The Anonymous Widower

Birmingham-Black Country-Shrewsbury

On the Midlands Connect web site, they have a page, which is entitled Birmingham-Black Country-Shrewsbury.

This is the introductory paragraph.

We’re examining the case to increase services from three to four per hour, made possible by capacity released post-HS2.

They then give the outline of their plans, which can be summed up as follows.

  • Services on the corridor are slow and unreliable.
  • Network Rail say the service is in danger of acute overcrowding.
  • Services will be increased from three trains per hour (tph) to four.
  • A direct hourly service from Shrewsbury, Wellington and Telford to London will be introduced.
  • Services to Birmingham International will be doubled.
  • The economic case will be examined for speeding up services between Shrewsbury and Birmingham from 56 to 45 minutes, via track upgrades and possible electrification.

It seems a safe, and not overly ambitious plan.

These are my thoughts.

Shrewsbury’s Unique Position

These are distances and times from important stations.

  • Birmingham International – 51 miles and 83 minutes
  • Birmingham New Street – 42.5 miles and 71 minutes
  • Chester – 42.5 miles and 53 minutes
  • Crewe – 33 miles and 53 minutes
  • Hereford – 51 miles and 59 minutes
  • Telford – 14 miles and 21 minutes
  • Wellington – 10 miles and 13 minutes
  • Welshpool – 20 miles and 25 minutes
  • Wolverhampton – 30 miles and 50 minutes

In Sparking A Revolution, I quoted this Hitachi-specification for a battery-electric train.

  • Range – 55-65 miles
  • Performance – 90-100 mph
  • Recharge – 10 minutes when static
  • Routes – Suburban near electrified lines
  • Battery Life – 8-10 years

I can’t see any problem, for a train with this specification being able to reach Shrewsbury from Birmingham International, Birmingham New Street and Crewe on battery power.

In Hitachi Trains For Avanti, I quote an article with the same title in the January 2020 Edition of Modern Railways as saying this.

Hitachi told Modern Railways it was unable to confirm the rating of the diesel engines on the bi-modes, but said these would be replaceable by batteries in future if specified.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Shrewsbury served from Birmingham and Crewe by fast electric trains, that used battery power. Avanti West Coast certainly seem to have that thought in mind.

Zero Carbon Trains Between Shrewsbury And Wales

It will be a formidable challenge to run battery trains from Shrewsbury to the Welsh destinations.

  • Aberystwyth – 81.5 miles
  • Cardiff – 107 miles
  • Carmarthen – 185 miles
  • Holyhead – 133 miles
  • Milford Haven – 225 miles
  • Swansea – 121.5 miles

Note.

  1. These are challenging distances for battery-electric trains.
  2. South Wales destinations served via Newport and Cardiff could use the electrification on the South Wales Main Line.
  3. Many of these services start from East of Shrewsbury and can use the electrified lines that connects to Birmingham New Street and Manchester Piccadilly.

Unless someone like Riding Sunbeams, makes a breakthrough, I can’t see battery-electric trains running to Welsh destinations from Shrewsbury.

Transport for Wales New Trains

Transport for Wales have ordered seventy-seven new Class 197 trains, and these diesel trains will be used for services through Shrewsbury, mainly on services to Birmingham New Street and Birmingham International stations.

  • If these trains are similar to Northern’s Class 195 trains, they will be diesel multiple units with a noisy mechanical transmission.
  • I was surprised in these days of global warming that Transport for Wales didn’t buy something more eco-friendly, as they have for South Wales and the services around Chester.
  • The transmission of the Class 197 trains has not been disclosed.

Perhaps, CAF are going to do something innovative.

  • The CAF Civity is a modular train, with either electric or diesel power options.
  • The diesel-powered options use MTU engines.
  • A logical development would be to use an MTU Hybrid PowerPack to reduce diesel consumption and emissions.
  • This PowerPack would also reduce noise, as it has an electric transmission.
  • I wonder, if CAF can raid their parts bin and fit a pantograph, so where 25 KVAC overhead electrification is available, it can be used.
  • If CAF can convert a bog standard diesel multiple unit into a hybrid diesel-electric-battery multiple unit, by performing a heart transplant, it is a neat way of keeping new diesel Civities running until a later date.
  • Remember that Northern and West Modlands Trains have another seventy-four similar new diesel Civities in operation or on order. With trains having a forty year life, they don’t fit with an early phasing out of diesel.

I have no idea, what is actually happening, but my engineer’s nose tells me to expect a surprise from CAF.

Increasing Birmingham And Shrewsbury Services From Three Trains Per Hour To Four

Four trains per hour or one train every fifteen minutes seems to be a preferred frequency on several UK suburban lines.

These services seem to provide four tph or better on most, if not all of their routes.

  • Birmingham Cross-City Line
  • London Overground
  • Merseyrail
  • Tyne and Wear Metro

Four tph seems to be a very handy Turn-Up-And-Go frequency that encourages people to use rail services.

So I am not surprised to see Midlands Connect wanting four tph between Birmingham and Shrewsbury.

Currently, the following services seem to operate between Shrewsbury and Birmingham.

  • Avanti West Coast – 2 trains per day (tpd) – Shrewsbury and London Euston via Birmingham New Street and Birmingham International.
  • Trains for Wales – 1 train per two hours (tp2h) – Holyhead and Birmingham International via Birmingham New Street.
  • Trains for Wales 1 tph – Aberystwyth/Pwllheli and Birmingham International via Birmingham New Street
  • West Midlands Trains – 2 tph – Shrewsbury and Birmingham New Street – One semi-fast and one stopper.

Note.

  1. All services call at Wolverhampton, Telford and Wellington.
  2. Shrewsbury and Birmingham New Street is a 3.5 tph service.
  3. Shrewsbury and Birmingham International is a 1.5 tph service.

It relies heavily on services from Trains for Wales, who probably don’t put Shrewsbury and Birmingham services at the top of their priorities.

I remember, when local services in the North-East of London were run by Greater Anglia from Norwich. Moving some services to Transport for London, brought about a large improvement

Quite frankly, the current service is best described as pathetic.

Should Trains for Wales Services Terminate As Shrewsbury?

I suspect some local politicians in Shrewsbury and Birmingham, think it would be best to adopt this sort of strategy.

  • All Welsh services terminate at Shrewsbury.
  • Birmingham and Shrewsbury mandate West Midlands Trains and Avanti West Coast to provide a frequent service between Shrewsbury and Birmingham.

It might be the way to go, but many travellers from the Marches, would probably want direct connections to Birmingham, Birmingham Airport and in the future High Speed Two.

Introducing A Direct Hourly Service From Shrewsbury, Wellington And Telford To London

On the face of it, it looks like a much needed service to and from Shrewsbury.

  • It will be hourly.
  • Initially it will use Class 221 diesel multiple units, but these will be replaced with bi-mode Class 805 trains.
  • The current infrequent service calls at Watford Junction, Rugby, Coventry, Birmingham International, Birmingham New Street, Sandwell and Dudley, Wolverhampton, Telford Central and Wellington.
  • There are also six other stations between Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton, which might like an improved service.
  • The service will be run by Avanti West Coast.

There might also be the possibility of using battery power between Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury, which is only thirty miles each way.

But there are other collateral benefits.

  • The service increases the frequency between Shrewsbury and Birmingham New Street stations by one tph to 4.5 tph
  • The service increases the frequency between Shrewsbury and Birmingham International by one tph to 2.5 tph.
  • The service increases the frequency between Wolverhampton and London Euston by one tph.
  • The service increases the frequency between Sandwell and Dudley and London Euston by one tph
  • The service increases the frequency between Birmingham New Street and London Euston by one tph.
  • The service increases the frequency between Birmingham International and London Euston by one tph.
  • The new service will provide an hourly quality connection to High Speed Two at Birmingham International for stations between Shrewsbury and Coventry.
  • It appears that the Class 390 trains to Birmingham New Street and being replaced by new Class 807 trains, so Birmingham will have three out of four tph, run by new trains.
  • The new Shrewsbury service , has a similar calling pattern to that of the current Scottish service through Birmingham. Will it replace that service, when High Speed Two opens?

Note.

  1. Midlands Connect’s objective of four tph between Shrewsbury and Birmingham has been met.
  2. Several stations get a better direct service to London.
  3. Connectivity to High Speed Two is improved.
  4. Birmingham New Street and London is now a Turn-Up-And-Go frequency of four tph.
  5. The Class 805 train will also mean that Avanti West Coast could be zero-carbon in Birmingham. Especially, if it used battery power between Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury stations.

The hourly direct service between Shrewsbury and London will make a lot of difference to train services between Shrewsbury and Birmingham.

Avanti’s London Euston and Birmingham New Street Service

Consider.

  • There are two tph that terminate in Birmingham New Street station, that take 88-89 minutes, from London Euston
  • There is one tph that goes through Birmingham New Street station to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Preston, or Shrewsbury, that takes 82-84 minutes, from London Euston.
  • Currently, the two terminating trains are Class 390 trains, whereas the through train can be a Class 221 train as well.
  • Through trains are allowed  5-10 minutes to pass through Birmingham New Street.
  • Trains that terminate at Birmingham New Street station are allowed 20-30 minutes to arrive and leave.
  • Avanti West Coast have said, that they will be running Class 807 trains between London and Birmingham New Street.

It doesn’t seem to be the best use of scarce platform resources in a busy station to park a train there for half-an-hour.

In Will Avanti West Coast’s New Trains Be Able To Achieve London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street In Two Hours?, I came to the conclusion that the Class 807 trains have been designed as simple, fast, lightweight all-electric trains with no heavy batteries, diesel engines on tilt mechanism.

  • I think they’ll be able to shave a few minutes on the timings between London Euston and Birmingham New Street station.
  • I would suspect that they will match the 82-84 minutes of the through trains
  • The ultimate would be if they could do a round trip between London Euston and Birmingham New Street in three hours.
  • Two tph run by what would effectively be a London-Birmingham shuttle would need just six trains.

It might mean new methods of manning the trains, to reduce turnround times.

Doubling Of Services Between Shrewsbury And Birmingham International

The hourly direct London and Shrewsbury Avanti West Coast service will raise the current 1.5 tph service between Shrewsbury and Birmingham International to 2.5 tph, so will be a good start.

  • Perhaps Trains for Wales could find the missing 0.5 tph.
  • West Midlands Trains might be able to squeeze in another train.

But I suspect that the crowded line between Birmingham New Street and Birmingham International is the problem.

Shrewsbury And Birmingham In Forty-Five Minutes

This is the last objective and saving eleven minutes on this route would suggest that the best way would surely be to fully electrify the route.

  • Between Wolverhampton and Birmingham International stations is fully electrified.
  • Electric trains have faster acceleration and deceleration, so would probably achieve the required savings if they stopped more than five times.
  • From my virtual helicopter it doesn’t appear to be the most challenging of routes to electrify.
  • Only about thirty miles of double track would need to be electrified between Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury stations.
  • Both Trains for Wales and West Midlands Trains would have to obtain new electric trains.
  • Avanti West Coast have already got bi-mode Class 805 trains, that could use the electrification.

But will Trains for Wales go along with Midlands Connect, when they tell them to get electric or bi-mode trains to work between Shrewsbury and Birmingham International stations?

It is because of dilemmas like this, that I feel that electric trains using battery or hydrogen power, when away from electrification can be a very good alternative.

  • There is no major disruption raising bridges for the electrification.
  • Stations don’t need to be closed for electrification.
  • The trains have all the comfort and performance of electric trains.
  • Costs and timescales can be reduced.
  • When running on battery or hydrogen power, these trains are very quiet, as there is no pantograph noise.

To run battery-electric trains between Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton, the only infrastructure needed would be a method of charging the train at Shrewsbury station.

This Google Map shows the Southern end of Shrewsbury station.

Note.

  1. The platforms are built over the River Severn.
  2. The five-car Class 221 train in Virgin livery sitting in Platform 5.
  3. When this train leaves it will turn left or to the East for Wolverhampton and Birmingham.
  4. Trains can turn right for Wales.

It is a very unusual station layout.

  • Platform 5 is one of a pair of bay platforms; 5 & 6, that can access either Wales or Birmingham.
  • Outside of the bay platforms are a pair of through platforms; 4 & 7, that can also access Wales or Birmingham, but they can also access Chester by going through the station.
  • The 115 metre long Class 221 train fits easily in the bay platform 5.
  • The 130 metre long Class 805 train would probably need to use Platform 4 or 7.

But with well-planned electrification, it would be ideal for charging electric trains as they pass through or turned back!

Once the train reaches Wolverhampton, it will connect to electrification again.

Shrewsbury And High Speed Two

Currently, Shrewsbury has three connections to stations, where it would be convenient to take a High Speed Two train.

  • Birmingham International, which is 51 miles and 83 minutes away. Plus a ride on a people mover for High Speed Two.
  • Birmingham New Street, which is 42.5 miles and 71 minutes away. Plus a walk to Birmingham Curzon Street for High Speed Two.
  • Crewe, which is 33 miles and 55 minutes away.

Passengers will make their own choice.

Could Shrewsbury Have A Classic-Compatible High Speed Two Service To Manchester Piccadilly?

London To Shrewsbury, Now And Post-High Speed Two

Travel On Monday

If I want to go to Shrewsbury next Monday, one fast journey is taking the 09:10 from Euston and changing at Crewe, which gives a journey time of two hours and thirty-two minutes.

I can also get a train with a change at Birmingham International that takes seven minutes longer.

Travel On High Speed Two

After High Speed Two opens to Birmingham Curzon Street and Interchange in Phase 1 what sort of times to Shrewsbury can be expected?

I estimate the following.

  • Travelling via Birmingham Curzon Street could produce a time of around one hour and fifty minutes, if you’re lucky with the trains.
  • Travelling via Crewe could produce a time of one hour and thirty minutes, if you’re lucky with the trains.
  • Travelling via Interchange could produce a time of around one hour and fifty-five minutes. or forty-four minutes faster.

If I was going to Shrewsbury after High Speed Two has opened, I would probably change at Birmingham Curzon Street, if the walk to New Street station was still within my capabilities, as there will be a Turn-Up-And-Go frequency of four tph between Birmingham New Street and Shrewsbury stations.

Looking at the Midlands Connect objectives, these help with linking Shrewsbury with London.

  • Increasing services between Birmingham and Shrewsbury to four tph, as it’s Turn-Up-And-Go!
  • The direct hourly service to London from Shrewsbury, Wellington and Telford might be the quickest way to London by changing at Birmingham New Street/Curzon Street or Interchange.
  • Doubling the service between Shrewsbury and Birmingham International, may be a good move, as Interchange, which will be connected to Birmingham International by a high capacity people mover, will have five tph between London Euston and Old Oak Common stations.
  • Saving eleven minutes between Shrewsbury and Birmingham will certainly help.

Travelling between London and Telford, Wellington and Shrewsbury will be much improved.

 

June 27, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Existing Stations Where High Speed Two Trains Will Call

The June 2020 Edition Of Modern Railways has an article called HS2 Minister Backs 18 tph Frequency, which gives a detailed diagram of the route structure of High Speed Two and it is possible to summarise the stations, where High Speed Two trains will call.

  • Carlisle – 3 tph – 400 metres – Split/Join
  • Chesterfield – 1 tph – 200 metres
  • Crewe – 2 tph – 400 metres – Split/Join
  • Darlington – 2 tph – 200 metres
  • Durham – 1 tph – 200 metres
  • East Midlands Hub HS2 – 7 tph – 400 metres – Split/Join
  • Edinburgh Haymarket – 2.5 tph – 200 metres
  • Edinburgh Waverley – 2.5 tph – 200 metres – Terminal
  • Glasgow Central – 2.5 tph – 200 metres – Terminal
  • Lancaster – 2 tph – 200 metres – Terminal
  • Leeds HS2 – 5 tph – 400 metres
  • Liverpool Lime Street – 2 tph – 200 metres – Terminal
  • Lockerbie – 1 tph – 200 metres
  • Macclesfield – 1 tph – 200 metres – Terminal
  • Manchester Airport HS2 – 5 tph – 400 metres
  • Manchester Piccadilly HS2 – 5 tph – 400 metres
  • Motherwell – 0.5 tph – 200 metres
  • Newcastle – 3 tph – 200 metres – Terminal
  • Oxenholme – 0.5 tph – 200 metres
  • Penrith – 0.5n tph – 200 metres
  • Preston – 4 tph – 400 metres
  • Runcorn – 2 tph – 200 metres
  • Sheffield – 2 tph – 200 metres
  • Stafford – 1 tph – 200 metres
  • Stoke-on-Trent – 1 tph – 200 metres
  • Warrington Bank  Quay – 1 tph – 200 metres
  • Wigan North Western – 1 tph – 200 metres
  • York – 4 tph – 200 metres

Note.

  1. HS2 after the station name indicates a new station for High Speed Two
  2. tph is trains per hour
  3. 0.5 tph is one train per two hours (tp2h).
  4. 200/400 metres is the maximum length of trains that will call.
  5. Terminal indicates that trains will terminate at these stations.
  6. Split/Join indicates that trains will split and join at these stations.

These are more detailed thoughts on how existing stations will need to be modified.

Train Lengths

Before, I look at the individual stations, I’ll look at the train lengths.

  • High Speed Two train – Single – 200 metres
  • High Speed Two train – Pair – 400 metres
  • Class 390 train – 11-car – 265.3 metres
  • Class 390 train – 9-car – 217.5 metres
  • Class 807 train – 7-car – 182 metres
  • Class 810 train – 5-car – 120 metres
  • Class 810 train – Pair of 5-car – 240 metres
  • InterCity 125 – 2+8 – 220 metres
  • InterCity 225 – 9-car – 245 metres
  • Class 222 train – 4-car – 93.34 metres
  • Class 222 train – 5-car – 116.16 metres
  • Class 222 train – 7-car – 161.8 metres
  • Class 222 train – 4-car+5-car – 209.5 metres
  • Class 222 train – 5-car+5-car – 232.32 metres

These are the thoughts on the individual stations.

Carlisle

Carlisle station will need two 400 metre through platforms, so each can accommodate a pair of 200 metre trains.

This Google Map shows the station.

 

I estimate the platforms are about 380 metres, but it looks like, they could be lengthened, without too much difficulty.

As High Speed Two trains to the North of Carlisle will be 200 metres long, there would probably be no need for platform lengthening North of Carlisle, as these trains are shorter than the Class 390 trains, that currently work the routes to Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Carlisle station is step-free, has good secondary rail connections and is within walking distance of the city centre.

The only thing it needs, is a connection to Edinburgh on a rebuilt Borders Railway.

Chesterfield

Consider.

  • Chesterfield station will need to handle 200 metre trains.
  • Chesterfield station may be rebuilt for High Speed Two.
  • Chesterfield station can handle an InterCity 125, which is 220 metres.
  • It will need to handle a pair of Class 810 trains, which would be 240 metres.

This Google Map shows Chesterfield station.

Note.

  1. The slow lines passing the station on the Eastern side.
  2. There are two long through platforms and a third bi-directional platform on the down slow line.

There is space to build two long platforms for High Speed Two, but is it worth it, when one one tph will stop?

  • According to High Speed Two’s Journey Time Calculator, trains will take just twelve minutes between Sheffield and Chesterfield stations.
  • This compares with 12-15 minutes for the current diesel trains.
  • The distance between the two stations is 14 miles, which means that a twelve minute trip has an average speed of 70 mph.
  • If there are still two tph to St. Pancras, there will be four tph, that run fast between the Sheffield and Chesterfield stations, of which three will stop at Chesterfield.

I think this could result in a simple and efficient design for the tracks between Sheffield and South of Clay Cross, where High Speed Two joins the Erewash Valley Line.

Chesterfield station is step-free.

Crewe

Crewe station will need two 400 metre through platforms, so each can accommodate a pair of 200 metre trains.

This Google Map shows the station.

There have been references to rebuilding of Crewe stations, but it does appear that some platforms are over 300 metres long.

Darlington

Darlington station will need to accommodate 200 metre trains.

As it already accommodates 245 metre InterCity 225 trains, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Durham

Durham station will need to accommodate 200 metre trains.

As it already accommodates 245 metre InterCity 225 trains, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Edinburgh Haymarket

Edinburgh Haymarket station will need to accommodate 200 metre trains.

As it already accommodates 245 metre InterCity 225 trains, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Edinburgh Waverley

Edinburgh Waverley station will need to accommodate 200 metre trains.

As it already accommodates 245 metre InterCity 225 trains, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Glasgow Central

Glasgow Central station will need to accommodate 200 metre trains.

As it already accommodates 265 metre Class 390 trains, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Currently, Avanti West Coast runs the following services to Glasgow Central.

  • One tph from London Euston calling at Warrington Bank Quay, Wigan North Western, Preston, Lancaster, Oxenholme Lake District (1tp2h), Penrith (1tp2h) and Carlisle.
  • One tp2h from London Euston calling at Milton Keynes Central, Coventry, Birmingham International, Birmingham New Street, Sandwell and Dudley, Wolverhampton, Crewe, Warrington Bank Quay, Wigan North Western, Preston, Lancaster, Oxenholme Lake District (1tp2h), Penrith (1tp2h) and Carlisle.

High Speed Two is proposing to run the following trains to Glasgow Central.

  • Two tph from London Euston calling at Old Oak Common, Preston and Carlisle.
  • One tp2h from Birmingham Curzon Street calling at Wigan North Western, Preston, Lancaster, Oxenholme (1tp2h), Penrith (1tp2h), Carlisle, Lockerbie and Motherwell (1tp2h)

If the current services to Glasgow Central  were to be replaced by the High Speed Two services, most travellers would get a similar or better service.

But if Avanti West Coast decide to drop their classic services to Glasgow via Birmingham, will travellers starting between Milton Keynes and Crewe, be a bit miffed to lose their direct services to Glasgow?

Glasgow Central station would appear to be ready for High Speed Two.

Lancaster

I was initially surprised, that on High Speed Two, one tph would terminate at Lancaster station.

This Google Map shows the station.

Note.

  1. There are two bypass lines without any platforms on the Western side of the tracks, where trains can speed through.
  2. The station has five platforms.
  3. Some Avanti West Coast services terminate at Lancaster station.
  4. 265 metre, eleven-car Class 390 trains, stop in Lancaster station.

As High Speed Two services will use 200 metre trains, which are shorter than all Class 390 trains, I would suspect that High Speed Two services will be able to be turned at Lancaster station, without too much difficulty.

Liverpool Lime Street

Liverpool Lime Street station will need to be able to turn two 200 metre High Speed Two tph.

  • The remodelling of the station in 2018, probably allowed for two tph between London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street station.
  • From 2022-2023, it will be turning two Class 807 trains per hour, which will probably be 182 metres long.

Liverpool Lime Street station may well be ready for Phase One of High Speed Two. It’s also very much step-free.

There are also alternative plans for a new High Speed station in Liverpool.

  • It would be alongside the current Liverpool Lime Street station.
  • The station would have a route to High Speed Two at Crewe via Warrington and a junction at High Legh.
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail would start in the station and go to Manchester via Warrington, High Legh and Manchester Airport.
  • It would enable six tph between Liverpool and Manchester, in a time of just 26 minutes.

I talked about this plan in Changes Signalled For HS2 Route In North, where I included this map.

High Legh Junction is numbered 5 and 6.

Nothing published about High Speed Two, would appear to rule this plan out.

Lockerbie

Lockerbie station will need to accommodate 200 metre trains.

As it already accommodates 265 metre Class 390 trains, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Macclesfield

I was initially surprised, that on High Speed Two, one tph would terminal at Macclesfield station.

This Google Map shows the station.

Wikipedia says this about the platforms in the station.

There are three platforms but only two are in regular use, the up platform for services to Manchester and the down platform to Stoke-on-Trent and Birmingham. Platform 3 sees a small number of services. Evidence of a fourth platform can be seen, on which a Network Rail building now exists.

As the station has a regular Avanti West Coast service every hour, the platforms must be over 200 metres long and they will be long enough for the 200 metre High Speed Two trains.

So why would High Speed Two want to terminate a train at Macclesfield, rather than at Manchester Piccadilly as they do now?

Currently, Avanti West Coast runs these services between London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly.

  • One tph via Milton Keynes Central, Stoke-on-Trent and Stockport.
  • One tph via Stoke-on-Trent, Macclesfield and Stockport
  • One tph via Stafford, Crewe, Wilmslow and Stockport

The diagram in the Modern Railways article shows these High Speed Two services to Manchester Piccadilly.

  • One tph from London Euston via Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange and Manchester Airport
  • Two tph from London Euston via Old Oak Common and Manchester Airport
  • Two tph from Birmingham Curzon Street via Manchester Airport.

Note.

  1. None of these five tph serve Macclesfield, Milton Keynes Central, Stockport, Stoke-on-Trent or Wilmslow.
  2. All five proposed services are shown to call at Manchester Airport.
  3. It is likely, that a tunnel will be bored between Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly stations.
  4. The High Speed Two station at Manchester Piccadilly might even be in a tunnel under the current Manchester Piccadilly station or central Manchester.
  5. A below-ground High Speed Two station for Manchester could also serve Northern Powerhouse Rail services to Leeds and the East.
  6. According to the plans, I talked about under Liverpool Lime Street earlier, there could also be up to six tph running between Liverpool and Manchester via Manchester Airport, as part of Northern Powerhouse Rail.

Plans need to be developed to serve the towns and cities, that will not be served by High Speed Two’s current proposals.

  • It appears Stafford, Stoke-on-Trent and Macclesfield will be served by an independent High Speed Two service from London Euston.
  • Terminating one tph at Macclesfield station doesn’t appear to be challenging.
  • A rail route between Macclesfield and Manchester Airport to link up with the proposed tunnel could be very difficult.
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Macclesfield stations have a frequent rail connection, with most trains calling at Stockport station.
  • Perhaps during construction work for High Speed Two in the centre of Manchester, Macclesfield station can be used as an alternative route into the city, using the existing Manchester Piccadilly station.

The London Euston and Macclesfield service via Stafford and Stoke-on-Trent could be a pragmatic solution to part of the problem, but what about Milton Keynes, Wilmslow and Stockport?

According to the title of the Modern Railways article, High Speed Two will have a maximum frequency of 18 tph.

When fully-developed, the current proposed timetable shows the following.

  • A frequency of 17 tph between London Euston and Birmingham Interchange stations.
  • A frequency of 11 tph between Birmingham and Crewe.
  • A frequency of 9 tph through East Midlands Hub station.

It would appear that if there is a capacity bottleneck, it is between London and Birmingham.

However if classic services to Manchester Piccadilly are replaced by the High Speed Two services to the city via the new tunnel from Manchester Airport to a new station in the City Centre, there will be spare capacity on the Crewe and Manchester Piccadilly route via Wilmslow and Stockport stations.

This could lead to a number of solutions.

  • A direct High Speed Two service runs using the spare path, between London and the current Manchester Piccadilly station.
  • Similar to the previous service, but the service splits and joins at Crewe, with one individual train going to Manchester Piccadilly and the other somewhere else. Blackpool?
  • One service between London and Liverpool is planned to split and join at Crewe with individual trains going to Lancaster and Liverpool. The other Liverpool service could split at Crewe with individual trains going to Liverpool and Manchester Piccadilly.
  • The service between London and Macclesfield is run by a pair of trains, that split at Birmingham Interchange, with individual trains going to Macclesfield and Manchester Piccadilly. The advantage of this service, is that if you got into the wrong train, you’d still be going to roughly the same destination.
  • Wikipedia says “At peak times, the current Avanti West Coast services may additionally call at one or more of: Watford Junction, Rugby, Nuneaton, Tamworth, Lichfield Trent Valley.” So why not run classic services on the West Coast Main Line between Euston and Manchester Piccadilly via Milton Keynes using suitably fast trains. Perhaps, the new Class 807 trains would be ideal.

Note.

  1. All services serving the current Manchester Piccadilly station would call at Crewe, Wilmslow and Stockport stations.
  2. Passengers going to or from Manchester Airport would change at Crewe.

The more I look at Macclesfield, the more I like using it as a High Speed Two destination.

Motherwell

Motherwell station will need to accommodate 200 metre trains.

As it already accommodates 265 metre Class 390 trains, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Newcastle

Newcastle station will need to accommodate 200 metre trains.

As it already accommodates 245 metre InterCity 225 trains, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Oxenholme

Oxenholme station will need to accommodate 200 metre trains.

As it already accommodates 265 metre Class 390 trains, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Penrith

Penrith station will need to accommodate 200 metre trains.

As it already accommodates 265 metre Class 390 trains, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Preston

Preston station will need two 400 metre through platforms, so each can accommodate a pair of 200 metre trains.

This Google Map shows the station.

 

I estimate that the main through platforms aren’t much short of the required 400 metres.

But something must be done to make the station step-free.

Runcorn

Runcorn station will need to accommodate 200 metre trains.

As it already accommodates 217 metre Class 390 trains, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem. The station is also step-free.

Sheffield

Sheffield station will need to accommodate 200 metre trains.

This Google Map shows the station.

As the station can already handle a 220 metre InterCity 125, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem. The station is also substantially step-free.

Stafford

Stafford station will need to accommodate 200 metre trains.

This Google Map shows the station.

As it already accommodates 265 metre Class 390 trains, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem. The station is also step-free.

Wikipedia says this about Stafford station and High Speed Two.

Under current proposals, Stafford will be a part of the High Speed 2 network, via a ‘Classic Compatible’ junction, which will allow HS2 trains to operate to Stafford, and further on towards Liverpool. This would shorten journey time from Stafford to London, to an estimated 53 minutes. Under current proposals it is expected that an hourly services will operate in both directions, however it is currently unclear if these services will terminate at Stafford, or Liverpool.

This does appear to be rather out of date with High Speed Two’s latest proposals as disclosed in the Modern Railways article, which say that Stafford is served by the following service.

  • One tph between London Euston and Macclesfield.
  • Calls at Old Oak Common, Stafford and Stoke-on-Trent.
  • A 200 metre train.

One possibility must surely be to run a pair of 200 metre trains to and from Stafford, where they would split and join.

  • One could go as currently proposed to Stoke-on-Trent and Macclesfield.
  • The second train could go to Liverpool via Crewe and Runcorn or Manchester Piccadilly via Crewe, Wilmslow and Stockport.
  • The recent works at Norton Bridge Junction will have improved the route for the second train.

There would need to be platform lengthening at Stafford to accommodate the 400 metre pair of trains.

A split and join at Stafford does show the possibilities of the technique.

Another possibility is mentioned for Stafford in Wikipedia.

There is also been proposals to reintroduce services to Stafford to terminate on the Chase Line which was cutback to Rugeley Trent Valley in 2008. The Key Corridors states “Extension of Chase Line services to Stafford”. This is proposed to be in development.

It will surely connect a lot of people to Stafford for High Speed Two.

The extract from Wikipedia, that I used earlier, mentions a Classic Compatible junction, which will allow High Speed Two trains to reach Stafford.

This map clipped from the High Speed Two web site, shows the junction North of Lichfield, where High Speed Two connects to the Trent Valley Line through Stafford.

Note.

  1. High Speed Two runs North-South across the map.
  2. After the Junction by Fradley South,
  3. High Speed Two to Crewe and the North, is the branch to the East.
  4. The other branch connects to the Trent Valley Line, which can be picked out North of Lichfield, where it passes through Lichfield Trent Valley station.

The Trent Valley Line is no Victorian double-track slow-speed bottleneck.

  • Most of the route between Rugby and Stafford is three or four tracks.
  • The speed limit is generally 125 mph.
  • I wouldn’t be surprised to see Avanti West Coast’s Class 390 and Class 807 trains running at 140 mph on the route.
  • This speed would probably be attained by High Speed Two trains.

London Euston and Stafford would only have under twenty miles of slower line and that could be 140 mph, so High Speed Two  times on the route could be very fast. High Speed Two is quoting 54 minutes on their Journey Time Calculator.

Stoke-on-Trent

Stoke-on-Trent station will need to accommodate 200 metre trains.

This Google Map shows the station.

As it already accommodates 265 metre Class 390 trains, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem. The station is also step-free.

Warrington Bank Quay

Warrington Bank Quay station will need to accommodate 200 metre trains.

As it already accommodates 265 metre Class 390 trains, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Wigan North Western

Wigan North Western station will need to accommodate 200 metre trains.

In Is Wigan North Western Station Ready For High Speed Two?, I said this.

Wigan North Western station would accept a single-train now, but the platforms would need lengthening to handle a double-train.

As all trains through Wigan North Western station will only be 200 metre single trains and the station is step-free, the station appears to be ready for High Speed Two.

York

York station will need to accommodate 200 metre trains.

As it already accommodates 245 metre InterCity 225 trains, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Conclusion

I have come to these conclusions.

  • Because most of these stations have been rebuilt in the last few decades to accommodate the 200-plus metre InterCity 125s, InterCity 225s and Class 390 trains, all the stations can handle a 200 metre High Speed Two train without significant lengthening.
  • Some stations like Carlisle, Crewe, Preston and Stafford may need a small amount of platform lengthening to accommodate a pair of trains, but most of the improvements needed for a world-class High Speed railway will be more refurbishment than a complete rebuild.
  • Using existing platforms at Lancaster and Macclesfield stations as terminal platforms is an elegant and a much more affordable solution than building new stations or even platforms.
  • Because all five tph into the High Speed Two station at Manchester Piccadilly go via Manchester Airport, I would envisage that this will be in a tunnel, that can be part of a future Northern Powerhouse Rail.

I also think that the plan has been devised with the Project Management and minimising disruption to travellers in mind.

 

 

June 13, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Will Avanti West Coast’s New Trains Be Able To Achieve London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street In Two Hours?

Note that I have rewritten this post to take account of this information from the January 2020 Edition of Modern Railways, in an article, which is entitled Hitachi Trains For Avanti.

This is said about the ten all-electric AT-300 trains for Birmingham, Blackpool and Liverpool services, which have now been numbered as Class 807 trains.

The electric trains will be fully reliant on the overhead wire, with no diesel auxiliary engines or batteries.

It may go against Hitachi’s original design philosophy, but not carrying excess weight around, must improve train performance, because of better acceleration.

Currently, Avanti West Coast‘s trains between London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street stations are timetabled as follows.

  • The journey takes two hours and thirteen or fourteen minutes.
  • There are three stops at Stafford, Crewe and Runcorn.
  • The stops with the current Class 390 trains seem to take around a minute.
  • There is one train per hour (tph)
  • A second hourly service with a stop at Liverpool South Parkway is planned to be introduced in December 2022.

In 2022, a new fleet of Hitachi AT-300 trains will be introduced on the route. I believe, it would be reasonable to assume, that these Class 807 trains will have similar or better performance, than the current Class 390 trains.

  • Acceleration and braking are likely to be better.
  • Regenerative braking energy may well be handled more efficiently.
  • The trains may well be equipped with in-cab digital signalling and be able to travel in excess of 125 mph in places, where the track allows.

I would expect, that these trains could be running near to or at 125 mph on most of the journey.

London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street are 193.5 miles apart, so if a train could be running at 125 mph all the way, a train would take 93 minutes.

Extra time must be added for the following.

  • Acceleration from a standing start to 125 mph at London Euston, Stafford, Crewe and Runcorn.
  • Deceleration from 125 mph to a stop at Stafford, Crewe, Runcorn and Liverpool Lime Street.
  • Dwell time in the platforms at Stafford, Crewe and Runcorn.

This page on the Eversholt Rail web site, has a data sheet for a Class 802 train, which is a bi-mode AT-300 train with three diesel engines.

The data sheet shows that a five-car train can accelerate to 125 mph and then decelerate to a stop in six minutes in electric mode. As Avanti West Coast’s Class 807 trains will be all-electric seven-car trains with no heavy engine or battery, I doubt they will be slower than a Class 802 train in electric mode. So four accelerations/deceleration cycles  to 125 mph should take no more than twenty-four minutes.

I will assume two minutes for each of the three stops.

I can now give an estimate for the journey.

  • Base journey time – 93 minutes
  • Acceleration from and deceleration to stops – 24 minutes
  • Station dwell time – 6 minutes

This gives a journey time between London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street of two hours and three minutes.

The journey time can probably be improved in the following ways.

  • Take full advantage of the track improvements on the approach to Liverpool Lime Street station and at Norton Bridge Junction.
  • Better train pathing, as has been done on London Liverpool Street and Norwich services to create the fast Norwich-in-Ninety services.
  • Track and signal improvements to pinch a minute here and a minute there.
  • As Runcorn now has an hourly Liverpool Lime Street and Chester service, will the Runcorn stop be dropped to save time?
  • Reduction in station dwell time.
  • Better driver aids.
  • Better staff operating procedures at stops and whilst turning the train.

It should be born in mind, that a two hour journey between London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street would be a start-stop average speed of 97 mph on a 125 mph route. Intriguingly, this means the trains would run at 77 % of the maximum operating speed of the route, which is the same figure for Norwich-in-Ninety services.

Some of these improvements may enable the Class 390 trains to go a bit faster.

It has to be considered, that Avanti West Coast’s Marketing Department would be ecstatic, when told that London and Liverpool were less than two hours apart.

How Many Trains Would Be Needed?

Currently, this is a typical train round trip to Liverpool Lime Street.

  • 07:07 – Leave London Euston
  • 09:20 – Arrive Liverpool Lime Street
  • 09:47 – Leave Liverpool Lime Street
  • 12:02 – Arrive London Euston

The five-hour round-trip would indicate that five trains would be needed for the one tph service.

This train didn’t return to Liverpool, but went off to the Wembley Depot.

After their Liverpool trip, there is no real pattern of where the train will go next, as this table shows.

  • 06:41 – 6 – 33 minutes – Wembley Depot
  • 07:48 – 2 – 36 minutes – Manchester Piccadilly
  • 08:47 – 1 – 40 minutes – Manchester Piccadilly
  • 09:47 – 7 – 30 minutes – Wembley Depot
  • 10:47 – 4 – 42 minutes – Preston
  • 11:47 – 4 – 37 minutes – Preston
  • 12:47 – 1 – 34 minutes – Preston
  • 13:47 – 15 – 13 minutes – Birmingham New Street
  • 16:47 – 6 – 16 minutes – Glasgow Central
  • 17:47 – 1 – 42 minutes – Manchester Piccadilly

Note.

  1. The time is departure time from Liverpool Lime Street, the number is the platform and the minutes are the turnround time in Euston.
  2. I have left out a couple of trains as there was a very late train.
  3. There doesn’t seem to be any regular pattern.
  4. It looks like trains can be turned in under fifteen minutes.
  5. I think there was a time, when Liverpool couldn’t accept eleven-car trains, but the new longer platforms appear to accept them.
  6. Trains appear to be running services to Glasgow Central and Manchester Piccadilly, who seem to usually get eleven-car trains.

I almost think, that they’re allocating trains as they go.

With the new Class 807 trains, I suspect the following is possible.

  • London Euston to Liverpool Lime Street – Two hours
  • Turnround – Fifteen minutes
  • Liverpool Lime Street to London Euston – Two hours
  • Turnround – Fifteen minutes

This means it’s a four-and-a-half hour round trip.

  • Journey times of two hours.
  • Time enough for well-drilled staff to turn the trains.
  • Dedicated platforms at London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street.
  • It would be a very attractive customer-friendly service.

Two tph would need nine trains.

It would be everything the Marketing Department wanted!

Thoughts On The Current Class 390 Timings

As the Class 390 trains are a 125 mph train, their base timing of 93 minutes, between London and Liverpool should still be the same.

As their doors and lobbies are similar in design to those of the Hitachi AT-300 trains, I would allow the same two minutes of dwell time at each station.

Current timings of services on the route vary between 132 and 134 minutes. I’ll take the average of 133 minutes.

So the current services take thirty-four minutes to perform the four accelerate and decelerate sequences on the route.

It would appear that this sequence would take eight-and-a-half minutes in comparison with the six minutes of the new Hitachi AT-300 trains.

An Improved London Euston and Blackpool North Service

The new AT-300 trains will also be running to Blackpool.

  • London Euston and Blackpool North takes between two hours and forty-four minutes and two hours and fifty-nine minutes.
  • Journey times are not very consistent, probably due to timetabling difficulties.
  • Trains stop between four and five times on the West Coast Main Line.

Would the faster stops of the new AT-300 trains mean that Avanti West Coast could run a more regular timetable, with all services under three hours?

It should also be noted, that Grand Central will start a London Euston and Blackpool North service in Spring 2020.

As the rolling stock for this new service will be Class 90 locomotives hauling rakes of Mark 4 coaches, that will be limited to 110 mph, are Avanti West Coast making sure, that they have the fastest trains on the route?

Would AT-300 Trains Save Time To Other Avanti West Coast Destinations?

If we assume that AT-300 trains can save two-and-a-half minutes per accelerate and decelerate sequence times could change as follow.

  • Birmingham New Street – One hour and twenty-two minutes – Three stops – One hour and twelve minutes
  • Coventry – One hour – Two stops – Fifty-five minutes
  • Crewe – One hour and thirty-four minutes – One stop – One hour and thirty minutes
  • Glasgow – As services stop six or thirteen times, there may be substantial savings to be achieved.
  • Manchester – Between two hours and seven minutes and two hours and thirteen minutes – Three stops – Between one hour and fifty-seven minutes and two hours and three minutes.

Note.

  1. The number of accelerate and decelerate sequences is one more than the number of stops.
  2. Coventry services would be under an hour.
  3. Two out of three Manchester services would be under two hours.

This analysis illustrates how fast train performance is important in more customer-friendly services.

Conclusion

I believe the following will be possible.

  • A two hour service between London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street will be possible with Avanti West Coast’s new AT-300 trains.
  • The current Class 390 trains could go a bit faster.
  • I estimate that a Class 807 train could save as much as two-and-a-half-minutes at each stop.
  • Blackpool North and London times will be comfortably under three hours.
  • Coventry and London times will be comfortably under an hour.

The performance of these Class 807 trains will improve the West Coast Main Line.

March 27, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 2 Comments