The Anonymous Widower

How Feasible Is A High Speed Line Between Birmingham And Nottingham?

In Red Wall Commuters To Get Rail Revolution, I indicated that the Department of Transport is considering creating three new high speed lines in the Midlands and the North of England.

One is proposed between Birmingham and East Midlands Parkway, which is described in the original article in The Sunday Times like this.

A 42-mile line from Birmingham to East Midlands Parkway, just south of Nottingham. This is expected to cut journey times between the two cities from 72 minutes to 27 minutes.

There is a currently, a CrossCountry service between Nottingham and Birmingham New Street stations.

  • The frequency is two trains per hour (tph)
  • Trains are generally three- or four-car formations of Class 170 diesel trains.
  • All trains stop at Tamworth, Burton-on-Trent and Derby.
  • Some trains stop at Wilnecote, Willington, Spondon, Long Eaton and Beeston
  • The services take upwards of seventy-one minutes.

Note.

  1. The frequency between Birmingham New Street and Derby is four tph.
  2. Trains reverse at Derby which takes seven minutes.
  3. Three tph stop at Burton-on-Trent.

I feel that the current service is very much a compromise, which is trying to handle three services.

  • A fast train between Birmingham and Nottingham.
  • A fast train between Birmingham and Derby.
  • A local service between Nottingham and Derby.

High Speed Two will be providing a non-stop service between Birmingham Curzon Street and East Midlands Hub stations.

  • The frequency will be three tph.
  • There will also be an hourly train between Birmingham Interchange and East Midlands Hub station.
  • The services will take twenty minutes or slightly less from Interchange.

The services will only get you to East Midlands Hub station.

In addition after High Speed Two opens Midlands Connect are planning to run a direct service between Nottingham and Birmingham Curzon Street stations.

  • The frequency will be one tph.
  • The service will use High Speed Two Classic Compatible trains.
  • The only stop will be East Midlands Hub station.
  • The service will take thirty-three minutes.

So how does a new high speed line connect Birmingham and Nottingham in twenty-seven minutes?

Consider.

  • The route between Birmingham New Street and North Stafford Junction is 35.9 miles
  • At North Stafford junction a double-track freight line leads to the East.
  • The freight line passes to the North of East Midlands Airport and South of Long Eaton station before joining the Midland Main Line at Trent junction to the North of East Midlands Parkway station.
  • Trains can pass straight into Nottingham via Beeston.
  • Nottingham is just 6.7 miles to the East of Trent junction and East Midlands Parkway is just a mile South of Trent junction.
  • South Stafford junction to Trent junction is probably about seven miles.

I believe that this is the route that will be upgraded to create a high speed line between Birmingham and Nottingham.

  • Part of the route between Tamworth and Burton-on-Trent was upgraded to 125 mph running by British Rail.
  • Between Birmingham New Street and North Stafford Junction is used by CrossCountry services between Birmingham and Derby and Nottingham.
  • I believe that the route can be fully electrified and upgraded, so that most of the route could be suitable for 125 mph running.
  • The Midland Main Line is already capable of handling trains at 125 mph.

This should make it possible for services to run between Birmingham New Street and Nottingham in the required twenty-seven minutes.

I will answer a few questions.

Could The Trains Serve Birmingham Curzon Street In Birmingham?

In Birmingham Airport Connectivity, I said this

But look at this map clipped from the High Speed Two web site.

Note.

  1. The blue dot shows the location of Curzon Street station.
    The West Coast Main Line running into New Street station, is just to the South of Curzon Street station.
    New Street station can be picked out to the West of Curzon Street station.

This Google Map shows a close-up of the current Curzon Street station site.

The same pattern of rail lines going past the Curzon Street site into New Street station can be picked out.

Surely, a connection could be made to allow trains from a couple of platforms in Curzon Street station to terminate trains from the West Coast Main Line.

Possible services could include.

  • London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street via Watford Junction, Milton Keynes, Rugby and Coventry
  • Cardiff and Birmingham Curzon Street via Bristol Parkway, Swindon, Oxford and Milton Keynes.
  • Cambridge and Birmingham Curzon Street via Bristol Parkway, Bedford and Milton Keynes.

There are a lot of possibilities to give High Speed Two much bigger coverage.

I also suspect that the proposed Nottingham and Birmingham service could terminate in Birmingham Curzon Street.

Could High Speed Two Classic Compatible Trains Run Between Birmingham And Nottingham?

As High Speed Two Classic Compatible Trains would have the same loading gauge as current trains, I don’t see why not.

Could A London Euston And Nottingham Service Be Run With A Reverse At Birmingham Curzon Street?

These are prospective times for High Speed Two.

  • London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street – 45 minutes
  • London Euston and East Midlands Hub – 52 minutes

Note that East Midlands Hub and Nottingham could take at least twenty minutes.

And this is a current timing.

  • London St. Pancras And Nottingham – 95 minutes

It is possible calculate the time for London Euston to Nottingham with a reverse at Birmingham.

  • London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street – 45 minutes
  • Reverse at Birmingham Curzon Street – 3 minutes
  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Nottingham – 27 minutes

This would give a time of 75 minutes between London Euston and Nottingham.

It does look to me, that the fastest route between London and Nottingham, will be to to go via Birmingham and the proposed new high speed route.

So the answer to the question in the title of this section is a Yes!

Could A London Euston And Sheffield Service Be Run With A Reverse At Birmingham Curzon Street?

These are prospective times for High Speed Two.

  • London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street – 45 minutes
  • London Euston and East Midlands Hub – 52 minutes
  • London Euston and Sheffield – 87 minutes

And these are current timings.

  • London St. Pancras And Derby- 85 minutes
  • London St. Pancras And Sheffield- 118 minutes
  • Birmingham New Street And Derby- 33 minutes
  • Birmingham New Street And Sheffield- 75 minutes

It is possible calculate the time for London Euston to Sheffield with a reverse at Birmingham.

  • London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street – 45 minutes
  • Reverse at Birmingham Curzon Street – 3 minutes
  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Sheffield – 75 minutes

This would give a time of 123 minutes between London Euston and Sheffield.

I wonder what time could be achieved between London Euston and Sheffield could be achieved with improvements to the following lines.

  • The CrossCountry Route between North Stafford junction and Derby station.
  • The Midland Main Line between Derby and Sheffield.

I would expect that the improvement to these routes would include.

  • At least almost full electrification.
  • Removal of level crossings.
  • Full digital signalling.
  • Upgrading to 140 mph running.

I could see the following service improvements.

  • A substantial reduction of the times between Birmingham and Sheffield.
  • Derby and Burton-on-Trent would get a fast service to London Euston via High Speed Two.
  • Derby and Burton-on-Trent would get a fast service to Birmingham probably with a frequency of 4 tph.
  • CrossCountry services between Birmingham and Sheffield would be faster.

Derby and Burton-on-Trent would get a much better train service.

Could Burton-on-Trent, Derby, Nottingham And Sheffield Be served By Trains Splitting And Reversing At Birmingham Curzon Street?

These are prospective frequencies for High Speed Two.

  • Burton-on-Trent – No trains
  • Chesterfield  1 tph
  • Derby – No trains
  • East Midland Hub – 7 tph
  • Nottingham – 0 tph
  • Sheffield – 2 tph

Suppose there were two tph between London and Birmingham Curzon Street, that split into two trains in Birmingham.

  • One train could go to Nottingham and call at Tamworth and Burton-on-Trent.
  • The other train could go to Sheffield and call at Tamworth, Burton-on-Trent, Derby and Chesterfield.

This would give the following frequencies from London on High Speed Two.

  • Burton-on-Trent – 2 tph
  • Chesterfield  – 2  tph
  • Derby – 2 tph
  • Nottingham – 2 tph
  • Sheffield – 2 tph

Note that I am ignoring the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two in this analysis.

Could We Go For The Full Burton?

In the previous sections, I suggested serving Nottingham and Sheffield from Euston using High Speed Two with a reverse at Birmingham Curzon Street, where the train would split into two trains, with one train going to Sheffield and the other going to Nottingham.

But could the split be at a rebuilt Burton station?

Consider.

  • Burton station could become an Eastern terminus of Birmingham’s Cross-City Line.
  • Burton station could become the Western terminus of the Ivanhoe Line to Leicester.
  • If the Cross Country Route is upgraded, Burton station would have fast connections to Birmingham, Derby, Chesterfield, Sheffield and Leeds,
  • If the new Birmingham and Nottingham route is created, this would mean fast connections to Nottingham and possibly Lincoln.

Burton-on-Trent could become the passenger rail hub for the Mid Midlands.

I

November 14, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reopening Stonehouse Bristol Road Station

On October 27th this Beeching Reversal Project was given £50,000 to build a case for reopening.

Stonehouse is a town in Gloucestershire.

It has a population of just under 8,000.

Stonehouse station has direct connections to Cheltenham Spa, Gloucester, London and Swindon.

Stonehouse Bristol Road station used to be a station in the town on the Cross Country Route, with direct connections to Birmingham. Bristol, Cheltenham Spa and Gloucester.

This Google Map shows the town, the current station and the proposed station.

Note.

  1. The Golden Valley Line between Gloucester and Swindon runs vaguely down the East side of the map.
  2. Stonehouse station is in the South-East corner of the map on the Golden Valley Line.
  3. The Cross Country Route between Gloucester and Bristol runs vaguely down the West side of the map.
  4. Stonehouse Bristol Road station will probably be in the South-West corner of the map, where the Cross-Country route crosses Bristol Road.
  5. The two railway lines join North of Stonehouse and go to Gloucester.

This second Google Map shows the site of Stonehouse Bristol Road station to a larger scale.

It shouldn’t be too much of a problem to fit a station where the railway crosses Bristol Road.

These are my other thoughts,

Services

The next station towards Bristol is Cam & Dursley and this station has an hourly service between Bristol and Gloucester.

Cross Country trains pass but don’t stop, but would they stop at a new station?

Car Parking

Will there be enough space for car parking bear the station?

New Housing

Wikipedia mentions that three thousand new houses may be built in Stonehouse.

This would surely be a reason for a new station.

Conclusion

It does look like the new housing is the main reason to reopen this station.

 

October 30, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 3 Comments

Improving The Cross Country Route

The Cross Country Route is one of the UK’s forgotten railway lines.

  • It runs between York and Bristol Temple Meads.
  • Intermediate stations include Leeds, Wakefield Westgate, Rotherham Central, Meadowhall, Sheffield, Chesterfield, Derby, Burton-on-Trent, Tamworth, Birmingham New Street, University, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire Parkway, Cheltenham Spa and Bristol Parkway.
  • At the Northern end trains can swap to the electrified East Coast Main Line and can extend services to Edinburgh and Aberdeen.
  • At the Southern end trains can swap to the Great Western Main Line and extend services to Taunton, Exeter, Plymouth and Penzance.
  • Trains can also swap to the South Wales Main Line in the Bristol area, to serve Cardiff and South Wales.
  • Operating speeds are generally around 100 mph, but there are sections of 125 mph running.
  • Some sections of the route have 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

I very much believe that it is a route that is ripe for improvement.

These are my thoughts.

Extra And Rebuilt Stations

Recently, Worcestershire Parkway station has been opened on the route.

Bromsgrove station was rebuilt and reopened in 2016.

Derby station was remodelled in 2018.

In addition, there are aspirations for other mew stations and station improvements on the route.

I can see more station improvements and additions on the Cross Country Route.

New Trains

Most services are run by CrossCountry, who only use diesel trains.

Their core services are as follows.

Plymouth And Edinburgh uses the route between York and Bristol Temple Meads. The service runs under wires North of Leeds and at Bristol Parkway and at Birmingham New Street.

Southampton Central And Newcastle uses the route between York and Birmingham New Street. The service runs under wires North of Leeds and at Reading and at Birmingham New Street.

Bournemouth and Manchester Piccadilly uses the route at Birmingham New Street. The service runs under wires North of Birmingham New Street.

Bristol Temple Meads and Manchester Piccadilly uses the route between Bristol Temple Meads and Birmingham New Street. The service runs under wires at Bristol Parkway and North of Birmingham New Street.

Cardiff Central and Nottingham uses the route between Gloucester and Derby. The service runs under the wires West of Bristol Parkway and at Birmingham New Street.

Birmingham New Street and Nottingham uses the route between Birmingham New Street and Derby. The service runs under the wires at Birmingham New Street.

Birmingham New Street and Stansted Airport does not use the route. The service runs under the wires at Birmingham New Street and around Cambridge and Peterborough.

Birmingham New Street and Leicester does not use the route. The service runs under the wires at Birmingham New Street.

Note.

  1. Several services run under wires for sufficient time to charge a battery-electric train.
  2. Several services turn in stations for sufficient time to charge a battery-electric train.
  3. At least six or possibly seven of the services run for at least fifty miles on tracks that can handle 125 mph running. Some of this track will be upgraded to 140 mph with digital signalling.

This Hitachi infographic shows the Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train.

I believe that Hitachi could produce a version of this train, that would partially meet CrossCountry’s need for a new fleet to reduce their carbon footprint.

For the purpose of this analysis, I will assume this about the trains.

  • Battery power will always be used in stations.
  • The trains have a battery range of around forty miles at 100 mph.
  • Running at 125 mph will need 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

This table shows the current electrification status of the Cross Country Route.

  • York and South Kirby junction- 45.4 miles – Electrified
  • South Kirby junction and Birmingham New Street – 96.6 miles – Not Electrified
  • Birmingham New Street and Bromsgrove – 16 miles – Electrified
  • Bromsgrove and Bristol Parkway – 69.8 miles – Not Electrified
  • Bristol Parkway and Bristol Temple Meads – 4.8 miles- Not Electrified

The trains would appear to still need to use diesel on some parts of the route.

Or Hitachi ABB Power Grids could install short lengths of 25 KVAC overhead electrification to top up the trains’ batteries in appropriate places.

I believe CrossCountry could decarbonise this route using battery-electric trains and discontinuous electrification.

This would surely refresh the line and attract passengers, but would the trains speed up the service?

  • Birmingham New Street and Leeds is 116.4 miles and currently takes just under two hours at an average speed of 59.3 mph in a Class 221 train.
  • Several sections of line between Birmingham New Street and Leeds can sustain 125 mph running.
  • London Liverpool Street and Norwich is 114.5 miles and has regularly been achieved by British Rail-era electric trains in ninety minutes on a 100 mph line, which is an average speed of 76 mph.
  • Averaging 76 mph between Birmingham New Street and Leeds would give a time of 92 minutes.

For these and other reasons, I am fairly sure that a battery-electric train capable of running at 125 mph with fast acceleration could run between Birmingham New Street and Leeds in under ninety minutes, with the addition of some discontinuous electrification.

  • There is currently one tph between Birmingham New Street and Leeds, which also serves Sheffield.
  • There is also one tph between Birmingham New Street and Sheffield by a different route.
  • There is two tph between Birmingham New Street and Nottingham.
  • My calculations indicate that the Nottingham and Sheffield services would take under an hour to and from Birmingham New Street, with the Leeds service taking thirty minutes longer.

In normal circumstances no diesel would be used.

Track Improvements And Discontinuous Electrification

This table shows the current electrification status of the Cross Country Route.

  • York and South Kirby junction- 45.4 miles – Electrified
  • South Kirby junction and Birmingham New Street – 96.6 miles – Not Electrified
  • Birmingham New Street and Bromsgrove – 16 miles – Electrified
  • Bromsgrove and Bristol Parkway – 69.8 miles – Not Electrified
  • Bristol Parkway and Bristol Temple Meads – 4.8 miles – Not Electrified

Solutions will have to be found to decarbonise a lot of the route.

I have flown my virtual helicopter from Tamworth to Sheffield and this part of the route seems to the sort of route that could be upgraded to a full 125 mph line, as it is fairly straight and some sections already allow trains to travel at this speed.

As the 15.5 miles between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield will be updated and electrified for High Speed Two’s spur into Sheffield sometime in the future, I would feel that as updating this section benefits High Speed Two, the Midland Main Line, the Cross Country Route and the Hope Valley Line, that this section should be rebuilt as necessary and electrified, as soon as is practically possible.

I believe that Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield is one of the most important routes in the country to be electrified, if not the most important.

This table shows the electrification status of the Cross Country Route after electrification of Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield.

  • York and South Kirby junction- 45.4 miles – Electrified
  • South Kirby junction and Sheffield – 18.8 miles – Not Electrified
  • Sheffield and Clay Cross North junction – 15.5 miles – Electrified
  • Clay Cross North junction and Birmingham New Street – 62.1 miles – Not Electrified
  • Birmingham New Street and Bromsgrove – 16 miles – Electrified
  • Bromsgrove and Bristol Parkway – 69.8 miles – Not Electrified
  • Bristol Parkway and Bristol Temple Meads – 4.8 miles – Not Electrified

It looks that by electrifying the 15.5 miles between Sheffield and Clay Cross North junction, the gap of 18.8 miles between South Kirby junction and Sheffield could be easily bridged by a battery-electric train.

The section between Clay Cross North junction and Birmingham New Street can be split into three.

  • Clay Cross North junction and Derby – 20.9 miles
  • Derby and Tamworth – 23.9 miles
  • Tamworth and Birmingham New Street – 17.3 miles

If Hitachi ABB Power Grids installed discontinuous electrification at Derby and Tamworth, this should bridge the gap to the electrification at Birmingham.

As some of this section can sustain 125 mph running, it may be better to fully electrify part of the route.

This table shows the electrification status of the route would become

  • York and South Kirby junction- 45.4 miles – Electrified
  • South Kirby junction and Sheffield – 18.8 miles – Not Electrified
  • Sheffield and Clay Cross North junction – 15.5 miles – Electrified
  • Clay Cross North junction and Derby – 20.9 miles – Not Electrified
  • Derby and Tamworth – 23.9 miles – Not Electrified
  • Tamworth and Birmingham New Street – 17.3 miles – Not Electrified
  • Birmingham New Street and Bromsgrove – 16 miles – Electrified
  • Bromsgrove and Bristol Parkway – 69.8 miles – Not Electrified
  • Bristol Parkway and Bristol Temple Meads – 4.8 miles – Not Electrified

I have also flown my virtual helicopter from Bromsgrove to Westerleigh junction, where the Cross Country Route joins the electrified Great Western Main Line, about 4.5 miles East of Bristol Parkway station.

It looks to me that this Southern short section of electrified line would be able to charge a battery-electric train so that it could reach Bristol Temple Meads station.

But the sixty-plus miles of route without electrification between Bromsgrove and Westerleigh junction would be too far to travel without some electrification.

This could either be full electrification or discontinuous using the methods proposed by Hitachi ABB Power Grids.

It certainly looks to me, that Hitachi’s technology or similar, that I talked about in Solving The Electrification Conundrum could be used to run battery-electric trains between York and Bristol Temple Meads on the Cross Country Route.

Digital Signalling

I would assume this will be installed on the route, to give more precise control of trains on the more complicated sections of the route.

East Coast Main Line Improvements

There are several improvements to the North of York, that will reduce journey times on all services using the East Coast Main Line.

These could contribute time saving of up to ten minutes, according to High Speed Two’s Journey Planner and current timetables.

Comparison With The Proposed Eastern Leg Of High Speed Two

With all the talk about possible cancellation of the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two could an improved Cross Country Route be used in the interim?

I will look at a few timings from Birmingham.

Birmingham And Leeds

A fully-developed High Speed Two is claiming forty-nine minutes, as against the one hour and fifty-eight minutes today.

I have stated that ninety minutes is an attainable time on a 116.4 mile journey, where a good proportion of 125 mph running will be possible, sustained by electrification.

But with full electrification, more 125 mph running and even some 140 mph running under the control of digital signalling, I suspect that ninety minutes is only an upper limit to the journey time between Birmingham and Leeds.

High Speed Two are saying they will run two tph between Birmingham and Leeds, which is twice the current frequency.

I could see that an improved frequency on the Cross Country Route could be very convenient, if it increased the frequency between the two cities to four tph.

Is it going to annoy passengers, that services will leave from two different stations in Birmingham and if you go to the wrong one, you’ll have to wait thirty minutes for the next train?

Birmingham And Middlesbrough

Times between Birmingham and Middlesbrough will be determined by adding a Leeds and Middlesbrough time to the Birmingham and Leeds times.

The best time between Leeds and Middlesbrough today is one hour and 23 minutes, which I suspect will lose a few minutes due to East Coast Main Line improvements North of York.

This gives using High Speed Two to Leeds a time of two hours and eight minutes, as against two hours and forty-nine minutes using an improved Cross Country Route.

Birmingham And Newcastle

A fully-developed High Speed Two is claiming one hour and  fifty-seven minutes, as against the three hours and twenty-six minutes today.

Based on the current and possible times between Birmingham at Leeds using CrossCountry, I feel times to stations North of Leeds will be reduced by at least twenty-eight minutes, putting the Birmingham and Newcastle time a few minutes under three hours.

Birmingham And Nottingham

A fully-developed High Speed Two is claiming twenty minutes to East Midlands Hub, which when adding in the tram to Nottingham City Centre will be thirty-five minutes..

,Current services are one hour and ten minutes today.

On an improved Cross Country Route, with with battery-electric trains and some 125 mph running, I can see this time shrink to under an hour, even with the reverse at Derby.

Midlands Connect are also proposing a high speed service between Birmingham Curzon Street and Nottingham station, which will take thirty-three minutes.

High Speed Two are saying they will run three tph between Birmingham and East Midlands Hub, which compares with two tph using the Cross Country Route.

Birmingham And Sheffield

A fully-developed High Speed Two is claiming fifty-seven minutes, as against the one hour and fifteen minutes today.

I have stated that an hour is an attainable time on this route, with battery-electric trains and some 125 mph running.

A time of an hour would be very competitive with the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two.

High Speed Two are saying they will run two tph between Birmingham and Sheffield with a change at East Midlands Hub, which compares with two tph using the Cross Country Route.

Conclusion

A fully developed East Coast Main Line will give High Speed Two a good run for its money on services between London and Yorkshire, North East England and Scotland. I indicated my thoughts and conclusions in What Is Possible On The East Coast Main Line?.

I also believe that an improved Cross Country Route could give the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two a very good run for its money.

Perhaps, we should safeguard the route of Eastern Leg of High Speed Two for building later to increase capacity when it is needed, but in the interim we should upgrade the following routes.

  • Cross Country Route
  • East Coast Main Line
  • Midland Main Line
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail
  • West Coast Main Line

These routes should have at least these minimum standards.

  • All passenger trains electric or battery-electric.
  • All freight locomotives electric, battery-electric or hydrogen-electric.
  • Where possible all lines should allow 125 mph running.
  • Universal in-cab digital signalling
  • There should be sections of 140 mph running, where possible.

We will need the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two in the future, but we don’t need it in the next few years.

 

 

 

 

 

August 26, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments