The Anonymous Widower

A Walk Between Burnley Barracks And Burnley Manchester Road Stations

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

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

The various locations are as follows.

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

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

So I walked between Barracks and Manchester Road  stations along the canal.

It was a pleasant walk, but I still had a stiff climb up to Manchester Road station.

The East Lancashire Line

The East Lancashire Line is the line that runs through Burnley Barracks station.

One train per hour in each direction runs between Blackpool South station on the coast and Colne station in the hills.

The line joins the cross-Pennine Calder Valley Line at Gannow Junction to the East of Rose Grove station.

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

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

It would thus appear that without major engineering works, the service along the line will be restricted to an hourly train.

To make improvement of the line ore difficult, the line crosses Burnley town centre on a high viaduct. This picture was taken from a train crossing the viaduct.

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

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

Burnley Barracks Station

There would appear to be a lot of development planned along the canal.

Surely, this development will generate passenger traffic, as many will prefer to walk along the level canal tow-path, rather than climb the hill to Burnley Manchester Road station.

Burnley Barracks station needs improvement.

  • Better shelter.
  • Ticket machine.
  • Better means of requesting the train to stop.
  • Ideally, there would be a lift to street level.

But at least Network Rail are replacing the bridge over the canal and the platform can already accommodate a four-car train.

Trains For Between Blackpool South And Colne

Four-car trains could be made by running Class 150, Class 156 or even new Class 195 trains as pairs.

Currently, the line uses three trains, so would the extra expense of six trains by justified.

But there is an alternative.

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

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

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

Consider.

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

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

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

 

November 18, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Walking Along Oxford Street

I took these pictures this morning, as I walked along Oxford Street from Marble Arch to Tottenham Court Road.

Note.

  1. I was surprised at the number of trees.
  2. The large number of buses.
  3. The rather small numberr of private cars.
  4. The large amount of new development to the East of Oxford Circus.

I might have got a different set of pictures later in the day.

November 7, 2017 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

Crossrail Gets A Convenient Hotel

This article on The Urban Developer is entitled London’s Newest Skyscraper Gets Green Light.

This is the first two paragraphs.

London’s Paddington will soon be home to a new 20-storey hotel tower, dubbed The Gateway Building, after planning permission was granted by Westminster council planners.

The Sheldon Square site will house the 113-metre-high hotel designed by architects Carmody Groarke for developer British Land. The hotel will provide access to the area’s new Crossrail station, with the third basement level expected to provide access to the Elizabeth Line — connecting Reading with London and Heathrow.

As they say, location is everything!

  • Crossrail will whisk you to and from Heathrow.
  • There’s not many hotels with direct access to the station underneath.
  • For the businessman who has everything, Bond Street is only one stop away for the trophy wife to spend your hard-earned money.
  • The City and Canary Wharf are just a few stops further.

I doubt the hotel will be a Premier Inn.

How many other skyscraper hotels will sprout up along Crossrail?

Each one will be another nail in the coffin of Heathrow Express.

November 6, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Out Of Thin Air

This article on Global Rail News is entitled Could Building Above London’s Railways Solve The Capital’s Housing Crisis?.

This is said.

Around a quarter of a million homes could be built in London by developing above the capital’s railways, a new report has claimed.

A report published by engineering consultants WSP suggests that building apartments above open London Underground and Overground lines could provide much-needed housing capacity in the city.

WSP Global is one of the world’s leading consultancy companies, with probably their best known project in the UK, being The Shard.

They call the concept Rail Overbuild and the full report is at this document on the WSP web site.

This is a picture from the report.

The report is an informative read and the techniques don’t apply just to London, but could be used over many City Centre rail lines throughout the world.

One section of the report is entitled the Twelve Benefits of Rail Overbuild.

  1. Building over existing infrastructure requires no new land.
  2. Overbuilds in inner city locations are ideally located for residents: the ultra-close proximity to transport facilities provides greater mobility options and could tempt homeowners to either forego car ownership altogether or else reduce multi-car ownership, thereby increasing notional disposable income.
  3. Overbuilds can increase public transport ridership. In turn this will mean lower greenhouse gas emissions and require less carparking space.
  4. Rail overbuilds can better integrate a station into its surroundings; the station development becomes a connector within the urban realm. And by incorporating adjacent site development, rail overbuilds spread their communal benefit over a wider area.
  5. Mixed-use rail overbuild environments contribute to public safety, particularly for pedestrians, given they foster activities throughout the day and much of the evening.
  6. Rail overbuilds provide opportunities to create new pedestrian-friendly environments, creating social value and forming attractive places where people want to live.
  7. Rail overbuilds offer financial incentives for rail asset owners who may gain commercial benefit from the development and from which they
    can reinvest the proceeds into improving city infrastructure.
  8. Uplift can be created in the value of the  mmediate surrounding area and generate household and business rates, as well as other revenue for the local authority.
  9. Rail overbuild schemes can fulfil local authorities’ preference for higher densification and be used as tools of economic development.
  10. Provide a sustainable solution to urban development
  11.  In resolving rail-bridging issues – e.g. structural, acoustic, air quality, vibration,
    utilities, economy – the overbuild provides precedents for future developments.
  12. The station/transport hub becomes a destination in itself thanks to the resulting retail and commercial development in and around it.

They also give some substantial examples of where the proposed methods have been or will be used.

  • Earl’s Court Regeneration
  • Principal Place, Shoreditch
  • Royal Mint Gardens, Tower Hill
  • Stamford Bridge, Chelsea
  • Riverside, New York

This is said about the rebuilding of Stamford Bridge.

Rail overbuild doesn’t just have to facilitate housing. Chelsea Football Club’s proposed new stadium is a fine example of how a site constrained by adjacent rail lines can be successfully built over to maximise development potential.

I recommend that you read the WSP report.

Will the Government and the Mayor of London do what the report suggests?

November 2, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

£1bn Northern Line Extension Under Threat As TfL Fails To Reach A Deal With Battersea Developers

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in City AM.

It talks how because of design changes to the developments over Battersea Power Station station, the cost of the extension has risen by £240 million.

Transport for London (TfL) and the developers are now arguing who pays the extra costs.

TfL have said, that if need be, the terminus of the extension will be mothballed until agreement is reached.

In Did Heathrow Back Down?, I reported on how Heathrow Airport lost a fight with TfL over Crossrail’s access to the Airport.

TfL is certainly no push-over in these type of negotiations.

I suppose, it all depends on how much, the developers want the station to open!

I have to ask, how many of the development’s owners and residents will want to use the Northern Line?

 

September 28, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

The Terrace At Blackfriars Station

I took these pictures at Blackfriars station.

It looks like a terrace overlooking the Thames.

This Google Map shows the area of the station from above.

The terrace seems to be under construction on the East side of the station.

It does seem rather a wasted space.

September 5, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

Coastal Communities Among Worst Off In UK, Report Finds

The title of this post is the same as an article on the BBC web site, which they are covering on BBC Breakfast.

When I was fifteen my parents partially-retired to Felixstowe and I remember a very boring couple of summers in the town. In summer 1963, I spent most of it reading Nelkon and Parker in preparation for my A Level Physics course.

In those days, public transport to Ipswich was dire with nothing back after working hours and I can remember that I only ever went to the cinema in Felixstowe once!

Today, the last train from Ipswich is 22:28, but in those days it was about 19:00.

So one factor that applied, was you needed a car to have any social life outside of the dreary town. The few people of my age, I knew in the town couldn’t wait to leave school, so they could earn money to buy a car.

If you look around the country, the coastal areas that are vibrant and successful like say Bournemouth, Brighton, Liverpool, Southend and Swansea, tend to be larger, with excellent external and internal public transport links.

Other non-successful coastal towns like Felixstowe, Hastings, Hull, Lowestoft, Redcar, Skegness and Ysrmouth don’t have the same quality of external transport links, although some like Hull have good bus networks.

I may be being selective, but I believe it would make a big difference to a lot of coastal towns, if they had a first class rail service to the nearby inland larger towns and cities.

If there is no rail route, then a first class bus connection is needed.

Felixstowe

I’ll take Felixstowe as an example.

  • The train service is one train per hour and it finishes around ten in the evening.
  • The length of the line is such, that one train can do the return trip in an hour.
  • Most of the rolling stock used on the line are past it, although I’ve done the trip in a passenger-friendly Class 170 train.
  • If it is a sunny Saturday or Sunday, the train can get overloaded at times.

Hopefully, the train service will get better.

  1. Greater Anglia have ordered new three-car Class 755 bi-mode trains.
  2. Network Rail are improving the Felixstowe Branch Line.
  3. Ipswich station is to be upgraded with an extra bay platform for Felixstowe and Lowestoft services.

Point 1 would probably attract more passengers and points 2 and 3 would allow a half-hourly service at selected times of the day.

The increase in capacity and quality, should be enough, so that on a glorious day if people in Ipswich decide to go to the coast, the trains can make it a good experience.

It will be interesting to see how the number of rail passengers to Felixstowe change in the next few years.

Incidentally, Felixstowe station shows how you can create a quality station for a town of 24,000 people.

  • The Grade II Listed station buildings have become a Shopping Centre with a cafe and bar.
  • There is just a single platform that can take a four-car train.
  • There is a ticket machine and a basic shelter.
  • The station is on the High Street.
  • The car park is shared with the local Co-op supermarket.
  • The station is unstaffed, but the trains are double-manned.

How many coastal stations could be Felixstowed?

Felixstowe used to have a second station at Felixstowe Beach, which is near to the Port of Felixstowe and Landguard Fort.

Some might argue that reopening the station would be a good idea, especially as it could be a modern single platform station.

But surely, it would be better to improve the bus services in the town or provide quality bike hire at the station.

Greater Anglia’s Class 755 Trains

Greater Anglia have ordered 24 x four-car and 14 x three-car Class 755 trains.

  • The trains are bi-mode.
  • In terms of carriages, the new bi-mode fleet will be at more than twice the size of the current diesel fleet.
  • Greater Anglia have said, that they will use electric power from overhead wires, even if it’s only available for short distances.
  • The trains are probably large enough for an on-board full function ticket machine and lots of buggies, bicycles and wheel-chairs.
  • They will probably carry their own wheelchair ramp, as I saw in What Train Is This?

This article in RailNews is entitled Greater Anglia unveils the future with Stadler mock-up and says this.

The bi-mode Class 755s will offer three or four passenger vehicles, but will also include a short ‘power pack’ car to generate electricity when the trains are not under the wires. This vehicle will include a central aisle so that the cars on either side are not isolated. Greater Anglia said there are no plans to include batteries as a secondary back-up.

So Stadler are using their well-proven design, which I saw in Germany.

What surprises me is the ruling out of batteries by Greater Anglia.

The central powercar would surely be the ideal place to put energy storage, for the following reasons.

  • It could be easily integrated with the diesel power-pack.
  • The weight of the battery is probably in the best place.
  • It could be part of an energy saving regenerative braking system, which would work under electric or diesel power.
  • In Battery EMUs For Merseyrail, I wrote how Stadler were fitting batteries in Merseyrail’s new fleet.

When the trains arrive, it’ll all be explained. Perhaps, Greater Anglia’s words were carefully chosen.

How will these trains change the coastal towns of Cromer, Felixstowe, Lowestoft, Sheringham and Yarmouth?

If it’s positive, Greater Anglia will be setting a strong precedent.

What Needs To Be Done To Railways To And Along The Coast

In no particular order, there are various topics.

A Coastal-Friendly Train Fleet

From personal experience on East Anglian trains, I feel that the passenger profile is different with always several bicycles on a train. Greater Anglia will have researched their passengers’ journeys and this has resulted in their choice of three- and four-car bi-mode Class 755 trains.

  • One- and two-car diesel multiple units are being replaced with three-car bi-modes
  • The Class 170 trains appear to be being replaced by four-car bi-modes.

So it would appear that Greater Anglia are expecting more passengers on the coastal routes to Cromer, Felixstowe, Lowestoft and Yarmouth, as they are always running at least three-car trains.

I also suspect they will be allowing for more bicycles and buggies, with higher traffic at weekends with good weather.

Their fleet choice will also allow them to use a four-car train instead of a three-car.

Looking at the fleet choices of other train operators like Northern working over a wide area with a large proportion of leisure traffic, they seem to have a degree of flexibility.

Stations In Coastal Towns

Many  stations in coastal towns were built in the grand manner. This is St. Leonard’s Warrior Square station.

Felixstowe station was built in this way and the station buildings are Grade II Listed. This is the single platform.

But it also shows how you can create a quality station for a town of 24,000 people.

  • The station buildings have become a Shopping Centre with a cafe and bar.
  • There is just a single platform that can take a six-car train.
  • There is a ticket machine and a basic shelter, underneath an ornate 1898 canopy.
  • The station is on the High Street.
  • The car park is shared with the local Co-op supermarket.
  • The station is unstaffed, but the trains are double-manned.

How many coastal stations could be Felixstowed?

These are a few pictures of other stations in coastal towns.

Some are grand, some are simple and some need a lot of improvement.

But if you want to improve the fortunes of a coastal town, or any town for that matter, you must give it a decent station, which will be one of main entry points for visitors.

The larger stations must have the following characteristics.

  • A certain style.
  • Good understandable information and perhaps a proper Tourist Office.
  • A cafe or a bar.
  • Decent bus connections to the rest of the town.
  • Bicycle hire
  • A shop for a paper and some chocolate.
  • A cash machine with no extra charges.

Hopefully, the station needs a central location in the town.

But Felixstowe station shows what can be created, with its Victorian canopy and a single platform, tucked away behind a shopping centre, built around the original Listed station building.

These days with modern signalling and double-ended multiple units, single-platform stations like Felixstowe, could probably handle four trains per hour.

New Stations

In DfT Names Five Winners Of Fresh £16m Stations Fund, I talked about new stations funded by the Government’s New Stations Fund. Two of the five stations are near the coast; Bow Street and Horden Peterlee.

So does the Government realise the value of good rail links to coastal areas?

The Walkers’ Halt

Some of the coastal lines go along some of the most spectacular coast-lines in the UK.

This Google Map shows the Durham Coast Line just South of Seaham station.

A modern train like a bi-mode Class 755 train could have the following characteristics.

  • The ability to execute station stops with a short dwell time.
  • In-cab radio signalling.
  • CCTV to aid the driver at a station stop.
  • On-board ticketing machine.
  • On-board wheelchair ramp.
  • Two crew members.

So would it be able to stop to pick up and set down at an old-fashioned halt with perhaps a single platform?

The England Coast Path

The England Coast Path will be 4,500 kilometres long and go round the whole coast of England.

In places, it must go near to railway lines, so will we see simple walkers’ halts, as I described in the previous section?

It strikes me, that we need a large helping of careful design to make sure that the England Coast Path and our costal rail routes would well together.

I used England as an example, but I suspect, the same logic applies in the rest of the UK.

Conclusion

This post isn’t complete yet!

I do feel though based on my East Anglian experience, that improving the train service to coastal towns could be the first step in improving their prosperity.

Too often going to the coast by train is a second-rate experience. Greater Anglia with its train fleet renewal seem to be creating a new era of getting to the coast in Norfolk and Suffolk.

Other companies should be made to follow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

September 4, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Improving The Wisley Interchange

It is probably nearly ten years since I drove through the Wisley interchange where the M25 and A3 meet.

The BBC this morning is discussing a proposal to improve this junction by taking some land from the RHS Wisley Garden.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note how close Wisley Garden is to the A3, which all proposals say should be widened from three lanes to four.

Two proposals have been put forward by Highways England.

This is Option 9, which is a four-level flyover.

And this is Option 14.

I suspect as far as Wisley Garden is concerned it’s a choice between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea!

Just out of curiosity, I looked up on the RHS Wisley Garden site, how I could get there easily by public transport.

Effectively, it means taking a train to Woking and a taxi!

Wisley Garden can’t have it both ways, as they encourage people to drive to the Garden and yet are objecting to widening of the A3.

A Wider Problem

Wisley Garden illustrates the wider problem, of how so many attractions are only easily accessible by car.

Some attractions like Brighton and Hove Albion’s new Falmer Stadium, have been built with decent public tyransport access, but others assume everybody comes by car.

Surely, in this age, where the environment matters, no development should be allowed without due consideration of well-thought out public transport.

 

August 25, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 2 Comments

Crossrail Funding Contributions From Developers Forecast To Hit £600m Target A Year Ahead Of Schedule

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in City AM.

The funding has come from the mayoral community infrastructure levy (MCIL) and Section 106 contributions.

The two biggest contributions came from |Tower Hamlets at £40m and Westminster at £34m.

What the author doesn’t point out is the collateral benefit from all this extra development. Transport for London must be getting more far revenue from more passengers going to and from the developments.

It’s certainly good news.

Are areas like Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle seening similar cast flow increases?

August 18, 2017 Posted by | Finance, Travel | , | 1 Comment

How To Build A Short Railway Branch Line

This article in Global Rail News is entitled London Overground’s Barking Riverside extension given green light.

The Barking Riverside Extension to the Gospel Oak to Barking Line is a 4.5 km. extension to serve a housing development of 10,800 houses at a derelict site by the Thames in Barking.

The article says this.

The Secretary of State, Chris Grayling, has now given his support to the project – approving the Transport and Works Act Order (TWAO) for the extension.

It puzzles me, why Chris Grayling is in the loop, as the £263million project for the extension is funded by Transport for London, with a £172million contribution from the developers of the houses.

TfL’s contribution works out at just over ten pounds for every man woman and child in Greater London.

By comparison, this article in Rail TRechnology Magazine is entitled MPT wins £350m contract to build Metrolink’s Trafford Park extension. Was a TWAO signed by the Minister for that?

This country is far to centralised!

August 4, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 6 Comments