The Anonymous Widower

National Trust Looks At Car Ban In Lake District

The title of this post is the same as that as that of this article in yesterday’s Sunday Times.

The secondary headline sums up the article.

Nearly 20m visitors a year are ‘loving the national park to death’, and officials are looking at excluding drivers.

So what is to be done?

Can The Railways Help?

In 2015, I spent Three Days in Preston and explored the area by train.

These problems were apparent on the trains and at the stations.

  • The capacity, quality and frequency of the trains to Windermere is pitiful.
  • The capacity, quality and frequency of the trains along the Cumbrian Coast Line is inadequate.
  • Bus information and interchanges could be better.
  • Getting a train to Penrith North Lakes station was difficult.

The only line with an acceptable train service is the West Coast Main Line.

Everything else needs major improvements.

These are some random thoughts.

Could Carlisle Become The Rail Tourism Centre For The Borderlands And The Lakes?

These rail lines and services are already or will be connected to Carlisle Citadel station, within the next few years.

  • Virgin services on the West Coast Main Line between London and the South and Glasgow and Edinburgh in Central Scotland.
  • TransPennine Express services on the West Coast Main Line between Liverpool and Manchester in the South and Glasgow.
  • Possible Grand Union services on the West Coast Main Line between London and Stirling for the North of Scotland.
  • High Speed Two services between London and the South and Glasgow and Edinburgh in Central Scotland.
  • ScotRail services on the Glasgow South Western Line between Carlisle and Glasgow via Dumfries and Kilmarnock.
  • ScotRail services on an extended Borders Railway between Carlisle and Edinburgh via Hawick and Galashiels.
  • Northern services on the Tyne Valley Line between Carlisle and Newcastle via Hexham and the Metro Centre.
  • Northern services on the Settle and Carlisle Line between Carlisle and Leeds.
  • Northern services on the Cumbrian Coast Line between Carlisle and Carnforth via Workington, Whitehaven and Barrow.

Carlisle sits at the centre of a network of some of the most scenic rail lines, anywhere in the world.

Rail services in the area with the exception of the through services, provided by Virgin and TransPennine Express are probably considered by their operators to be a pain.

  • They are generally not used by commuters.
  • There are regular operational problems like floods and landslips.
  • They are overcrowded at some times of the year and need expensive new rolling stock.
  • Rail tourists from aboard probably complain like mad.

But above all the services probably lose money hand over fist.

What Is The Ideal Train For Scenic Routes?

Two possible trains for scenic routes are now in service in the UK.

The Scottish Solution – Inter7City

ScotRail are now introducing four- and five-car InterCity 125 trains on routes between the seven cities in Scotland.

They will probably do a good job and they have the following.

  • Large windows to enjoy the views.
  • Many seats have tables.
  • An on-board buffet and trolley service.
  • Wi-fi and power sockets for phones and laptops.
  • The trains should be reliable, as there is a vast knowledge base about running these trains.
  • The trains can be easily lengthened, by adding extra cars.
  • The trains were 125 mph trains and are probably slower in this application.

But the trains are forty years old and have two enormous diesel engines on each end.

The Swiss Solution – Class 755 train

Greater Anglia are introducing three- and four-car Class 755 trains on rural routes in East Anglia.

They appear to be doing a good job with high passenger satisfaction and they have the following.

  • Large windows to enjoy the views.
  • A number of seats have tables.
  • Space for bicycles.
  • Wi-fi and power sockets for phones and laptops.
  • The trains have level access between train and platform.
  • Hopefully, the trains will be reliable, as they are brand new and Stadler has been making similar trains for over ten years.
  • The trains can use 25 KVAC overhead electrification, where it is available.
  • The trains can work in multiple formations.
  • The trains can be easily lengthened, by adding extra cars.
  • The trains are 100 mph trains.

But the trains still have a diesel power-pack in the middle for operation independently.

In future, these trains will be used to run new services between London and Lowestoft, which is a distance of 118 miles of which 59 miles is electrified.

Similar trains will be fitted with batteries for the South Wales Metro.

Could a train be built with the best of all the features?

I believe the Class 755 train is a pretty good start, but it would have the following extra features.

  • Ability to run at up to 125 mph on 25 KVAC overhead or 750 VDC third rail, where the track allows.
  • A well-designed buffet.
  • 50 mile battery range.
  • A stand-by generator.
  • The ability to fast-charge the battery at a station stop.

I also think that Hitachi could make a five-car AT-300 train and Bombardier could make an Aventra, that met this specification.

What would a fleet of battery-electric trains do for the rail lines around Carlisle?

  • Hopefully, they would become a tourist attraction in their own right and encourage visitors to corm by train.
  • Frequencies would be at least two trains per hour on all routes.

This could be a starting point for making the area easier to access.

Should Stations Around The Lakes Be Developed With Bus Interchanges?

I’ve seen the bus interchange at Windermere station, but are other stations around the Lakes as well provided with comprehensive bus routes?

The objective surely should be that if a family wanted to have a day out in the Lakes from their home in Liverpool or Manchester, they should be able to get a train to a convenient station and a bus to their final destination.

Surely, if there is a sensible alternative, then visitors might use it.

Could The Cockermouth, Keswick and Penrith Railway Be Reopened?

The Cockermouth, Keswick and Penrith Railway was finally closed in the 1970s and according to Wikipedia, the track-bed has been used for roads and other developments.

I doubt that the railway could be reopened, but a modern light rail route would probably be a very valuable tourist asset.

But Would Good Train And Bus Routes Cut The Traffic In The Lakes?

I doubt it!

If someone has spent £40,000 or more on an expensive car, they feel they have bought the right to drive it anywhere they want!

The Dutch once talked about road pricing for every vehicle and that government lost the next election.

Conclusion

Traffic congestion in the Lakes, is a problem that threatens other areas, where tourists want to go.

So will as the National Trust are suggesting have to ban cars to restore some sanity?

I suspect so!

But it won’t be popular!

 

 

November 11, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Cumbrian Coast’s Coal Comeback?

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in Issue 874 of Rail Magazine.

When I saw this article, I thought it was rather surprising, as coal is rather the arch-demon to environmentalists.

But this is not about coal for producing electricity, but metallurgical coal, that will be used in steelmaking.

West Cumbria Mining are proposing the mine and ofn their web site, the following is said.

West Cumbria Mining is investing in developing plans for the creation of a metallurgical coal mine off the coast near Whitehaven in West Cumbria to supply the UK and European steel-making coal market, which currently imports around 45 million tonnes per annum.

I would assume the 45 million tonnes refers to the total of the UK and European markets. S there is certainly a large market to supply, if the price is right.

Woodhouse Colliery

This extract describes how the mine will be created.

Woodhouse Colliery would be created using the access tunnels to old anhydrite workings at the former Sandwith Drift Mine, on the edge of Whitehaven. Until 2004, the site was occupied by the Marchon chemical works.

Studies have determined that sufficient coal reserves could be accessed to sustain mining operations for at least 50 years.

This picture was taken from their web site.

It doesn’t look to be a stereotypical coal mine.

Much of the coal would appear to be mined offshore.

Use Of The Railway

This extract talks about the use of the Cumbrian Coast Line, that passes through Whitehaven.

One of the things that actually makes the project realistic and viable is that we have access to existing infrastructure. There are lots of projects where actually the biggest capital cost is the infrastructure required. We have to remove everything by rail – one: because of the volume of material; but two: we wouldn’t be able to get planning if it was a road solution.

An agreement has been reached with Freightliner to transport the coal to Redcar. With the mine in full production, six trains per day would operate Monday-Friday.

More details about the rail transport are also given.

  • There would be a single-track siding for loading.
  • The siding would be connected to the mine by a 1.4 mile coal conveyor.
  • Everything is covered, so there no dust and gas.
  • The loading will be in an acoustically-closed building.
  • Trains will have 23 wagons.
  • Class 66 or Class 70 locomotives will be used.

It does appear that they are designing most things to a high standard.

These days, if planning permission with conditions is given, the conditions are usually adhered to, as sanctions are now easier to apply through the Courts.

I do have a few thoughts.

Route Between Whitehaven And Redcar

Trains would probably go via Carlisle, Newcastle and Middlesbrough

There would not be much electrification on the route, except for on the East Coast Main Line.

I would estimate that trains would take around three hours between the Woodhouse Colliery and Redcar

Rolling Stock

The article states that the wagons would be a dedicated fleet for the operation.

Surely, they could be designed for fast and quiet operation.

Locomotives

I feel that locomotives that meet the latest European regulations should be used. Class 66 locomotives do not, Class 68 locomotives do!

I also feel that in the next five years or so, more environmentally-friend;y and quieter locomotives will become available.

Improving The Cumbrian Coast Line

The article describes how the Cumbrian Coast Line will be improved if the mine gets Planning Permission.

Conclusion

If we are going to continue to make and use steel in the UK and Europe, it looks like this mine could create wealth in a part of the UK that needs it, without causing too many negatives.

It’s an interesting project.

 

 

 

March 11, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Where Is Moorside?

Moorside is the name given to NuGen‘s new nuclear power complex in Cumbria.

I was drawn to write this post, by this article in Construction News, which is entitled Network Rail and Moorside nuclear power plant developer Nugen are putting together a business case for rail investment in Cumbria that could be worth as much as £400m.

four hundred million pounds could buy a lot of rail infrastructure.

But where exactly is Moorside?

This map was taken from the Our Site page on the NuGen web site, showsthe Moorside site outlined in red.

nugen

Note the development with the yellow-shaded areas to the South-East of the red-lined area. This is Sellafield.

And this is a Google Map of the coast around the nuclear reprocessing complex.

moorside

Note the railway stations along the coast. Sellafield station is by the nuclear complex, with Braystones and Nethertown to the North.

All three stations are on the Cumbrian Coast Line, which in addition to the passenger service, is used to transport freight, including nuclear waste to and from Sellafield.

Overlaying the NuGen map on the Coogle Map shows that Moorside will be to the North-West of Sellafield.

The Cumbrian Coast Line and the related Furness Line curve around Cumbria from Carlisle to Carnforth via Workington, Whitehaven, Sellafield and Barrow-in-Furness.

  • The line is mainly double track, but with sections of single-track.
  • The line is not electrified.
  • Most of the trains are elderly diesels.
  • The train service is vaguely hourly, but patchy in places.

The nuclear power complex is a ten billion pound project and will require large amounts of heavy equipment and construction materials to be transported the site. Also on a daily basis, large numbers of engineers and construction workers wilol need to get to one of the largest construction sites in the North of England.

Is Network Rail’s £400 million proposed vdevelopment, a reconstruction of the Cumbrian Coast and Furness Lines to the following standard.

  • Double track.
  • Electrification
  • 100 mph line speed where possible.
  • Build a new station at Moorside and any other places, where they are needed.
  • Step-free stations
  • At least two trains per hour in both directions.
  • Full wi-fi and 4G on all trains and in stations.

Upgraded to a high standard, it might do more than help construction at Moorside and Sellafield and those that work in the two complexes.

  • It might increase quality tourism.
  • It could be a diversion route for the West Coast Main Line.
  • It might make a London service to Barrow-in-Firness via HS2 a possibility.

Network Rail’s project could do a lot more than service the twin nuclear sites.

I explored the Cumbrian Coast Line in April 2015.

Click here to see my posts.

 

 

February 27, 2017 Posted by | Transport, Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

From Sellafield To Carlisle

I continued up the Cumbrian Coast Line to Carlisle taking pictures as I went.

Note that in some of the pictures, you can actually see the Isle of Man. Or I could on the train!

The Cumbrian Coast Line can’t be the easiest line in the country on which to make money, but according to this article on the Northern Rail web site, they are adding extra trains to Sellafield. So at least they’re trying.

Although there are some large employers along the line, surely such a picturesque line should be able to get extra passengers like families and walkers, who might want to spend time in the area. One factor going in their favour is the extra services out of Preston to Manchester, Liverpool and Blackpool. These will make it easier to get people to the line, especially if they ran decent trains on the line, with perhaps a trolley.

At least the line is a Community Rail Line and their web site is cumbriancoastline.co.uk.

April 30, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

From Ravenglass To Sellafield

After lunch, I continued up the Cumbrian Coast Line towards Carlisle and these are pictures I took between Ravenglass and Sellafield stations.

You get good views of the coast and also the Sellafield nuclear facility.

As I get older, I’m getting more and more sceptical the value of nuclear power.

There are so many things that we think are commonplace today, that in fifty years time will be laughed at by our descendants.

Nuclear power could be one of those things that will be no longer used for power generation, except possibly as a last resort.

I’m not worried about safety, but I believe that the expense of generating nuclear power and disposing of the spent fuel, will mean that other simpler and less-worrying for some methods of generating electricity for our needs. I don’t think wind will be promoted as much as it is now, as something better will come along.

We’ll still need plants like Sellafield, as we’ll be keeping some plants running and decommissioning others. This Google Earth image gives an idea of the size of the facility.

Sellafield

Sellafield

I just wonder what Sellafield would be like today, if the River Severn had been barraged around fifty years ago, as was proposed by Sir Frederick Snow.

 

April 30, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Ravenglass Station And The Ratty Arms

My choice of Ravenglass station for a pit-stop was a good one, as I was able to get a simple baked potato well-filled with tuna mayonnaise at the Ratty Arms.

The one problem was that there was no train information or mobile signal at the station. But in the end it didn’t matter as the train arrived at the appointed time on the time-table.

To get a better feel of Ravenglass station and the area it serves, this is the Google Earth image of the area.

Ravenglass Station

Ravenglass Station

Note how the Cumbrian Coast Line crosses the River Esk on a viaduct and the Ravenglass amd Eskdale Railway, which has a terminus at the station, curves away up the valley.

April 30, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

From Barrow-in-Furness To Ravenglass

After a brief walk around the town I returned to Barrow-in-Furness station and swapped my smart Class 185 train and headed north to Carlisle on the Cumbrian Coast Line in a more basic Class 156 train.

I was hungry so as there was another train an hour behind, I got off at Ravenglass station to search out some lunch.

April 30, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment