manchester Road Stations.

Burnley Manchester Road and Burnley Central stations are not that far apart.

This Google Map shows Burnley’s three stations in relation to the Town Centre and Turf Moor.

The various locations are as follows.

  • Turf Moor is indicated by the red arrow in the East.
  • Burnley Barracks station is in the North-West corner.
  • Bunley Central is at the North.
  • Burnley Manchester Road is at the South.
  • The Leeds and Liverpool canal weaves its way through the town passing close to Burnley Barracks station.

What the map doesn’t show is the terrain. The main station at Manchester Road is on one stretch of high ground and Central station and Turf Moor are on another.

So I walked down the hill from Manchester Road station, through the Shopping Centre and up the hill the other side to Central stion.

It was an easy walk down the hill followed by a stiffer one up to Central station.

Improvements to the East Lancashire Line.

In A Walk Between Burnley Barracks And Burnley Manchester Road Stations, I concluded the post with the following.

If new four-car Class 769 trains replace the current two-car scrapyard specials on the East Lancashire Line, the following will happen.

  • Capacity on the route will be doubled.
  • The service will be faster, due to the increased speed and power.
  • No expensive platform lengthening will be required.
  • An hourly service between Blackpool South and Colne will have no problems operating seven days a week.
  • Some stations, like Burnley Barracks, will need improvements to handle the extra passengers.

Two trains per hour will need track work to add passing loops and modern signalling, and a few more trains.

 

The big question has to be asked, if stations like the single-platform Burnley Central can handle two trains per hour in both directions.

I discussed this in Improving The Train Service Between Rose Grove And Colne Stations and came to the conclusion, it was possible with a passing loop between Burnley and Brierfield stations, modern signalling and Class 769 trains.

It could all come together very nwell for the residents of East Lancashire.

 

December 12, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

A Side-Effect Of Northern’s Plan To Use Class 769 Trains Across Manchester

It would appear that Northern will use some Class 769 trains on routes across Manchester’s electrified core to connect two lines without electrification.

I think that one route could be to connect Clitheroe on the Ribble Valley Line to Buxton on the Buxton Line.

These two branches could be connected by an electrified line between Hazel Grove and Bolton stations, outside of which they’d generate their own power using on-board diesel alternators.

Pacers, Class 150 trains or Class 156 trains currently work the two lines without electrification, but if it was designed to create a North-South cross-Manchester service, Class 769 trains could easily handle the extended route.

Northern have around a hundred Pacers and have pledged to remove all of them from service. Probably, most will go to the scrapyard, but some might end up with enthusiasts or masochists, or in strange export markets.

  • A 75 mph two-car train like a Class 150/156 train or a Pacer would be replaced with a 90 mph four-car train. Which must speed up and improve the service.
  • Capacity would be increased by at least one car in each replacement train.
  • If a Pacer is replaced on the route, it goes out of service.
  • If a Class 156 train is replaced it goes elsewhere to kick a Pacer out of service.
  • If a Class 150 train is replaced, it probably gets a good refurbishment to kick a Pacer out of service.

So as each new Class 769 train enters service, it can push a Pacer out of service and replace it with a better train.

The same probably occurs when a Class 319 train enters service on the Northern network, if it directly replaces another train.

Passengers on their local line, might not see a new electric train, but their Pacers will gradually be replaced with better stock.

Then as the brand-new trains from CAF get introduced in a couple of years, everybody will see better trains.

In some businesses, you might think it a way to con the customers. But here, they’ll just see a process of continuous improvement of the rolling stock on their regular journeys.

December 10, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment